Grand Theft Auto V
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Rockstar North
Genre: Open World Action
Release Dates: 17 September 2013 (EU & NA)
Price: 42.43£ (Amazon)
Grand Theft Auto V is indeed grand in every way, as it does from the very beginning put you in a world always at your disposal, where you can choose where you want to start your adventures. Those adventures were always two-sided in any Grand Theft Auto game, starting with the story the developers try to tell via the characters created inside and for the game’s universe and moving on to the adventures you create yourself with those characters; combining those sides is the thing that has always worked for Grand Theft Auto, creating those one of a kind experiences we all remember from the previous titles. Grand Theft Auto V is the first game in the series to feature not only one playable character whose story the game has to tell, but three, all of them with a unique personality and a captivating story that will most likely drag you further into the experience.
Even though on a smaller scale each character has their own personal issues such as Franklin’s hard hood life and his old friends that keep begging him for help or Michael’s troubling marriage, that create a unique story for each character, putting each one of them in a different social class and around a different kind of struggle, in the main story that the game has to tell they all share the same common purpose and so their paths will often intersect, putting two or all three of them together on the same mission. First, there’s Franklin, the youngest of the bunch who’s looking to make a life out in San Andreas and move out of the hood, then Michael, the man often described as “the one who won GTA” as he is already buried in enough money to ensure his retirement, but soon finds out that is way too boring for his taste, and then there’s Trevor, Michael’s long gone heists partner from back in the days who can best be described using words such as insane or psycho as he loses his temper every five minutes.
There is something for everyone and GTA V feels like a reunion of the Grand Theft Auto classics put into the best packaging available, bringing nostalgia to the long time fans of the franchise, while still appealing to the new audience and being a definitive game for any fans of the genre; while fans of Vice City will most likely instantly connect to Michael as he is the rich fellow stuck in a 80's dream, other fans who grew up with San Andreas will feel that nostalgia in Franklin's missions, and as for Trevor while he is without doubt the source for most of the game controversy, he is also the most unique and surprising of the bunch as he offers something new entirely not only for the GTA franchise, but for video games in general.
The story that the game has to tell brings all those three characters together in a way that feels natural and manages to deliver not only one plot that follows them all, but rather divides the stories there are to tell into one big piece that is the presented via the main missions, and a few smaller pieces that each tell a different story for one of those three characters, something that helps you get to know each one of them better and see how they ended up in this situation in the first place. Just like in previous titles such as Grand Theft Auto IV or Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars, not all stories are uncovered by progressing through the natural flow of the main missions, as there are plenty of Strangers you will encounter on the road who will give you small tasks to accomplish, mysteries that you will uncover just by travelling around and visiting different locations or simple conversations between people on the street, the amount of information you can find out about Los Santos and the county of San Andreas is overwhelming.
Grand Theft Auto V is bigger, better and more detailed than any previous title, making it the ultimate Grand Theft Auto experience, as it gives you plenty of things to do, not only while you play the main missions, but afterwards as well. The main missions play better than ever and each one of them is different from another, making the entire game feel like an adventure where anything can happen at any time, as there’s plenty of variety that comes with each one of those missions. Apart from the insane fun that you get with each one of them, you now have the ability to replay them all at any given time in order to improve your score, something that will give you a purpose to revisit those one of a kind adventures aside from the actual killing, and now that’s easier thanks to the new checkpoint mechanic that will automatically save progress during a missions so you’ll never have to make a long trip twice if you fail at the end.
The highlight of those missions are without a doubt the heists, a bunch of carefully organized robberies that will require you to complete a bunch of small tasks at first such as stealing a certain vehicle or piece of equipment then letting you choose how you want to approach the target: you could go stealthy and with caution using every object and piece of equipment in your advantage or go straight up front and destroy everything that stands in your way; it is all up to you. The payoff will vary however depending on the approach you took, the losses and the percentage of the money that goes to the rest of your crew as for almost each mission you will need to hire a driver or an additional gunman, which you can choose from a list of people that you will meet on the street or in previous missions.
