Sunday, 22 September 2013

Grand Theft Auto V - Final Round Review

Three playable characters, an even larger map, more cars, and most importantly, a brand new story; what could go wrong?  The potential for error is high in a game that has so much to cover from city streets to the wildlife of the forest.  But when a developer like Rockstar is behind the project, gamers have come to expect perfection.

Grand Theft Auto V is a great looking game at times, but unfortunately it can suffer from texture pop-ins or even delayed item spawning. Cut-scenes bring the bulk of the story, all of which are rendered on the in game engine, where these issues can occur; empty rooms spawn furniture and paintings, or characters skin texture will take a while to pop into place. These issues are rare but confronting as they can occur everywhere. I can only assume that Grand Theft Auto V is pushing the current generation consoles to their limit, forcing the game to make some sacrifices for performance sake.  It even has a mandatory eight gig install on the Xbox 360 just to play it.

In classic GTA fashion, things to do are endless; from the normal activities of running over pedestrians, getting into shoot-outs with cops and rival gangs, to a nice relaxing yoga session and even a round of golf.  Story missions slowly build up momentum, going from one extreme to the next; working with paparazzi and drug lords is nothing compared with famous movie directors and corrupt government agents.

Shoot-outs are just as intense as they always have been, and they are made more fluent with the upgraded shooter mechanics.  It has been a huge step forward since GTA IV, swapping weapons and using cover feels a lot better and, more importantly, shooting people is easier.  This doesn’t mean that the controls are perfect, unless you change it in the options, your reticule is a tiny white dot on screen that is far too easy to lose, even if you get the more receptive version, targeting enemies can still be a chore (even with smart targeting).  Driving and firing simultaneously at enemies is painful, with practice it is do-able but the lack of aiming without also firing is irritating.

Heists are fun and hopefully the idea is expanded upon with the online content, allowing more planning and more characters to join the action.

Trevor is completely insane and starts his story as a deranged yet likeable character that loses his cool far too easily and is a pleasure to watch explode.  He is great to play as, and his input on situations can be downright crazy, but too much Trevor is not fun.

Franklin, on the other hand, is a likeable young man with his own issues to sort out, “but that doesn’t mean [he] doesn’t enjoy killing as much as the next psychopath.”  When he and Michael first meet up a bond is formed between the two that leads to a brilliant partnering.

Michael is by far my favourite in the game; he leads a quietly sad life as he tries to do the right thing by wife and children yet receives nothing but contempt and anger.  Family issues play a big part in his story and you find yourself really caring about him.  Even his relationships with Trevor and Franklin can be tense and emotional as he tries to keep his life from falling apart.

The ability to swap between each character anywhere in San Andreas is a marvel in itself that fills the game with more diversity and playability.  It feels like you have the entire map at your fingertips; dropping in on franklin at the strip club or finding Trevor passed out on a beach in his underwear are just a few of the places and things you will see.

The map featured in GTA V is on a greater scale than any other Rockstar title, including Red Dead Redemption.  Set in San Andreas, the city of Los Santos and the surrounding countryside is the perfect example of an open world with plenty of diversity, even wildlife.

Other than the texture annoyances, and the adequate shooting mechanics, it’s an amazing game.  It might not be as polished as we are used to from Rockstar, but it is so damn close that any flaws are going to be either completely overlooked or over criticized.  GTA V hits all the marks for fans of the franchise and has become the fastest selling game worldwide with good reason.

Final Round Rating  -  9/10

 - Steff Webb & Will Flynn

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