Grand Theft Auto V Xbox 360 Review
The time has come. After all of the hype, information, endless viewing of trailers and the record breaking sales reports; Grand Theft Auto V is finally released onto the gaming world. Produced by Rockstar North and Published by Take Two Interactive; Grand Theft Auto V is quite literally the biggest and most expensive game they have made yet. Coming from playing the original top down Grand Theft Auto from 1997 and playing every game after that; Grand Theft Auto has a special place in my heart as one of my favorite video game franchises of all time. Everything from getting into massive shootouts with the police and gangs to stealing a jet out of a military base this game is stuffed with many options for players to choose from, but I’m getting ahead of myself so let’s dive into GTA V and uncover the many sights and sounds of Los Santos.
As far as the basic concept goes GTA V is a game of choice and, I mean that quite literally as right from the get go you have the entire map open for you to explore. GTA V is a game that offers choice with a gripping fun story that presents players with multiple approaches through the eyes of 3 different main protagonists; Michael, Franklin, and Trevor. Because of this setup the game forms itself into a situation where you can do much more than you could in all the previous games combined. At times GTA V feels as if it’s a collection of Rockstars greatest games all compiled into one massive game. Everything from Red Dead Redemption’s massive open world to the tight shooting mechanics of Max Payne 3; GTA V feels like a complete game that is more fluid than its predecessors. It’s a concept that works from beginning to end.
Now I could go on and on about everything you can do in this game. The amount of possibilities are absolutely astounding. Everything from robbing a gas station to exploring the entire state of Los Santos, this game doesn’t fall short of exploration. The city of Los Santos is a sprawling recreation of Hollywood and just walking around during the day seeing the citizens come alive is truly immersive especially when you venture to the mountains of Blaine County and see hikers and wild animals.
As far as the changes to the main gameplay for GTA V it mainly focuses on switching between the 3 characters on the fly to achieve specific objectives. This happens in some missions where a certain character has a certain task to accomplish to support our other two anti-heroes. I found this feature really intuitive and fun to use where I would constantly switch to different characters to get the drop on different enemies. This feature is mostly used in the different heists in the game as well where you switch between characters to accomplish a certain task.
Heists are a welcomed addition to the game. Options are available that give players freedom to plan and execute the perfect heist. Although I did find the options for planning the heists very limited; they are however still really fun and satisfying to pull off. Off mission you can explore to your heart’s content to soak in the atmosphere or you can switch to another character to find them doing their own thing in the world. For example I finished a mission with Michael and decided to switch to Franklin to complete some of his missions. As I was switching to him I saw that he was coming out of the strip club after having a good time. If anything this is one of the features I found really interesting in the game as how persistent it is as the world is constantly moving and doesn’t just reset every mission. The characters themselves each have special abilities that are unique to them such as Michael’s bullet time ability where he can slow down time long enough to pick off enemies in the head for quick and easy kills. Franklin has the ability to slow down time as well but only in a vehicle to corner effectively, and Trevor has the ability to go into a rage mode where can absorb more damage and deal more damage to enemies. The weapons in the game are fun to use with everything from your fists, a stun gun to a big minigun; it’s a joy to shoot in the game. You can customize and upgrade each gun with silencers, extended clips, flashlights, scopes, grips and more which is a nice addition this time around. Also stealth returns as well which is an optional overlooked aspect of the game as it is fun randomly walking down the street just knocking people out everywhere. Leaving a trail of knocked people face down on the sidewalk. It’s comical just seeing that because it’s just something that’s a bizarre thing to do in the game. You can also equip a knife and stealth kill people if you want to be quiet when you’re up to your crazy antics in the game.
