We are back in Los Santos, quite possibly the most incredible sandbox city ever made in a game. It’s quite exciting to bring you this Grand Theft Auto V Review on so many formats.
Rockstar set a new standard of open world gaming in a modern setting when GTA V released on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and even prompted the question as to why next gen consoles were even being release with not a single release title for the consoles coming close to the quality of Grand Theft Auto’s latest outing.
Since then the game has come over to the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and most recently the PC. I have played the game now on 3 formats, adding in new features like a first person mode and continuous updates to GTA Online. Everything about the GTA V experience screams quality, attention to detail and just outright fun.
This is the standard bearer of open world gaming in a living open world that you just can’t stop getting hooked on no matter which version you play.
Look and Feel
Grand Theft Auto V raised the standards of what to expect of the PS3 and the Xbox 360 graphically even with an element of texture pop-in at times. On the PC version of the game, and the next gen consoles, the increased draw distance, better implementation of light and shadow plus the original attention to detail really creates a stunning city that feels real.
People are everywhere, talking to one another and on phones having realistic and downright hilarious conversations. The roads busy with other cars, crazy drivers and all sorts of activity. Everything about the game looks like it’s a real place, and with the higher resolution characters and their animations the game has a layer of polish that the GTA series hasn’t ever reached before.
With the addition of the first person view you can get even closer and more absorbed into this world. As a gamer that tries to avoid this view, since it usually sees me living up to my nick-name and respawning a lot, I genuinely appreciated the game more flicking first person. The detail on NPC’s is clearer and the combat feels much more intense and you feel much more connected to what is going on than I ever expected.
This really does nothing for the driving however, but for the movement around the city on foot, combat and completing missions it’s a great addition and fits into the world perfectly.
Story & Characters
Playing the Grand Theft Auto series can see you get completely lost in the amazing world, there are just so many crazy and fun things that you can do within all of them you can practically ignore the main story. That has certainly been my experience over the years, and in all honesty that has been my biggest issue with the game; getting so wrapped up doing nothing but jumps, challenges and going on rampages I eventually give up.
But Rockstar have done something with the story mode of GTA V that I never expected, and after playing through it 3 times on 3 formats, I still think it’s one of the best out there.
With the 3 character based story, that allows you to switch between Michael, Franklin and Trevor it really gives the story of the game so much added richness and has created one of the best examples of character performances in gaming.
Each one has their own personality; Michael is living a lie on pretty much every level. Franklin is desperately trying to be more than another gangbanger and Trevor… well; he’s just utterly crazy and also happens to be one of the best gaming characters of all time.
With so much to each character including their own set of strangers and freaks to meet and other fun side missions, alongside a story that pulls you along through the distractions this really is something special.
When you consider the entire map is open from the start, rather than unlocked in sections like previous games, there are more distractions presented to you than ever before. The story has to do even more here to keep you going and I personally found that this story flipped my experience around entirely and I was actually struggling to break away from the story missions to do random things.
This is more like a movie than a game in its plot and the way it’s told. You may well do things in the world around the story, but you’ll constantly find yourself wanting to carry it on and experience Trevor’s insane behaviour, Michaels depressing life and Franklin’s determination to grow. The story told is a good one but the characters make it something special and one you should invest the time in finishing.
GTA prides itself on being one of the most varied and downright fun games to play. In each game there is so much to do in the world you somehow wonder how it’s even possible to fit in so much content. Particularly when you consider its origin was the last gen consoles, this makes it more impressive the range of things to do it GTA V for me.
One of my favourite elements to the game are the Strangers and Freaks missions that are unique to each character, with the odd cross over too to add to the comedy nicely. Then there are the optional things to do in the world which even go beyond our own planet in one of the more clever meta-games out there in an open world setting.
Combat is fast and fun with the flicking from one weapon to the next in a menu wheel that gives you larger than life options on what you can equip, where Trevor keeps his rocket launcher wearing torn up jeans and a T-Shirt, I really don’t want to know.
What’s more, the first person view makes the game much more engrossing when it comes to the combat, getting you closer to the action and, in combination with the special abilities you really do feel every shot.
Switching between 3 characters really gives so much diversity and options in gameplay that has not been seen before in a game of this genre. Each one feels different and their missions reflect that. Then there is the “life goes on factor” as you switch around and do missions you don’t find them just standing around waiting for you. Trevor is usually intoxicated, probably on at least a 3 star police rating when you switch over. Michael may be out at a strip club or getting in fights; Franklin can be getting into some mess with a gang member and end up in a shoot-out or racing against someone around the city.
Everything in the gameplay tries to pull you into the game world as a real, living thing and it’s just remarkable how well it does it time after time.
One element that stands out in the main story are the missions you have to do. A lot of the time in previous games they didn’t always seem to make sense. But in GTA V each thing you do has a purpose to moving on the plot, with the Heist missions being the best but only after you earn it by setting everything up first.
Then you have an entirely other game within the package of GTA Online, which is so vast it probably deserves a review of its own. But with online heists now to get involved with along with so many options on what to do with all your friends and other players online you really have one fast world of gaming to enjoy.
Quite simply, I cannot possibly write enough to go into everything in GTA-V has to offer as a gaming experience.
There is something for everyone (of appropriate age!) in Grand Theft Auto V and for all the comments to controversy, you have to play it in order to see the way the game constantly challenges stereotypes and uses satirical humour to poke fun at society and even itself at times. The torture scene will make some people uncomfortable but that isn’t such a bad thing when you consider the message that underpins its inclusion.
It’s so much fun to play even if you have played it already you’ll still be back for more and more… and more!
At My Games Lounge we keep our scoring system fair and point out the fact that no game is perfect, not even one as good as GTA. There are a few issues with the vehicle handling especially in the new first person mode and, depending on the version you play, you will get some pop-in and texture load issues.
But some games come along and raise the standards of what we are to expect of a genre, only one other game has done that recently for me, it really is something we do not see very often in an industry with a lot of repetition.
Nothing has changed since the game released back on PS3 and Xbox 360; GTA-V continues to set the standard for open world gaming by creating a stunning, alive and technically brilliant world with fantastic set of characters with gameplay that will keep you coming back again and again.
It’s now over to someone to go try and beat this amazing game, but who will do it?
My money is on Rockstar Games.
Grand Theft Auto V Review Format: PS3, PS4 & PC