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Grand Theft Auto V Review

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Gameplay:

With a name like Grand Theft Auto V it makes sense to start with cars, right? There are definitely a healthy variety of them to drive around in the rather large and varied game world. You have your choice of motorcycles, sedans, sports cars, trucks, supercars, and larger vehicles like buses, firetrucks, and more. Many vehicles, even in the same class, can have different and appropriate feels to them, so just because you know how one takes turns does not mean you know how they all do.

If you find a car you like while out and about, you can take it and keep it with one of your characters by storing it at their house or a garage they must purchase. While I did collect some cars, I rarely used them for fear I would destroy them or otherwise lose them by accident. Instead I mostly relied on the default vehicles for the different characters, which are almost always nearby when you swap to them. Michael has a sedan, until his son steals it, but he does return it later on; Trevor has a truck; and Franklin has both a sports car and a motorcycle. The easy access to these vehicles made it a simple decision for me to use them, although I would still take other cars if I knew they would be better for the situation (ie. faster for crossing the map).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also used the swapping between characters as a makeshift travel system. You see, the characters will normally appear near certain places, like their safehouses, so I could use that to at least move where I am quickly. If I needed to move the actual character across the map, say Michael is up North but needs to be in the city in the South, I could swap to another character, do other things so time passes, or even go to sleep, and when I swap back, Michael is much closer to where he needs to be. Maybe it does not sound faster than driving, but it can be, and is definitely easier, especially if the character does not have a car immediately available to them.

Something that may be worth noting about cars is that damage to them can impact driving without destroying the vehicle. The gas tank can be ruptured, so you will not be going far, and the body bent into the wheels, causing you to turn to one side and go slower. On multiple occasions I would just abandon a vehicle damaged as such.

 

Also the AI drivers can be stupid, but I did not notice the same recklessness I have observed before. You can actually trust these NPCs to not turn into all the time.

Before moving away from vehicles I want to mention airplanes and helicopters. Both use the WASD and 8456 on the number pad for controls, similar to the previous title, which I hated. That is not the case with GTA V. The controls seemed to perform much better now, as I found myself hurling through the air less, and the camera would actually follow the vehicle without input. That last part alone makes a tremendous difference as it means I do not have to keep a hand on the mouse so I can see where I am going.

Moving on to combat there is one thing I wish were available, but it is not, which is the ability to crouch. You can enter a stealth mode that hunches your character some, but it is not a crouch as some games have for slower movement and steadier aim. You do have a cover system, which is okay, but nothing too amazing. It is well-designed to the point that I found it hard to accidentally exit cover, but easy to leave it whenever I wished.

 

 

One very nice change from the previous game is that you can carry every weapon you wish, and select which you want to use while playing. This is nice if only because it makes managing ammo easier as you can almost always pick up ammo and use it. There is one catch, which is that each character has their own load out. You definitely want to keep this in mind because when you switch, you may not have that sniper rifle that would be perfect for the mission.

By the way, first-person will change combat, a lot. The obvious difference comes from having a less omniscient camera to see where enemies are. You also will have iron sights instead of just a zoomed in view on a dot for aiming. The change in camera view can definitely be interesting and fun to experience, as it is so different, and can reveal some details, such as car radios identifying the station you are listening to, and even the song playing.

 

 

Unfortunately there is one limitation to first-person mode that resulted in me staying out of it for the bulk of the review. Any clips recorded while in first person cannot have their cameras changed in the Rockstar Editor. I do not know why this is the case, but I can say it is annoying, and because I really enjoyed having fun in the Editor, I kept to third-person. The Editor does have some issues of its own as well, but I have two things to cover before getting to that.

I mentioned back in the introduction that GTA V has some light RPG qualities. These include modifications for land vehicles and weapons, as well as ways to change your character's appearance. Most significantly is that your characters have multiple skill stats, such as Driving, Stamina, and Strength. These are improved by certain activities and can grant you some very useful benefits. Stamina may have the most noticeable benefit of allowing infinite sprinting, once you max it out. The Shooting skill I found to be very easy to improve in the single player campaign just by going to a firing range. There, run through the challenges to at least get a medal in each, and this unlocks the minigun challenges. These challenges are both easy and fun enough that farming them to raise the stat is no problem.

