Grand Theft Auto V is finally here and the main question everyone wants to know – is Rockstar still the king of open world games? The short answer to that question is yes. GTA 5 features a vast open world with tons of places to explore and things to do, plus improved mechanics and intriguing characters. Of course, all of this is tightly woven into the type of chaotic story that Grand Theft Auto is known for. Everything is here.
Grand Theft Auto V is all about heists, so there’s no better way to begin the game than right in the middle of one. You will start out controlling Michael, a retired bank robber in his 40′s who is bored with his life and hated by his family. There are two other crew members with you on this mission. One of them is Trevor – an unpredictable psycho meth addict who serves as the games third protagonist.
The first mission is an introduction to the game, taking place some 9 years before the actual events of GTA 5. It acts as a semi-tutorial by showing you how to switch between characters. Novices will also learn to drive, shoot and take cover. Of course, things don’t go quite as planned with the heist and before you know it – you are back in present day Los Santos. This is where you are introduced to Franklin, a young gang banger who is currently in the repo business with his knucklehead friend Lamar. The two of them are employed by a crooked car dealer named Simeon, who will dish out your first few missions.
While past entries in the series have focused on a single main character; Grand Theft Auto V will put you in control of three. This not only makes for a more interesting story, but also allows you to swap between characters during missions quite often. Don’t feel like driving as Franklin? Switch over to Michael and do the footwork instead. Between missions, you can switch between characters at any time. I suggest doing this fairly often, as these characters are usually involved in some interesting activities as they go about their daily lives.
Driving has dramatically improved, and will be one of the first things you notice (if you have played other entries in the series). Vehicles handled very similar in the past, but every vehicle in GTA 5 has a unique feel, which is driven by real world physics. An exotic car will handle like a dream on the street and like a nightmare off-road. When driving in the grass and mud, you will want to find a dune buggy or ATV.
Vehicles can also be souped up and customized to fit your needs. You can put off-road tires on an exotic car, which will help it control better in the grass and off the pavement. You can upgrade the engine or transmission for higher acceleration and top speed. The traction and breaking can also be upgraded. Or maybe you want to pimp your ride? You can do that too. From the hood to the horn – every aspect of a vehicle can be customized to fit your personality.
After your first mission with Franklin, you are set loose in the vast world of San Andreas for the first time. You will most likely want to explore around, but I would recommend getting familiar with your characters cell phone first. Here, you can read texts and emails, browse the internet and make phone calls. Other options include checking mission objectives, saving your game or changing settings. Before heading out, you might also want to kick back, smoke a blunt and watch some TV. The shows available to watch are hilarious and definitely worth taking the time to check out.
Hanging out in your safe house is just the tip of the ice burg. You can kill time by playing sports like tennis, golf, darts, or running triathlons. Those who enjoy racing will be happy to know it can be done both on and off-road, along with air and sea races (via planes and jet skis). If you just want to shoot something; arms trafficking, hunting, and shooting ranges are available. Finally, if you are simply looking to be entertained, head out to the fairgrounds or watch movies at the theater. There is so much to do, it’s hard to decide where to start.
Strip clubs are another fun diversion. You can toss singles or “make it rain” by throwing multiple dollars at once. Funny stuff. You can also take your favorite stripper to a private room for an intimate lap dance. This acts as a mini-game, where you try to touch the stripper as often as possible without being spotted by the bouncer. If you succeed in filling the meter on screen, then you can ask to go home with your exotic dancer. Not all of them will take you up on the offer, but when they do it will add them as a contact in your phone.
One of my favorite things to make a return in GTA 5 is the ability to purchase businesses and properties. These ventures will cost a significant sum of cash, but are worth it in the long run, as they provide a steady stream of income. Especially once you have amassed a nice sized collection of real estate. To purchase a property, simply look on your map and search for the house symbol with a dollar sign on it. Once you have set a way point and traveled to the location, there will be a sign out front of the building. This is where you will make the purchase. Purchasing different businesses will also often entail management missions, which can boost the income of your operation if completed.
There are plenty of ways to make money in San Andreas. Pulling up the internet on your phone will give access to the stock market. The concept here is simple – look for cheap investments that are starting to rise in value, then wait and sell them at a premium later. There are also armored trucks, which you will occasionally see driving around the city. Robbing one of these will net you a decent chunk of cash. Finally, there are hidden items and packages around the world. Some of them can be valuable, but are often guarded and will require extra muscle.
Of course, story missions are the bread and butter of Grand Theft Auto and the main storyline will see you doing any number of different things. From rescue missions, to chases, races, theft, bomb planting and assassinations – everything you have come to expect is here. Some missions are harder than others, and luckily GTA 5 features a fairly generous checkpoint system. Failing a mission will start you back at the last checkpoint. If you fail a mission too many times, you will even have an option to skip the mission all together.
