Grand Theft Auto V | Available Now
Xbox 360, PS3 | Publisher: Rockstar Games | Developer: Rockstar Games
Very rarely is there a game series which defines the very publisher it comes from. Though some might argue “Mario” or “Zelda” for Nintendo, “Sonic” for SEGA, or even “World of Warcraft” for Blizzard, there is no debate: Grand Theft Auto is the series that made and continues to be the backbone of Rockstar Games.
Despite the fact that the company continues to produce titles such as Max Payne, Red Dead Redemption, Bully, Manhunt, and more; there is no one series that truly defines a company the way GTA defines Rockstar. In the latest iteration of the series, Rockstar went deep to deliver one of the most impressive and stunning games ever made. While not without it’s flaws, Grand Theft Auto V is an amazing game, featuring a massive open-world environment, the series’ trademark non-linear gameplay style, a wide variety of side quests and missions, typical stellar voice acting, well-designed characters, and a game experience unlike any other.
In GTA5, players take on the role of three protagonist characters: Michael, a former criminal now living the life in a mansion in the San Andreas hills, but whose family is in utter disarray; Franklin, the street thug with a brain who doesn’t shy away from the criminal life, but wants to grow beyond petty business; and Trevor… Well, we’ll get to Trevor in a minute.
With these characters, you alternate between their stories and see how people from three drastically different worlds can come together and come apart. The game is very similar to GTA titles of the past in terms of story flow and development, but it does an amazing job of presenting it all in unique and brilliant way. Many of the missions are new and interesting mechanics, the side-quests are fun and seamlessly appear during your adventures, and care has been taken to make GTA5 feel like a whole new experience, top to bottom, from any previous GTA title.
One of the most interesting mechanics of the game involves switching between the three protagonists. During non-mission segments, you can choose to switch between any of the main characters at any time, and you pick up right in the middle of whatever they happen to be up to. However, in this living and breathing world of San Andreas, none of them will stay still, so you may stumble across Michael relaxing with a drink by his pool, Franklin giving his car a wash, or Trevor… throwing a biker off a bridge, or being thrown out of a lingerie store (while drunk) in a dress.
See, Trevor is the most interesting character GTA has had in years. Living out in the sticks, Trevor runs a meth lab and is likely a bit insane, if not also a bit brilliant. His involvement in the story turns what could be a typical crime thriller into a wild ride. Switching to Trevor was often one of the most rewarding experiences of the game, and provided some of my most legitimate laugh-out-loud moments the game had to offer.
Another new gameplay feature of the game is the Heist mode. Throughout the story, you’ll be putting together small or major heists, and these heists involve robbery or crime on a large scale. You’ll have to spend time setting up these heists, too, including picking various NPCs to act as your key team members, such as gunmen, drivers, hackers, etc. The better they are at their job, the larger their cut, so you can gamble on a cheaper person, but it may cost you in the end. Additionally, you can decide on the plan of action. Heists consist of two major plans cooked up by Lester, the brains of your operation from the get go; and you need to choose which plan you want to take. More often than not, the choices are “subtle” vs. “subtle like a chainsaw”, but either way is fun and fits individual playstyles. With your decisions made, the Heist plays out and the story elements adjust accordingly as you play out that mission, but they’re a great deal of fun.
At the end of the day, GTA5 is huge. Utterly massive. The game world is gigantic and not just full of empty space. There are tons of things to explore and do even beyond the core mission experience. Between dozens of random side quests and dynamic mission, you can also free roam the world and maybe play a round of golf, visit the dockside fair, or maybe even hike up and base jump from a mountaintop. All this and so, so much more makes this a game you’ll have a very hard time putting down.
GTA5 also includes a genuine multiplayer mode, GTA Online. This mode allows players to hop onto 16-person servers at random, commit heists, run small crimes, race against one another, or just participate in the traditional style of GTA madness we all know and love. This aspect of the game is a bit flawed mainly due to protections put in place to help prevent griefing, but it’s a very unique and fun experience for anyone with Xbox LIVE Gold or PS+ service.