GTA V – when it comes to reviewing this game, the one thing I don’t have to go into is how it all works because now, after many games in the series, regular gamers will be more than aware of the basics, while every other human on the planet will have seen the immense amount of coverage on the news, and if they’re not sure why it’s attracted this level of attention it’s because while the game cost £170m to make, it has already taken over £600m in retail sales – and that’s on the Xbox 360 and PS3 alone. Rockstar always, eventually, release a PC version, and I expect there’ll be Xbox One and PS4 versions to follow once those consoles are established.
As regular players are well used to by now, the GTA series reflects the usual struggle in life of having to start at the bottom and work your way up the ladder. Last time, in the main release of GTA IV, you took control of Niko Bellic. This time round there are three characters to control: Michael, Trevor and Franklin. Initially, you’ll catch sight of Trevor for a short time before starting the game proper as Franklin. Hence, this is three games in one as you’ll complete missions individually, while at other times their paths will cross and, when working on a mission together, you’ll be able to switch between them. I won’t go into detail about their backgrounds or locations because this is something you can enjoy discovering as you play the game.
Anyone who’s ever played a Grand Theft Auto game beforehand, which will be most of you reading this, will just want to get stuck in as soon as possible, so the best way to present much of the info I have to say is by simply listing my observations and differences:
- It takes much longer to blow up a vehicle by shooting at it. In previous games, you could get away with a handful of shots. I guess, here, it’s more realistic. Hence, when I created a pile-up on the freeway by shooting at some cars, causing the front ones to suddenly back up and crash into the rest, while the drivers had long since run off, I wanted to shoot one of them until it was on fire and cause a huge explosion. Alas, the cops were on to me before I could achieve this and running away was the order of the day.
- While the rag-doll physics were quite something in GTA IV, here they feel even better. More fluid. This is best experienced by driving into a group of people and enabling the rear-view, so you can see them fly over your bonnet in style.
- When it comes to the graphics, once again they are at their peak, with the team behind it stating they can improve upon GTA IV’s visuals because they’ve become more familiar with the hardware over time, such as a greater draw distance, despite releasing the two games on the same consoles.
- Note that when you buy this game, you have to install around 8.5Gb onto your console’s hard drive. At the time of GTA IV’s release, I only had an Xbox 360. I’ve since bought a PS3, and while I told the PR company I didn’t mind which of the two formats were supplied, I’m glad they opted for the PS3 because my Xbox 360’s hard drive is only 20Gb in size and is mostly full. It was bad enough when I had to junk a lot of stuff to play Rage (7Gb installation) and that game didn’t last too long on there, while GTA V will definitely be around for the life of the console.
- GTA V sees the removal of GTA IV’s “hard locking”, where your weapon’s crosshair would instantly lock-on to an enemy, making it easy to kill them without having to think. GTA V still does this to a degree – and I’m glad, because when the police swarm on top of you, you need a quick and fun way of attempting to escape, but there are times when it doesn’t, so that effectively makes it more realistic.
Go to page 2 for more observations and differences…
Some more observations and differences:
- I love the way you can run up to people and punch them in the street. After you’ve done this to the first one, some of the others are going to leg it if they think they’re next, so as you chase up to them and are within a reasonable distance, pressing ‘punch’ (R2) while running will make your character lurch forward just enough to strike them. (add video of Franklin being a complete…)
- I like that the police are shown as just one car with a directional ‘view’ in front of them which shows what they can see, rather than making the whole area a big circle you need to escape from, as per the previous entries in the series.
- As taxis pull up, it is possible to hail one, but everyone knows you’re just going to nick any car you want. Then again, you can take one and skip the ride part of it (paying a slightly higher cost, albeit nothing to worry about) so you can effectively teleport there.
- You can train Chop the dog via the iFruit app (available now for iPhone, but not yet on my Android), and in the game, itself, you can even *play* as Chop, chasing after a bad guy.
- I’ve still do to more in it, such as entering Franklin in races and going hunting with Trevor, although while I’ve taken Michael for a game of golf, it was while it was raining and it somehow didn’t put him off!
- You can also do some of the usual things in GTA games, such as going to sleep to save the game and advance time, using Quick Save on your phone to… well, quickly save. And watch TV back home, and in Franklin’s case, you can smoke some weed at the same time. However, this, like being in Niko’s apartment in GTA IV, and CJ’s games console in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, these are a once or twice novelty and not something you’ll do regularly.
Now some gripes:
GTA III was the first 3D game in the series.
GTA IV took the 3D into high-defintion.
GTA V feels more like… GTA 4.1
- Yes, there’s a greater draw distance on the game, this time round, and the visuals are improved, but it feels more like another game in the GTA IV series rather than something brand new, despite the inclusion of three fully-playable characters rather than just one.
- I can’t press ‘circle’ to centre the view ahead while driving, whereas I could press a similar button on the Xbox 360 in GTA 4 to do exactly that, and same again with GTA III on the PS2. The only equivalent is to switch to a rear view first. You can do this by pressing R3. However, it takes about half-a-second to react rather than show you instantly, so that’s rather annoying.
- There’s a funfair in Los Santos, and it was a laugh to ride the rollercoaster “Leviathan”, but at $15, it’s quite overpriced for the average rickety ride. That said, only that and the ferris wheel seem to be playable. Which is a shame.
- Overall, it feels very samey, but then when GTA VI comes along, do they chaange what works dramatically – and leave it to go all Hitman Absolution, which was an abomination, taking over the final scene from some levels rather than letting you work out how to cap the bad guys… or just play it safe and keep it the same again?
Finally, my review has gone live on October 1st, the day of the launch of Grand Theft Auto Online. I don’t have any form of paid-for online gaming service, so I don’t know if I will be able to take part, although a quick google shows that I will. However, either way, this is a 16-strong multiplayer free-roam experience in the world of the single-player setting.
Players will be able to join up to rob banks, race against each other and so on. You’ll even be able to create a crew with some homies and go sort out some paper, innit. Those who did this during Rockstar’s May Payne 3 will find their crews transfer to this title, courtesy of the Rockstar Games Social Club connecting the multiplayer experiences together. Each player can join up to 5 crews or create their own. Success brings you experience points, and what do points make? …. No, not prizes, it means you can progress in online leaderboards.
More info about the GTA Online can be found here.
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- Publisher: Rockstar Games
- Players: single player campaign, multiplayer: 2-16
- HDTV options: 720p
- Dolby Digital 5.1 sound: Yes
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.
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