The Grand Theft Auto formula has always been a really good one. Games in the series always offer the same winning formula, but with different mini-games, added gameplay mechanics and of course, different narratives. GTA V though, breaks quite a bit of new ground with the series. Rockstar didn’t just rest on the laurels by just delivering a more polished game than the one before. GTA V offers new elements and some series’ first in the most polished and abundant GTA package to date. An absolute must!
Distributor: Megarom Interactive
For fans: The series, open-world action, gangsta wannabes.
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also available on: Playstation 3
If we had to give it a numerical score: 9.8/10
What I liked
- Playing through the three characters
- New mini-games
- Audio and visual quality
- Spectacular dialogue
- Interesting characters
- Refined GTA mechanics
- So, so much game
- Rockstar storytelling
Not so much
- Some slow loading textures
Gameplay and Features
By now we know and love the GTA mechanics: from the outrageous vehicle handling, to the solid shooting and fighting mechanics, it’s all been refined and tweaked to feel better than ever in GTA V. There are some new mechanics though. Firstly a little bit of parkour for those getaways on foot. You hit the X button when approaching an object you want to scale, and the character does so swiftly.
New to is the fact that you get to play as each of the characters throughout the game, and switch between them. In some parts you can even switch to a more relevant character in that specific scene. This option pops up every now and then to use to your advantage.
The main characters you play as each have special talents. Trevor is an ex-navy pilot and Franklin, a sorted driver. You can now also trigger a slow-mo mode by hitting R3 and L3, to aim and shoot while time is slowed down. With Franklin you can slow down time while driving to manoeuvre out of some tight spots. Another new aspect in GTA V is how expansive and progressive the game is. You get to progress all the characters by training them in the various aspects to improve that certain skill. So if you want Michael to be a better brawler, get him into fights to get the training he needs to improve that skill. This progression aspect was so well crafted that I felt the characters were a little clumsy in the beginning. Until I got them fitter or more experienced, not everything went as rosy as I wanted off the bat. GTA games have always given you lots to do, but the afore mentioned factors make GTA V the most expansive in the series. This compounded by the fact that you play through the lives of three characters, just makes GTA V so huge, with loads to do for each character. Then there’s some unique new type of missions where you put together a crew, prep and pull off big heists.
What really amazes me about V is that I was never bored, the missions always managed to feel fresh and never laborious. This is quite an achievement given how much there is to do. I don’t believe I played a GTA, or any such huge open-world game where some of the time felt a little on the laborious side. Another aspect that really amazes me is how the missions and narrative are so well fused together. The game just flows beautifully, missions piecing together a massive adventure, and the fact that you get to experience it through the lives of three characters makes it all the more interesting… an exquisite design!
Now that I got the “what’s new” aspects covered, let me tell you about our stars. Like with many GTA games, the city plays a huge part, and Los Santos and the other regions in San Andreas, again, play such a crucial part of what makes this one so special. Los Santos is a Mecca of a playground for driving, flying and taking to the sea. The roads you travel upon are anything but boring, and the design of the city in general makes for little, if any, moments where you will be bored.
The characters in GTA games always amuse me. I like the fact they are generally “real” and not super protagonist types, and therefore usually difficult to love. I mean what are the chances that you would actually think highly of red-neck psychopath. They always grow on you though, and the characters here are definitely the most memorable for me in the series. Trevor is an absolute psychopath hillbilly who does not conform to any sort of moral code. He is unbalanced, he does whatever, whenever, and usually in a psychotic way. He also has a surprisingly profuse conviction over the English language, and is acutely sarcastic. Then there’s Franklin, probably the lesser of all three in terms of all out crook. He is a ‘little G’ that wants to be a ‘big G’ and looks to Michael as a mentor or his ticket of sorts. Michael is at the beginning of the game, a retired crook with the money, the cars, and the family… on the surface it looks like he has it all. Soon enough you discover that life is anything but perfect for Michael, and he goes back to his old ways.
The individual characters’ stories, their missions and the way the narrative interweaves everything is just spectacular in GTA V. It grabs you in, has you laughing on your ass, and doesn’t let go. From the hilarious banter, to those crazy ‘out there’ situations the boys get themselves into, the missions and side-missions are about as good as gets – entertaining, engaging and rewarding.
Sound and Visual
Long gone are the days where the massive world of the GTA game was largely pretty bland, buildings looking similar and anything but ‘alive’. I remember not really recognising much of the city until I had played for a week or so. No, GTA V takes place in the detailed, lively and beautiful city of Los Santos. Within a few hours I recognised the unique buildings and landmarks in a bustling city, absorbing me into this wonderful city. The city, roughly based on LA, is definitely large part of GTA V’s charm. It is a playground second to none in videogames – one moment you’re in the buzzing city, then at the beachfront. Take a drive out the city and you find the less busy modern desert terrain. GTA V really seems to be pushing the boundaries of open-world games, and I was surprised to see just how much detail went into the city – there are little, if any, traces of copy and paste jobs which were so common with open-world games.
If you haven’t followed the making of the game, or Rockstar games in general, then you won’t know just how much cutting-edge technology in game-making goes into the studio’s games. The animations are astoundingly realistically thanks to the use of the finest tech Rockstar used to piece this together. I also read, and it is so evidently clear when you play GTA V, that the Rockstar recording real-life gangs for the authentic dialogue. The African-American gangs banter is like something straight out of a Spike Lee joint. The Latino gangs and the redneck groups are all authentically portrayed and wonderfully so. I know, I know, GTA games always feature memorable scripts, but Rockstar raised the bar for this one. So many conversations will live in my memories from this one. GTA V is the culmination of everything gone into Rockstar games, and how far they have come with that winning formula. An absolute classic!
You could review “the latest GTA game” by answering two questions really. Did Rockstar somehow go horribly wrong? Or, is this new one more of the same?
The answer is no on both accounts. We know the quality of gameplay to expect from Rockstar, the trademark storytelling, the memorable characters and the sheer value you get out of a GTA game. GTA V is great for all the same reasons those were before it, but also for so much more. It is not only the most comprehensive and complete game in the series, but also the most unique, the boldest and most polished, standing head and shoulders above the rest in one of the most renowned series.
Read about our ratings here.