Player movement had a major improvement over GTA 4 where in this game it is more fluid as you can actually strafe and shoot and get in and out of cover very quickly. Even when you sprint you can slide across the hood of a car and still continue sprinting after that. Each character has their own unique movement as they walk and sprint and do their acrobatics. From Franklin’s swagger in his step to Trevor’s unique set of punches it all adds to the characters style. Even the cars feel a lot better to handle this time around as opposed to the somewhat tight driving of the previous game. Although the driving is different; it is hit or miss with some of the cars. Some of them prove really slippery which can be an annoyance, but it’s very very small problem. My largest annoyance with the vehicles was in the air. Helicopters and planes are constantly being pushed around in the wind which makes it a little frustrating having to constantly re adjust for the turbulence. Each character can improve their personal stats organically by performing well at a given task. From their special ability to their lung capacity underwater; this offers a sense of progression and motivation to go and practice at the gun range to improve your shooting skill and also going to the flying school to sharpen your flying skills. Putting the time in to improving your skills does pay off but it is by no means required; it just makes your life easier.
The amount of side content in the game is ridiculous, in a good way of course. Activities such as golf, tennis, darts, hunting, yoga, and parachuting are just some of the things you can do in the game when you are not doing the main missions. You can even invest in the in-game stock market as you can make serious cash if you invest well. Buying properties are also back as players can buy property and complete missions for them to increase the income they receive each week. Also the strangers and freaks of Los Santos each contribute to the world and give it perspective as you complete crazy task for these people. This alone can easily add hours of game time on top of getting all of the collectables and replaying missions for higher medal rating. That was something I forgot to mention which was the medal system in the missions. After each mission you get a medal for completing specific objectives during a given mission such as getting “x” amount of headshots or completing the mission in a certain time frame. Other than replaying the missions to get gold for an achievement for getting 70 gold medals, there isn’t really any other motivation to do so, other than playing through your favorite mission again.
The graphics in GTA V are breath-taking as they push the limits of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 respectively. As Rockstar’s last hurrah for the console generation, they’re closing it on a high note. Rockstar has been known in the past for using mo-cap and facial capture for their game L.A. Noire as a major mechanic for the game and also giving a realistic touch to each character in the game. In GTA V each character is detailed down to the wrinkles in their face. Even as they talk their mouths move accurately move to the words they speak which makes the cut scenes more enjoyable to watch and listen to. The cut scenes in the game are actually pretty comical as I found myself laughing at some of the dialogue between Michael and Trevor during the story. The cars are just as detailed as well with in-depth customization. From having a chrome car to changing the color of the tire smoke; either way you customize your car it still looks gorgeous at the end of the day. Speaking of the day it’s nice to see how the different times of day look in different places such as standing on mount chiliad looking at the sunset to flying over Los Santos at night to see the city light up with neon colors while listening to that perfect song to match the moment. It’s a very refreshing sight to see how good this game looks on an aging console.
The story consists of 69 main missions that span across a 25-30 hour story following the adventures of Franklin, Michael, and Trevor as each of their stories come together at various points in the game. Franklin is a repo man looking for more opportunities to make money but not forgetting his roots. Michael is the family man where his daughter is wild, his son is lazy, and his wife is unfaithful to him. Michael feels relatable to Tony Soprano in his figure and how he acts which makes him very easy to identify with personally. Lastly Trevor is the loose cannon psychopath where you don’t know what crazy situation he’ll end up in next. From waking drunk on a mountainside to being thrown out of a club in a dress; Trevor’s story steals the spotlight in the game because he is such an over the top character where everything about him is unique. I don’t want to spoil anything story wise but all I have to say is that I was satisfied after I completed the game. The credits deserve to be as long as they were showing how hard everyone at Rockstar worked to put this game together. They crafted a story that kept me hooked from beginning to end. I can definitely see myself playing through it again in the future as this is a game that has already made its mark.
Overall Grand Theft Auto V is a game that identifies itself in a special way with each person who plays it. Everything from the pop culture references such as Life Invader (Facebook), Bleeter (Twitter) and the game even pokes fun at scientology with the epsilon program. Grand Theft Auto V is a compilation of the best Rockstar games to date all packed into one game. Everything from the exploration of Los Santos and Blaine County to finding collectables in the ocean in a big yellow submarine; Grand Theft Auto V is the game that gamers have been waiting for with the hype being far well worth it. So with that I’m going back to play some more GTA to cause more chaos in Los Santos.