Grand Theft Auto V

We here at Review Junkies have had some time to mull GTA V over and we’ve come to a conclusion: Grand Theft Auto V is incredible, nay; impossibly perfect. I’ve been playing GTA games since the first one on my old desktop and every incarnation since, and they get better and better at the fully immersive experience.

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For the first time, GTA V follows not one, but three protagonists through the storyline. Retired criminal Michael spends his days drinking, watching old movies, arguing with his family while dreaming of the ‘good old days’. Previous Grand Theft Auto titles show the anti-heroes rise from street thug to master criminal, while GTA V shows us the sad hangover from that lifestyle. Franklin is the most relatable character in V, a repo man trying to make it-and mostly failing-in his criminal career. By happenstance Franklin crosses paths with Michael and puts him on the fast track to a successful criminal lifestyle. And then there’s Trevor. A crazy-eyed psychopath that lives in the trailer park, cooks crystal meth and bounty hunts for the shits and giggles. All three characters are accessible by pressing down on the D-pad at almost any time and puts us into their shoes. At any time our protagonists are living their normal lives and when we move to each one, we catch a glimpse of that lifestyle. Michael will be poolside with a drink in his hand, getting yelled at by his kids, or on a bike ride on Vespucci beach. Franklin will be washing his car, talking to girls, or taking his dog Chop out for a walk. Trevor will either be drunk in a pile of dead bodies beachside or having an all out gunfight with law enforcement in the desert in a dress.

Each character has their own stats, driving, shooting, stamina, etc. that can be built up over time by playing. Take flying lessons will make you a better pilot, going to the gun range will make you a better shot. Much like in GTA: San Andreas, you’ll feel a bit clunky with your character, build throughout the game and by the time its done, you’ve grown with your character to the best of their abilities. GTA V doesn’t suffer from previous installment’s standard “Drive X character from point A to point B”. Missions feel more organic, each one contributing to the overall story. Each character has their own lifestyle missions, Franklin’s repossession missions, Michael’s family issues, and Trevor’s meth’d out rampages. Then there are the missions that involve all three characters, including heists that are open-ended, dramatic and massive.

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Driving has vastly improved from the previous series, vehicles are grippy and it doesn’t feel like you’re driving on a frozen lake. Flying is more simple than previous games, as long as you can handle the random turbulence added by the game engine. The combat system is by far the best with its fantastic cover system. Weapon selection is better handled as well with the weapon wheel as opposed to previous linear system. Money making is far more involved, invest in the stock market with your mission-won money and make possible millions in property, or assassinate a CEO of a company to alter the market. You can go on missions with Franklin’s dog; there’s so much stuff to do in this game and none of it feels half assed. Minigames are fun, Golf feels like an actual golf game like Tiger Woods or Tennis has all the characteristics of Top Spin.

Heres where I’m going to break down this section of this review into more detailed coverage. Two weeks after GTA V‘s release, Rockstar debuted GTA Online, the multiplayer counterpart to Grand Theft Auto’s new installment. Meant to be a standalone title bundled with the single player game, it came with some unfinished aspects. Rockstar gave online players a massive sandbox to play in, but for the first 48 hours many players couldn’t even get past the loading screens. As of this article, Grand Theft Auto Online is in its 5th patch to fix bugs, load times, cloud saves, garage errors, etc. Not only that, weeks behind schedule Rockstar is patching the game to give us players their “online stimulus package” of $500,000 to show their appreciation for us being so patient.

Along with these patches to fix bugs, Rockstar had to nerf certain aspects of online play. Players had found exploits to make massive piles of money by replaying missions over and over, to glitching single-player vehicles into their online garages. These nerds in my opinion are far random because we can no longer receive the full payout of missions upon replaying them, but in some missions not given by NPCs we get the full payout and clear $165,000 in an hour by reloading. it is fair to say that GTA Online is so huge that Rockstar can’t get to everything by now, but I feel they nerved missions and the way the game assigns them poorly. Along with poor planning is the lack of ‘crew support’ while playing. Finish a mission and each player will most likely be dumped into a completely separate free-roam lobby, leaving you stranded and sometimes out numbered depending on other players intentions. Rockstar had it down pat in Red Dead Redemption with its Posse system keeping everyone together across lobbies and missions, odd they would drop it with their biggest title yet.

GTA Online has its perks, however. Rockstar introduced Bad Sport lobbies that weed the online grievers from the do-gooders. Blow up too many personal vehicles (Online vehicles are tracked and insured to keep your ride near at all times) and your character is booted into a Bad Sport lobby with the other detentionees complete with dunce caps for 48 real world hours. Careful though, if you probably grief to get into these lobbies, chances are its nothing but griefing and getting griefed for those 2 days.

In summation to GTA Online, its wonderfully massive, completely open ended and there are literally weeks of fresh new things to do before worrying about what comes next.

SOUND

Rockstar is famous for its open-world titles, and to make that open world more believable is the perfect sound design. Walk the streets of Los Santos and you’ll hear absurd conversations between NPC characters or the discussions their vapidness over their iFruit devices. Take a trip into the ghetto and you’ll hear the police helicopters hovering over a crime scene. Drive out to the desert and listen to the wind blow and hear the coyotes howl. The radio stations are spot on in V as well. My personal favorite is Mirror Radio Park, hipster radio with a radio DJ that exudes hipster culture, yet despises it, in a very hipster fashion.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This game is non-stop fun. Get tired of working on the story and you can go get lost for hours in the forest-covered mountains and go hunt for big game. Break into the military base and steal a fighter jet, raining death on the unsuspecting San Andreas.

Pros

  • Open world game that knows no ends.
  • Works within current generation systems limitations while pushing their limits to the max to provide the most in-depth GTA experience yet.
  • Tight controls, storytelling and game mechanics make GTA V a game you won’t eject from your system’s disc tray for months.

Cons

  • Online aspects are wonky at best, but are improving daily
  • Grand Theft Auto V is the swan song to current gen systems. Personally, GTA V will decide when players move on to the next generation, and not the players themselves.

 

Style – Single Player / Multiplayer Online

Developer – Rockstar North

Publisher – Rockstar Games

Release – September 2013


 

JUNKIE SCORES
  • 4.5 – Gameplay
  • 4.5 – Graphics
  • 4.0 – Sound
  • 4.5 – Entertainment
  • 4.5 – Replay Value

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