September 27, 2013
Despite being a rather long running franchise, Grand Theft Auto V brings a lot to the table. Perhaps its biggest feature is its brand new approach to the single player. You now can play as three very different main characters and you’re able to switch between them at any given moment to see the many different perspectives on this massive story. The first character you are introduced to is Michael, a former bank robber who has left his past behind him to put his family in witness protection. Next is Franklin, who wants to get out of being a simple gangbanger and move up to bigger and better things to make a name for himself. Finally comes the show stealer Trevor, who used to work with Michael when he robbed banks and comes to Los Santos to make everything much more difficult...for everyone.
All three characters quickly become some of the best characters in GTA history. With that said all three of them are also truly flawed and awful humans, but that is what makes them so interesting as the game does a good job of showing their reasons for all of their actions.
Michael may complain about his life all of the time, but unlike every other similar main character from past games, he doesn’t complain about the horrible things he has to do. Franklin is clearly looking up to Michael because of what he has achieved in life, but even after seeing how flawed he is, the chance of scoring big never makes him doubt himself. Trevor...well he just has so much wrong with him that there is no real good place to start. The moment you are introduced to him you understand why he is a danger to the world around him.
Having a story that is told from three different perspectives works for the most part and keeps the game from ever feeling stale. If you have been playing with one character and doing their missions for a long time, just switch over to another and it immediately keeps things feeling different. However, the story can become a bit confusing if you are the type of person who likes to switch things around a lot, as some missions might start from one character getting a text, but starting it as another might not make any sense. These moments however, are extremely rare as the mechanic works throughout the majority of the game. It’s pretty impressive as it’s a rather grandiose story that spans over 25 hours of core missions.
Grand Theft Auto V’s gameplay is made up of all the best elements from Rockstar Games’ different properties. The shooting is an evolution of GTA IV’s combat and Max Payne 3’s cover system. Driving that no longer feels like you're driving on ice, it’s more akin to Midnight Club. The open world is more alive than ever with tons of interesting stranger to meet and random encounters similar to Red Dead Redemption. L.A. Noire’s level of detail has also been brought into the stunningly beautiful and alive world. Let’s not forget various pieces of downloadable content that introduced all sorts of new activities to partake in, that continues in GTA V with the incredibly deep hobbies you can participate in such as tennis, darts, golf, and much more.
The world of Los Santos is unlike any other open world game out there. Not only does the huge world feel alive, but it also feels different no matter where you go. Initial impressions of the game’s map suggest there isn’t much of the actual city, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Not only is the city large, but the county above it is three times larger. The fact that there is no loading at all once you are in the main world is a true testament to Rockstar’s technical genius, but this is nothing new.
Mission, stranger/freaks, random events, and hundreds of other activities help fill this enormous world with things to keep you playing. However, there are two extremely notable things about the missions this time around. The first is that whenever you start any kind of mission the game immediately moves over the camera to a cinematic angle and starts the cutscene with an immediate transition. This does a great job at showing the game’s more cinematic approach. The second thing to note now is that mission variety has been completely overhauled. There was never a mission that was annoying to play or seemed similar to any other past mission and it keeps you on your toes.
Gone are the days of failing a mission, having to go back to your mission, and replaying the parts you failed at over and over again. Now whenever you die or end up failing the mission in some way, you go back to one of the many checkpoints throughout missions. This means that while you may die, it never becomes a pain to retry a mission.
You could be here all day talking about all the different kinds of gameplay elements in GTA V and when it comes to it most of these are honestly better than individual games that are dedicated to them.
The level of detail in the numerous aspects of Los Santos is rather impressive. Whether it be the hundreds of different characters, how cars get damaged or just the scenery, it’s enough to sometimes make you just sit and stare. Of course, while pulling a rampage with guns and explosions changes things up in a different way, there’s something about how calm the city is at other times. Radio and TV fans also have hours upon hours of content to enjoy so don’t worry on that front either.
Despite this, there is one slight note of disappointment when it comes to the presentation, but it can’t be too surprising. Towards the end of the story, right before you get to some later story missions, the game does freeze for a few seconds here and there. This freeze is minor complaint and the game is probably loading the characters you are going to meet at the destination. For a game as massive as GTA V is, there are always going to be bugs and issues that arise, but some of them do steer the spectacle away from where it should be.
Games this deep in terms of content and quality are far and few between and Rockstar has again set a benchmark in that area. There are of course, the expected glitches, some of which are worse than others, and the story does suffer a little bit due to its new focus. However, while there are plenty of games that are just as dark, thought provoking, and violent your trip to Los Santos is not one you will regret.Editor's Choice