Grand Theft Auto V Review
Originally Published by MCM Buzz on the 28th September 2013
The Devil is in the Detail.
Welcome to Los Santos, where being bad has never felt so good. In Grand Theft Auto V, developers Rockstar North have created nothing short of a masterpiece, an engrossing, exciting, dizzying tale of friendship, atrocity and insanity that succeeds not only in providing opportunities for high-octane mayhem, but produces a layered storyline packed with blockbuster action, humour and tension centred around our lovable band of criminal misfits.
The game follows three criminals at different stages in their lives, a retired thief who struck a shady deal with the Bureau, Michael; a young, ambitious car-booster Franklin; and the mentally unstable crystal meth distributor and “entrepreneur” extraordinaire Trevor. The story sees the three thrust together, Trevor and Michael after a long separation and a job that went south for the two, and Franklin as a new kid on the block, looking to shadow some more experienced (but not wiser) members of the Los Santos crime underbelly. In a town filled with corrupt government agents, private militia, drug kingpins and every criminal in-between, the three try to make it and take it in a world where no one can be trusted and everyone’s a threat. The scope of GTAV is beyond cinematic blockbuster, this game is massive, in every sense of the word.
Let’s start with the first thing you notice when the game begins, acting on your most twisted and violent impulses has never looked more incredible. Every area in the game, from house interiors and smaller details to the mountains of Blaine County, is gloriously detailed and perfectly done, the lighting in the game gives a cinematic feel that is really brought home by the pain-staking effort placed in developing realistic faces and very human expressions. From the start the player can see Michael’s frustration, Franklin’s cocksure swagger and quick flickers of insanity behind Trevor’s eyes. The cinematic mode that can be activated whilst in a vehicle really demonstrates what Rockstar were trying to achieve, and they have succeeded in spades. If you’re in the middle of an elaborate heist, driving through busy streets or taking your chop for a walk, the game takes hold and catapults the player into the devilish world of Grand Theft Auto.
Aside from the missions, in true GTA style there is no shortage of things to keep you occupied, with randomly activated events, optional side missions gained from people you meet and even hobbies to adopt, this game keeps you busy between heists and story events, not to mention all those spontaneous killing sprees. The vehicle list grows ever larger with cars, bikes, lorries, quad bikes, off-road vehicles, planes, helicopters, jet skis, speedboats, ribs, pushbikes and even submarines in the vast setting of Los Santos and Blaine County. The world itself is of course huge, but the buildings are all so immensely detailed that the city has a much bigger impact than any of the previous games. As if the game wasn’t big enough, there is an online mode that will be released in the near future set before the events of the story mode.
The characters themselves are a central part of what makes this game great. Each character is associated with a different kind of crime. Whether it is Michael’s has-been bank robber, Franklin’s aspiring car booster or Trevor’s meth-cooking, weapons-smuggling anarchist, one of the great triumphs of the game is that players begin to change their gaming style depending on who they are controlling. Trevor is one of the most perverse but also entertaining characters to ever appear in a videogame, yet he quickly becomes a guilty pleasure as the game continues. As well as having their own in-game abilities their stories all have decent themes, and the quick-change system that has you jumping between characters is yet another part of the game’s control system that keeps everything flowing and fast-paced.
The controls are sharp and intuitive, which is important in a game with such varied modes of gameplay. Whether it’s shooting, scuba diving, playing golf or tennis, running a triathlon, playing the stock market, stealing a helicopter or manning a submarine, the game manages to seamlessly switch to a control system that is perfect for that particular activity, although bring some deep heat for your thumbs on any of the running activities. These immersive, accessible controls help to give Grand Theft Auto V something special, a feeling that anything can be done in this game.
The heist system is something to be admired, taking RPG-style tactics selection and applying it to the usually unadulterated mayhem makes it all the more engaging. If Michael makes the wrong choice or hires the wrong guy, you are going to pay for it. The stakes are higher, and the fact that each choice has an impact on the mission really adds tension to every single job. The game also has a replay mission function that not only allows players to retry missions and gain gold classification on each, but allows you to choose the alternative heist options to experience your other options. Sometimes the smartest way to go is going to be focused on stealth, but you can go back and get your fill of explosions the second time round. This mode is available at any time (outside of a mission) in the game, and is accessible from the start.
Rockstar North have taken Grand Theft Auto to the next level, but the mammoth scale, incredible style and complex storytelling are not the reason for its success. The incredible thing about this game is that it takes every great aspect in the free roaming parts of its predecessors and implements them in the narrative, enabling the player to unleash hell upon the unknowing citizens of Los Santos whilst adding weight to your most maniacal exploits through a focused and engaging story. The variety of the gameplay, the incredible detailing and the charismatic characters from our protagonists to the people we simply love to hate all make this game what it is.Grand Theft Auto V is the last instalment in the franchise on the current-gen consoles, and it is perhaps the most explosive send-off in videogame history. Simply put, this game is a perfectly crafted, enormously addictive one-stop-shop to all things violent, devious, deliciously immoral and outright insane.
Grand Theft Auto V is available now for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, with an online mode launching on 1st October.