There are three main characters that you can play as in Grand Theft Auto 5. In order of appearance, they are Franklin, Michael and Trevor.
Although the Grand Theft Auto (GTA) series of popular video games has always focused on the rich storytelling tradition of presenting interesting and colorful characters, the first four main installments in the series mostly centered on a single, playable character. In GTA V, however, developer Rockstar Games decided to give players the option of moving the story along with a cast of characters.
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Improving upon previous titles in the series, GTA V features three playable characters plus a long list of central, supporting and minor characters that are even more intrinsic to the game than the assorted players from the epic GTA IV. The background location, the fictional metropolis of Los Santos, is almost a character unto itself.
The plot device of GTA V introduces the three main characters in a straightforward manner: Michael DeSanta is a middle-aged, former thief and career criminal trying to live a normal and domestic family life in Los Santos, which is a facsimile of Southern California after during the Great American Recession that started in 2008. Through happenstance, Michael meets Franklin Clinton, a young African American and former street gang member trying to move up the criminal ranks. One of Michael's former partners in crime, Trevor Philips, is a dangerous and unstable Canadian-American psychopath; he reunites with Michael and agrees to go into the heist business with Franklin as the new crew member.
The GTA V writers and storytellers gave the three playable characters lots of personality and redeeming qualities to make them appealing to players. The idea is to pique the player's curiosity and let them choose whether they would like to learn more about the lives of these three criminals as they play the game. Although the story kicks off with Michael, the introduction of Michael and Trevor allows players to learn even more about the characters and develop a favorite based on their personality and life story:
A methodical man in his mid-to-late 40s, Michael is married and has one son and one daughter in their teenage years. The entire DeSanta family is materialistic, and this bothers Michael to some extent. He is disappointed at the underbelly of corruption he sees in Los Santos, where everyone blindly chases money and leisure. Michael's dysfunctional family life leads him to drink and seek counseling before going back to his criminal ways. As a playable character, he has the special ability of ultra-acute senses and thought during shootout situations.
Young Franklin grew up in a street gang, and he is tired of it. He thinks he is better than everyone around him, and he is probably right. He has always been curious about how organizations such as the Italian American Mafia can thrive economically while sticking to ethical codes of criminal professionalism. When Franklin meets Michael, it is a match made in heaven for him. His special ability is driving; he is a man of action who is perfect for getaways.
A violent and drug-addicted psychopath, Trevor may have a military or tactical law enforcement background. On the surface, Trevor is disgusting and has no redeeming qualities, although he seems to be loyal and craves social acceptance. Trevor's special ability is his recklessness and nearly superhuman strength, which makes him a survivor and allows him to deal with dangerous situations.