Grand Theft Auto V Review
It's a Cynical World
The world of Grand Theft Auto V (GTAV) is a busy place. Developer, Rockstar North, has crafted a world so heavily populated with things to do and events to experience, that its world becomes a game in itself. The result is much the same as for all of GTAV's predecessors: uninhibited chaos and fun. The difference this time, is that GTAV feels like the premium edition, the culmination and epitome of those before it.
The devil is in the details. Many have already created lists depicting all the weird and wonderful things they have both done and found. However it is the little things which demonstrate the inimitable style of GTAV and the reason for its success. NPC's reactions to your actions, changes in the weather/lighting/environment, characters commenting on the fact you've just called them, characters retaining the vehicle you last left them with, heck, even insuring those cars against theft. The list truly goes on. What this helps to achieve more than novelty however, is the sense of immersion in the world and the feeling that it is both dynamic and believable.
The most distinctive and novel change in GTAV over its predecessors, is the ability to control three different main characters and switch at (mostly) any time between them. Those characters are Michael De Santa: the retired criminal with a troubled backstory, dissatisfied with wealthy living and an ungrateful and implosive family. Franklin Clinton: a wannabe, left to play the cards he's been dealt, whilst seeking to retain some sense of morality in a life without opportunity. Finally, there's Trevor: a sociopath and true anarchist, who embodies the actions of most, if not all, GTA players. These three characters provide the opportunity for players to see each perspective, play different missions and experience the all-encompassing story Rockstar have clearly always wanted to tell. It's a refreshing change and switching between them works seamlessly.
So what of the rest of the changes? Well in truth, there's not much that is obviously discernable. The gameplay is as good as it ever was. There are slight changes in the gunplay and driving mechanics, but overall the result is much the same. The graphics are, again, an improvement over GTA 4, but perhaps more in terms of scale, due to the vast size and dense population of GTAV. The fact that the ageing current generation systems can do so without noticeable slowdown is impressive.
Sound? Well, the radio tunes are enjoyable - for a time - as this has always been a highlight of GTA games. More impressively however, is the outstanding performances given by the characters' voice actors. They excel in delivering movie-style quality performances, which are witty, authentic and above all, funny.
In all, GTAV is an excellent game, one of the best this year and certainly the best of the GTA series so far. There may be the feeling of "been here, done that", which is only natural for a game of its type, as they rightly wouldn't want to completely overhaul the mould. It does however mean that veterans of the series may not get the same sense of wonderment as newcomers. What Rockstar has done so remarkably, is to craft this latest GTA as the quintessential version of the series, crammed with detail, novel experiences and a wonderful cast of characters.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.