Game Review: Grand Theft Auto V
I’m not the best guy to talk to about GTA V in comparison to the others in the series, the only one I’ve personally played through prior to V was the very first on the PSone. It was a very violent game that I played when I was a little too young. There is however, a huge difference with the original and modern GTA games. The first couple were based in low detail cities that you explored from a birds eye view, it was violent without any graphic realism. The first game in the series to go fully 3d was GTA III, it was on the much more powerful Playstation 2 and with the more powerful hardware came a higher graphical fidelity, this is where the series started it’s foray with realistic hyper violence.
I played it and thought it was good but I had a problem, I didn’t have a memory card at the time. I’d played about 4 hours of the game in my first sitting, got bored and couldn’t bring myself to start again. As the series went on I just never felt enticed to try the others that often, whenever I did I’d just end up causing mayhem and not progressing. As the hype and silliness around the series grew, my interest faded. I have never played what many considered the series highlight, GTA San Andreas. When I tried GTA IV I thought the car handling was too aggravating and getting called to needless tasks too frequently lost my attention quickly. GTA V wasn’t on my to do list until I was delayed at an airport and I was just watching a steady stream of new trailers, one of them being the first video to detail many of V’s new features. There was a hell of a lot of stuff in that trailer and at that point, I was interested.
There was 4 and a half years between IV and V’s release and this was in development for most of that time. GTA V was the most expensive game ever made so they were going to attempt to get everything right and did a fantastic job. It takes place in the fictional state of Los Santos (which is based on Southern California). I’ve never played an open world game that teems with so much life and character in almost every part of it. You assume the role of 3 different characters throughout the story, their plots intertwine and separate regularly during your play. Each of the three have differing stats that you can increase when taking part in activities, this works as an incentive to take part in mini games and non essential missions. The plot kept me engaged and intrigued during my entire run through and it’s pacing was great. With so much to do and loads of extra tasks available, many of them actually add to the plot and characters rather than feeling tacked on. The last character you assume the role of is Trevor, a Canadian smuggler/methamphetamine manufacturer/psychopath. The way this guy is presented sort of swayed me into playing with him in a more erratic manor. When it came to his introduction I began playing with each character differently. I didn’t indulge in chaos with the other two as it didn’t befit them like Trevor. He was all the excuse anyone would need to immures themselves in reckless behavior.
The gameplay is good enough to keep up with scope of the game. Right off the bat the cars handled more to my taste than IV, so this was a good start. The combat utilizes simple yet functional cover shooter mechanics that are easy to get to grips with. I’d have preferred better hand to hand combat but I didn’t engage in many fist fights. Each character has their own unique special ability relating to combat or driving depending on who you’re using. I found the helicopters a little tough to navigate and didn’t overly enjoy the submarine when I used it but I applaud its inclusion and not being forced to use it often. There wasn’t many occasions during my experience with the game that I didn’t enjoy myself. The few times I didn’t were usually because I’d died and had to do something again. Although I bit the bullet a few times, as it wasn’t the hardest game. I found that with patience, every mission was doable. If you struggle too much, it actually offers you the opportunity to skip that mission. There’s a big amount of replay value from the side missions, alternative heist options,multiple endings and endless messing around possible.
The games visuals are impressive, especially for a game so vast. So much thought has gone into the smallest of details. Great care is taken in even the most mundane of actions, from stubble growth to in game products and adverts. The radio stations are top notch as usual (I’d recommend trying to listen to Danny McBrides talk show on bovine insemination, he has a way with words!), they even run some different stations when your in the dessert. They took care in the way you find your characters when switching to them, giving the illusion they went on with their lives between your control. Most characters were well cast but the central guys did an awesome job. All of the audio was up to par, even the licensed music differentiated the cultures of this mock city in a great way.
It’s hard to talk about GTA without it’s controversial wake trailing it. There where things that I thought didn’t need to be in there that would alienate some people and makes it all seem harsher than it needs to be. I understand it’s extreme nature is pushed to a satirical level but it creeps unnecessarily far some times. The game is funny and mostly very well written and performed. The social commentary is wrapped in a comedic bow but it is still forced upon you and is very hypocritical in parts. Some parents continue to insist that their children are ok playing this stuff, I’d be surprised if they’d reiterate that after witnessing some select moments. I was never personally offended by anything, I do think toning down or cutting out some bits wouldn’t have dented sales but would have put fewer people off. I know it set the gold standard in controversial games and pridefully remains the king of that sordid hill, though for me I think it would’ve been to the products overall benefit to nix some bits. With a few tweaks they could have opened it up to an even broader audience than their record breaking clientele.
On a side note, I never actually played the online multiplayer mode. Although I’ve heard mixed things about the multiplayer aspect of the game, I haven’t experienced it first hand so I can’t comment. I will not let my lack of online play effect the score I’ve given GTA V, I think the single player campaign held it’s own and can be scored out of 100 on it’s own merits.