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Welcome to Los Santos!

       I still think that deciding to review Grand Theft Auto V may have been one of my worst decisions.  Why?  There's a lot to review.  An accurate evaluation takes a lot of time spent on this game, online and offline.  So this is why I'm writing a review so long after the game has come out.

       Note: I'm using a new method to review this game.  This is my longest, most detailed review by far.  If you would rather something short and sweet, this is not the review to read.  Let's begin.

       To accurately do this, I'm going to split the review into three parts: Story Mode, Online, and The Verdict.

Story Mode

       The Story Mode is the offline version of Grand Theft Auto V.  It contains the story of the three main protagonists, Micheal, Trevor, and Franklin.

Gameplay

        Let's start with what's most important: the gameplay.  At its core, the gameplay is most of what you'd expect from a Grand Theft Auto game.  You shoot a variety of weapons, drive a variety of vehicles, and cause chaos in a variety of ways.  The difference is that all of the basic gameplay elements have been greatly improved.

       Taking hints from its other games such as Max Payne 3 and Midnight Club: Los Angeles, Rockstar has improved the gameplay in big ways.

       Vehicles no longer have the floaty feel of Grand Theft Auto IV and instead have a perfect balance of different elements.  The vehicles are not floaty, but they don't feel like giant magnets either.  They can crash, but the amount of damage is dependent on what happens.  A head on collision will, of course, cause more damage than scraping against a guard rail.  The vehicles drive different depending on what they are.  Muscle cars drive differently from trucks, and trucks drive differently from sports cars.

       There have been some complaints regarding the driving.  Basically, some people say that the vehicles slide too much, especially when making a tight turn at high speeds.  I want to clarify this by saying that common sense can apply to video games, too.  Don't expect to perfectly make a ninety-degree turn at one hundred twenty miles per hour.  It won't work.

       Combat is, as always, a huge part of Grand Theft Auto V.  If you're not driving, you'll most likely be shooting or beating someone up.  The shooting works extremely well.  The cover system has been improved.  Nearly any barrier can be used as cover, from walls to open doors.  This can cause some confusion over where the character will take cover.  Although it happened only a few times, I have found myself taking cover right in front of enemies, being shot, and dying.  It is frustrating when it happens.  Shooting itself is fun and responsive.  The dot reticule, however, can be mildly annoying, but it can be changed.  Hand-to-hand combat is as simple as always, but it works well.  Only a few weapons are very different, like the jerry can, which has plenty of uses that sometimes lead to interesting moments.

       The missions and side missions have a ton of variety.  Strangers and Freak missions open up multiple new missions with their own small stories.  These missions are specific to which character you are playing as.  The only disappointing thing about them is that there weren't more of particular missions that I liked.  There were normally just a few of each.  There are very interesting gameplay ideas, however, in these missions that I want to see in later games, particularly the Bounty Hunter missions.

       A new thing in Grand Theft Auto V is the stock market.  It's just as you would think; you invest money and either lose some or make a profit.  It's split into two separate markets, one online and the other offline.  The online market is based off of yours and other players' purchases.  For example, I got the game on day one.  The Ammu-Nation market skyrocketed on those first few days because of all the new players.  The offline market can be manipulated in a variety of ways, too.  For example, you spot a Cluckin' Bell truck transporting goods.  You invest in Taco Bob, its competitor, and destroy the truck.  You make a profit off of Taco Bob's market.  The market can be manipulated in more ways.

       Heists are also new, and they are very fun.  Planning one involves staking out the location of the heist, making a plan, and getting supplies for it.  Usually, heists have two options that vary depending on the situation.  One has a sneaky and loud option while another has two options based on the score.  These missions take a lot of preparation and time, but they are exciting.

       The option to switch between the three protagonists at any time during missions when they are together also adds a strategic side to missions.  Say I'm playing as Trevor, and Micheal is in trouble.  I can either switch to Micheal and take care of the enemies, or I can flank the enemy as Trevor or Franklin.  There are plenty of other variants.

       The option to switch to any of the three characters adds a lot to gameplay outside of missions simple because I was rarely left with nothing to do.  Even if I had completed everything in the game (I haven't yet), there are plenty of distractions to give me something to do.  And if I'm out of options, just switch characters.  The other characters are also living out their own lives while you're playing, so you can switch to them in random moments.