 

 

Many of the missions in the game are Heists, but not your typical video game thefts. You do not just go in and as you play choose a loud path or a stealth path, but instead are briefed on the options, and then choose which to take. Some heists require help, so you will hire a crew of NPCs to help you, with these members getting a cut, and generally the most skilled people are also the most expensive. Some of these crew members are actually made available by random encounters in the game, such as a driver I found injured on the side of the road and helped to a friend's house. Once you pick an option, some prep work is needed, such as collecting certain cars or weapons. These are small missions on their own, which is nice because it allows you to do them as you wish, instead of how the game wants them done. I personally went with the stealthier options, but can go back and replay them following the less subtle option.

 

The Rockstar Editor is a feature only available in this PC version of GTA V. It allows you to record a section of gameplay, either manually or with an Action Recorder that captures the past. This brings me to the first issue, which is that you cannot really know how much the Action Recorder is going to capture. It is not like it just keeps the past minute or two, but instead it goes back to some point it apparently decides on. Of course you can use manual recording, but that does not help you get that awesome thing that just happened in front of you. Also the Action Recorder is easily turned off by death and character switching. This makes me sorely wish it were possible to just set it to always record so I do not need to always remember to turn it back on. It is also a little odd that its turns off when you die, because that means you cannot capture your death with it. Considering how often that may be the moment you want to revisit, this seems like a very odd choice.

 

Once you have a clip, editing it is pretty easy, but there are still some functions I wish existed. The main one would be some way to copy camera settings from one marker to another. A means to set the output bitrate would also be appreciated. Currently the options are just Low, Medium, and High, and High does not look as good as I would prefer. Fortunately we can select between 30 and 60 FPS for the output. Some better camera controls would be nice, as the path the camera may take seems to vary. Basically you can set the points you want it to move between, and it will do so reliably if you start from the right place. Basically it lacks reversibility in that while it will follow the same path from point A to point B, you have to travel from A to B to see this. If you go back from B, the path may be different, or if you just start between the points, the path may be different.

Mostly I used the Rockstar Editor just for game clips, but I did spend some time in the Director Mode, to see how that is. It is something of a sandbox experience, where you have access to a great deal and are allowed to play around as you wish. I did not delve too deeply into it, as I lack the kind of creativity that could really make something with it, but I can see it being a powerful tool for some.

 

I did play some GTA Online and streamed most of it too, but I am going to refrain from commenting too much on it, as the experience is inherently variable. I did have fun, and I know it has more to offer than I have experienced thus far. Also it is likely best played with friends, but I just played by myself.

By the way, I almost forgot to mention that the game does have a Quick Save feature, so unless you are in a mission, you can save wherever and whenever you are. This is definitely useful and appreciated, instead of having to run to a safehouse or trigger an autosave.

 

It took me a total of 36 hours and 22 minutes to complete the main game, except for some specific missions for Franklin. These are assassination missions that can be used in conjunction with the stock market feature to make large amounts of money. The final heist is the most profitable, so waiting until then allows for the most amount of money to be made. I got that total by adding up the separate times spent playing Michael, Franklin, and Trevor, as no collective game time is recorded.

I have to say that in many ways I had a lot of fun and enjoyed the gameplay greatly. So much of it is just done right, making the experience something you want to continue. As of yet I have not replayed missions, in an attempt to get better scores or see alternative outcomes, but the option is available. These better scores amount to nothing more than bragging rights, but hey, those are fun to have.




  1. Grand Theft Auto V Review - Introduction
  2. Grand Theft Auto V Review - Graphics
  3. Grand Theft Auto V Review - Story
  4. Grand Theft Auto V Review - Gameplay
  5. Grand Theft Auto V Review - Additional Gameplay Media
  6. Grand Theft Auto V Review - Conclusion
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