Developer: Rockstar North
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
Release Date: Out Now
Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V), the latest instalment in Rockstar’s free-roaming crime saga, opens with a violent prologue that teaches the player how to murder policemen. The introduction is short lived, as the game cuts to the present day where Michael, one of three protagonists in GTA V, is engaged in a philosophical talk with his psychiatrist.
Michael denies his therapist’s claim that his son is a good kid, pointing out that all he does is “sit around and play that f***ing game”. This weak attempt by Rockstar to engage in a satirical, meta-debate as to the value of video games highlights the only major flaw of GTA V.
The game is unsure as to whether it wants to be a vehicle for simulated mass destruction or a forum for enlightened debate. The characters often follow up their actions with monologues on life philosophy, only to go on to commit reckless murder once more. GTA V’s greatest fault then, is that paradoxically, it’s a crime simulator with a conscience.
The most enjoyable aspect of the series has always been, and continues to be, the instances in which the player gets to cause destruction and generally wreak havoc. Thankfully, Rockstar has provided plenty of opportunities for mayhem, and an incredibly immersive environment to enjoy them in.
GTA V presents a much brighter environment than GTA IV, which was too dark and gritty for some. Los Santos is much more playful than Liberty City, and feels more authentic as well.
Rockstar has really paid attention to every aspect of the game’s location. The countryside areas that felt dead in previous instalments have been brought to life with the inclusion of wild animals and livestock. The city feels more animated thanks to an abundance of side missions, which are more dynamic and can spring on the player at any time.
The Grand Theft Auto franchise has never had a world as immersive and interactive as the one realised in GTA V. The game presents the same basic formula that’s been in use since GTA III. Despite this, it’s surprisingly re-playable.
The inclusion of three protagonists is likely what keeps the game so fresh. Each character has a distinct personality and special ability, providing much needed variety to the recycled premise. It’s a lot of fun to switch between characters, for example, watching as Trevor, the hillbilly psychopath, involuntarily spasm as the player enters his body.
GTA V is not revolutionary by any means. It is however still greatly entertaining, hilariously satirical, visually arresting, and rewarding. Despite the occasional fault, it’s without doubt the best game of the year.