in

Grand Theft Auto V

Take the overlooked eccentricities from Kane & Lynch, a plot-line that wouldn’t go amiss in a Breaking Bad episode & sarcastic humour that intelligently conceals a strong social commentary and you begin to scratch the surface of what GTA V is all about. Hailed as the ‘final swansong’ of this gaming generation, Rockstar Games deliver the Grand Theft Auto experience they’ve always wanted to create. That only leaves one question though… is this the Grand Theft Auto we’ve all been waiting for?

Welcome to Los Santos – a vibrant and expansive amalgamation of every Rockstar game from the past decade. Graphically not too dissimilar to GTA IV, Los Santos covers everything from the Canadian-inspired cold peaks to the scorched desolation of the San Andreas desert. A Rockstar discography is definitely in play here and it works tremendously well; the tropical sunshine feels fresher thanks to Max Payne’s recent A* outing (a character who coincidentally is a dead ringer for GTA V’s hero – Michael De Santo) and the humidity, sand and penetrative railway are all factors that made Red Dead Redemption so distinctive. Cycling, too, gets a moment in the sun here in a few memorable missions – which I can only assume is a nod back to the vehicle mechanics developed in Bully. Yes, the universe of GTA V has grown up standing atop the shoulders of some giants in the gaming world – and for that I think everyone is grateful. It pushes the boundaries of what it means to be a sandbox title while still retaining a complete and utter Rockstar-games feel. You could leap from GTA IV to this quite comfortably, which is a fair achievement so as not to alienate existing fans. If that’s the case – then what’s actually changed? Let me tell you…

GTA-V-20-610x343

Our 3 classic anti-heroes are as holistic, as diverse and as three-dimensional as any protagonist you can expect to find from a modern-day videogame. Whilst not necessarily being a whole lot likeable, Franklin (a talented youth whose vocabulary comes directly out of Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’), Mike (a retired ex-criminal gang member) and Trevor (a maniacal heist-loving hillbilly who constantly reminds me of Lynch from the aforementioned Kane & Lynch series) will be your company for the duration of this 30-hour adventure and thanks to a new ‘switching’ mechanic – you can follow the plot-lines of your favourite protagonist without having any disruption from another character. Whilst being a nice novelty, this also allows you to play the game through 3 different in-game perspectives – one character may have money and luxuries but lives in the middle of nowhere, while another may have interesting connections but not enough money to satisfy all his opportunities. It’s this dynamic which successfully lets you grow to appreciate your teammates; they each have their own distinct abilities that can make the others’ lives a hell of a lot easier or a hell of a lot harder. Looking out for your brothers is something I didn’t expect to come into this game wanting to do – but having played through its emotional, high-octane campaign it’s something I grew to love.

Attention to detail has always been a Rockstar trademark, from its Easter eggs to billboard gags to radio stations – and this Rockstar characteristic is as complete here as it’s ever been. You can invest a solid 50 hours into this puppy and not be anywhere near to seeing all its charms and wonders. Does that mean the game world is too big? I wouldn’t say so – it’s not like those 50 hours will be spent wandering an empty, brainless NPC-filled environment. There’s always something to do, someone to see or something to hear and that’s why the game can be both as charming as it is intimidating. Developing the slightly underwhelming ‘mobile phone’ mechanic from GTA IV, the Rockstar guys have taken that one step further – having a fully exploratory web-browser (which I’m convinced will feature hundreds of Easter egg sites if someone knows any?), app service (a nice Snapchat parody features here) and e-mail service built in aside from the usual ‘contacts’ and ‘texts’. It’s immersive, responsive and ended up becoming something I always relied on for its lifelike qualities (although being true to real life comes with some downsides, predominantly spam e-mails from the Ammunation stores…) Equally I’d have to say my favorite facet of GTA V is its radio – an informative, hilarious and ridiculously entertaining jukebox of comedy skits, eclectic music (everything from Queen to Dr Dre, Petshop Boys to All Saints) and news stories that consistently update in real-time as you progress throughout the game. I’m not surprised so many missions this time feature travelling significant distances – Rockstar want you to enjoy their radio because it’s undoubtedly the most interesting part of the game. To select the ‘Radio Off’ option is a crime.

GTA-V

GTA V, like so many other big titles this year, is not without its faults – one of which glaringly lies with the control scheme. It’s not as robust as it should be for a game of this magnitude and quite often you’ll want to switch players or change the radio in a car only to accidentally bust open your passenger-side window and start firing from it (which in turn alerts the police and then your progress is momentarily halted while you swerve down alleyways to avoid detection). Equally there’s so much tight space and mid-air control in this game that if you press ‘x’ to jump forwards whilst running up a fire escape, you could easily jump clean off the edge and plummet to your death. It’s a bit wishy-washy at times and this makes for some annoying mistakes which take a fair bit of time to remedy – whether that be re-tracing your steps from a local hospital or having to run from police mid-mission. Some of the intricacies of the game are so finite that you’ll find this GTA will produce more ‘FAILED’ signs on your screen than a 16 year old cyber-geek on a meme site. Sometimes you may not be standing in the right spot, other times you may be running when you should be walking – generally instructions are occasionally unclear and this leads to you feeling you’re entitled to a certain amount more freedom than you’re actually entitled to. Small gripes perhaps but these issues definitely do exist and detract significantly from the overall experience.

Overall it’s quite safe to say that GTA V is one hell of a game. There’s something in it for everybody and therefore it comes as no surprise that this was one of the most expensive projects are undertaken by a production team (only being surpassed by Pirates of the Caribbean 3 in production costs). Every ounce of Rockstar’s originality, integrity and quality is stapled onto each joke, each character and each frame of the game – no matter where it takes you there will be good and bad times that feel completely unique to you as a gamer. Your decisions really do matter, your reactions have consequences – this is a game that could well resemble real life to many gamers who find it easy to immerse themselves in sandbox gaming. Whilst it’s not flawless, it’s near enough the most holistic, robust and entertaining package available to date on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. With an immersive online multiplayer package to boot, GTA V is a must-own game for any gamer – regardless of how long you intend to stick with your current console for…

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading…

0

Midnight City Preview (Part One of Two)

Grand Theft Auto: The Lovers, The Haters, The Curious