Rockstar Games know how to make a game. A really good game for that matter. Games so unfathomably spellbinding that ‘masterpiece’ seems to be the word most associated with their title’s reviews. With Grand Theft Auto V, Rockstar’s most ambitious project to date, reviewers, media, and nerds alike all clamor for a taste of the latest Rockstar golden child. Droves of reviews, videos, news, and discussions flood the internet pipelines in typical supernova style — ultimately assisting in over a billion dollars in the first 72-hours of sales, and even beating out Call of Duty’s 48-hour sales records.
However, are all these rave reviews hype for the Rockstar glory machine, or is GTA V really the epitome of modern day gaming? Review spoiler: yes.
It’s been 9-years since wild card Trevor lost his best friend Michael in a bank heist gone wrong; however, despite what Trevor believes, Michael has been alive and “well” in beautiful Rockford Hills overlooking scenic Los Santos. Between a loveless marriage and 2 self-absorbed kids, Michael longs for an exhilarating life once known. But when a young gang banger, Franklin, who wishes for something more happenstances into Michael’s doldrums world, it’s time for Michael to relive his heyday.
Grand Theft Auto V‘s story is so dark, depressing, and detestable that it bleeds pure gold. An impeccable hark back to 80′s action merged magnificently with classic Ocean’s Eleven or Dog Day Afternoon style heists and robberies, topped off with a dash of redneck insanity, a la Trevor. Switching between 3 interwoven stories only further creates a captivatingly surreal and brilliant narrative. Although the story at time drags on as you fulfill dutiful side missions, it remains absorbing and rarely ever misses the beat. And hey, there’s still a whole lot to explore in between.
If GTA V was going to reinvent the GTA wheel, it would need to be done with pinasche. To really get to the core of creating a groundbreaking game, one would need to look at what the game was really all about underneath the swarms of mini-games, police getaways, and all-around debauchery. Once you clear those away, you’re left staring at the game’s story and those most affected by it. Instead of looking at Los Santos, a world so large it rivals the size of real-world Miami, from only one small perspective, Rockstar gives you 3 you can switch from at almost any time while they live their lives out and about in the state of San Andreas.
Michael, Franklin, and Trevor might not be unique themselves, but the story spectacularly finagles them in such a way that they never grow boring. And let’s certainly not forget how involved the world becomes as you jump and forth between characters in the midst of missions and general open-world boredom. The introduction of three main protagonists in GTA V is hands down the most immersing and fresh introduction in almost any game I’ve played. Beyond welcome, this needs to become a new standard for other open-world developers to follow.
Blaine County, Los Santos, Sandy Shores, and on and on and on it goes. Rockstar has brought new life to the expression “size matters,” and stretched it further than even the likes of Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. However, it’s not always the size that counts.
As I began my journey, I ached to start roaming. Once I did, however, I didn’t stop. 30-hours in and almost 20 of that in travel, and I still haven’t seen every inch of the map. Although GTA V may not have the largest map seen in a game (see Just Cause 2), it has what other large mapped games lack: substance.
The world of Los Santos, San Andreas is a rich, vibrant, and intricately detailed one; full of people seemingly living their lives without you in an ever-changing landscape. In GTA V‘s case, there’s both size and knowing what to do with it, and it’s a breathtaking experience.
- So dark, depressing, and detestable that it bleeds pure gold.
- Captivatingly surreal and brilliant narrative.
- Remains absorbing and rarely ever misses the beat.
- 20 feature length movies with of score.
- As profound as a gaming soundtrack can be.
- Effectively creating a marvelously engaging cinematic experience.
- Far from GTA IV’s poor driving mechanics, V’s driving is impeccable; each car handling unique and realistic without much difficulty.
- Easy to pick up and play, even for newcomers to the series.
- Rockstar clearly listened to fans and ensured most flaws were corrected.
- Diverse, wide-ranging, and flawlessly entertaining.
- 40+ extracurricular activities sprawled throughout Los Santos.
Overall Score: 5/5
Despite the few and far between shortcomings — minor glitches, and sporadic cumbersome missions — Grand Theft Auto V is beyond compelling. Easily one of the greatest games to release in the last 10-years, Rockstar has once again set the bar extraordinarily high for other open-world, cinematic adventure games to follow. Truly GTA V is the epitome of modern-day gaming, and I can’t even fathom how Rockstar could ever top this one but I surely look forward to it.
Full review available on Another Castle.
*Disclaimer: The author received a review copy of Grand Theft Auto V from Rockstar Games; however, this is no way hindered the reviewing process, nor was there any payment given for this review.
When not writing gaming news on Examiner, you can find Jennifer running the ins and outs of Another Castle. Please follow Jennifer through Another Castle via social media on Facebook or Twitter for more up-to-the-minute nerd news.