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Grand Theft Auto Returns (Thankfully) to its Roots
on November 27, 2013
It's been interesting browsing through the lower-rated reviews and seeing what people have to say. Some of them raise some pretty decent points and I can't deny them - you can't enter most stores, there isn't a fancy casino, there aren't as many side-games, etc.
But I want to ask the real question - does anyone really care? Did you LIKE sitting at a slot machine in San Andreas? I probably spent all of 5 minutes in that casino - outside of the relevant missions - in the HOURS that I played that game. And did you like having to go to restaurants to eat? Was that really "fun"?
NO!! It was drivel! It was time-consuming, it made you lose your focus, and bored most of us to tears. And thanks to the new "stock market" mechanic, we don't need to waste time in a casino trying to make a few quick bucks... We have to look forward people. This isn't San Andreas. For the most part, it's better.
I've thoroughly enjoyed GTA V. I actually thought the story was one of the better ones in recent times. I thought the tension between the three main characters made for some pretty unique events. Towards the end when (spoiler alert) you start getting hints that characters may be forced to kill other characters, I actually found myself quite riveted to the story. Sure some of the missions themselves were a bit odd - the billionaire car-collector guy seemed pretty pointless. The warring military/government factions actually confused me somewhat, but they seemed to confuse the main characters as well, so perhaps that was the point! The heists were pretty neat and I wish there were more of them. We'll probably get them in the form of costly DLC...
But what I've enjoyed most about GTA V was the fact that it left behind a lot of the nonsense from GTA IV. No more mandatory "man-dates", no more dragging around cousins and friends and acquaintances just so you can buy guns or hitch a helicopter ride from time-to-time. We also have our BLESSED garages back, and even some storage buildings added with the sole intent of storing our favorite cars. Thanks for that, Rockstar. I love the large map again with the differing geographic and cultural areas. I truly enjoy the "random encounters" where you're given the option to mingle unexpectedly with a random event taking place. They're repetitive after a short while, but there's a pretty wide variety of them scattered about.
In fact, the "new" things added to the GTA franchise are pretty significant. The custom car shops have much more variety than what we saw in San Andreas. The in-game internet has a wealth of additional content, including the abiliy to purchase almost every vehicle in the game. Just CANNOT find that wanna-be Corvette? Screw it - buy one on the interwebs! And of course, the whole "three characters = thrice the fun" is such an interesting change from the way GTA has always been. The only frustration I encounter is when you switch to Trevor only to find that he's wandered to the top of a mountain and is wearing a sun dress... Suddenly I'm forced to hike a mile to the nearest road and on top of that, I need to change clothes again...
There are certainly some annoyances in GTA V - for one, the police seem the hardest ever to avoid. Most of the time I hit a three-star wanted level, I end up walking out of a hospital. The AI is pretty relentless. Once I managed to escape line-of-sight and hide in a train tunnel. Somehow the AI managed to "see" me through what I can only presume was grating in the street above, and suddenly a calvary of FIB trucks came screaming down the train tracks. Police are spawned ad-nauseum, creating a "no-win" scenario for the player. Your best bet is to go off-road where the AI has a hard time with path-creation, and knock out police helicopters as quickly as possible. In short, it's not a lot of fun. I would have loved to see a Skyrim-like "witness" mechanic, where if you take out everyone who saw you do what you did, you can get away with it.
Another irritation I found was in the dialogue between Franklin (a young, black man living in a gang-ridden part of town at the start of the story) and one of his friends, Lamar. The two interact several times throughout the story, and their dialogue is annoyingly ridden with the "N" word. Now, I'm certainly not a fan of political correctness, but after a while, I simply got tired of hearing it. And since you're forced to listen to the two ramble on to each other as you drive from point-to-point in these missions, I often found myself muting the TV. Let me clear - I wasn't offended - I was simply annoyed. Some of the sentences were literally scripted as "No my 'N' you're not living like a 'N' in the hood, my 'N'..." Who wrote that crap??
Lastly, we're still stuck with a lot of collection requirements to hit 100%. Whether it's alien ship parts or "written letters" or stunt jumps or what not, it's always something. But don't forget, you San Andreas lovers, that SA was rife with that as well. Remember the horseshoes we had to hunt down? And the gang-tags we had to spray paint over...? I still remember sitting with the official Game Guide and a pencil for HOURS while playing that game... Not a lot of fun then, either.
Oh, and online... ...sucks. But online always sucks. I don't know why the market keeps pushing us to play with each other. I play video games to escape the tedium that is OTHER PEOPLE... I played online for about 10 minutes. I did the first mission which made no sense, and in the process apparently P'd off the other guy it paired me with, so as soon as the mission was over he killed me and stole the car I had been using. Shortly afterwards I managed to get another car and - upon happening to see the same player - I mercilessly chased him down and ran him over. I laughed maniaclly until the cops appeared out of nowhere (apparently not pleased at the other handful of pedestrians I took with him) and made quick work of my unleveled, unarmed-and-armored character. Having died twice in just a few minutes, I left online mode and haven't returned since. Personally I think the whole point of GTA is to CAUSE crimes, not be a victim of them. So to me, a slew of online players trying to cause crime on one another just doesn't fit the description of "entertaining" in my book.
Anyways, what I think you need to take from all of this is that GTA went back to what made GTA so great in the first place. GTA IV tried to be serious - your character wanted to get away from a life of crime... ...in a game called "Grand Theft Auto." GTA V gives us a Trevor - a deranged psycopath who sees the glass not as half-full or half-empty, but as something that yearns to be shattered. GTA V adds back some of the mayhem, the larger-than-life crimes with just enough sillyness to make us smile about it in the end.
I think there's a great game here. Sure some people will yearn for more, but I've thoroughly enjoyed most of my time in the game. Oh and the graphics are amazing. I realize developers will get a better grasp of the Xbox One soon enough, but GTA V on the 360 looks as good as Dead Rising does on the Xbox One.