Another unique game changer comes in the form of each character's special ability, which can be activated at any time by pressing the right analog stick, putting Trevor in the berzerk mode which allows him to slaughter huge waves of enemies while taking less damage, allowing Franklin to slow down time while driving in order to avoid cars and giving Michael the ability to slow down time while shooting a weapon, an ability similar to the one used by Max Payne. Of course, the missions are only a small portion of the things you can do in GTA V as there are plenty of activities to fill in the blanks between missions or even afterwards: you can play tennis, darts or golf, go cycling, hiking, hunting, take yoga classes, go out for a drink with your buddies, compete in land, sea or air races and many more.
There is no limitation to what the world offers you as you can travel to the highest mountain, jump off the biggest hill and even take a submarine underwater to see what’s at the bottom of the ocean, the list of things you can do in GTA V goes on and on. Customization also plays an important role in Grand Theft Auto V as you can buy clothes, cars, boats, planes, helicopters and then customizing those even more to your liking, so your world will be different from anyone else’s. GTA V nails down another troubling issue in previous titles, the amount of money you have and nothing to buy with it, but in this game that is no longer a problem as there is plenty of real estate to buy and the game even has its own Stock Trading mechanic where you can make or lose more money depending on your stock trading skills. Even with all those normal day activities in the game, Grand Theft Auto is still that hardcore bloodshed you remember from the previous titles as everything from prostitution, use of drugs and the most important lots of killing is still in there and in a better form.
Grand Theft Auto V is without doubt one of the best looking video games to date, overwhelming you with the size of its world from the very beginning and more importantly the attention to detail put into each corner of this world. The characters look incredibly realistic and that applies to everyone you see on the street, not only the main protagonists, everything you see and interact with feels realistic and has a certain aura that makes it feel like it belongs there.
The lip sync is perfect and for everything there is to see, considering the hardware limitations of the current generation of consoles the game runs surprisingly well, without any major frame rate drops or loading issues. There is no limit to what you can see in GTA V, from rocky mountains, to green hills, long highways and large roads, corners and sidestreets, houses and shops, malls and cinemas, lakes and rivers, and even the underwater wreckages of ships that sunk. The effects are revolutionary as without a doubt the explosions and fire effects are some of the best you’ll ever see on this generation of consoles. The weather system is another amazing thing that brings the world to life in a unique way making simple things such as the rain drastically change the environment around you.
You have Shawn Fonteno as Franklin Clinton, Ned Luke as Michael de Santa and Steven Ogg as Trevor Philips not only as the voices of the characters, but the likings as well as everything was captured using MotionCap technology. They all do an excellent job delivering their lines and each dialogue between the characters, even with the smaller ones such as strangers that you encounter on the street feels natural and combining serious conversations with cocky jokes and probably the most uses of the F word since Mafia II, you end up with an authentic Grand Theft Auto experience that you won’t forget anytime soon.
The soundtrack is pure awesomeness, the kind of stuff that you’re used to in GTA games, and as always there’s something for everyone as there are plenty of radio channels to choose from, but what really makes each GTA soundtrack memorable is the randomness when you’re cruising around in your car and just the right song comes on making you turn your speakers to the max. The sound effects are just as amazing, as the actual real equivalent of the guns in game was used in real life to capture that sound, so each one of them sounds authentic; explosions are just as good, with car crash effects coming in second.
There is literally no end to what you can do in Grand Theft Auto V even after you have completed the main story, which will take you more than 20 hours considering the fact that you will most likely do some side missions as well between those main ones, but even so once that is out of the way you have more side missions, other strangers to meet, mysteries to uncover, races to complete, real estate and vehicles to buy, tennis, golf and darts matches to play, collectibles, tours, and those one of a kind adventures that you start on your own without any purpose just because the map allows you to that better than even before. In addition to that, each copy of GTA V will give you free access to Grand Theft Auto Online, which puts you and your friends together in the enormous world of San Andreas and give you freedom to start your own adventures.
Grand Theft Auto V is not only one of the best games of this generation, but one of the best games of all time as it gives you three main protagonists which all have a story to tell in addition to the main game story that is absolutely amazing to follow, innovating gameplay, astonishing graphics and soundwork and enough activities to keep you around for a very long time. There is no excuse not to get GTA V, even if you haven’t been much around the franchise lately, as this game doesn’t only bring you a typical criminal life story, but instead it gives you a massive world and lets you decide what you want to do next in that world, including living the criminal life everyone is looking forward to in a Grand Theft Auto game.