Posted by : Unknown Saturday, September 28, 2013

 | 9/28/13 12:00PM |

Three-Way Split

Grand Theft Auto V brings players back to Los Santos, a satirical version of California not seen since San Andreas, and things have really changed since the last visit in 2004. While the SD and HD versions of GTA are in separate universes, you'll still recognize some elements from the previous game including the gangs and various locations that reappear in GTA 5

With the game taking place in the present time of 2012-2013, economic downfall has hit the city hard, although the three controllable characters have found ways to earn money in San Andreas, both legal and illegal. Mostly illegal though.  

Essentially built by the framework from their more recent titles, the 30+ hour tale of how these three work together makes for yet another fantastic game from Rockstar Games.

It's hard to believe, but GTA IV came out five years ago, although I remember its release like it was yesterday. Since then, Rockstar has released Red Dead Redemption, Max Payne 3, and the co-developed L.A. Noire with Team Bondi. These three games were all third-person titles with improved animation and controls from GTA IV, and have shaped the way Grand Theft Auto V plays in various forms. 

There's a weapon wheel and random events just like Red Dead Redemption, the shooting is just as intuitive and fluid as it was in Max Payne 3, and the city looks just as detailed as L.A. Noire, a game itself which was based upon the actual Los Angeles

Having never played it, I can't comment on whether or not the driving is the same as something you would find in Midnight Club, but as someone who put in lots of hours into GTA IV, I can easily say that the driving has been vastly improved since then, and allows you to really feel in control as you speed across the world in the many available and modifiable vehicles.

Before I discuss the three main characters, I wanted to talk about the world of Grand Theft Auto V. It's not a big state like in GTA: SA with separate areas, but it is still a diverse area that is bigger than GTA 4, San Andreas, and Red Dead Redemption. Combined. 

This element of the game was talked about plenty of times before release, but you don't really believe it until you're in the world yourself, and can see miles of city, mountains, and small towns found in the game, which can be traversed from the start of the game unlike previous GTA titles. Even after the credits rolled, I was still amazed by the game's detail and the fact that I had not even explored all of the map yet. 

Airplanes were absent from GTA IV due to the smaller size of Liberty City, but have returned in GTA V, allowing you to see the world from the skies which truly shows how beautiful the world is. Even in the incredibly fast Military Jet, it still takes time to fly across the massive world. 

You'll be able to explore this world as you control three different characters who seek to better themselves, or at least better their bank accounts. Michael is a former bank robber who has been placed into FIB witness protection with a sweet house in Vinewood after scoring a deal, although having the money doesn't make him happy. His wife Amanda loves his income but despises him for his behavior, his two children Jimmy and Tracey are spoiled beyond reason, and the only person he really talks to is his therapist who always seems to increase his visitation prices after every session. 

Franklin is a repo man who works alongside his friend Lamar, and they find themselves getting into petty gang antics that leave them with high risks and low rewards, with Franklin only agreeing to help his friend because he's desperate to leave his house which he shares with his aunt who nags him about everything. And then there's Trevor. 

A former criminal associate of Michael's, Trevor has made his business in Blaine County selling Meth among other things and brushing up against the Lost MC chapter of Los Santos. Trevor is a pretty crazy guy, but he's also smart enough to make money. But he's still also mostly crazy. If you took Vaas from Far Cry 3, the Joker from Batman, and Lynch from Kane and Lynch, they would probably get along just fine with Trevor.

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I wouldn't dare spoil what happens to bring these characters together, but once they're a criminal trio, you'll be able to freely switch between them while exploring the game in free-roam, but also during missions -- something that is sometimes either forced or highly recommended at certain times. What's great about the switching is that the other two characters you're not playing as will go about their day. 

You'll often switch to them and find them in either hilarious or normal situations based on their behavior. Almost every-time I would switch to Trevor, he would be in some weird situation or simply terrorizing the citizens of Los Santos.

The character's have special abilities that help in different ways during the course of the game. Michael can slow time when shooting, Franklin can do the same when driving, and Trevor can absorb less damage while dishing out more at the same time. These specials and their set skills can be upgraded so you can become better at their unique abilities as well as swimming, running, shooting, driving, and flying.

Mission variety in Grand Theft Auto V is something that is great as well. You're not just driving to an area and wasting tons of guys and driving off. Their depth is much more evolved, and even around the end of the game, I was taking part in new gameplay sequences. 

The heists are the big missions for GTA 5, and they're as good as advertised. My only gripe is that there weren't a lot of them, but they were still fun and varied when they showed up. The heists are actually based around a series of little missions like acquiring outfits and weapons among other things, before doing the big heist and making off with the take. Heists are also great because they involve two distinct ways to get them done, adding to the game's mission variety. 

Heists also involve crew members you meet or have from the start to use and can become better at helping you based on how many times they're used for the big missions when they're available to be used.  

There's so much to see and do in Grand Theft Auto V. Going for the elusive 100% completion is going to take some time, and there's also Grand Theft Auto Online which launches on October 1st and is looking to be the icing to the GTA 5 cake. 

Rockstar Games has once again proven that their worldwide team is on another level development-wise when they release a game to their massive worldwide audience.   

Developer- Rockstar North
Publishers- Rockstar Games
Release Date- September 17th, 2013
Price- $59.99 MSRP
Review Platform- Xbox 360

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