Before we continue I think it’s important to let you know that I am not a Grand Theft Auto fan. I appreciate the games for what they have done to help bring video games into the main stream of home entertainment, but they have never been for me. I can quite contently put on a GTA game and play it for a few hours. Once I’ve had it on for an hour or two I become bored and lose interest in the game. To me, they get repetitive which is when they become dull.
With that said, I absolutely loved my time playing GTA V. I found everything about it engrossing. Usually the story in Rockstar’s flagship franchise becomes a bit stale after a few hours, not this time. With each progression in the plot I felt the urge know more and find out what happens next. This time around the plot revolves around the user playing as three different characters. The initial worry for this fundamental change in the how the game is played was that it would lead to a disjointed experience with the user hopping from one story to another. I am delighted to report that this is not the case. The switching between main characters functions very well, with ease and enriches the gameplaying experience.
The quality of voice acting, throughout the game, is sublime. While there are no Hollywood stars lending their voice to the cast, they are of sufficient quality for you to check IMDB and double check. They are that good. Each character is fully developed, unique and really amusing in their own way. Personally, I had an absolute blast playing as the trailer trash Trevor. But as all you GTA fans will know, humour is a key ingredient to the success of the franchise. It is handled in a clever way, verging on over the top but never becoming tiresome and grating like in the competing Saints Row games. Check out the cinemas and TV shows. Some of them I was happy to sit there and watch - they are entertaining in their own right. My personal favourite was the hilarious Kung-Fu Rainbow Lazer Force.
The greatest thing about GTA V is the city of Los Santos. It is breath-taking what Rockstar have managed to accomplish. The map is huge. Not only is it huge, the attention to detail within it is so impressive. Sometimes when a game advertises a massive map for the player to explore, then many areas will be superfluous to the game, even worse than that they can be quite barren. Not in GTA V. Every area of the map serves a purpose and it’s quite clear that each secluded portion of the map has been given as much care and consideration as the more heavily used areas.
It’s not all good however. I still find the controls twitchy and unintuitive. In particular the aiming of weapons is cumbersome and does not feel like it has been improved since last incarnation of GTA. Similarly, the graphics have plateaued. There’s no improvement from five years ago, and while it is on the same generation of console, there should be some level of improvement in the visuals. The fact that there isn’t, is quite disappointing. Compared to recent releases that boast some gorgeous looking graphics, Sony’s awesome The Last of Us springs to mind, then GTA V is nothing more than average.
Don’t let the odd negative influence you though. GTA V is a stellar game. If you are a fan of the GTA games then this is a must buy. If your wallet allows it, then a release day must buy. If you are not, then you might be as pleasantly surprised as I was. There are hours and hours of fun to be had, plus the level of side quests and collectables ensure that GTA V has a high level of replayability. All of which just adds to the value for money that it offers.
Andy Naylor - Follow me on Twitter