Grand Theft Auto V
Please Note: A UK/EU PSN account maybe required to download any future DLC content Grand Theft Auto V returns to the familiar city of Los Santos, but with all-new lead characters. Building on the gameplay of Grand Theft Auto: Episodes of Liberty City, GTA V offers up multiple playable characters, with three new protagonists to guide around the Lost Santos streets. First up is Michael, a retired bank robber who was living comfortably off his "earnings" following a deal with the FIB, but forced bank into the game after his wife gets a little to spend-happy. Then there's former military pilot Trevor, now a frequent drug user who does what he needs to scrape a living on the edge of society. Rounding up the trio is Franklin, a hustler who scams kids into buying cars they can't afford and then repossess...
Gordon Myatt September 20, 2013 PS3
The latest entry in the GRAND THEFT AUTO series is a great game, make no mistake. GTA 5 takes you on a fun journey across a fictionalised Los Angeles, as seen from the viewpoints of three different characters, all of which have almost infinite scope to explore and participate in the criminal underworld as they see fit. However, it isn't 100% perfect.
As good as it is, I can't quite grant GTA 5 a perfect score for two major reasons. One is that it simply doesn't top the previous entries in the GTA canon in terms of fun and enjoyment; and the other is that it's full of little flaws that slightly detract from the overall impression of the game.
Let's cover the good stuff first: this is the biggest GRAND THEFT AUTO game they've ever made, with a huge island to explore and a huge variety of environments (city, beach, towns, mountains, sea, desert, sky) to enjoy. As well as making your way through the game by completing missions, you can participate in countless in-game sports and leisure activities, hunt secret items, help random strangers or simply run around stealing cars or beating up innocent bystanders for hours on end (should you so choose).
But that's pretty much what you'd expect from a GTA game by now. What GTA 5 *doesn't* manage to do is to top the likes of GTA: VICE CITY or GTA: SAN ANDREAS (of which GTA 5 is sort of a current-generation remake) in terms of outrageous fun. Whilst GTA 5 manages to be a lot more fun than the downright depressing GTA 4, it still doesn't quite reach the heights of the earlier games, seeming far more concerned with ultra-realism instead of offering the (frequently ridiculous but fantastically fun) gameplay opportunities that you got in VC or SA.
There's nothing wrong with the GTA games trying to be a bit more serious and realistic these days, but it's not really where the franchise's strengths lie - and by trying to take things too far in that direction (there's even a gruesomely realistic torture mission that will test even the most desensitised gamers), GT5 ends up trying to compete in a more adult arena, where there's already a better option to choose: last year's brilliant SLEEPING DOGS.
Because that Hong-Kong-set open-world crime-thriller was everything that a more adult GTA game should be - and if anything it pushed those aspects even further than Rockstar have so far dared to do. It also offered an location that's a little more distinctive and original than the constant US environments of the GTA series, making it feel genuinely exotic and unusual rather than slightly over-familiar (as is the case with GTA 5 - which like I said, bears more than a passing resemblance to SAN ANDREAS).
And about those little flaws I mentioned earlier: none of them is really serious enough to ruin the game, but together they just take the sheen off it enough to make you question whether this is really the ultimate gaming experience that so many people have promised.
The gunplay is much improved, but the hand-to-hand combat is still pretty clunky and primitive (significantly less sophisticated than the free-flowing combat systems in SLEEPING DOGS or BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY), and there are occasional problems with "clipping" (where characters, vehicles and objects pass through each other as though they're made of smoke). There are also often issues with overlapping sound (where characters talk over each other in crossed conversations, or another sound effect interrupts a flow of speech and ends it completely, sometimes robbing you of important game information).
Admittedly, car handling is much improved from GTA 4 - but again it's not as tight or intuitive as the likes of SLEEPING DOGS, and driving still feels like it's simply not as easy or enjoyable as earlier GTA titles. And finally, mission objectives aren't always clear: sometimes you'll be failed for simply getting out of a car that you were meant to stay in for the duration of a mission, and sometimes it isn't obvious exactly where you're meant to be heading (as the mission marker points that show your destination have been significantly reduced in size and prominence here compared to earlier GTA games).
Even the much-discussed ability to switch between three different characters doesn't really offer anything new, as they all play pretty much the same despite having very different personalities in the story.
I didn't set out to write a negative review of GTA 5, because all the stuff you've heard about it is true: the great graphics, the amazing depth to the world of the game, the sheer amount of time you can spend exploring it and uncovering new details and secrets. I just realised after playing it that it had quite a few little flaws that I hadn't seen mentioned in any of the other reviews I'd read, so I thought it was worth pointing them out here.
I'd be foolish to try and make the case that GTA 5 is a bad game, or even a middling one. It's clearly a very accomplished product, with weeks and weeks of gameplay in the core game and virtually endless potential even after that (as well as running around this gigantic open world, there's the GRAND THEFT AUTO ONLINE game that comes free with GTA 5 and is due to be activated in a couple of weeks). It just isn't as perfect as everyone seems to be making out.
