Yes, the GTA magic touch is still there!
Written by Fred Laroche
Published Tuesday, 17 September 2013 11:25
The video game industry has changed a lot since its beginnings. Simple games based on trials and errors in the arcade days that too often had the main goal of getting you to waste more of your quarters paved the way for this new form of interactive entertainment which now became as important as cinema. As this young industry has already seen thousands of games, good and bad ones, classics already exist, often seen as perfect recipes for the perfect game. Among this short list, you can find Grand Theft Auto, a cult franchise which gamers love, sometimes even beyond reason. Having spanned multiple platforms throughout time, everyone or almost have their little story around the series. Furthermore, we don't need to remind you of the influence the series has had on other developers. When a new chapter in the oft-imitated GTA is announced, it's impossible to treat the game like any other, and GTA V proves it once again with record pre-orders that already pave the way to its success.
Welcome to Los Santos
Formerly a strong economical center, the city of Los Santos in the state of San Andreas is not what it used to be. Strongly hit by the poor economy, it does not represent the American dream in which all is possible. In this context, we follow the main story through the actions of three criminals following the trail of "easy money" so they can become rich. First of all, there is Michael, a bank robber in his 40s, retired and debt-ridden, whose personal life is a complete and utter mess. Mysteriously, we feel that he has a heavy past that he hides ever since his arrival in Los Santos, but what is it? On his path to- ahem- "recovery", he will cross a young black man named Franklin while he's trying to steal his car. Otherwise sympathetic, this man had the misfortune of growing up in a bad environment. Poor, Franklin is serious and motivated in his desire to leave his past behind... to try to do something bigger, more organized, and more lucrative. The two criminals then decide to tag along to meet Trevor. A psychopath, this ex-colleague of Michael is a violent, drug-trafficking man who everyone fears.
GTA wouldn't be GTA without letting us manoeuver our way through an open world. This time, the city of Los Santos is the biggest ever created in a game of the franchise. Its environments, which include urban areas, mountains, rivers, the ocean, deserts, and wild areas, are possible to explore through air, the road, and even underwater. On top of the usual vehicles that drive around the city, you can use bikes, motorcycles, and even planes. Each vehicle has been given a lot of care and attention to make its use seem credible. For example, not only do you need to pilot the plane, but that's not to forget that you need to make it take off and land it as well.
Cars are easier to control than in previous games, respecting more the physics of each car, but also respecting the surface you're driving on, like sand or grass. But if they do offer different viewpoints, the lack of a proper interior view is disappointing. Thankfully, you can still look around the car with the right stick and see if your frequent pursuants are close by. At a certain point, I would have been disappointed by the lack of real licensed cars in GTA, but now I feel more appreciative of the idea, since it allows for more creativity in their design. Fun fact: The logo for the brand that's inspired by Audi is made of four half-circles, instead of four full circles. That's not counting the fact that this time it is possible to make over 1,000 modifications on each car, whether esthetic or simply to tweak the performance.
Once familiarized with the menus, we find ourselves in GTA V much like in a comfortable pair of slippers. Like we saw in many other games, GTA V uses a smart phone to allow you to receive and send messages guiding you towards missions. On top of receiving calls, messages, and emails, it is now even possible to navigate on fake internet networks, presenting links to visit that have to do with the story. For example, you can visit a Facebook-like social network called Lifeinvader. In it, you can see the profiles of characters you met in the game. You can also use the GPS or consult the map at all times to help find your way across the city.
Of course, exploring the vast environment populated with people that walk around like it's real at our pace remains the key element of the game, but for me the magic of GTA V is really in its story.
Three characters, three scenarios, and a great tale
On the surface, it may look like GTA V does not bring much new to the table. After playing it for a while, we notice brand new things, such as the ability to switch between the three main characters. Due to that, you have to keep an eye on each character's progression. Trevor, Michael, and Franklin all possess different abilities and knowledge. For example, Trevor is an ex-military man and therefore is better at using weapons or piloting planes, but it is also possible to train the other characters so they can become better at it. However, each character has a single attribute that others can't learn. Michael can slow down time in gunfights, Trevor can resist gunfire better, and Franklin is a great driver and can slow down time when shooting from behind the wheel.
Like other games in the series, Grand Theft Auto V is set around multiple main missions that compose its main storyline. Like mentioned earlier, we can count on an enormous quantity of secondary objectives that will help you level up the abilities of your characters. You can find escort missions, races, carjacking sessions, hacking objectives, and more. While most of these missions are simplistic and linear, many more are more difficult and require preparation.
Weaponry is an important element of this GTA game. This time, it's easier to use them due to an automatic aiming system in the style of what Max Payne 3 offered. If you find it too easy, know that being alone against 25 policemen isn't all that simple. Combining that to the ability to hide behind cover makes gunfights very intense. Walking over corpses on the ground, you will always have enough ammunition. Furthermore, this ammunition adapts to the weapon you have in hand. If the police officer had a revolver and you have a 12' caliber, the ammunition left on the ground by corpses will also be for a 12' caliber. It is possible to carry four weapons with you, which is very sufficient to complete your missions. Weapons can also be modified by buying upgrades in weapon shops that are identified on the map. That's not all; you can also go to shooting stands. Between two missions of the main story, why not have fun shooting targets using heavy and light weaponry?
Graphically speaking, Grand Theft Auto V is the best looking game in the series. We find very few embarrassing graphical problems, much like it was the case in GTA IV, with limbs or objects that go through doors and walls. And with an environment this large, it would have been easy to let some slide and, honestly, it would have been forgivable. I also have to note that the interaction with the environment is the best we've seen yet. For the first time in a GTA game, you will not be able to hide for long if you plan to use a small piece of wood as cover, considering that it will degrade with time, as bullets pierce through it. You can also count on a 24hr cycle, and dynamic weather which adds rain, fog, and sunshine. Naturally, while I was playing, I asked myself how much more beautiful it would be on PS4 and Xbox One.
Without a doubt, we can say that it's mission accomplished for Rockstar North and this new Grand Theft Auto. Of course, exploring the vast environment populated with people that walk around like it's real at our pace remains the key element of the game, but for me the magic of GTA V is really in its story. It is so wonderfully presented that, after a few hours, we get attached to each character to the point of being unable to stop playing to find out the ending of each scenario and its impact on the main storyline.
To be honest, GTA V does not revolutionize anything, but it's better than what was offered before. Taking advantage of the maximum amount of power that current generation consoles can offer, I can only imagine what this great franchise will have in store for the next generation.
- The hugeness of the open world (mountains, sea, rivers, urban, rural, etc. ..)
- Aiming system
- Vehicle handling
- Customization (players, vehicles, weapons)
- Several types of vehicles (cars, watercraft, aircraft)
- Many gun upgrades
- The storyline
- Well placed checkpoints in missions
- Special abilities of each character
- Loading times almost nonexistent
- Replay value
- The music
- Interior view of the cars is still missing
- Retracing our steps after a mission can be problematic
- A few preventable annoying bugs
- Several redundant side missions
Release date : 2013-09-17
Publisher : Rockstar Games
Developer : Rockstar North
Gameplay : Action-Adventure
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