It’s finally here, Grand Theft Auto: Online, the game world in which you can cause havoc, pain, and mayhem in order to get paid and get paid good. This review was originally posted during the initial launch and unfortunately the online was riddled with issues from the beginning. Going back to the online after several years, I’m revising this review and giving Rockstar Games the benefit of the doubt. Welcome to the Granf Theft Auto: Online review.
GTA: Online is a whole new ball game as far as the Grand Theft Auto world is concerned. This online mode allows you to join randoms or friends in another living and breathing Los Santos. You can start missions, heists, or a variety of creative and fun game modes such as stunt races.
As with most multiplayer games, you are able to create and mold your own character. Customisation comes in a variety of formats from haircuts to fresh clothes and tattoos to make-up or face paints choices. You can truly make your in-game player feel like you, or not, and Rockstar is constantly including new content updates. The ability to purchase your own apartment is also an interesting one and you can either buy in the ghetto or be more upmarket.
After each mission, race or activity, you will earn money and reputation points which will increase your overall rank. The higher your ran, the more items, and missions that become available to you. Once this is done you are then able to freely go around the map as you wish; walk, run, drive or fly, you play it however you want to. Cruising around the middle of the hustle and bustle, listening to Fergie on the radio and shooting up some online punks really is rather entertaining.
Missions are varied and can include being put into two teams for faceoffs, chasing down AI gang members for drugs or other must-have materials and racing against random opponents or friends. Missions can be found using the phone or can be quickly accessed using an in-game menu to quickly select where you want to go or what you wish to do, this is then shown on your GPS. Like in single player, your phone does almost everything, this is a godsend. You’re not endlessly messing around with menus like you seemed to in GTA IV and you can quickly browse contacts, jobs lists and more. You also have the ability to take photos using your phone and share them with the world.
A big factor of GTA Online are crews, something which the Rockstar Social Club has been advertising for weeks in advance of the actual games release. You can join any public crew you like or create a private one for just you and your friends. In these crews, you can conduct activities and heists together and gain extra RP to increase your ranks. Inviting your crew members is also easy, you can simply find them in the contacts area of the phone, give them a quick ‘call‘ and they might come and join you. It’s wise to bring a friend along as back up as playing out in the open world can become troublesome, especially when someones packing more than just a pistol.
With the mountain of updates that the online portion has seen since release, you can now conduct heists with your crew, buy specialty bunkers and airports and even start your own biker gang amongst other things. There really is no limit to how much fun you can have in Los Santos, though this does come at a hefty price in some cases. Buying a bunker for instance to conduct special missions can cost you upwards of $1,000,000.
Speaking of money you have two options for storing your hard earned cash: the bank and your back pocket. Money that hasn’t been banked is up for the taking should you be attacked online and killed, but money in your bank is safe and can’t be stolen. I found this to be a great mechanism and I have found myself either using my phone after an event to bank my hard earned cash quickly or I visit a local ATM. There is an option to set the game to passive mode and whilst enabled you can’t be shot by other players and you can’t shoot them, as the tip screen says, “it’s widely unrealistic!” This stops anyone from losing or gaining money and can be useful when you just wish to cruise around the city.
If you don’t like joining crews you can still get the Online experience as you play, some missions require more than one person so there’s always going to be someone around for you to hang around and enjoy the mayhem with.
In the world of Lost Santos, you have access to Ammu-Nation’s, clothing shops, hairdressers, garages and more as you play, though some of these need a certain rank to unlock. The only noticeable difference between the single-player and online regarding these are the prices, everything is far more expensive in the online world. One big problem I have are the weapons and when they’re able to be used. From the start of the game, until you rank up, you’re stuck with a pistol. The majority of the good weapons are locked for a portion of the start but this isn’t a major drawback. I would have liked to have seen a couple more weapons available from the get-go.
Garages aren’t unlocked at the start either, which is a shame, but once you’ve ranked up you’re then free to find cars you like and store them there. Cars are fully customisable, like your character, just as in the single player. You can beef up one ride specifically for races and have another for riding out in the dirt up North. Purchasing an apartment also gives you the ability to store your vehicles. A new addition regarding cars is the ability to add a tracker and purchase insurance, meaning if you lose your ride or it ends up totaled you can just ring up and get a new one.
There really is a mountain of content within the online portion of the game that will keep you coming back for more. Rockstar has done a great job at making the game world feel alive. If you can, grab a few friends and delve into Los Santos and get ready to take-over and get shit done. There really aren’t enough words I can use in this review to adequately describe what’s on offer and what’s to come. Just see for yourself.