Ravi Nijjar September 19, 2013 PS3
GTA V has the unenviable task of living up to the largest amount of hype that's ever been bestowed upon a humble video game.
Well guess what? It delivers.
For those gamers who aren't familiar with the Grand Theft Auto series - although can there really be anyone who hasn't played a GTA game at least once? - the franchise is built around large cities in which you control a single character who must progress through story-based missions (as well as optional side-quests and sub-games), while also enjoying the freedom to explore the game world in a sandbox style.
But that's a very dry way of putting it: because at its core, GTA is all about crazy characters, amazing realistic environments, outrageous vehicular stunts, immoral crime sprees and gleeful violence, all of which is underpinned by a cynical, satirical worldview. And GTA V turns all of these aspects up to eleven.
From the very start, there's a sense that this game is the most polished and detailed GTA game yet. An opening tutorial mission that takes place years ago as a flashback to a heist-gone-wrong allows you to quickly get to grips with the overhauled shooting and driving mechanics, which are more user-friendly and intuitive than ever before thanks to some careful tweaking by programmers Rockstar. The mission also introduces you to one of the most innovative new features that GTA V has to offer: the ability to change characters. Unlike the previous GTA games - which featured a single protagonist - GTA V allows you to switch between characters, viewing the world from multiple different viewpoints and exploring three separate stories that intertwine as the game's story plays out.
This intertwining starts off fairly early. You start the game as Michael, an ex-gangster who has managed to leave his criminal past behind him and now lives a comparatively boring suburban life in the city of Los Santos. But then, soon after the opening mission, you switch to Franklin, a young gang member who's just starting to work his way up through the criminal pecking order. And as his missions begin to play out, you (as Franklin) meet up with Michael and forge a relationship with him, before the game introduces you to its third and final main character, Trevor: a crazed psychopath who has a shared history with Michael.
It's intriguing to watch the stories of these three separate characters play out in such a closely interlinked manner, and it gives the story a complexity and range of viewpoints that's never been seen in a GTA game before. Every player will probably have his or her favourite of the three, and while I enjoyed seeing the burgeoning father-son relationship between Franklin and Michael play out, it has to be Trevor who comes out top for me. Because Trevor is the kind of character that gamers have always pretended to be when they've played a GTA game: an absurdly violent, amoral, crazy, devil-may-care type of guy who's completely unpredictable and endlessly entertaining. Finally, Rockstar have come up with a character who completely fits with the darkest and most base urges of gamers, and he's a blast to play as.
This three-character dynamic also allows you to pull off some pretty complex missions involving the entire crew. The game's main setpieces, the heists, give you the option of switching between all three characters during a mission, and using each of their special abilities (Michael's gunplay, Franklin's driving, and Trevor's ability to cause extra damage on his mad rampages). And these heists also allow you to play a really active part in planning the mission before it even starts, putting together a crew of other secondary criminals to help you achieve your goal.
But it's not really the characters or the missions that are the real draw of GTA games: it's the world of the game itself. And the world of GTA V is the most richly-detailed, impressive, beautiful world that Rockstar have ever developed. Based on Los Angeles, the game incorporates all sorts of imagery from West-Coast-America cities, with a dense urban centre that gives way to sprawling countryside, along with beaches and desert areas. The map of the game is simply huge, and even just seeing every area of the world of GTA V would probably take you weeks. And a lot of that would probably be spent simply staring open-mouthed at the realistic textures, landscapes and vehicles that have been incorporated into the game.
GTA V is also full of all sorts of cynical, satirical little touches that lampoon aspects of American culture while adding to the impression that Los Santos is a real (albeit caricatured) place. Scientology-esque cults, trashy junk food, crass blockbuster movies, cheesy radio ads: they're all here, and while they're all completely peripheral to the game, they all help to add a satisfying (and frequently hilarious) depth to it. And the same goes for the soundtrack, which incorporates plenty of classic hits as well as some lesser-known gems into the eclectic mix of radio stations that you can access while within your vehicles.
If this all sounds a bit gushing, well, it's because there simply hasn't ever been a game as impressive as this before. And having only been playing for a few days, I just know that I've barely scratched the surface of the game, and that there will be countless new secrets for me to discover in the coming weeks and months.
Forget PS4 and Xbox One: the next generation of video games is already here. And it's called GTA V.
(Disclaimer: I played the PS3 version, so my opinion is based on that, but I'm led to believe that the game is more or less the same on Xbox 360 too).
- Grand Theft Auto V - Online Multiplayer Trailer PS3 | 03:04 Play Trailer
- Grand Theft Auto V: Trailer 2 PS3 | 01:51 Play Trailer
- GTA 5 - Announce Trailer PS3 | 01:24 Play Trailer
- GTA V Odd balls PC | 01:15 Play Trailer
- GTA V PC Teaser PC | 01:14 Play Trailer
- GTA V Trailer PS4XONE | 01:01 Play Trailer
- GTA V Video PC | 03:03 Play Trailer
- GTA V: Gameplay Trailer PS3 | 04:51 Play Trailer