Brash, expeditiously entertaining and highly addictive, 'Rockstar Games' does it again by creating another benchmark ‘Grand Theft Auto’ experience.
Reviewing the new ‘Grand Theft Auto’ game after its release almost seems redundant. By now most of the GTA diehards have already made your purchase and are madly addicted like ourselves. For those who haven’t played GTA (yes, it is possible) or don’t know about the series (that one is a little questionable), we are adding one more glowing review of the titanic ‘Grand Theft Auto V’.
Now that the wait is over, anticipation is near frenzy level; and for good reason. 'Rockstar Games' and especially the 'Grand Theft Auto' franchise has proven to be at the pedigree of interactive gaming in the action genre. GTAV is no different as we are treated to another enterprising tale of drama, mayhem and criminal insanity. Coming off the impressive ‘Red Dead Redemption’, it is interesting to see the same core idealism reinvented in the concrete jungle.
‘Grand Theft Auto V’ is very much the next progression of the series. Built on the same foundation of the GTA IV, it is always outstanding to see how much “stuff” Rockstar can fit into one game. By the word “stuff”, I mean an immersive world, an amazing written narrative, charismatic characters, solid gameplay and hours-upon-hours of obsessive gameplay. Yes, it does sound like the “perfect” game... and for most, it is.
Three is Better Than One
Perfect in its execution, GTAV effortlessly blends its simple, yet complex enough mechanics with the storytelling. Multifaceted, you will start slow as you get know each of the lead protagonists, while showing off what GTA does best; variety. It’s easy to get distracted from the main narrative with all the extra activities, but it doesn't take long before you are pulled back to its devilish antics. The main story arch is by far the most interesting path that is constantly filled with surprises and "wow" moments. Having three lead “playable” characters mixed together to form a cohesive tale is an immense undertaking, but one Rockstar tackled just fine. While the mission structure is still heavily scripted, you can tell each section of the game has been scrutinized to get the most out of each situation.
The three leads are Michael, the middle aged retired bank robber - Trevor, the psychopathic self-enterprising madman – and Franklin, the visionary “gangbanger”. Each character not only has a special skill built into the game mechanics, but each has its own bubble they live in. This gives the player even more freedom to explore each characters life beyond their conjoined ventures.
All three characters aren’t unlocked from the get go and you have to spend a few hours rampaging Los Santos before you meet the last, and not-so-lovely mug of Trevor. Although, Trevor is the “buzz” character, and rightfully so, each character does have their own charm and emotional pull behind them. Secondly, the story is woven together in such a way that you get enough "alone time" with each character as explore their world. Strong in their own regards, it's really when they are acting as a modern day "Three Amigos" that GTAV finds its stride. While one of these characters could have been a lead on its own, GTAV only benefits by having three head honchos.
More of the Same - Well, Not Really
The actives are a kin to what you have explored in prior ‘Grand Theft Auto’ games, just with a new set of circumstances. In that respect, GTAV isn’t “groundbreaking”, but when you add in the fact that it is at the top of the tier when it comes to 3rd person action games, we can handle what is essentially, more of the same.
Part of this fluidity comes in the way of refinement. The gameplay, most notably the targeting and driving is sharper and more responsive. GTAV feels exactly how you would want it to feel along with some special treats like adding wildlife and slow motion abilities. Yes, each game makes an impact – thank you, ‘Red Dead Redemption’ and ‘Max Payne 3’.
Other changes come in the ability to “quick save” via your phone, which does away with finding your way back to your “crib” before you can save your progress. However, it is still included if you’re anxious about full health or time progression. Underwater traversal has also been added which means submarines and exploration of the surrounding sea. I guess we are lucky 'Los Santos' is an island. Lastly, let’s not forget branching missions with the newly added “heist” feature. In certain heist missions you will be get to select your own crew and pick how you’re going to tackle each job. Along with the branching heist options, you can also replay missions for medal ranking, which boosts the replay value of GTAV astronomically.
