(Posted to my Facebook Page on March 4, 2015)
It’s been a few years since it was released, but I recently had a chance to play through Grand Theft Auto 5 on the PS4. It’s actually the first GTA game I’ve played start to finish (Whoo Adulthood), but I was rather impressed with what it had to offer.
The story revolves around three characters: Michael De Santa, Franklin Clinton, and Trevor Phelps. Back in the day, Michael and Trevor were a part of one of the most notorious groups of bank robbers in the country. After a heist goes wrong, Michael is killed, Trevor is sent into hiding, and a third member, Brad, is sent to prison. However, in reality Michael had struck a deal with one of the officers, faking Michael’s death so he could get out of the business and start a life with his new wife and children. Nine years later, Michael’s life is in shambles with a lazy pothead of a son, a disrespectful daughter, and a wife who sleeps around with everyone but him. He meets Franklin, a former street-dealer who is attempting to clean up his life. Michael offers to mentor him and help him get into white-collar crime. After their first big hit, Trevor catches wind of it, still believing Michael to be dead, and returns to try and force Michael to complete “The Big One”, a heist to end all heists.
It may sound like that was a little complicated, but since the story is focusing on three main characters at the same time, there is a LOT going on in the story. It eases you into things, starting with just Franklin, then unlocking Michael. Much later you’ll unlock Trevor, which is when things begin to get crazy. It’s an interesting story and watching these characters begin to drift into each other’s lives and impact each other is really entertaining. Every character is unique, and even the ones you don’t like are still somehow likeable in their own strange way.
The game itself is standard GTA style (At least, since GTA III): A third person sandbox game focusing around crime. The next-gen offerings of the game allow the game to be played in first person as well, but other than for the novelty, you’ll find yourself playing in third person most of the time just for convenience sake. The game mainly focuses around various high-speed car segements, longer, slower car segments with story woven in to pass the time, and gun fights. Your huge selection of guns makes the fights a blast and the smooth car controls make that fun as well. The thing is, however, those activities are just the main part of the game. As for other things… hell, I can’t even count all the side activities. Rampages, golf, sky-diving, races, hunting, car customization, buying properties and taking their side-quests, play darts, run a triathlon, go to the shooting range, fly a blimp, do some yoga, get a tattoo, watch in-game movies… there is a TON of content here, and the world is big enough to keep you entertained for a very, very long time.
An important thing to mention is how the Three-Protagonist style of gameplay works. Well, any time outside of a mission, you can switch between characters, which will take you to wherever that character currently is in the world, where they might be sitting on their couch watching TV, walking out of a strip club, or waking up in their underwear on a bridge with a massive hangover. The situations you find these guys in can be pretty funny. Some missions can only be triggered by certain characters, but the real fun is when multiples of these protagonists participate in the same mission. At that point, you can switch between these characters as you wish to get a different perspective on the scene, to get a better angle to attack a more problematic group of enemies or what have you. A particularly memorable part of the game has Trevor flying a Helicopter next to a building while Michael hangs from the bottom on a cord to abduct someone from a window of this building. Franklin sits on another building with a sniper rifle. Throughout this mission you can play as any of them, and the mission is unbelievable hectic and fun.
And then there are the heists. These are the really interesting missions in the game: here, you find a high-value target, assemble a crew, decide how you wish to approach the mission (Usually stealthy or loud, taking on various styles for each), and then gather supplies and prep various getaway vehicles for the mission. I can’t stress how fun these missions can be and how creative they become.
On top of that, the game features an extensive mutliplayer where you can roam the open world with friends, create custom multiplayer maps, or play existing ones with friends. I have yet to try any of that out but with all I’ve seen from the Achievement hunters, it looks like an utter blast.
The game looks gorgeous, especially on next-gen. You would think that going into first person would show some ugly close-up textures, but no. The guns and everything else looks beautiful, especially that close up. The motion capture was well done, and the game has an ENORMOUS soundtrack as well. In any vehicle, you can flip on the radio which has an unbelievable variety. 17 stations in all with 15-20 songs (Double that on next-gen!) for each station. There’s a lot of rap, obviously, but if that’s not your thing (As it wasn’t mine), you’ll be able to find something you like, with stations for rock, modern pop, soul, country, jazz-funk, and even a few stations with some really funny talk radio shows.
If the game has some shortcomings, it can be with its pace. GTA is somewhat notorious for bogging you down with tutorials which can make it take a while for the main game to get going, and that can absolutely happen here, but once it’s firing on all cylinders, there’s just so much to do and such a huge world to play around with that you can lose yourself here for hundreds of hours. You forget a thousand things every day, but don’t let this be one of them.
I give Grand Theft Auto V a 5 out of 5.