Grand Theft Auto V Impressions
Grand Theft Auto V has been released and I managed to get my hands on a copy the day it was released. Keep in mind that my impressions are of the digital PlayStation 3 version, which is to say that I bought my copy off of the PlayStation Store.
I’ve spent all week playing Grand Theft Auto V. I’ve logged in around 27 hours and have done story missions, side missions, various activities and collected missions as well as explored Los Santos, and participated in nearly all of the various features in the game, including buying cars and garages and investing in the stock market. With all that said, I still haven’t finished the story or experienced everything since there is so much to do in GTA V but I have played enough to give a solid impression of the game.
Right away, I’ll tell you that Grand Theft Auto V is a great game. I can even tell you that it is better than Grand Theft Auto IV, which I had problems with mostly due to the relatively dull story missions and controls. Lets talk controls first. The gunplay in GTA V is much better, though it still has problems. Rockstar has learned from its previous games, namely Red Dead Redemption, and applied those gameplay lessons to GTA V. Gunplay is probably the best its ever been, though getting into cover and maneuvering your character in gun fights still feels a bit stiff. Driving has been greatly improved has the cars don’t feel as heavy and they feel more maneuverable. I feel like I have control over the car when I drive. That said, there are some instances where I feel like I have less control when in more intense sequences. Also, planes, while better to control, are still really hard to control.
Now for the story missions. They are greatly improved compared to GTA IV. You are put into intense situations right from the start. Early in the game, you’re involved in chases, and gun fights. The characters in the game are well fleshed out over the course of the missions, though you never get the sense that who you are playing as is a good person. Some may have issues with that but in the game where you’re constantly killing people, stealing cars and causing general mayhem, what makes you think the person you are would be a hero? This brings the “ludonarrative dissonance” to a minimum. Sure, you can find Franklin kind of likable, sense compassion in Trevor and sympathize with Michael but never should you feel that they are misunderstood or just in a “bad situation”. These are bad people who got where they are by choice and deserve to have bad things happen to them.
Now story missions aside, many of the extra missions you do are pretty entertaining, whether I’m taking pictures of a pop star having sex or “collecting” celebrity memorabilia for an old couple on holiday. The side activities are also fairly entertaining such as tennis, which is one of the most fun I’ve had with a tennis game, triathlons, street races, and the random events that happen while driving around. Now that said, because of the nature of the story and characters, many of the collectibles like the letter scraps, and alien parts really do stick out as filler to pad out the game. I know stuff like this has always been in GTA but they really feel out of place here. Also, some things like the stock market or holding up convenience stores are either not explained well enough or aren’t at all which led me to just stumbling upon them or fumbling my way through them, trying to figure them out.
The world of Los Santos is a rich and vibrant world that feels inviting and exudes life. I really prefer Los Santos to Liberty City, which felt too drab and brown to me. Perhaps I’m biased since I live very close and have lived more or less in Los Angeles, the city Los Santos is based on, but the more open feeling of Los Santos compared to the suffocating high rises of Liberty City makes for a more welcoming place to play, including the wooden areas and the high desert areas, which is actually where I live now. I will say though that most of the high deserts don’t look like they do in the game. One city in the high desert, Barstow, does but not the other four.
I also want to say that from a technical standpoint, I’ve experienced the game freeze for a few seconds, the game not render the world when traveling really fast sometimes and various instances of pop in but it’s infrequent and none of it has hindered my gameplay experiences. What has though is the garages around the city and buying new cars. This doesn’t work. If you buy a car, the garages don’t save them like they’re supposed to. Rockstar needs to patch this and fix it as this mechanic of the game is not in working order.
All this being said, if there’s one problem I have with GTA V, it’s that there isn’t much new or different here. The only thing is the idea of playing as three different people, which is under utilized and doesn’t matter outside of story missions. Therefore, although I think this is one of the better GTA games, if you don’t like GTA games, there’s not much here to change your mind. Check back for our full review, which will probably take some time as we want to be able to review the game in full with everything accounted for as well as the story completed.