On September 17th the world stood still, that day the game of all games released on consoles and the response was huge. Grand Theft Auto 5 has been in the making for five years, and with such a long development phase gamers were anxious to see if the latest title in the GTA series was going to hit the top or sink to the bottom. You will all be ecstatic to know it was the former.
Glorious Los Santos
If you don’t already know, the map in GTA V happens to be huge, in fact, it’s around three times the size of GTA IV. It features a bustling city area about the size of Liberty City and a large outback section named Blaine County. Not only does this give gamers more to look at, it also allows for a larger variety of missions, side missions, and extras. You’re not always confined to the same small space. Flying a plane from one end of the map to the opposite can take a while, so if you wish to explore you’re going to want to bring some snacks.
Franklin, Michael, and Trevor! Oh, My!
GTA V doesn’t just feature one character, it features three, all of which you can switch back and forth from at virtually any time during the game. Franklin, Michael, and Trevor each have their own set of storyline missions which at times will clash. Each character also has their own special ability which can be very useful when completing some of the story missions or when generally exploring the world and causing mayhem.
Abilities and Stats
Franklin’s special ability allows him to drive in slow motion, thus ‘expertly’, being able to avoid spinning out his vehicle at high speeds when approaching corners or driving between two vehicles without a scratch. Michael’s ability allows him to shoot with almost pinpoint accuracy, which as you can imagine can become very useful when under heavy fire. Trevor’s ability is similar to Michael’s, only his rampage mode allows him to deal twice as much damage whilst limiting his own.
Each character also has their own stats which can be improved by taking part in flying lessons, doing cardio (running around or bike riding), visiting the shooting range, driving often or racing. Each character is stronger in specific categories than others, so trying your best to bring everyone to a similar point is useful, though not doing so won’t affect much of the gameplay unless you’re trying to fly with someone like Franklin who has no flying experience.
It’s All in the Story
Story-wise GTA V is big, think over 30 hours of gameplay big if you decide to try your hand at side missions and extra between the main story missions. The game is literally packed with little extras which only continues to make it a better title. On the side of story missions you can complete tasks for random ‘freaks and strangers’, buy businesses in order to gain money, buy stocks from the online stock market (stocks which you can affect the price of by causing havoc in the game), compete is a wide variety of sports and activities including yoga, races, triathlons and more. It’s your typical Rockstar outing here but it has been given an extra boost by today’s gaming standards and technology.
Also coming back is the ability to purchase new outfits at the local clothing stores (a personal favourite of mine) and the ability to purchase upgrades for your vehicles at body shops. The same items can be bought through the internet via your phone.
Gameplay and Game Mechanics
A lot of improvements have been made with both the driving and fighting. You can now throw and counter a punch without worrying about your character being clipped unexpectedly and the driving feels more natural rather than being heavy a clunky (you know what I’m talking about GTA IV). Weapon firing has also been improved. Using a weapon feels far more natural and switching to another using the weapon dial is far easier and causes less stress. The fact that the game slows in the background as you pick another weapon is also a plus, no getting shot up as you fumble for your pistol.
Rockstar has now included upgrades for your weapons, each weapon their own set and they can be bought for a little extra cash when you visit your nearest Ammu-Nation. Upgrades come in all shapes and sizes and include silencers, flashlights, and new skins. The only complaint I have here is the small reticle for your weapon, sometimes you can’t see where you’re firing, which can be a problem but then again you could use the lock-on option.
Added later in the lifecycle of the game is the ability to play the game in first-person. Running around in this viewing mode is certainly strange at first, Grand Theft Auto has always been known for its originally birds-eye view and third-person stance. I have to admit, Rockstar have crafted this into the game beautifully and it works as intended, although I should note that it doesn’t feel as natural as an FPS title would.
Damn, You Look Good!
As always with Rockstar Games they try their best to bring the best visuals and audio to their fans and this game is no exception. Even with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360’s lifespan coming to an end, they‘ve still pushed them to the limit and visually GTA V is jaw-droppingly stunning. The current-gen iterations along with PC are just as grandeur – better actually.
The city is full of hustle and bustle and taking to the air allows you to see San Andreas in all of its glory.
I will complete a full review of Grand Theft Auto: Online in due course, however, I will give it a brief mention here. This online world is an exact replica of San Andreas from the single player except you can play with other players or group up with friends. Purchase your own apartment and garage, complete heists to earn money, and much more.
The online is a separate living and breathing world where there’s plenty to do, see, and take in.