GTA V Review
Ever since the next chapter of Grand Theft Auto was teased in the instruction booklet of The Ballad of Gay Tony, Rockstar Games have been drip feeding us with details on GTA V. Five years of hard work has brought us to the sun soaked city of Los Santos, where dreams are never far from being crushed or accomplished.
Our three protagonists all have aspirations and their own ideas on how to reach them. Franklin is a former street hustler looking for a way out of the madness that surrounds him but his close friend Lamar, always finds a way to suck him back in.
Trevor is in the drug trade producing and distributing meth around Blaine County and Michael is trying to raise his kid's and tackle marital problems, with a TV remote in one hand and a glass of whiskey in the other. Together the gang are an unstoppable force driven by riches and the problems they will solve.
The central theme of Grand Theft Auto V is money and heists which can be accomplished in a noisy or quite fashion. Players can even decide to bring extra people to a job, however the better their skills the bigger the cut. Heist missions are fairly structured towards the character switching mechanic giving each protagonist a rationale for being present. Outside of missions switching between characters initiates a brief cutscene before you play as them. For instance Trevor might wake up drunk, Michael could be stuck in traffic and Franklin is usually sitting at home or stopping Lamar from being killed.
Each Protagonist has special abilities that match their skills and come in handy on missions which play to their strengths. Michael is a great marksman and can slow down time at any point in the game except whilst driving. Trevor is a psychopath which can be a deadly combination once you activate his short term invincibility. Being a Repo man, Franklin has fast and responsive driving skills with a special ability to slow time whilst driving.
Cars and Motorbikes can be purchased online from any characters phone or pinched off the street and be fully customized at Los Santos Customs. Turbo, Engine and body modifications can be installed on most vehicles along with a wealth of other options such as bullet proof tires and custom alloys to name a few.
The driving mechanics in GTA V have been vastly refined and are reminiscent of the car handling seen in a Need for Speed game. This has put the fun back in driving which some arguably missed, familiarizing themselves with GTA IV's realistic car handling.
For the first time in the series weapons can be customized with attachments such as suppressors, scopes and extended magazines. Shooting mechanics are precise as you would expect from a Rockstar Games title and every shot creates a unique impact thanks to the Euphoria Physics Engine.
In GTA V you'll think twice about getting into an altercation with the cops as their Ai has been revamped. The Police are smarter than ever and will use every trick in the book to take you down. This time around they'll find ways to flank you on foot and whilst driving, ram your car so you lose control and shoot at the site of a weapon in your hand. In short they are a lot more aggressive and it only takes 3 or 1 precise bullet to kill you. On the upside though you are only wanted if you are in the police's cone of vision. This is a vast improvement over GTA IV's wanted system which made Niko wanted regardless of being see or not in the polices flashing zone on the map.
Money is one thing you won't run short of and there are many ways to earn it. Heists and missions in general pay out a lot but the stock market is something to keep an eye on. There are specific mission which play on the stock market and if you do it right you will be filthy rich. Unfortunately the game doesn't quite stress this enough and the player is left to read between the lines. With that money you can buy weapons, vehicles, aircrafts, clothes, tattoos, haircuts and properties.
Only certain characters can purchase specific properties such as movie theatres, night clubs and the golf club to name a few. Franklin gets all the best properties which pay out the best and others would take a whole year in real life to make a return on your investment. So it's almost pointless in buying the most expensive properties unless your an enthusiast determined to get 100% completion.
Without spoiling the plot too much the missions feel repetitive and need more variety. This is a result of a small cast of characters the missions revolve around, which would have been fresh if they were delivered by more characters. If I was to count the amount of characters that deliver missions in GTA IV or Sanandreas I would need more than two hands. For GTA V I only need two and that's excluding random encounters. There are so many eccentric characters to explore in Los Santos; it's a shame they were never brought to light.
By the time you finish the game you feel as though you just got to know our three anti-heroes. The emotional connection with Franklin, Michael and Trevor is transparent in comparison to Niko, Carl or Tommy. Purely because you can switch between any of the three protagonists when your bored with them. While the character development seems slow at times I don't know what I would do if anything was to happen to them. It's a love and hate relationship with these characters throughout the narrative but in the end they find a place in your heart.
In regards to GTA Online it's too early to give it a definitive review as Rockstar are still working through all the kinks and not everything has been delivered such as Online heists with friends. It's a progressively growing world with plenty of possibilities and will keep you busy until the next chapter or DLC.