After breaking the record for sales in it’s first few days with over $1 Billion in takings, it’s hard to dispute the Rockstar North’s latest offering was highly anticipated. That being said, zero-day sales are not necessarily an indication of a good game. So let us get down to it, does Grand Theft Auto V come up to par?
Time wise it is without question a incredibly long game, with hours of entertainment. I clocked-in at around 18 hours just having fun exploring the world, which is completely open from the start, before even getting into the main story. If you that to add the main story, and with further exploring and free-play the game could easily reach 100+ hours of play with no sign of getting bored. Additionally, and as with most GTA titles, the replay value is almost unlimited.
Graphics are reasonable good. The outdoor world in the top half of the map makes for some stunning landscapes. The inner-city graphics, however, are of a slightly lower caliber but that is not unexpected with the world being the size that it is. Overall the graphics are good, and as far as GTA games go, they are a major improvement over the previous offerings.
The Gameplay is good at the core. The cars drive nice, with each being distinctly different, the weapons system has been revised since previous titles and is a lot simpler to use, with the ability to carry multiple types of the same weapon simultaneously, but the big change comes with the character interaction. GTA V introduces a unique three character fast switch system. The system works well during the missions, allowing you to chose slightly different perspectives depending on which character you chose to activate, and you can always switch mid-mission. During free-play the system is just as fluid, however I found myself tending to favour one character (Trevor in my case) over the others. This inevitably causes problems, and ends up self-perpetuating as that character ends up with the most money/cars/guns etc. The game semi-addresses this by only allowing some characters to buy some properties, and it does work to an extent. There is a number of “bugs” and design flaws that at points seems to overshadow the positives. These are things like your car often disappearing when either saved in your garage, or just when you turn your back for a second, annoying to say the least, especially when you’ve just spent $70,000 customising it. It’s not a major issue but with nearly every game shipping with a zero-day patch these days, the question is why didn’t Rockstar fix this, and other similar issues in the weeks between going to the printers and arriving on shelfs? Probably cause they were too busy working on the new multiplayer mode, complete with micro-transactions. On top of these “bugs” there a few design flaws, the biggest of which is the money system. It seems exceptionally hard to earn money successfully, and the new Heist missions are at the core of that. The Heists are exceptionally fun to play, but offer too much of a varied a return, with some users reporting only $150,000 between two characters, while others reporting nearly $1,000,000 between them. This would be fine if there were enough Heists available so that if you messed up one you could make it back on another but there simple is not that many throughout the game. Outside of the Heists the only way to make real money is owning businesses and playing the in-game stock markets, however the businesses offer very little return on the initial investment and the stock market can make money but still not enough to make a substantial difference.
The Story is well developed, and each character lends a unique element. The characters have very distinct personalities and each is brought to life beautifully. The story itself is typical GTA style, long with lots of different NPC’s and of course lots of twists and betrayals. Overall each mission is fun, and adds something new, with few missions feeling like a placeholder or filler.
Audio is overall well done. There is enough diversity in pedestrians comments to stop it feeling too repetative. The vehicles all sound good, with each one having a unique sound, the same applies to the weaponary.
Overall the game is good, but not great. It’s a nice addition to the Grand Theft Auto line, but I can’t help but feel it was left unfinished and was possibly rushed, very possibly due to the pending multiplayer release. There are some problems, cars disappearing, money issues, non-drivable trains, but there are also plenty of fun and interesting features, and of course such a huge world to explore. If you do decide to buy however I would highly recommend getting the Official Strategy Guide, as it provides a priceless layout to all the key locations, vehicles, and properties, as well as walkthroughs to all the missions which can be invaluable on the Heists where the payouts can be so varied.
Score: 7.5/10 (not including Multiplayer)
Recommendation: Buy with reservations