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Customer Review

10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best video game ever, September 23, 2013
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This review is from: Grand Theft Auto V - PlayStation 3 (Video Game)
I'm not trolling with the subject, but it may draw some fire. First, a caveat: I am a longtime fan of the GTA series, but I am merely a casual gamer these days and have played very few other games in the current generation. Therefore, my opinions and comparisons are based mostly on previous GTA games. That said, this is clearly the best video game I have ever seen or played. However, it is certainly not perfect, as I will explain. This review is based solely on the PS3 version of the game, and it contains some minor spoilers.

First a few quibbles, because the rest of the world has already spewed forth innumerable praises.

* The driving physics model is absurdly unrealistic, and vehicles take far too much damage before they are destroyed or undrivable. Examples: almost any car can drive up the side of a steep mountain, braking is almost instantaneous in many cars, and you can easily recover from just about any loss of traction. Given the high level of realism in many other aspects of the game, this is disappointing. I say this from the POV of a fan of driving simulators like Gran Turismo, the only other game series I've played consistently over the last 10 years. However, I understand why R* did this, because it makes driving less frustrating, and it will probably appeal to the majority of GTA players. Therefore, this is a forgivable shortcoming, but I would like to see (in an update if possible) a settings option to enable a more realistic model.

* SPOILER ALERT! I'm only about 50% complete, but so far several key missions and heists are designed to fail, or you don't get a significant payout even with success. Again, I can understand why R* did this, because it fits with the story and they don't want to give you tons of money at the beginning of the game. Still, it can be frustrating.

* Some elements of play control are difficult to the point of frustration, such as free aiming on moving targets and piloting helicopters. However, I'm sure these tasks would be much harder still in real life, so not a big deal.

* As in previous GTA games, very few buildings can be entered, and most immovable objects are indestructible. Given the size and detail of the playable world, this is hardly a reasonable gripe, but it's worth mentioning.

* SPOILER ALERT! If it's possible, the socially deplorable aspects of GTA5 are even more extreme than previous games. Violence, drugs, sex, and even torture are depicted graphically and some would say "glorified." There are no strong female characters, and some have gone so far as to cite extreme misogyny. There is sometimes a tone of satirical commentary against these ills of society, but it's not really consistent. Personally, these aspects do not detract from the game experience. I consider myself to be a mature adult who is capable of watching an R-rated action movie without walking out of the theater cursing and murdering people, and I feel the same about GTA5 and all other games I've seen that contain these controversial elements. Even though you must choose to make the game character perform those actions, the distinction between screen and reality is just as stark. However, it's rated M for a reason (lots of reasons), and I definitely do not think it is appropriate for any child with an incompletely developed sense of moral character to play or even to watch.

* Bugs: There is a growing list of problems on the R* website, but I've hardly noticed them, so I don't care too much. Perhaps the biggest concern seems to be that saved vehicles sometimes disappear. My only related experience so far was one time I found a rare vehicle that I wanted to save, so I drove it to my garage, parked just outside so I could remove another car to make space, and when I turned back around, the first car had vanished. There are occasional frame rate drops and noticeable pop-in of graphics elements, but I'm amazed these issues aren't worse considering the extreme level of detail in a game running on 7-year old hardware. I've seen one noticeable freeze, which lasted for just a few seconds during very fast moving aerial combat.

I will give only a brief summary of the high points, because you can find more detail in myriad reviews here and elsewhere:

* Immersive open world with stunning visuals and sounds: Every element of the game world has been meticulously created, and the results are extraordinary. From the cracks in the streets to the clouds in the sky, vast mountains, wildlife, detailed underwater landscapes, and on and on. The lighting is incredibly realistic, too, with beautiful sunrises and sunsets, faithfully recreated shadows, and accurate colors that really pop off the screen. Depending on the weather, you can see clear across the entire game world if you get high enough, and you can even see the curvature of the Earth. I'm familiar with Los Angeles, and I can often navigate in Los Santos based on real world knowledge of the area. Sounds are great too, including music, voices, vehicles, wildlife, etc. This is the first game I've played where I drive and fly around just to see the world, and it looks more like a movie than a game. It doesn't hurt that I'm playing on a 10 foot projection screen with sound at realistic levels on a good surround sound system.

