- Game: Grand Theft Auto 5
- Publisher: Rockstar games
- Developer: Rockstar North
- Genre: Modern
The latest installment in Rockstar Grand Theft Auto series is probably their best yet.
I’ve got the game, I’ve been playing it, so what do I think?
The first thing that you will notice is the astonishing level of detail that has gone into every aspect of this game, from the cars and vehicles to the various environments across the map. It feels like a living breathing world with lots of vibrant colours.
The map is huge and varies, there is the sprawling city of Los Santos, the vast countryside of Blaine County just outside the city filled with hills, valleys, dirt trails, an expansive desert, and an ocean.
At the centre of all this are three miscreants, Franklin, Michael, and Trevor, who the story revolves around and through whose eyes we explore this world.
The three of them make a brilliantly mismatched but endearing team. Franklin is the young gun, the up and comer, Michael is the mentor, the older and slightly wiser head with years of experience, and Trevor, Trevor is the wild card, unpredictable, going from one extreme to the next.
Each of the character’s have their own quirks, backstories, and side adventures as well as special abilities that match their personalities and backstories.
Franklin can slow down time while driving enabling him to effortlessly weave between traffic, which is great for when racing or during a chase. It’s saved me in a race on a couple of occasions.
Michael’s ability allows him to slow down time during gunfights giving him time to carefully aim his shots for those perfect headshots or to take out a whole gang before they have a chance to get a shot off. Very useful in some of the big set piece gunfights.
Trevor meanwhile goes into a berserker rage, taking less damage while dealing out more. Probably the least useful out of the three special abilities but always handy to pull out if you are playing as Trevor and are low on health.
The game places a strong emphasis on its characters and rightfully so.
The main mission is some 69 mission’s long and is compelling from beginning to end. Sorry no spoilers here. The missions themselves are quite varied, there are chases, shootouts, assassinations, the slightly less exciting courier missions, and multi-mission heists.
With the multi-mission heists you are presented with two options of how you want to carry out the job, the smart way or the dumb way, before selecting your team to help with the job who all have their own stats that affect how they will perform on the job.
The smart way involves things like stealth and hacking trying to avoid too much attention, while the dumb way is going in all guns blazing.
Once you pick how you would like to perform the heist you will be presented with a series of missions where you go around collecting all the necessary equipment for the heist, so things like vans, bikes, getaway car, knockout gas etc,.
There are a couple of downsides however, the biggest of which is that there aren’t enough of them in the main game. It’s like you are just given a teaser of them before they are cruelly taken away.
Two options feels a bit limiting but it is better than no option, but once you pick your option everything plays out the same way. There is no way to screw up halfway through the job which requires you to change the plan mid-mission, if you deviate from the planned course it’s mission failed and back to the checkpoint for you.
The side missions have been rebranded as ‘Strangers and Freaks’. Occasionally while driving around the city a little “?” will pop up indicating a stranger or freak that you can talk to and do a job for. Each character meets some unique stranger and freaks, with their being a couple all three meet, with the missions by and large being shorter than the main story ones but are just as fun and varied. The strangers and freaks also make for some entertaining side characters.
But the fun doesn’t stop there!
There is racing – cars, bikes, ATV’s, and jet skis all of which net you some small prize money if you win.
There are hobbies and pass times – tennis, golf, darts, and yoga – which play more like fully fledged games in their own right, as opposed to just mini games.
And finally property missions. There are various properties around the map for each character to buy, these properties are tailored to each character. Once a character has purchased a property they will sometimes receive a phone call or text from that business asking for help. For example the taxi company will sometimes phone saying there is a VIP client asking for special service. These missions don’t have to be accepted.
The game is littered with the usual swipes at modern society, underlying social satire, and dark humour. One of the ‘Strangers and Freaks’ missions see’s Franklin helping out and playing as a member of the paparazzi which comes with all the sleazy and shady business that you would expect. Some of the radio chatter between songs on the various radio stations can be quite amusing, and of course there is my personal favourite, the parody of Facebook – LifeInvader.
A lot of the basic gameplay elements have been improved as well. There are now mission checkpoints so that if you die or fail a mission you don’t have to start all over and if you are struggling and keep failing a mission it offers you the option to skip it to continue the story. It’s not an option I’ve used personally but a good inclusion nonetheless.
The game can now be saved from anywhere using the phone. It’s great for when you need to switch it off and you are far away from a safe house.
Aiming, shooting, and moving have all been greatly improved as well. They all just feel more responsive and less cumbersome. They have also introduced a cover system into the game for use in shootouts, but in exchange characters can no longer take as much bullet damage, so use it.
Grand Theft Auto 5 then is an incredibly fun and astonishingly beautiful game with a huge map to explore and hours worth of entertainment with clever writing throughout.