Grand Theft Auto V Review by: legacyme3A Truly Grand Theft Indeed
Grand Theft Auto V stands as Rockstar's newest installment in the ever popular Grand Theft Auto series, that now has 5 numbered installments, along with several side games, like Liberty City Stories and Chinatown Wars. The premise hasn't changed. Open world sandbox shoot em up, with plenty of thieving, killing, and general awesomeness. Grand Theft Auto IV in my opinion was actually a step back in the series, though nothing has been able to live up to lofty expectations given San Andreas is one of the better games ever made.
But how does GTA V stack up against the two?
Graphics - 9
GTA V takes the PS3/360 to their very limits, being rather beautiful for a late gen game, without sacrificing the customization of cars and clothes. The character design is brilliant, the backdrops are beautiful, and the water just keeps looking better with every game. The one fault I have with the graphics in this game is that pop in can be pretty bad after extended play times, and that the draw distance is a little off, most days seem incredibly foggy, for an area supposedly modeled after southern California. Aside from this though, it's hard to fault the artists in charge of crafting Los Santos and Blaine County, as it is the most varied looking game in the series, and is truly worth praising.
Sound - 10
I had real problems finding a fault with the sound. I rarely give out 10s, and when I was on the precipice of doing so, I found myself nitpicking, trying to find any reason NOT to give it a 10. The s
election is brilliant. As long as you don't keep changing the radio station to a specific genre, you'll find a soundtrack with an incredibly wide variety. I usually stick to the games Rock stations, but this time, I found myself listening to all the stations (though still the Rock one the most), which is something I've never done in a GTA game. Aside from that, everything sounds as it should. Grunts, car collisions, trains and all. The ambiance you hear out in the wild is fantastic too. More often than once, I heard a cricket, and turned to my right (I live in a wooded area, so crickets can be common) before I forgot that it was cold out, and the cricket sounds were coming from the TV. High marks.
Addictiveness - 10
Again, I found myself nitpicking finding a reason to not give a 10, but ultimately, I have none. I have put 90 hours into the game (when most games clock less than 30), I have beaten it 100% (despite some mediocre side missions I'll go into later), and I find myself wanting more. Luckily GTA Online is packaged with the game, so I'll probably put another 90+ hours into that. This is by far the most fun game I've played this year, and the most fun Grand Theft Auto game I may have ever played (Yeah, I'm not sure which of SA and V I prefer right now). The three character dynamic is absolutely incredible and adds so much more to the game. I came in expecting everything to be awkward and clumsy like GTA IV, but was completely and utterly blown away.
Depth - 8
There's a lot to do in GTA V. But not all of it is fun (hence the 8, and not the 10s that seem to be falling from the sky). I said I played about 90 hours. The story is maybe... 20-30 hours long? I didn't really clock it. That gives you 60-70 hours of other content should you find yourself wanting more (the story counts for about 50% of 100% completion). Here is a list of things you can do that aren't related to the story. Tennis, Golf, Darts, Base Jumping, Hiking in the mountains, Yoga, street/atv/boat races, flight school, firing range challenges, finding nuclear waste, and finding stunt jumps. There is also more that I'm not mentioning here. The point is that it is a very deep game, and most of it is fun.
There are only a few exceptions to this, one being the Epsilon Program side missions. It's long, it's arduous, and if you do something wrong, you won't even get anything out of it but a rusty tractor and a trophy. It is by far the most pointless quest I have ever completed in a GTA game, and if I had to do it again, I wouldn't. You have to go finding cars throughout Los Santos that can be difficult to find, deliver them, run 5 miles in the desert consecutively (this is a challenge that will take you a while, I advise boosting your stamina to the max before doing this, just so it goes a little faster), and wear terrible bright blue robes for 10 days straight.
