By now I am sure you’ve either seen the commercial or have read the massive hype that comes with Grand Theft Auto V (GTAV). It’s almost ridiculous the amount of hyperbole and outlandish statements made by journalists who seem to dig deep into their Webster dictionaries to describe their love for the game and how it’s a “masterpiece” or the greatest game ever made. So, is it any good? Here’s my take after playing a few hours of the game. The game is huge. Huge. Even after a number of hours, I’ve barely scratched the surface. I have only unlocked 2 of the 3 main protagonists and the main story is just barely started to ramp up. I won’t get into all the characters but so far, there’s Franklin, a guy looking to get out of the “gangsta thug” life and Micheal, a 40 something former bank robber with a family who keeps saying is retired but ultimately falls back on old habits.
The biggest change in GTAV is the ability to play 3 different characters and then change between them on the fly. Playing the game with 3 unique perspectives adds a lot and it’ll be interesting to see how Rockstar manages to weave all the storylines together that makes sense.
To the core, it’s still GTA as your always looking for a the next score to make “mad money”. Missions are varied but can be narrowed down to the usual, kill someone/steal something then escape the cops. They’ve added additional achievements to missions similar to what they’ve done with Assassins Creed in that there’s a checklist of objectives you could do per mission. For example x number of headshots or complete under a certain amount of time. Depending on how many you do, you get a medal based on your score out of 100%. I guess it encourages you to retry missions to achieve Gold status but it’s also annoying considering you have no idea what the objectives are until after you complete the mission. Odds are you missed one or two of them. I am not a completionist when it comes to gaming so I won’t bother going back to retry those missions.
Even after a few hours of playing, it’s obvious that there’s tons of things to do. The usual shops like clothing, ammo/guns, barber and strip clubs. Add in tatoo parlours, buying property, car customization and car modifications, there’s simply tons and tons of things to do. There’s also lots of side missions including random ones that pop up while travelling around the city. Some are boring though including one that just involves towing cars. I did it once, I doubt I’ll go back to it. There’s a few mini games that I’ve run into including tennis and playing the stock market (I heard golf will come too) but to be honest, I doubt I’ll spend much time on these. It kind of looks like Rockstar threw the kitchen sink at us offering tons of varied gameplay but it might be a bit of “jack of all trades, master of none” result.
They’ve also way more than normal tool tips that popup on the top left giving you some tips and instructions on things like button controls and objectives. Lots of them. It’s too bad that it’s tough to read especially during action sequences since the font size is fairly small and sometimes there’s a wall of text to get through. Numerous times, I’d try to read it and then crashed my car.
Just like previous GTAs, the voice acting is top notch and so far the story is pretty fun and of course over the top. The graphics are impressive for an 8 year old console but there’s lots of jaggies and the framerate can be rough at certain times. Clearly Rockstar spent lots of time building a massive playground for us to play in but unfortunately still haven’t made any significant changes to the controls or gun/melee combat. Controls are still a bit clunky and awkward and the melee combat sucks. Sleeping Dogs did it right and something similar in GTAV would have been great. Rockstar has slightly improved the gunplay borrowing elements from Max Payne but it still can be frustrating. I’d recommend changing the redicule as the tiny dot is hard to see. Games like Sleeping Dogs and Tomb Raider offers way better gunplay and melee combat from the same 3rd person perspective. I hope at some point Rockstar will address that in future games. Speaking of controls, driving is a bit improved but can be tough to control especially during high speed chases. I can’t remember much of GTAIV but driving is much improved.
- Massive size and scale
- Voice acting is top notch
- Looks impressive for 8 year old consoles
- Tons of things to do (almost too much)
- Switching character perspectives is pretty cool
- Controls still a bit clunky
- Melee combat sucks
- Gunplay is better than before but can still be frustrating and awkward
- Rough frame rates at times
- Mission objectives can be annoying since you have no idea what they are until after the mission is complete so it’s pure fluke if you can get 100%/Gold status
- Tool tips that pop up are too small and almost impossible to read why you are in the middle of action sequences
- Some useless side quests that are just boring
The Old Guy in Me Says
If you’ve enjoyed GTA before, you’ll be getting GTAV. In fact you are probably playing it now. If you never liked previous GTA games, it’s doubtful this will change your mind much. There’s tons of content and things to do here, and it’s almost too much. I usually just focus on the main objectives because this game is a serious time sink. If you don’t have the time to play it, GTAV could be on your shelf for awhile. At the same time, it’s also a game where you don’t have to bother with any missions or objectives. You can just jump in a mess around the city causing destruction and mayhem to kill time for example, while your wife/girlfriend is getting ready for dinner. I am still not “hooked’ to GTAV where I feel the need to play it all the time. Maybe it’ll happen later as I progress further into the story but so far it’s been a fun ride but not something I am willing to crown greatest game ever.
Keep in mind this is a strong Mature rated game and they don’t pull any punches. There’s tons of swearing, violence and nudity so know your audience when you’re playing. You may not want your wife walking in while you are getting a lap dance at the strip club … in the game that is 🙂
Note to Xbox 360 Players: Rockstar recommends that you DO NOT install the “play” disc for optimal game performance. If you are like me with an older Xbox, the CD-ROM sounds like a chopper going off. Here’s how to solve the noise issue using a USB Flash Drive.