Grand Theft Auto 5 Review
publisher: Rockstar Games
developer: Rockstar Games
genre: Action Adventure
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Sep 17, 13
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Grand Theft Auto 3, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto 4. That’s my experience with Rockstar Games’ GTA series. I just enjoyed the hell out of each game. After so many years, GTA still relies on the same, simple formula. They’ve just been stretching and pushing the whole thing as far as it will go. They push the boundaries each and every time they release a new title. Players are given the freedom to do almost anything they bloody like.
Grand Theft Auto 5, the latest addition to the series, puts players into the vast urban districts of LA virtual twin-sister city, Los Santos. You are immediately greeted by three unsavory characters. ‘Unsavory’ to say the least. Meet street gangster Franklin, a semi-retired villain named Michael and quite a nasty piece of work, Trevor, who while clinically insane stays true and loyal to his friends. The game tells three interconnected tales about these three guys, as they go about their daily crime-oriented habits.
The game kicks off on a high note, as you take part in a robbery. This introduction gives us a first glimpse at what criminal buddies Michael and Trevor were up to in the past. As the game fastforwards to present day, a new character steps onto the scene – Franklin. The story starts by telling three separate tales, but eventually the three characters cross paths and an all-new feature emerges. Switching between Franklin, Michael and Trevor is something that helps break the monotony of the game. It keeps story-missions interesting and the gameplay a lot more exciting. During a story-driven mission, like a robbery, you can usually change protagonists, which means you can hack the security system as, say, Franklin, or just switch to Trevor who’s flying a chopper or you can play as Michael who’s keeping enemies at bay with a trusty rifle or shotgun (or a weapon of your choice).
That's a beautiful sunset. Let's shoot something.
Cropdusters are cool. Shut up!
Switching characters is a big deal in this game. When you’re not sticking to the storyline and just enjoying the ever-popular open-world aspect GTA’s known for, it’s possible to opt for any of the three characters. If you reach a certain point in the plot, the game may lock one character, leaving you to play with the other two or vice versa. Coinciding with the narrative, such elements aren’t a bother, but rather give a sense of continuity to the story and its three central personas.
The developers went to some lengths to keep the missions interesting and fresh. So, apart from intense shootouts and heart-pounding action, sometimes you’ll have to stay quiet and go about your crimes stealthily. Sneaking and taking out opponents silently is key here. However, only some missions will insist on this, while in other situations you get to move about and carry out tasks any way you want to. Story-related missions are linear and have to run their course. Regardless, they’re thrilling as hell. Action scenes are brilliantly directed, while the mission tasks vary. Occasionally, you’ll get to infiltrate a heavily guarded military base and steal a colossal chopper and in other missions you get to nab a deadly chemical-based weapon but not before scuba diving your way towards the goal. Bigger jobs require bigger planning, so before taking on a target with tight security, you'll be making various preparations that may include acquiring certain equipment or stealing major land or air vehicles. Each major story mission can be completed in different ways: agressively and loudly, or quietly and, well, more sublty. It's nice to have a choice in this matter and it's yet another aspect of GTA 5 that adds to the gameplay variety.
Character customization is pretty detailed, so there’s a solid choice of clothes and shoes to buy from various shop across Los Santos – some are cheap, some are posh, but they’ll help you create the look of all three characters. What’s more, you can stop by the barber shop for a shave and fine haircut.
Rockstar tends to play the controversy card rather well. With GTA 5, however, there are some truly grotesque scenes that portray excessive violence. Now, the game has enough of that, to begin with. Everywhere you turn, there’s a bad deed to be done or some violent act to be committed within the game. Taking this one step further with an interactive scene of torture makes us assume Rockstar may be kind of losing the thread and are having a hard time figuring out where the series is supposed to go next. Such efforts seem a bit unnecessary. The game has become a cultural phenomenon thanks to many qualities and not all of them are about killing random civilians in the road or running over innocent-looking animals. For me, the torture scene wasn’t fun. It left me bewildered and unhappy. Luckily, I went out and shot a few police officers later, so I felt good. Did that sound weird? That’s what this game does to you.
All brutality aside, you have a range of things to do when you’re not sticking to the storyline. Recreational and other optional activities in Grand Theft Auto 5 include the following: cinema, clubs & bars, darts, flight school, golf, hunting, off-road races, property management, robberies, scuba diving, sea races, shooting range, stock market, street races, strip club, tennis, trafficking, triathlon, walking chop and yoga. I think we’ve just about covered everything. Not 100% sure on that. Anyway, out of those things, I think that I prefer robberies – in between property management and scuba diving.
Here’s a typical scene in GTA 5: Michael walks across an outdoor set of a well-known movie studio, only he couldn’t remember where he parked his car. The phone rings. It’s his shrink. Halfway through a phone therapy session, he tries to steal a nearby car and smashes a window to do it. Trouble is, about 20 witnesses including security from the studio saw him doing that. Hilarity and utter chaos ensues. In short, Michael is now talking to his shrink about his sex life and inner turmoil, while running away from an enraged car owner, movie studio security and local law enforcement. Brilliant. That’s just a tiny bit of the game.
The joy of exploring a highly-detailed and thriving urban environment, gripping in-game music from various artists and a compelling original soundtrack, brilliantly directed action scenes, kick-ass story, great characters;
Excessive violence could ward off some gamers (not this one), but it could, I don't know, I can't think of anything else, just leave me the fuck alone.