A second example of this are the knife flight/stunt jump challenges. They are rarely fun to attempt, hard to find, and frustrating to complete. And you need half of both for 100% completion. (Rockstar did something right in this respect, finding all the stunt jumps in previous games has been an exercise in tedium). This aside though, it's all extra content, and you are free to do it or avoid it at your discretion. It's a game that is easily 100%'d, but not a game that can be fun to do so (about 90% of the 100% is worth doing.)
Story - 9
The part we've all been waiting for, the thing that Rockstar sold this game on. The story, featuring gangbanger Franklin, retired con man and thief Michael, and a psychotic lunatic in Trevor. Which do you control? For the most part, this is up to you. You control all of them. Or you can. Basically, you choose one character to use with the character wheel (except in certain cases where other characters are unavailable for whatever reason) and the other two go about their daily lives as you control your chosen character. At any time generally, you can switch from Franklin to Michael, and find him in bed with his wife, or to Trevor, and find him driving scooters half naked down the highway, or back to Franklin, who may have taken to backing up his buddy Lamar, and preventing him from getting himself killed. The point is, it's mostly seamless and believable, making you feel like the characters are human.
The story revolves around each of the three trying to get what they are looking for, for example, Franklin wants to hit it big and get out of the hood, whereas Michael just wants to stay retired, and try to keep his falling apart family together. The three come together in time, and through story line missions. Eventually, you get to have all three work together on jobs, where the game really opens up. You can switch seamlessly in mission between the three, as they try to accomplish a job for whoever their boss is. Like during a robbery, Franklin may be tasked with defending the street, trying to stall for time, while Michael covers the alley, and Trevor tries to snipe people away from his higher vantage point. Ultimately, who you control determines your own experience.
It is by far, the best story of any GTA game yet, blowing IV's story of chasing the American Dream out of the water.
Difficulty - 5
I don't think the game is hard, but there are a few frustrating moments that must be talked about. For one, it's awfully easy to die while driving a car, even though they've made car handling more lifelike than before. If you are like me, you like driving in fast sports cars at speeds of 120 mph. If you so much as clip a car, or a telephone pole, your character will rocket out of the car through the windshield, and likely die. Most of my deaths in the game are a result of this and driving a motorcycle and having him fly off the bike, even at minimal speeds of 10 mph, over of all things, a downed street sign. It would be nice to see this improved, but otherwise, I can't complain.
The actual game itself is rather easy, and you should find yourself restarting... maybe once every 14 missions or so just because you got a little unlucky. Any gamer can beat this game with effort though.
This is in large part to their improved checkpointing system. Now if you die in a mission you will return to your last checkpoint. Some larger missions in GTA IV were frustrating, because if you died, you'd have to do everything over INCLUDING the boring driving to and from. In GTA V, that's completely compounded, and now if you die, generally you return to a minute or two before and get a chance to fix what you fucked up.
Graphics - 10% (10% of 9 is .9)
Sound - 10% (10% of 10 is 1)
Addictiveness - 35% (35% of 10 is 3.5)
Depth - 20% (20% of 8 is 1.6)
Story - 25% (25% of 9 is 2.25)
Difficulty - 0% (0% of 5 is 0)
Total - 9.25
I'm also going to give bonus points for the offline portion of the game being remarkably glitch free. Any glitches that DID exist were mostly wiped out with a handful of patches released within a month of the game's release. So in total, the game gets a 9.5, as expected, a great game.
Overall - 9.5
There you have it. GTA V may well be the best GTA game ever. I still am not sure whether or not I rank this above San Andreas, but ultimately that's neither here nor there. On its own merits, GTA V is easily the best game released this year, and if I had a vote, it would be mine for Game of the Year. It is very rare that I take a hyped up game, buy into it, and end up coming out of it happier than expected. With far too many "next GotY" games, I've come away bitter and disappointed (See: The Last of Us").
But there's no disappointment here, only a very happy game owner, who is glad he actually spent 60 dollars on a game for once. If you have the means to purchase it, do so, you will not regret your purchase.