Grand Theft Auto is an institution. Whether you like the franchise or hate it, chances are you’ll buy it. We all want to be a part of the experience, and with Grand Theft Auto V Rockstar has created a game that is something for everyone. And if you are going to take the plunge into the city of Los Santos you need to get one thing clear. This game is about life, and the characters in it. This isn’t the mindless fun of Saints Row 4(which I really enjoy), it’s more like Animal Crossing. After spending the day with the game here’s some things I’ve learned about Rockstar’s latest entry.
Next Gen Coming?
Something is off about this game. Maybe it’s the PS4 trailers that I’ve been watching lately or the high level of detail of Los Santos. It might be the cut scenes, which have the great voice acting, but characters that don’t move as fluid as the dialogue. It could be a combination of all these elements but whatever it is, it is clear that this game should be on a next-gen console. It’s something that I didn’t think would happen, but as I play more of this game I’m having a change of heart. It is very possible that this game will make its way to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One–and I wouldn’t be mad if it did.
Living Life – The GTA Way
Many of us remember Grand Theft Auto III. How crazy the action was…how the game pushed us to create mayhem in the streets. But that’s the old way of life in Grand Theft Auto. Now, instead of causing destruction we play golf. Or three sets of tennis. Maybe we call up a friend and hangout out at the strip club. I realized that GTA V isn’t Saints Row 4. A game which continued to improve upon the blueprint of GTA III with over the top action. GTA V is about living the character’s lives and enjoying the experiences like one would a movie. Action is here, but it’s a subtle experience. If you are looking an over the top experience pick up Saints Row 4. This is the evolution of GTA IV–taking a more mature look at the open-world genre.
Franklin and Lamar
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When I watched the first trailer for Grand Theft Auto V, I was pretty upset about Franklin and Lamar. They are the stereotypical gang bangers and after a year of smart, black characters I felt the duo would be setting us back. Instead of getting more characters like the ones we see in The Last of Us and The Walking Dead, we would get more of the silly shit we’ve seen in the past. And while GTA V’s leading black characters are your typical stereotypes, they are the most dynamic characters in the game. Lamar is hilarious–I’ve laughed on three separate occasions and the interaction between Franklin and Lamar is classic. The writing for these two are so good, that I have to believe at some point the game was going to focus solely on their story. If I was to compare their relationship I would say the two are a funnier version of Roemello and Raynathan from Sugar Hill. Reservations about their character background aside, their appearance in this game could be cap off an exciting year for black characters.
I can’t stress enough how much a cover mechanic will improve the combat in a video game. Combat was never a strong point for Rockstar games. It always felt like an afterthought to the story and character development. Luckily for us, Grand Theft Auto V has some of the best combat mechanics I’ve experienced in a Rockstar game. I don’t feel handicapped when a firefight starts, and the addition of a cover mechanic makes me feel more control of the situation. But don’t think you can take tons of damage before you die. GTA V is all about realism and a couple of shots without body armor will take you down. Even if they don’t have a gun, enemies are dangerous. When I started the game I picked a fight with a NPC because he was talking trash. Well I knocked him out, but his friend had a knife and one stab was all it took for game over.
The Character Switch
The newest edition to GTA V is the character switch. You can switch between characters during missions and when you are hanging out in los Santos. Each character has their own abilities and inventory. Money and weapons do not travel between characters, so if Michael has ten thousand dollars it is his money. Same thing with friends. Franklin’s homies do not show up as contacts in Michael’s phone. It’s a feature that enhances the perception of a cast of characters that live their own lives. Just make sure you keep up with who has what. At one point I took Franklin to the rich side of town to buy a suit and I quickly realized that he didn’t have as much money as Michael. So now Franklin is walking around with a luxury shirt tucked into his underwear.
So far I have enjoyed my time in Los Santos. Rockstar has done well creating a world where there is something for everyone. The separation of character’s lives makes the game feel like three distinct experiences. It almost feels like two games in one. Rockstar does a good job managing missions, so you have to use other characters to progress in the story. I’m sure at some point I will become more attached to one character over the other, but it’s not a pain to make a temporary switch. The one area where I would like to see some improvement is character customization. Coming from Saints Row IV to GTA V, the loss of character customization hurts.
So what are your thoughts about GTA V? Do you think Rockstar has created another masterpiece or is it just ‘okay’? Let me know what you think and I will continue to share my experiences leading up a review when I have more of the game under my belt.