Developer: Rockstar North
Publisher: Rockstar Games
One of the biggest games of 2013 is finally here. Grand Theft Auto V is one of Rockstar Games‘ most ambitious projects with a larger map than some of their games in recent history and a budget that costs more than any video game in history. With a lot of hype coming into the game, will GTA V live up to the hype and reputation of its storied franchise; or should the police shut down the operation? Clear off your wanted level, its time for the review.
‘Cause the boys in the hood are always hard…
With about five years past since the storied franchise released the last installment, the developers took time to make a lot of improvements in both graphics and gameplay. Taking place in a redesigned Los Santos and Blaine County (or basically San Andreas), the map in GTA V is the one of, if not the largest map Rockstar Games has made in recent history. GTA V has a beautiful setting from the beaches, to the gritty inner city, to the rural trailer parks few people reside and coyotes run wild. With such a large map its a strong and almost surprising achievement the game doesn’t slow down to load or catch up while traversing the world.
Players flow freely from free roaming, to mission cut scenes and back to gameplay without a load screen in between either. The gameplay of GTA V has improved on many of the elements that felt a little bogged down in the previous installment of the franchise. GTA V utilizes elements from other games under the Rockstar umbrella; shooting mechanics similar to Max Payne 3 and driving mechanics similar to Midnight Club have made the game smoother and a much more enjoyable experience for it. Even with those combined elements from other games, GTA V stands out with its own identity.
I’ll swing by and sign the contracts, just ignore the dead bodies
One major thing that sets GTA V apart is the well written, and well performed dialog in just about all aspects of the game. Radio and television shows (as well as the ads) poke fun with sharp jabs and barbs at society at large. Making fun of subjects ranging from politics to technology, the writers of the game use the characters from the extremes of both sides of the fence to exaggerate the views. The stars of the game however are Michael, Franklin and Trevor. The three come together to make up an odd trio from three very different parts of society to drive the story. Michael, a retired criminal with a family that defines the term of “first world problems”. Franklin is a young criminal from the inner city of Los Santos, that gets pulled from the small time drug deals and stealing cars to helping out Michael with bigger heists. Trevor rounds out the trio as an unhinged meth dealer reuniting with Michael after nearly a decade. Players switch between the three from time to time to complete their own set missions and side quests. As they do, the game zooms out in a Google Maps type view, and zooms in to the character selected and their situation at the time, and at times with strange and/or humorous results.
Each character has their own special skill set; For example, Michael can slow down time and aim his gun precisely (think Max Payne’s bullet-time). Franklin can slow down time to drive around tight areas or corners. Finally Trevor has the ability to go into a “rage mode” where he takes less damage, and dishes out more damage. Each character has their own attributes, making them more strong in some areas than others. Those attributes can be worked on by doing things in the game such as running, swimming under water, and shooting or participating in mini-games like tennis.
You can go in quiet and smart, or loud and dumb…
As the player progresses through the story, and as a criminal’s luck would have it, things go awry and the three must work together to get out of sticky situations. Along the way, the crew works together with members of the supporting cast and other associates to go on heists. Heists play a big role in the game as a way the three characters earn most of their money. The heists usually take place over three phases; scouting, preparation, and execution. Scouting the area helps find any weaknesses or points of entry, preparation gives the player the opportunity to gather a crew of gunmen, drivers, and/or hackers, and choosing a tactic on how to pull off the heist. Afterward, the player must gather the resources necessary for the job. Finally, execution of the method the player chose for preparation is where the real fun comes into play. Depending on the type of strategy the player chose, the heists have different ways of playing through those missions.
Speaking of the missions, each have their own checkpoints. No longer does a player have to drive from point A to point B, then complete mission objectives, only to die or get busted by the police. One other bit of relief would come in the form of skipping some checkpoints, if the player keeps failing. This only comes in hand for the players that find some parts too frustrating (in my case, flying and landing airplanes was tough to handle). However, GTA V gives incentive not to skip parts of that mission with extra tasks within the missions, such as x amount of head shots. Upon completion of the mission, players are awarded with a bronze, silver or gold medal. Players can also go back and revisit missions either for pure enjoyment or to go for the gold.
I’m rich, I’m miserable…I’m pretty average for this town
Grand Theft Auto V is full of moments that get the blood pumping, breath stealing beauty, and laugh out loud humor. With such a massive world and a lot of activities to participate in, GTA V allows the player to take it all in at their own pace without feeling overwhelmed. GTA V feels like a culmination of what the series has become and hooks players in with the gameplay, and keeps them invested in the characters with loose morals throughout their journey.
Final Verdict: Grand Theft Auto V gets 10 walks with Chop the Dog out of 10
This review is based on a review copy of the PlayStation 3 version of Grand Theft Auto V developed and published by Rockstar.
- Writing / Voice Acting
- Improved Controls
- Awkward Plane Controls