The Grand Theft Auto series has been a controversial one. Each new game finds itself plagued with overdramatic hate from writers that previously have little investment or interest in video gaming. This Examiner himself has not been particularly fond of the GTA franchise, so to hear many a friend, acquaintance and distant stranger bubbling with praise over this title was incentive enough to investigate.
For those unfamiliar with the Grand Theft Auto franchise, players play on the wrong side of the law and are fully empowered to enact their own brand of criminal rampage. The beginning of the 'sandbox' genre of games, players are in control of a criminal character, and tasked with completing various crimes in order to advance the plot. GTA V has three such protagonists; an older man with a varied criminal history trying to live a normal-if-sedate life named Michael, a product of urban decay trying to break free from the restrictions of poverty known as Franklin and a meth-slinging drug-addled lunatic called Trevor. Their paths intertwine in the city of Los Santos, starting with minor schemes and moving up to bigger, more complex heists.
GTA V is visually striking, managing to portray the busy life of a city without compromising the aesthetic. Everything looks and feels almost real, and everything works beautifully. The protagonists themselves, even standing idly, manage to play to their characters with a vibrance that doesn't often land in the world of video gaming.
Audibly, the title is remarkable. The 'radio' function allows players to set their own driving music, and the background music seems to arrive via the back door, only evident when the player is engaged in other activities. The noise is pleasant as well, with snippets of overheard conversation often causing players to stop to eavesdrop layered over typical 'city' bustle keeps the aesthetic solid.
Gameplay is truly enjoyable. Players are given means to interact with the world and naught else. While previous GTA titles have given little reason for players to be interested in furthering the story, now the characters have dimension and interest. Each character represents a different format of gameplay; Michael is more keen on the organized heist aspect, whereas Franklin embodies the 'street crime' concept perfectly, and Trevor is primarily focused on out and out rampage.
There are a variety of games to play within GTA V. Aside from the primary means involving a gun, money and a wall of people between, players can also play tennis, golf or darts, go to flight school, participate in off road, sea or street racing, go hunting or parachuting, practice yoga, run a triathlon, and a handful of other, more serious activities. In addition to this, there is a whole mobile 'internet' to browse including a functional stock market that all GTA V players influence, a veritable smorgasbord of side missions and even just driving around and seeing the sights.
Heists are of a different make as well; players are tasked with the actual planning of the heist, including selecting from a few methods provided by a few NPCs, hiring crew and securing supplies. Engaging in the actual heists is exceptionally fun and exciting. With all this to do, there aren't really a lot of downsides.
There are some. Occasionally, the story will focus on one character for a long while which can be monotonous, and it isn't always clear what missions are available, as the map is much bigger than the screen. Also, some missions tend to have a long gap between 'checkpoints', resulting in replaying a relatively large portion of a mission multiple times. These are relatively minor difficulties in the whole of things, and not worth excluding the title over.
Overall, Grand Theft Auto V is entirely worth the purchase, boasting a lot of playtime, and the inclusion of GTA Online, a unique multiplayer mode borrowing MMO elements to add even more play value to the title. Purchase this immediately!
Spokanites can learn more at the official GTA V website. As always, if you want to play with me, I can be found on Live @ OperatorJames, especially GTA Online.