The Grand Theft Auto series has always been at the forefront of video gaming. For me they define what a video game should be, not an artistic journey that changes your outlook on life, but a goofy, insane, explosion filled adventure.
The story starts with Franklin, a part time repo man and full time gang banger. Franklin and his friend and fellow degenerate Lamar “repossess” cars for their corrupt boss. On one repo job he meets Michael, an expert thief turned family man, Franklin sees an opportunity to get out of the Ghetto and Michael seeing a protégé, they befriend each other. The pair then come to a “misunderstanding” with the local drug king pin and have to make up some quick cash, so Michael comes out of retirement and they rob a jewellery store. Trevor, the manic and former accomplice of Michael, recognises him from the news report and tries to track him down. Once the gang are all together the story goes for the simple goal of committing crimes and collecting money.
This new feature of switching characters simultaneously was a little overwhelming at first but I quickly grew fond of it. During missions with more than one character you can switch seamlessly from one character to another, to get the drop on the enemy and see the mission fold out in different ways. While out of a mission the character change takes some time and, while this can often get frustrating, you are often treated to something hilarious, like Trevor waking up drunk in a skip, or Trevor waking up drunk in a dress on a mountain, or Trevor waking up drunk in tighty whites on an island.
The combat is pretty much still the same as GTA IV, meaning it is still simple and extremely satisfying; if it isn’t broke don’t fix it. The character switching isn’t the only new piece of gameplay, each character now has a special ability. Michael can slow down time and pick of targets with precision, Trevor can go into a rage mode and deal out more damage while taking less, Franklin can slow down time in his vehicle, making driving at high speeds extremely fun.
The missions revolve around a series of crimes, from robbing drug dealers to attacking a private army; you will always be having fun. The Strangers and Freaks side missions are my favourite part of the game, while these missions are sometimes mundane, they are always hilarious and we are treated to some colourful characters.
Throughout the story you will partake in a series of Heists. These high risk, high reward missions are the most intense part of the game. They have to be planned in a series of stages. You first must scope the place out, looking for weaknesses and different approaches. Next you pick a crew, the higher the crew the more the cut but the lower the more chance something will go wrong so getting the right crew for the right job is imperative. Finally you must source any equipment you may need, from fire trucks to submarines.
There is never a dull moment in the city of Los Santos, there is literally hundreds of things to do. There’s tennis golf, skydiving, triathlons, races, hunting, flying lessons, as well as a massive world to explore, riddled with collectables. Tennis and Golf alone are like a game in itself, seriously play a Tiger Woods game and try to tell me the difference between the two, granted you can’t beat your opponent with the driver if the game isn’t going your way in Tiger Woods, maybe someday. As well as all the activities you will come across random events to keep you occupied.
Grand Theft Auto is more than just a video game, it’s a social commentary. Current hot topic issues are discussed at length through the television, radio and various missions. Issues like immigration, pollution, celebrity obsession, materialism, privacy, terrorism, corruption, class divisions, drugs, gun control, corporations, poverty, the list goes on. Anything that we as humanity are divisive about, GTA V shines a light on and pokes fun of the obsessions and contradictions.
GTA V is simply just a hilarious game, from Franklin and Lamar’s colourful back and forth, Trevor’s insanity and Michael just trying to hold it altogether. The radio in GTA games is always genius, whether they are discussing real issues or general babble, you will always be laughing. The music is amazing, appealing to all genres. As I am writing this review I’m parked up and listening to Radio Los Santos, but occasionally I will switch to Non-Stop-Pop FM and listen to Britney Spears and I DON’T KNOW WHY.
There is a reason that Grand Theft Auto is the most successful series in video gaming. It is intense, action packed and intelligent, taking a slightly exaggerated look at our not so perfect society and reminding us to stop taking everything so seriously.
*Rockstar Games provided SlimGamer.com with a review copy.