Grand Theft Auto V makes a fully loaded comeback

Graham C Wheat, Editor in Chief

Game developer and publisher Rockstar Games has yet again captured the minds of millions, not just in the video game community, with the most recent release in their flagship of the franchise Grand Theft Auto V.

As the fifth iteration in the open world crime tale they have coalesced their ventures in many other video games to be the gigantic city that is Los Santos and surrounding areas. The story of three bank robbers from very different backgrounds helps to complete one of the most realized game worlds that exist.

This tale follows the exploits of not one protagonist, but three distinct personalities who eventually team up to liberate Los Santos residents of their decadent extravagancies. You can switch between the characters on the fly with a press of a button, which keeps the game fresh and doesn’t stall on a part of the story you might not like as much.

The writing is witty and current, lampooning society cheekily at least 4 times within the first hour of the game. Vice president of Rockstar Games Dan Houser was at the helm of the story and writing in this game, as he has with nearly every GTA game, or Rockstar game period, and his writing in this tale is the best yet. I was compelled to complete every side mission because I knew I would find something contemplative or downright funny in the story telling. The in-mission color dialogue, like when driving to your next mission, had me laughing every time instead of speeding to my next checkpoint.

The amount and type of missions is for the most part regular fair for the open-world sandbox video games. Players will feel right at home undertaking various mission type. Which include illegal racing, stick-ups, or the some similar illicit activity. However, it does seem to have more depth to each mission than previous GTA games.

For example, the first big heist as a crew puts you in charge of tactics of entry, crewmembers to hire, and types of disguises. All of these elements use a risk/reward strategy. You might spend more of your score hiring better crewmembers, but that also means that a lame driver isn’t going to crash your ill-gotten gains into the Los Santos River. It creates a sense of real control, and if you screw the mission you only have your greed to blame.

This time around the money you accrue doesn’t go to waste. There is a litany of options to spend your stolen dough on. From fully customizable cars; akin to that of Midnight Club, to tons of clothing options for each character, you will be undertaking any mission to grow your bank account. The options to do such, like a virtual stock market that you can manipulate, will keep your wallet fat.

Rockstar took lessons from their hit Max Payne and refined the shooting mechanics to be tight and easy to pick up, yet hard to master. The guns too have much more character than the last games in the series. Typically if you wanted to see some distinct changes in weapons for GTA you would need to compare pistols and rocket launchers. Now each gun feels unique in its own right. Two different types of pistols, one that appears to be a .50 caliber and the other a 9mm, feel like their counter parts. Heavy and powerful for the first, and light and maneuverable with high fire rate for the latter.

The fictional city of Los Santos, modeled after Los Angeles very accurately (including things like iconic landmarks to skateboarders in Santa Monica), finally has the justice done to really include it as a character in and of itself. In older GTA games the city was prominently featured, however now it seems the practice Rockstar had with games like Red Dead Redemption and tangential GTA stories gave them a blue print for everything they wanted to enhance. Simply exploring the city has never been so rewarding. Finding hilarious billboards and landmarks you know is only part of the organic unfolding of the exploration.

Yet again, what compliments part of that natural discovery is the extensive musical collection in the form of in-game radio. I do mean extensive too. From Pet Shop Boys on the pop station to old school gangsta rap courtesy of Snoop Dog and N.W.A. Or if hip-hop and pop isn’t your thing rest assured they have plenty of hilarious talk radio, electronic music, and classic punk rock. Flipping through the fictitious channels to find a song to “get your roll on” to feels like the real life thing. Music has always been a big part of recent GTA games, but in what seems to be a theme for GTA V, it takes on a life of its own to supplement the overall product. Not to mention the enormous spike in youtube hits for tracks that are featured in the game.

It seems that GTA V is greater than the sum of all its parts. They have taken the mechanics from their best games and implanted them into the world of San Andreas, almost as if past games published by Rockstar were extremely profitable experiments to get the components to make GTA V. The world often feels like you have been there, if you have played any Rockstar game in the past five years then you are at home.


5 out of 5