What do you get when you cross a bank robber, a repo man and a drug dealer? Well, the answer is GTA V and Rockstar are back with their biggest, most ambitious game yet that fuses the ideas from GTA IV and its DLC stories with a sprinkling of Red Dead Redemption game mechanics to make a very big game that’s full of stuff to do!
I’m not going to go into the story too much but you can hot swap between the characters of Michael, Franklin and Trevor at any time to take control of them and complete their missions independently, and also to complete tasks during missions when they’re in a mission together. Simply hold down on the dpad and use the right stick to choose who you want and the camera zooms into the sky and back down to take over the characters as they go about their business.
It’s the usual mix of driving to a destination, destroying something and then driving somewhere else but what sets this game apart from others is the sheer invention and twists and turns in the story and the complex relationships between the very convincing characters. Facial animations aren’t directly captured as in LA Noire but their animated mo-cap data really brings them to life. General movement around the city is also great most of the time, apart from if you accidentally jump into a wall and ragdoll on the floor in an odd way or when conversation repeats during driving when a collision or other event occurs.
Combat uses the lock-on and adjust approach we’ve seen in Red Dead and characters even have special abilities such as slowing down time to dodge danger when driving or to deal more damage and take less when in a shoot-out. And abilities also get better over time the more you use them, and that also goes for driving and running in general as well. The radar does let you down a bit during combat at times as enemies disappear and then reappear, only for you to see you’ve been flanked which usually ends in death!
It’s also worth noting that the map itself is a major achievement. Los Santos and the surrounding areas have tonnes of character and areas such as the pier are exactly as they are in Los Angeles apart from the names of buildings being changed. The map’s also huge, and open from the start so you’re free to explore right away if you so choose!
The game is punctuated throughout with heists where you’ll have to choose your team carefully before each job and decide your approach. It’s certainly more strategy than we’ve ever seen in a GTA game which makes it all the more involving. That coupled with trading on the stock market as you complete tasks and effect share prices also adds another layer of complexity.
Join the Rockstar Social Club and link your account with your console and you can also get notifications when your friends beat your mission scores and can also customise your car and train your dog Chop using the iFruit app on your iPhone or iPad.
GTA V certainly has more charm then GTA IV and the characters and scale of the game mean you’ll be coming back for more for months to come. Add to that GTA Online going live very soon and this game alone might be enough of a reason not to buy a next gen console this side of Christmas. It gets a blockbusting 9.5 out of 10.