Let’s just get this right out in the open right now. Buy this game. Right now. Seriously, why are you even still reading this review? Grand Theft Auto V is the latest game from Rockstar Productions and is undeniably one of the best games that has come out not only this year, but this generation.
It is almost poetic in a way that such a fantastic game should be released in the late evening hours of the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3. In fact, this game is the last AAA title to be released for the consoles that won’t also be released for the Xbox One or Playstation 4. At least, not according to Rockstar. What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is a game that looks stunning, allows players to do almost anything they want, and includes one of the best stories I’ve ever played in a video game.
As far as the looks go, you’re not going to find a much better looking game any time soon, especially not one with such a large environment. GTA V gives you character models that look and act like people. I don’t mean in the obvious sense that they are, but rather that the details put into these characters is stunning. Even the way NPC’s interact with the world is, at times, mind-blowing.
The sandbox world of Los Santos is roughly the same size as a real world Toronto or San Francisco, and is two to three times bigger than Liberty City from GTA IV. This gives the player the freedom to do almost anything they want, from jumping off of sky scrapers with a rocket launcher, to racing around the desert on an ATV to hunting for sunken treasure deep beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean. You even have the ability to steal a fighter jet from a military base and run around doing bombing runs on highways.
These are the things that make Grand Theft Auto what it is. Being able to cause pure chaos in the largest worlds the developers can create, racing through the crowded streets as fast as possible, and using senseless violence to solve (and create) your problems. GTA V only kicks it up a notch or twelve.
The story has three main characters; Franklin, a young gangbanger from the city of Los Santos; Michael, a middle-aged, retired bank robber; and Trevor, a drug dealing redneck with an insatiable bloodlust. This unlikely team of ne’er-do-wells team up to steal cars, rob banks, and do pretty much every other illegal activity in the books. You can also switch between which one you control at almost any time; don’t get too attached to any one character though, as completing all of their individual missions will give you the best GTA experience possible.
The story itself is one that could blow even some Hollywood blockbusters out of the water. The layers of characters that have been added to the story really make you care about the decisions you’re making. Are you going to blow up half the city chasing one guy around town? Or are you just going to brush it off your shoulder and let him go? There are even a couple supporting characters that are really easy to relate to and connect with. Not to say that these characters will make you care about them as much as say, Clementine from Telltale’s The Walking Dead, but there are times where you’re going to have to think about what you’re about to do.
So much so that Rockstar has even added random events into the game that give players the ability to control some of their surrounding environment. You can come across hitchhikers and give them a lift, or being them to be taken over by a cult; You can help either the police or some bank robbers in a shootout; you can even stop a young woman from being raped (Rockstar says she’s about to be cannibalized, but we’ll let you be the judge of that when you come across the event). Or you can either keep driving and let everyone continue on with their horrible ways, or just mow everyone down in your car.
In regards to improvements to the last installment to the GTA series, it’s pretty hard to not improve in every way when your last release was over five years ago. The driving is more manageable, combat is much more fluid, and we’ve already covered the graphics. Even the voice acting is leaps and bounds above what GTA IV had, which might not really be saying much. There was plenty of awful acting in that game.
Lastly, Rockstar also released a mobile app called iFruit to accompany Grand Theft Auto V along its journey to greatness. The app allows you to customize your car, license plate and allows you to train Franklin’s dog Chop in order to train him. Training Chop will allow you to unlock new tricks for Chop, including the ability for him to sniff out collectibles hidden around the map.
Overall, GTA V is a masterpiece. Pure gold. This is a game that even though I’d beaten it almost a week ago now, I keep going back to play more and try to find some of the game’s secrets. This is a game where, as a reviewer, I’m supposed to help you decide whether you should spend your hard earned money to buy it. With Grand Theft Auto V, there should be no question. If you can only afford to get one game this year, this is it.