Grand Theft Auto 5 is the follow up to the highest rated console game of all time. Fans will be relieved to know that it not only lives up to the hype, but redefines the standard for narrative-based gaming.
GTA5 takes place in Los Santos, massive open-world island that is a near replica of Los Angeles. The environment is beautifully recreated and your ability to go everywhere on the island, including flying over it, gives the characters a feeling of complete freedom.
There are three main characters: Michael, a wealthy retired con; Franklin, a gangbanger; and Trevor a hillbilly meth dealer. The story focuses on developing and getting to know each of the characters, while moving the overarching story.
While Micheal wants to be a good family man, he struggles with the fact that his cheating wife, lazy son and skanky daughter all hate him. Franklin, on the other hand, is fighting the gangster stereotype and his realisation that crime may be his only way out of his current situation.
While there is quite a bit of focus on the individual characters, their stories start to intersect when Michael has to come out of retirement to pay off a Mexican cartel. He soon ropes both Franklin and Trevor into his schemes. Their intertwining storylines maintain an intense pacing of the game.
Some of the funniest moments are through the in-game radio and TV. For example, a cartoon called Republican Galaxy Rangers portrays a group of space soldiers that fight for what they call American values, against socialism and health care for lazy poor people. A radio advert about how the US governments decision to record personal information is actually a good thing. It is biting social commentary at its best.
The gameplay has improved significantly from the previous title. Swopping between characters, even during missions, is incredibly slick and shooting, driving and the cover system are massively improved.
Variation in mission types is another highlight of the game. The repetition of fetch-and-collect missions is replaced with enjoyable missions that require the characters to perform ridiculous, almost over-the-top, stunts like stealing large aircrafts or driving a motorcycle over the top of a train. There are hours of side missions for each character and mini-games like tennis, golf and shooting that help them improve their skills.
GTA 5 is social commentary on the excesses of American society. The game finds the perfect balance between getting to know the characters, pushing the pace of the overarching story and commenting on the society they find themselves in – all using some of the foulest and funniest dialogue to be found in a video game. The story is not only funny and deeply engaging, it is also one of the best games of the last decade.
The good: Brilliant story; exciting combat; engaging characters; use your iPhone app to customize your vehicles.
The bad: Foul language is a bit over the top; a torture scene that is a little uncomfortable; you need to use an iPhone app to feed your dog and make him happy.
Similar to: Red Dead Redemption, Max Payne
Hours to complete: 25hrs for main story