|System: PS3*, Xbox 360|
|Dev: Rockstar North|
|Pub: Rockstar Games|
|Release: September 17, 2013|
|Players: 1 (2+ Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Nudity, Mature Humor, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs and Alcohol|
by Matt Walker
Grand Theft Auto V is finally here. A lot has been promised about the latest entry in the Rockstar mega franchise. So much so, in fact, that many people feel that there is no way it’ll be able to deliver. The scope is too big--something has to be overlooked. Something is going to be left out, changed, or wussified—some fans are certain the game is destined to fail. I can attest that even I feared that Rockstar promised too much. Thankfully and gratefully, I have seen the entire world promised and delivered in GTA V.
One of the biggest changes to the franchise is to have multiple protagonists in the game. While we’ve had DLC that introduced other characters and stories before, this marks the first time Rockstar employs interweaving characters as the main focal point of the game. A lot of people fear that having this will detract from a personalized gaming experience. However, it works…mostly.
The three protagonists in the game are Michael, Trevor, and Franklin. Michael is a retired thief, who has the worst family of any character in gaming. Franklin is a young entrepreneur looking to get out of the hood by any means necessary. Then there’s Trevor. Trevor is, in a nutshell, crazy, deranged, psychotic, and broken; he’s the Incredible Hulk without the need to buy pants every time he gets angry. The three characters all seem different on paper, but there is one thing about them all that makes the game enjoyable: They all are really good at what they do.
Specifically, they are so good because of their skills. Each character has a certain skill, or power if you will, that will allow them to perform better in certain situation than another. For example, Trevor’s skill allows him to go into a rampage mode, thus allowing him to receive and inflict more damage than normal. Franklin can “slow down time” while shooting from a vehicle. These extra special moves are not the only thing separating the characters. Franklin is the best on motorcycles, and Trevor is the best in air-based vehicles. However, for as much diversity that was put into each character, there is one flaw in the design of multi-protagonists. Even though I knew I had other characters to play as, I spent the majority of my time with one character. Not that I didn’t like the other characters, I found one character’s story to be more engaging to me than the others’.
The real issue came into play when you are forced to play as the other characters. Maybe if this were just for a mission or two, it wouldn’t feel so in your face, but when it is for a good chunk of time, you really start to miss the option of switching between characters. While this is a fault, I can’t help but admire the ambition behind the decision.
Speaking of ambition, as I stated in the beginning, Rockstar promised us the world with this entry, and they delivered it. While separate activities are nothing new in the series, having so many is. You’ve got golf, tennis, scuba diving, plane flying, parachuting, and darts--to name only some. Each extra activity has unique controls, depending on what it is. For example, tennis may not control exactly like your typical tennis game on the market, but you will still get an enjoyable experience and will want to return time and again to work on your backhand. You can even sit and watch short films in the theaters. These movies are good movies too. I mean, if deranged, sexually charged, confusing cinematic experiences are your thing.
In addition to these fun-time activities, you will also find other activities to really help you in the game, such as stealing and then delivering ammo drops, robbing armored cars, buying real estate, and stock trading. The message in GTA V is that cash is king. Everywhere you look in the game, you see this message reinforced, and these are just some of the activities that will allow you to become the richest person in Los Santos. The biggest way to make money is through heists.
This is probably my favorite feature added to GTA. While the concepts of missions are still there, the heists allow you to feel a little more in control and not just someone’s errand boy. The heists are multi-layered missions. First, you have to get the information about the place you are robbing: the camera placements, ventilation vent locations, alarm access, how much will the take potentially be, etc. Then you enter into the planning stages. An associate will explain how the place is set up, and will also describe the options you have for performing the heist. Two examples are “loud” and “smart.” After making this decision, you have to pick your crew. You have sheets on some of the best in the business; from them, you have to decide whom you are bringing with you. They all have different levels of experience, but this also comes with a different cut of the pay. Choose wisely, because I can tell you I have seen heists go stupid wrong all because I wanted a larger cut of the money. Even after all of this, there are still separate, smaller missions to do before you are ready to perform the main heist. This is such a refined approach to GTA’s normal mission routine. It is easily my favorite aspect of GTA V.