Now this is how you build a Sandbox
Speaking of Los Santos, ‘Rockstar Games’ need a round of applause for pulling of a sandbox world with this amount of detail, and more shockingly, one that doesn’t need to load. The game basically only loads when it is switching characters or running a cut-scene. This means that you can drive straight across this massive world without experience a load time, including going in-and-out of buildings. It is quite outstanding even without going into the enhanced weather and lighting system that are in effect. In every way GTAV is overachieves on our expectations.
The sound design keeps up with the strong GTA tradition of providing hours of interesting ambient "city" noises, an outstanding soundtrack and superb talent in the cast. It's often the little touches that make the big difference and Rockstar hits it out of the park. The talent and time that has gone into GTAV really shows even if its not presenting the latest in next-generation graphics.
Adding to this is the diversity in the world created. By far the largest open world created by Rockstar, Los Santos and Blaine County is massive and even better; geographically contrasting. Best yet, there is no restriction where you can go, with the map being open to the player from the get go. It is easy to get lost in its virtual draw when can see the variety in the landscape, people, random events, and story missions. From climbing to the tip of a mountain in an ATV to peddling through the old 'Grove Street' hood, GTAV shows off why Rockstar is regarded as the king of the sandbox gaming.
Yes as you can tell, we are impressed. GTAV is an amazing experience, one that is so damn good it feels bad to point out any negative issues within this massive project. Although, it doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the game at times I wanted more. This reflects the small things that we’ve been able to do in ‘Grand Theft Auto’ games in the past. Simple things like grabbing a burger at ‘Burger Shot’ or picking out more than a couple hair styles at the salon. I guess the world feels so alive in its hyper detail that it is easy to get greedy. Nevertheless, the more you get into this world, the more you will want out of it, and really, that can’t be a bad thing.
Secondly, GTA is no stranger to controversy, and this continues with "Five". GTAV is rated "M" for a reason, so it would be wise for parents to review the product before you put in their child's hand. Stack full of "bad" language, over the top violence (including an interactive torture scene), and blatant sexuality that includes nudity, this isn't one for the easy shocked. That being said, I didn't find it to be out of line from the GTA of the past. The series is known for pushing the boundaries without shame and GTAV follows those lines. Chocked full of social commentary on the current state of "real life", adult gamers will probably be wrapped in tight as Rockstar explores various themes made popular by our society and the media.
This is just the preverbal “tip of the ice-berg” when it comes to GTAV. So without rambling with more acclaimed praise on the other features, know GTAV is everything that you have come to expect out of the series and more. GTAV is packed full of content it is outstanding, and even more remarkable is the level of quality to match the quantity. Even without going into the soon to be released online multiplayer, GTAV offers more than enough “bang for your buck”.
In a feat remarkable in its own right, ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ lives up to the hype and proves to be one of the most profound video-games of the year. Improved in every aspect, ‘Rockstar Games’ shows us the savagery of the concrete jungle - and we loved every minute.
- Several refinements that improve the gameplay
- Three works out just as good as one. Unique multiple protagonist system works.
- Trevor Phillips.
- Billions of activities to keep you busy.
- A sandbox masterpiece. Hardly any loading.
- Uncanny attention to detail and improved graphics.
- Entertaining missions and secondary characters.
- Online multiplayer (to be released).
- Inability to eat a 'Burger Shot' burger.
- Some of the “Mature” content might be too much for some.
- Not all the "classic" features have returned.
- Hoping for even more customizability.
Quote: "In a feat remarkable in its own right, ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ lives up to the hype and proves to be one of the most profound video-games of the year."
Reviewed by DowntownJimmy | 09.26.13 | Platform Reviewed:Xbox 360
Similar Games: Saints Row 2 (8.7) | Max Payne 3 (9.2) | Red Dead Redemption (9.5) | Grand Theft Auto IV (9.8)