The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
through the lens of Rockstar Games' sardonic wit, Southern California
is a kaleidoscope of American culture. Populated with self-important
hedonists and self-improvement gurus, the luxuriously wealthy and
startlingly poor, vanity plate liberals and border-patrolling
conservatives, the region captures an impressive number of American
idiosyncrasies. Californian essayist Joan Didion perhaps described it
best as "a place in which a boom mentality
and a sense of Chekhovian loss meet in uneasy suspension."
That suspension serves as the perfect backdrop for the three
anti-heroes of Grand Theft Auto V.
bank robber Michael drinks his days away secluded from his
dysfunctional family, reminiscing about his glory days by watching
old action flicks in his luxurious estate. On the other side of the
tracks, young hustler Franklin scrapes by, repossessing cars while
looking to escape his dead-end neighborhood. The third miscreant,
Trevor, is most at home drinking and fighting in the trailer park
With the loquaciousness of Justified's
Boyd Crowder and the volatility of Trainspotting's
Begbie, this maniac acts implicitly off impulse, often to hilarious
and destructive results.
events join these disparate personalities in an uneasy alliance, the
three navigate the criminal underbelly of Los Santos, performing
unsavory tasks for corrupt officials, Mexican cartel leaders, white
collar swindlers, and, most importantly, themselves. When they aren't
bickering, the trio pulls off increasingly daring heists.
world games are often weighed down by "errand boy syndrome,"
tasking players with menial jobs that seem beneath the ability of the
protagonists or outside the cause of the narrative. While Grand Theft
Auto V still has its share of blue-collar work (like towing cars for
Franklin's crackhead friend), the majority of the tasks feel more
important because you can often see the direct benefit. For example,
running weapons across Los Santos may increase the amount of money
the airfield you purchased generates. This also applies to the heists
serving as the game's centerpiece. Before you can rob the jewelry
store, you must case the joint to identify vulnerabilities, hijack a
pest control van that provides your crew with cover, buy some masks
to conceal your identities, steal a gas canister to deploy through
the vents, and procure getaway vehicles.I didn't mind running these errands because I knew the payoff potential.
attempting the big-time heists, you are given the choice of two
approaches. The first typically involves an Oceans 11 degree
of cunning, stealth, and deception, while the alternative frequently
involves a dosage of lead normally reserved for world wars. Before
you act, you also must pick your crew; hiring a cheap, young hacker
may cost you valuable time to acquire the jewelry, but if you pick
the experienced guy he demands a bigger cut.
the heists begin, the signature innovation driving Grand Theft Auto V
takes center stage. During these missions you can instantly switch
between each of the three characters. Rockstar often uses this
mechanic to avoid the hassle of relocating to meet another wave of
enemies, imploring you to switch via a blinking icon and noticeable
sound effect to keep you
in the thick of the action. The transitions occur smoothly, and the
speed at which you swap characters is impressive.
diversity of the heists and other missions is also worthy of praise.
During my time in Los Santos, I
scuba dived into a scientific research center to steal a chemical
weapon, infiltrated a burning government agency building posing as a
firefighter to steal a hard drive, and fought though a five-star
wanted level with military grade weapons.
Should you falter during these high-octane scenarios, the
forgiving checkpoint system (a much needed improvement over Grand
Theft Auto IV) preserves your forward progress rather than forcing
you to start missions from scratch.
trio has distinct lives outside of these jobs, which includes
separate friends, properties, bank accounts, and problems. Taking
this approach allowed Rockstar to craft unique content for each,
which keeps the side missions fresh. You can alternate between the
perspectives of Michael, Franklin, or Trevor at will, and Rockstar
uses this as an opportunity to surface unique gameplay opportunities.
Jump to Trevor and you may find him passed out drunk on a hill nearby
a hunting mission. Switch back to Michael later and he may be playing
tennis with his wife or heading to an appointment with his
the player so much insight into the inner workings of the three
protagonists provides great mission diversity, but it also creates
the biggest crack in the story. Given what we have witnessed from one
particular main character, his
reaction to one of the major plot reveals seems extremely out of line
with his personality. This happens early on and hangs like an
albatross around the neck of the narrative for the majority of the
game. The choose your own adventure ending (you have three options)
also fails to deliver on the tension promised by this setup.
the plot doesn't live up to the high standards set by Red Dead
Redemption and GTA IV, the design surpasses every previous Rockstar
game. Grand Theft Auto V melds together the expansive open world of
its Western, the vehicle control and customization of Midnight Club:
Los Angeles, the shooting mechanics of Max Payne 3, and Rockstar's
signature sense of humor to create its most well rounded game to
who complained about boat-like vehicle controls in previous games
should be placated with the refinements Grand Theft Auto V delivers.
Cars have a proper sense of weight, while retaining the agility
necessary for navigating through traffic at high speeds. The damage
models are also drastically improved, with more variance to the
scrapes and dents you collect careening down the highways like a
targeting and cover systems also should win over holdouts who decried
the gunplay of GTA IV. Rockstar offers three different aiming
mechanics - the classic GTA snap-to shooting, aim assist, and free
aim for those who prefer more autonomy. If you struggle with lining
up shots with the default micro reticle, you can choose a larger one
in the settings. I found the shooting to be competent in
medium-to-long range shootouts; the only time I got into trouble was
when being flanked up close. Aiming with the left trigger slows down
your reticle movement, which can make it tough to address enemies
pinching from the sides.
critical mission path offers roughly 25 hours of gameplay, but you
can spend an even greater amount of time exploring the vast open
world. Whether you are in downtown Los Santos or the sprawling San
Andreas countryside, you always have a diverse array of activities at
your disposal. While in town you can shop for new clothing, get a
tattoo, catch a flick at the movie theater, or base jump off
skyscrapers. Outside the city limits, you can search underwater
shipwrecks for lost treasure off the coast of Los Santos, hunt
animals in the wilderness, play darts in a dive bar, or participate
in one of the many race varieties. I also spent a considerable amount
of time betting on the stock market; paying attention to character
chatter can land you a huge payday. That money won't spend long in
your bank account; every time I had a significant amount of cash I
went on a shopping spree, scooping up businesses, buying new
vehicles, and customizing cars.
Theft Auto V has the lofty expectations of living up to the pedigree
of its critically acclaimed predecessors. Rockstar Games deserves
credit for pushing the boundaries of its flagship franchise yet again
with improved controls, great mission variety, and the most
jam-packed open world I've ever visited. The narrative fails to
match the impact of John Marston or Niko Bellic's tales, but the
colorful characters kept me interested in the story nonetheless. Like
the golden state it parodies, Grand Theft Auto V is filled with
beautiful scenery, a wealth of activities, and the promise of
Email the author Matt Bertz, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.