Each character features a special ability to help make things easier too. Michael can slow down time in a gunfight, Franklin can slow time while driving and Trevor will deal extra damage, while receiving less damage. Use these special abilities wisely, as they will take some time to recharge.
The main addition to the mission structure is heists. Once a score has been identified, you will choose one of two ways to go about it. After a plan of action has been chosen, you will choose a crew. There are multiple people that can be picked for each role. Those with higher stats will also take a higher percentage of the cut. This can be an incentive to choose some less experienced crew members on the first few heists, as their stats will rise with every job they do and make them more reliable. The best part? Their percentage of the cut will always stay the same.
After a plan of action and crew have been chosen, it will be time to do some prep work (depending on which plan of action you picked). For example; the first big heist is a jewelry store robbery. If you picked a stealthy plan of action, you will need to case the store by taking pictures of security and ventilation. Then you will need a van and some disguises.
When prep work is complete, you are ready to pull off the heist. How things play out will depend on the crew you picked for the job. I picked an inexperienced gunman for the jewelry heist and he was lost during the getaway. This resulted in a smaller payout for the rest of the crew. Heist missions are the biggest missions. They pay out the most money and require more time to complete. Take your time and think carefully about the decisions you make, as you never know how things may play out.
Combat is another big area of improvement in GTA 5, as it feels much more natural than before and you can snap to cover from a greater distance. When you lean out of cover, your gun will auto-aim at the nearest target as you start shooting. This allows you to quickly switch between firing your weapon and taking cover, snapping from one target to another. Your reticule will change from a dot to an “X” if the target you are aiming at is dead, which is a small addition that makes a huge difference. Finally, the biggest addition to combat is the weapon wheel. It can be brought up at any time during combat, allowing you to choose exactly which weapon you want. This is a big step forward for GTA, as it was always a pain to keep switching between weapons until your character pulled out the correct tool of destruction.
Graphically, GTA 5 looks spectacular and is a vast improvement over the last entry. The level of detail around the world of San Andreas is unprecedented in open world games on the current generation of consoles. From car and character models, to buildings and stuctures – GTA 5 is nothing short of amazing. The look of rain on the street and water effects of waves on top of the ocean. The shine of an exotic car with a fresh paint job, as rays of light glare from the hood under a San Andreas sunrise… everything looks spectacular.
Overall, Grand Theft Auto V is terrific. Storytelling has reached a new high for the series. The radio stations and soundtrack are better than ever. The voice acting is top notch. The gameplay is smooth and refined. The level of detail deserves a round of applause. There is so much going on around you; so much to do. It’s hard not to just walk the streets and take in the sites. Rockstar has done a great job of bringing this world to life and once again proven they are the kings of open world games. There are a lot of imitators out there, so it is nice to see the genuine article again. This is a game that will be talked about for months and fondly remembered for years to come. If you buy only one game this year – make it Grand Theft Auto V.
Note: This is a review of the single player campaign. For multiplayer, check out our GTA Online Review Guide & Tips To Make Quick Ca$h.
Grand Theft Auto V looks spectacular and is a vast improvement over GTA 4. The level of detail in the world of San Andreas is unprecedented in open world games on the current generation of consoles. From car and character models, to buildings and stuctures; GTA 5 is nothing short of amazing.
The radio stations and soundtrack are better than ever. There is something for everyone here, regardless of your taste in music. The voice acting is top notch – not only with the main characters, but with side characters and pedestrians too. Sound effects like the roaring of the engine in an exotic car, the gun fire from an AK-47, the sound of a meth lab exploding into rubble behind you as you walk away – everything sounds great.
Rockstar took a big chance this time around by building a story around three characters instead of one, and it payed off big time. This is the best story ever told in the world of Grand Theft Auto. Every character is well thought out and interesting. There are no annoying characters (like Brucie from the last GTA). The three separate characters all have their own stories, but their stories intertwine too; giving the story in GTA 5 a real Quentin Tarantino vibe.
Combat and driving have both been overhauled for the better. Grand Theft Auto V is a joy to play and gone is the wonkiness of Niko Bellic from the last entry in the series. Garages are back and you can build up a car collection at your leisure. There are a ton of mini-games and games within games in GTA 5. They are all fun to take part in. Nothing about GTA 5 feels like filler; everything feels like quality.
Rockstar has knocked it out of the park with Grand Theft Auto V. Storytelling is a new high for the series. The radio stations and soundtrack are better than ever. The voice acting is top notch. The gameplay is smooth and refined. The level of detail deserves a round of applause. This is a game that will be talked about for months and fondly remembered for years to come. If you buy only one game this year – make it Grand Theft Auto V.