|System: Xbox 360, PS3*|
|Dev: Rockstar North|
|Pub: Rockstar Games|
|Release: October 1, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Mature Humor, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs and Alcohol|
by Joshua Bruce
Grand Theft Auto Online is probably the most ambitious title that Rockstar has ever created. As a totally separate entity from Grand Theft Auto V, this stand-alone, online world looks to be able to offer an evolving, completely different GTA experience with a character of your own creation. However, a bug-ridden release has hampered players incessantly, which begs the question–is it worth it?
Well, the short answer is yes. There is plenty to do in GTA Online, and I’m sure Rockstar is working tirelessly to fix the issues caused with its release. But I’ll talk more about that later.
GTA Online puts you at the helm of a character that is entirely unique to the GTA universe, a character of your making. Your journey is started with a unique character-creation system. Instead of just altering your appearance as you see fit, you have to choose your grandparents on your mother and father’s side, and change your appearance via resemblance sliders. This is an interesting twist on character creation, but can become annoying, especially if you are trying to achieve a certain look. Additionally, you are able to assign the number of hours a day you spend doing certain activities, such as legal and illegal activities, sitting on the couch or exercising. This will change your attributes to match the lifestyle of your character. This indirect approach to customization is fairly intuitive, but can seem unnecessary at times.
Once you’ve given birth to your newly christened criminal mastermind, you fly into Los Santos and meet your first contact--Lamar. You may remember Lamar from Franklin’s storyline as the quick-witted and utterly hilarious “homie”-spouting contact. He isn’t the only recognizable face you will see in Los Santos either, other minor characters from GTA V make an appearance and add an air of familiarity to the game.
After a few tutorial missions to get you started in Los Santos, you will be on your way. Unfortunately, this is where the buggy experience begins. If you were lucky enough to be able to connect to GTA Online in the first place, completing the tutorial launches you into its open world. Here you will find deathmatches, races, places to rob, and all the other criminal delights of Los Santos. The problems really start when you try to do any of these activities with another person, which is kind of the point of an online title.
As I would try to join and/or host an event within the online world, I would be met with problem after problem. The matchmaking and invite system needs some serious fine-tuning; I have yet to successfully complete any of the events that require other players. The events in the world do give you an option for a quick-match of sorts, where the game invites other players of your skill level automatically. The only problem that I found with this approach was that it took forever--waiting for people to accept invites and having those people hang around long enough to play the match while we waited for enough people to join. I did get into one game, but then lost connection to the game. Which, after 15-20 minutes of waiting to even start the match, was wholly frustrating. Load-screens are another annoyance that plagues both Grand Theft Auto Online and Grand Theft Auto V; however, they seem to be much longer in Online. It’s just a minor issue and not one that I didn’t expect, but it’s still there.