* There are 3 main "protagonist" playable characters, and you can switch at almost any time off-mission and often during missions as well. This means there is almost always something interesting going on with at least one of the characters, and also makes for much more interesting mission design. The characters themselves are often hilarious to watch and interact with, despite their numerous flaws. I find myself taking on personality traits of the characters when playing them, such as the radio stations I listen to and the types of random carnage I inflict.

* SPOILER ALERT! The story is compelling, and the missions are varied and interesting from the very beginning of the game. Even though many of the missions essentially boil down to drive somewhere, kill someone, steal something, and drive back, the implementations are much more creative, interesting, and just plain fun. The heist missions are the real showcases for the 3-character format, and often involve switching multiple times to help each other. They also require various small setup missions, and you can choose in advance between different strategies, usually a stealthy approach or a straightforward overwhelming display of force. All missions can be replayed instantly from the pause menu.

* R* have really learned their lessons and improved on many of the problems with previous GTA games. Examples: the entire world is open almost from the very beginning; mission checkpoints are introduced seamlessly, so you don't have to repeat an entire mission if you fail; NPC "friends" who demanded too much of your time are gone; not as many tedious missions are required; fixed-wing aircraft are back; weapons are retained when you are killed or busted.

* Computer AI is much better than GTA4. Your partners will actually help on missions, and NPCs react in much more lifelike ways. This is particularly noticeable in combat, where different characters behave very differently. Example: gang members will often just rush at you, whereas police and military will utilize cover and attempt to flank and surround you.

* The diversity of vehicles and transportation is better than ever, including cars, trucks, bicycles, motorcycles, ATVs, boats, jet skis, submarines, planes, helicopters, parachutes, and even an army tank. The fighter jet is so much fun it might be worth the price of the game alone. OK not really, but it's awesome.

* As usual with GTA, the music is great and very contemporary. I loved the Vice City soundtrack, GTA:SA was even better, but GTA4 was disappointing in this regard. GTA5 is much better, but I don't think as many tracks will stand out in my mind as VC or SA. IMO, the big improvement to the score in GTA5 is the original soundtrack, which plays during missions to add more drama to the action. It's just like in a movie, and it's very well suited to each situation.

Conclusion: The real standout of GTA5 is the world itself, which is immersive on a whole new level than any other game I've seen, and makes me see for the first time that movie-level realism is not far away in games. Everything fits together to make a game that has a great story and is totally addictive and just plain fun, more than any other game I've played as an adult. GTA5 feels like the culmination of everything Rockstar have learned with the GTA series, and is more fully realized than I could have imagined. For me, it exceeds the uber-excessive hyped up expectations in almost every significant way. I'm not much of an online multiplayer guy, but everything I've heard about the online part of GTA5 sounds great, and will give even more replay value to a game that already has easily 100 hours in it if you want to do side missions and secrets (I've heard a standard play through takes ~40 hours if you stick to the story missions). GTA5 is not the perfect game, but it is the perfect swan song for the current 8th-gen systems, and it sets a bar that I believe will be very high even for the next generation. If you have a PS3 or XB360 (and you're "mature"), this game should absolutely be in your library.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 23, 2013 10:20:29 PM PDT
Vincent says:
Thanks for your review. I also grew up on GTA and have been out of the loop regarding current game franchises (excluding MGS, Bioshock and Zelda). I decided to Redbox GTA5 the other night and realized it was a game worth owning. I tried rushing it but it isn't that kind of game. Also, the first major mission (jewelry) made it clear to me that this was the best GTA yet. Once again, thanks. Your review helped remove any skepticism I did have in spending my time/money on it.
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