By the way, WHO WAS THE MAIN ANTAGONIST!?!?
Exactly. The character build up really was just awful. Everyone felt forced, especially through the protagonists perceptions.
Take a dynamic like Vlad and Dimitri with Niko. They give off their negative auras at the beginning of the story, reasons for the player to hate them. Niko exhibits a negative attitude toward them, as the player would.
Now Madrazo and Michael. The guy goes to Michael's house, beats him with a baseball bat, has his trash goomar spit on him, and then Michael goes to fetch him some money. Okay, Michael's being a submissive little pussy to this guy we're clearly meant to hate, something's gonna develop, right?
Okay, Michael and Trevor are in Madrazo's house. Trevor's giving off a negative response to him, but Michael's still being a little whimpering dog. What now? We're gonna run missions for him? Michael's gonna defend the man when Trevor insults him?
OKAY, NOW Trevor took Madrazo's wife. Are we gonna kill her? Ransom her? Madrazo's sending guys out to kill us. NOPE. WE'RE GONNA GIVE HER BACK! No consequences to us, no consequences to Madrazo. What did we get out of this? Some love relationship between Trevor and Patricia that's gimmicky and we're supposed to find funny? Bullsh*t.
You could argue it's more "realistic" to submit to the Mexican drug lord, but this is a game, it's fictional. There are tons of moments of unrealistic events we just take because it's a Grand Theft Auto game. How come I can kill several hundred cops and just sleep in my bed to be acquitted of my charges? It's a game. Give the player when they want. Let us kill f*cking Madrazo, who's an irritating, greedy, domineering asshole that they make you run missions for in multiplayer. Or hell, let Madrazo kill Michael, give ONE of the characters some consistency.
V ENDING SPOILERS V
What about ending C? "We're taking heat from every authority on the gang and federal level. Let's just KILL EVERYONE! Oh, we gotta make it a triangle. Uhhhh ,Stretch appeared in two missions and was kind of a dick to Franklin, obviously as much of a bad guy as Haynes. Let's KILL HIM! HE'S EQUALLY A BAD GUY! Then there's the Chinese boss, also appearing in a mission or two with no real personal connection to anyone except having been pissed off by Trevor's business practices. Gotta kill him too! What about Weston? They ULTIMATE FINAL BAD GUY BOSS! He was introduced toward the end and screwed the trio out of a few car payments. Let's make him THE CINEMATIC FINAL BOSS!"
If anyone, Haynes, should have been the only antagonist. He was introduced earlier, he was a dick to Michael, and Michael was a dick to him. Sorta like Niko and Dimitri. Or it could have been a more interesting "harmonious to bad" relationship. Like Dave could have betrayed Michael instead. Like Sonny and Tommy. Billy and Johnny. Big Smoke and CJ. Hell, even Niko was apprenticed to Dimitri early and, and sympathized with him.
R* was too ambitious with the character-switch dynamic. It could have worked, if they implemented it correctly. If they valued stories over the cheap switching gimmick, the story would just have been about Michael. He was a new character, breaking away from Claude's, Tommy's, CJ's, Vic's, Niko's, Luis's, and Franklin's f*cking "breaking out of the neighborhood/rags-to-riches" story. He was a different section of the criminal underworld, not mobster Tony, hired-killer Niko, biker Johnny, gang-banger CJ, he was new and interesting. The whole game had the bank robbery niche, yet it didn't make much sense that Franklin and Trevor were stealing millions just to continue to wear their backwards Families ballcaps and piss and bloodsoaked t-shirts.
Uggggggghhhh... hopefully they redeem themselves in a DLC or in a next sub-game, like the Stories or Episodes style games.