Rockstar’s heavily hyped Grand Theft Auto V had a lot to live up to, not just because GTA IV was such a good game, but because all of the teasing we received over the past year or so was so enthralling, that we couldn’t help but expect this latest entry in the series to be anything but phenomenal.
Fortunately, Rockstar has done GTA proud once again as the game’s story is engrossing, while the vast amounts of content found within Los Santos and beyond gives us so much to do without even taking into consideration the actual missions themselves. With the game taking us back in time to a bank heist gone awry, we get a short glimpse at what is to come later in the game. After getting through the game’s first three missions though, I found myself just driving around, taking in the sites and sounds of the city, and as someone who’s originally from Los Angeles, I dug the fact that I recognized a lot of areas in the game; hell I was even able to navigate through freeways pretty easily.
As far as the game’s story is concerned, we get three different perspectives, coming from protagonists Michael, Franklin and Trevor. Michael is probably my favorite character and one who has the most depth, in my opinion. He’s a former criminal who now lives in a life of luxury but is pretty much unhappy with his situation. He’s bored, he goes to therapy, has a douchebag son, a wife who cheats and a shallow daughter who just wants to be a star. Franklin for his part, is a repo man who has driving skills that just wants to move up in the world, but doesn’t have luck finding any meaningful jobs, until he meets Michael. Michael sort of becomes Franklin’s mentor and the two bond better than Michael can with anyone in his family.
Finally there’s Trevor, who we meet a little bit later in the game, who is of course a former friend and partner of Michael who lives in the desert and deals meth. Trevor is easily the crazy one of the trio, as he’s a tad bit psychotic and certainly a loose canon. He provides just the right amount of nastiness to make the three-man team fun and he’ll likely be the fan favorite due to his personality.
Missions involving the team are fantastic, especially the heists, which involve all three and give the player options on how to approach each job. The heist then ends up going into different directions depending on your decisions. There are times when you can be a little bit more methodic in your approach, while other times, you may just jump right in, literally in one mission (involving parachuting into a building).
GTA V demands that you play how you want to play and it adapts to your style, which means that the game can be enjoyed differently and it plays out uniquely for others.
Some of the jobs you get involved in require prep work, as you’ll have to get things setup beforehand, almost like you’re playing out a scene in the film Ocean’s Eleven or Heat. In various instances, you’ll need to bring in crew members, such as someone who knows how to hack or maybe you just need a getaway driver. You’ll want to spend a decent amount of money if you want solid help, otherwise you’ll risk hiring people who could get you caught.
The missions work extremely well given that you can use all three characters, as they set each other up for the next step along the way. Given that you are actively controlling them, it’s all on you to keep things moving and it’s exhilarating to be in control from start to finish.
When you’re not actively engaged in any missions, you can still swap between all three protagonists to keep things fresh, and I found it comical to see them doing random things. Each character has their own distinct feel to it, with their own contacts, goals and ways they carry themselves. Perhaps the best thing about switching between each one, is that you can at-will, go from one activity to a completely different one, such as racing, playing tennis, hooking up with prostitutes or hitting the movie theater.
Tying the experience together also includes the freedom of just playing doing whatever the hell it is you want to do. Want to mow down citizens? Enjoy a few games of tennis? Get chased by police, or maybe just fly a jet? It’s all possible and you can spend as much time as you want engaging in a whole host of activities.
So regardless of how you play the game, there’s always something fun to do, even if it’s just driving down the coast while listening to an excellent selection of music on the radio. Grand Theft Auto V begs you to take your time and discover everything Los Santos has to offer and more. What is the series’ swan song on this generation of consoles, we can’t wait to see what’s next, but there’s still no hurry. GTA V will keep us busy for quite a while, and that’s a good thing.
Final Score: 5 out of 5