Video Game Review: Grand Theft Auto V

gta_5_grand_theft_auto_v_2After a couple weeks after initial release, I have finally finished Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V. And I must say, I am ready to suit up and dive right back into the city of Los Santos.

You play as three main characters this time around, and their joint story is truly the highlight of this game. You start as Michael, an expert criminal who specializes in the world of robbery. After a major hit in North Yankton, Michael goes under witness protection in his lofty, incredibly expensive looking house in Rockstar’s rebelling of Los Angeles with his cheating wife, slacker son, and whorish daughter. Then there’s Franklin, a hoodlum who want to make it out the world of gangbanging and drug culture and do something better with his life, regardless of what his family and best friend Lamar thinks. Then there’s Trevor, a psychopath (and Michael’s BEST FRIEND) who doesn’t waste a breath when it comes to violence against others to move ahead in whatever endeavors he wants to pursue. It seems like everybody who has played this game either enjoys Michael or Trevor more (mainly because of how perfectly they are written), I actually loved playing as Franklin. His story is incomplete and almost clichéd, but his outcome and his future is what has me connected to him. As he moves up in the world, I feel a more rewarding experience taking Franklin to new heights, regardless of how lonely it is at the top for him.

Throughout the game, the three characters do a slew of crazy, outlandish, and fun missions that can only be acceptable in a game like GTA. Your son sells your boat for money? Grab Franklin and jump from a moving car to the boat as your speeding down the highway. Gonna grab a brick of cocaine from a shady source? Escape through the Los Santos River via jet skis. The missions, either story related or otherwise, do not detract from the experience. Every one of the 69 missions are here for a reason, and they are as enjoyable as they are rewarding.

The best missions of GTA V are the heists. Pick your crew, pick what way you want to get the job done, and get the things needed to succeed, then go to town in incredibly intense robbery missions to help expand your bankroll. The irony of it is that you DON’T really get the money you think your getting. If anything, the heists are checkpoints throughout the game that typically close one door and opens another. The only downside to the heists are how many they are. Supposedly, there will be more heists to pull with your online gang can commit when they get patched in to the game, but for now, these few highlights are going to have to do.

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Now, at the tail end of a gaming generation, we are getting some of the best looking games ever to grace a television screen. Grand Theft Auto V is no exception. Unlike its predecessor, who’s world of Liberty City was a dark, dank city that I felt had little to no personality, the city of Los Santos exudes in color and personality. Even the gritty, dirt filled Blaine County has more life and excitement than any of the Burroughs of Liberty City. What helps keep the personality flowing are the random events that happens throughout the world. These include small things like taking down a perp who stole a purse, to taking down an armored vehicle and taking the money that resides in it. These missions are completely optional and do nothing but adds a bit more fun to the random exploring that you are bound to do in this game.

Before I grade Grand Theft Auto V, I feel the need to bring up the topics that some of the game’s critic have “brought to the light,” including the over the top violence and sexism that Grand Theft Auto V. If you’ve played any Grand Theft Auto game in the past, you would know that there is a heavy amount of satire that fills some of the gaps in their stories. GTA V is no different. The writers attack and/or make fun of almost everyone, including The Tea Party, celebrity, religion, and paparazzi to name a few. To a point, the Grand Theft Auto games have always been about shock value; it’s sickening moments and outlandish behavior is why it got its bad rap early on in media and what still fuels arguments between talking heads and video game journalists to this day. Nowadays, it’s using it to its advantage. If you are not disgusted by the torture scene towards the middle of the game, you could be insulted by the lack of strong female characters (regardless that everyone character in this iteration are completely fucked up). Grand Theft Auto V is basically a choose your own path kind of game, where the path is an issue, and choosing it is what is holding you back from truly loving this game. However, if you look at it as it should be looked at, a piece of modern satire about the death and redefinition of The American Dream, I believe you can look past all the talking points and have a truly enjoyable time.

With the inclusion of tighter driving controls, a grand soundtrack, amazing details, and just flat out amazing visuals, Grand Theft Auto V stands tall as the best GTA released so far. The story is both hilarious and chilling, the city is colorful and grandiose, and the adventure of reeking the entire map is never truly done. With other side activities like street races and golf, and hundreds of collectables to find in the game, your enjoyment of Los Santos can live on – not to mention the online multiplayer (which is still rebuilding from an atrocious launch window). It’s funny, violent, and a true joy to play. Who knows where Rockstar will go next, but we can only hope that they can move even closer to perfect with wherever they decide to take us next.

Final Grade: A

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