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Grand Theft Auto 5 Review

Grand Theft Auto 5 has been released to critical acclaim, staggering sales records in which the game made $1billion in revenue in just 3 days. With all the hype and buzz surrounding the game, is GTA5 the real deal or is it another GTA4?

Grand Theft Auto 5 just about reinvents itself completely away from the 4th game. Vibrant, ambitious and focused, the game up front is far better than the 4th game and is a marquee improvement in every conceivable way. As a swansong to the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, this is certainly a fitting and capable game demonstrating what the ageing consoles can handle. GTA5 is not perfect and has some basic misguided flaws however.

You control Michael Townley and Trevor Phillips. The pair are part of a 4 man team robbing a bank. It goes smoothly until a botched getaway from the police in which Michael is shot and Trevor flees the scene. The game then skips forward 10 years later and we come to a reinvention of Los Angeles aptly named Los Santos. Here, you start the game through the eyes of the ambitious Franklin, going through the motions on credit fraud for a businessman. He isn’t getting much money on return for his credible work. That changes until a job he takes makes him run into Michael-retired, wealthy and chock full of belligerence.

Michael still demonstrates an appetite for measured chaos and when he find his wife cheating on him, that leads him to chase the man she was with to a lovely cliff-side house in which Michael wrecks. The house incidentally belongs to Mexican crime-lord Martin Madrazo in which he threatens Michael and Franklin unless they recoup the debt. This leads Michael getting back into the game of being a master thief along with Franklin and a long lost face.

GTA is all about freedom, crime and chaos. Over the years this has been refined to include social aspects such as dating, mini-games and activities. GTA5 manages to combine most of these aspects together to create possibly the most open GTA game yet. GTA5 is vibrant, colourful and crisp compared to the drab GTA4. This benefits from the colourful recreation of Los Angeles-a cityscape environment as well as surrounding rural areas.

The gameplay is heavily improved also. Shooting is close in line to the system used in Max Payne 3 which incorporates pinpoint accuracy. Driving has been improved with speed becoming more realised and the physics of each vehicle being unique. The fast cars will with a sharp turn of the wheel spin out of control whereas the family cars that are slower have better traction and grip. The online has been improved immensely as Rockstar have sought to create a separate entity in which the world of Los Santos can be a social hunting ground.

Whether it is deathmatch modes, races both on sea and road races-or social activities from tennis to other minigames, the social space of GTA closely resembles Playstation Home-only more violent and open. The online side has gotten some stick for being a crest for immature killjoy players killing innocent gamers at will. But, the online side with the right friends and crew if you have one can be a haven for havoc, fun and enjoyment.

GTA is renowned for its social commentary and parody on reality. At times in GTA5, it is spot on and engaging. The lifeinvader page that resembles Facebook mocks the site for its precious lack of physical interaction value. But other aspects when brought into the game threatens the focus and balance of the game. This suffers in the story mostly. The three characters have extra missions which explore the character’s social life and persona.

But the missions are filler and are not really focused in any particular way. Take Michael for example, some of his extra missions take hold of his so called ‘midlife crisis’. These mostly revolve around his family-but I don’t want to play a ‘mid-life crisis’ simulator as-you guessed it is mostly pointless, boring and overly-dramatic. Trevor has similar filler missions and Franklin has filler missions but his to be fair are more engaging with regard to his upbringing doing what he does to survive.

The story becomes a complicated affair after the initial heist mission. It becomes more complex, unravelling and slightly unfocused. The later heists do much to retake the focus but the game does start to lose momentum some 20 hours in and beyond. Thankfully, the online section is there and while it was a joke that it was not included at launch is certainly worth it now.

What is Good?

-Considerable improvements over GTA4.

-The online is a living and breathing social/gaming space.

-Vibrant, colourful and open game to enjoy.

-Feels like a combination of Red Dead Redemption, LA Noire and Max Payne 3.

What is Bad?

-Numerous filler missions which fall into the boring side of things.

-The story loses momentum and focus.

-As is the case with GTA, the use of swearing and cursing becomes incessant and disparaging.

GTA5 is a great game there is no question. It is a brilliant reinvention of the series with after GTA4. It has had much press, issues and a botched online launch. But this is the biggest game of the year and in the face of next-gen launches proves that games on the PS3/360 can still look great and are capable games. It has its flaws but with everything it does right and how close it comes to the magic of Vice City, GTA5 is one of the best games this year. 9/10

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