Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Thieving automobiles in a grand fashion

Grand Theft Auto V

I felt like I was going to be busy for a while the moment GTAV opened up after the introduction level and let me drive around freely. Busy a long time. That's not a bad thing; GTAV needs to be and most clearly is massive. Overwhelmingly so at first, then gradually ingenious. You most likely have heard the numbers; the most expensive game developed to date, the fastest selling and best selling game ever. Luckily GTAV is a game that really shows why it cost and sold so much.

GTAV's world is full of detail and immerses you completely. There's so much life going on around you. From random people doing funny things on the side-walks to people just driving around getting on with their own little lives in the game's huge city; Los Santos. Everything you see people doing, you can do. You may think you are ambitious and want a faster car than your current, you may want to be funny and ride a bicycle on the beach, but soon you want more to satisfy you. You look to the skies maybe, not just on a small propeller air plane, but maybe a huge passenger jet, or a fighter jet in a high security military base. Or maybe you want to jet ski into the beautiful sunset, or maybe you would like to climb a huge mountain on a motorbike then skydive from it. There is literally nothing that you can't do. You could simply play the game just as a world simulator having fun doing things you normally can't in real life.

Luckily GTAV features a great script and story. This time around the story focuses on three main characters, rather than one single one. They all get connected during the storyline and the game lets you often choose which one to play. There's young Franklin from the ghetto neighbourhood who has special skills for driving. Rich and retired, mid-life crisis, Michael whom has excellent shooting skills and then there's red-neck Trevor. A character, which, when introduced, further into the story, completely shifts your playing field from city life to small town America.

This huge jump from one side of the map to the other really show how diverse the world is and it will impress you. Gone are the skyscrapers, small alleys and buzzing streets with cars and people. Introduced, are vast open fields, pick-up trucks, small villages and huge mountainous areas. Playing Trevor, whose skill is flying and going mental (no, seriously), will feel like playing a completely different game. Yet it's all on the same map!

Technically I can't really believe GTAV is running on the same hardware that we've had since 2005. It doesn't look like a typical sandbox car game, it looks almost as good as a racing game with detailed tracks. The lighting in the game, combined with the excellent rendering of nature and cityscapes, is truly amazing. The sunsets are unbelievably good, and the sheer amount of light sources as you fly over a city in an aircraft or look down at it from a mountain far away is incredible. I haven't seen a so believable world with this amount of freedom before. There are so many small details too; rain slowly make larger and larger puddles, the ocean moves realistically and looks amazing, smoke pours out of damaged cars, fire lights up petrol leakages, headlights light up passing buildings and signs etc. The list is as endless as the sheer attention to detail by the developers!

I was glad to see that the shooting mechanics were improved in this version. I found the GTAIV controls to be frustrating and very dated. I switched the controls i GTAV over from the normal setup to lock-on aiming. It plays more like a proper third person shooter than before. While it's still simple third person mechanics it's at least a clear improvement. I'd love to see the next GTA have a true third person shooter feeling though; there's not much doubt, this feels, looks and plays distinctly like a GTA game. Which brings me to the fantastic driving and flying controls, although they have actually made the car physics slightly simpler for beginners from GTAIV, it's still the method of transportation you'll use the most and it's really superb. Cars have loose suspension, feel weighty and react impressively to crashes and terrain. GTAV has truly nailed it's physics and vehicle gameplay and a far ahead of the competition.

No game does what GTA games do, and GTAV is no exception. Matter of fact it goes not only a few extra yards to outdo it's previous version, it goes the full mile. There is no free roaming sandbox game with this amount of detail, this feeling of a living, breathing city and world. It's a game that resembles and exaggerates, but ultimately hits straight on the target, to resemble american culture and criminality. It's a glimpse into our world today, showing attitude, personalities and problems that are so typical for our time.

Somehow Rockstar manages to make a real life simulator in a way that amuses, embarrasses and shocks us. Mostly, maybe, because we all recognise ourselves in some situation or other throughout the game, but even more so; it brings out something inside us. It lets us as players do what we sometimes think or dream about; living a criminal life for fun. GTAV may be completely political incorrect at times or even disgust us; mostly though, because we know Rockstar have hit a touching spot in us; it puts the finger on the problems of today and criticises it with no inhibition at all. Like it or not, GTA resembles our time and should be played when it's fresh and new.

Everyone that plays through GTAV will, like the previous titles, have to admit it's a really fun and engaging game. Don't believe the hype or be shocked by it's content; believe the quality product instead. GTAV is on of this generations finest games. I warmly recommend it.



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