       Side activities like golfing and racing are very fun.  All of these game modes are deep and designed well...accept for two.  Strip clubs and darts are mundane and either overdone (strip clubs) or underwhelming (darts).

       It's clear that Rockstar went to great lengths to give us something to do every second we play the game, and it didn't disappoint.

Technical Performance

        It is the norm nowadays with open-world games: they have glitches.  A lot of glitches.  Games like The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and Fallout: New Vegas are infamous for them.

       Surprisingly, however, Grand Theft Auto V performs very well.  There are few glitches other than minor graphical ones.  The most common that I've seen are more entertaining than frustrating, and at the worst, will cause you to restart a mission.

Storyline

       For the most part, Grand Theft Auto V's storyline is very good.  There are three main protagonists, Micheal, Trevor, and Franklin.  Micheal is a former criminal that now lives the high life of a successful retired person.  Trevor is a maniac that cooks meth and kills people.  And Franklin is a young gangster who's tired of it.  Without going into too much detail, Franklin meets Micheal, and Micheal takes him in to teach him his criminal ways.  Trevor finds out about both of them through those criminal ways.  Something also forces Micheal to come out of retirement.  The rest of the storyline shows their adventures as a team and individually.  Heists are the backbone of this entire storyline, and they progress the story.  As with every Grand Theft Auto storyline, there's a lot I could say and give away.  But I won't do that.

       Very few moments, however, I noticed inconsistencies in the characters' actions.  For example, one Strangers and Freaks mission tasks Franklin with taking scandalous pictures of a celebrity despite the fact that he told the same photographer to back off when asked about a gay celebrity.  It made no sense, but there are only a few instances like these.

       The characters of Grand Theft Auto V are mostly excellent.  All three protagonists are good characters, with Franklin being the weakest link.  And even minor characters like Lamar sometimes steal the show in a cutscene.  The voice acting and dialogue are excellent.

Verdict: Story Mode

       Overall, the Story Mode is excellent.

       Gameplay: 9.75

       Technical Performance: 9.75

       Storyline: 9.5

       Overall: 9.75

Online Mode


       No one can deny that Grand Theft Auto Online's launch wasn't borderline disastrous.  Nothing worked the first few days, but Rockstar had predicted this ahead of time.  Not only that, but they recovered, patched the game, and gave us five hundred thousand in-game dollars for our troubles.  Apology accepted.

       The core gameplay, of course, isn't much different.  The difference comes in the fact that, well, this is all online.  There are many different game types, from deathmatches to races to survival.  Many of these missions become available as you progress, and more game types are added, too.  Aside from the generic deathmatches and a few other game types, many of the game types that I've seen so far are imaginative and fun.

       Off missions, much of the fun with friends comes in general tomfoolery.  Mayhem can be caused anywhere on the map almost from the get-go.

       The weapons can only be unlocked as you progress, and they aren't cheap.  Well, nothing's cheap actually.  Everything is expensive, and cash is the real mark of your achievements.  Cash can be earned through missions for the most part.

       Unfortunately, there are two game mechanics that don't quite work yet: Bad Sport and Passive Mode.  Bad Sport is a system where bad players get put in games with other bad players.  That's okay and all, but it's not fair all the time.  If you blow up someone's personal vehicle (as retaliation or as a griever), you are warned.  If you leave a mission (even if you were disconnected) you are warned.  It takes quite a few offenses to get booked, but the real bad players are often not punished because of all the loopholes in the system.  Passive Mode is a system where you pay money to make yourself safe in the game world.  You can't be shot, but you can't shoot either.  It sounds good until you realize that it basically doesn't work at all.  You can still be run over and blown up.  I hope these systems get patched soon.

       Overall, the gameplay online is fantastic, and more content will soon be added.

Verdict: Online

       Since gameplay is the only big difference in a multiplayer mode, I think it's only worth reviewing that.

       Overall (and Gameplay): 9

The Verdict

       The total score is taken by taking the average of both parts of the game.

       Story Mode: 9.75

       Online Mode: 9

       Overall: 9.5

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