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Grand Theft Auto 5 (PS3) Review

 
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At A Glance...
 

Formats: PS3 (Reviewed) & Xbox 360
 
Genre:
 
Year:
 
Publisher:
 
Developer:
 
Final Score
10
10/ 10


User Rating
4 total ratings

 

We liked?


  • Incredible open world - just astoundingly well realised
  • Great looking, easily the best in this genre
  • Online is fun and could be great with friends
  • Great voice work and solid story
  • The 'fun' is back in GTA if you so choose it

Not so much?


  • Terrible handling of female characters
  • Overly gratuitous couple of scenes put in there to generate buzz and headline
  • Online looses its appeal after a few hours and feels in need of a pep-up
  • Smattering of the usual open world bugs and weirdness


Final Fiendish Findings?

For me Grand Theft Auto 5 is the perfect farewell to this generation of gaming.

3
Posted October 30, 2013 by

 
Full Fiendish Findings...
 
 

Grand Theft Auto 5 is superb… utterly and truthfully ingenious in so many ways it just hurts to recall them all.  But you already knew that right?   After all our review is hitting over a month from release!  So why wait so long?

Simple answer is that we wanted to “live” with GTA 5 a little.  Get the bumpy online launch window out of the way.  Get the inevitable outrage and cries of misogyny and cultural outrage out of the way.  Let the zeitgeist pass over and see if Grand Theft Auto 5 still has the same shine.

Quick recap for anyone having been in a coma or the deepest depths of Peru these past few months.  Grand Theft Auto 5 follows the exploits of not one, but three main characters.  Michael, Trevor and Franklin are the stars of this outing of GTA.  The story of the game follows the intertwined paths these three characters take and how their lives reflect on each other’s actions.

Franklin is, initially, your stereotypical gangbanger straight out of the original San Andreas title.  Michael is the retired master crook, hiding out from a past he’s paying a shrink heavily to forget.  Lastly is Trevor…  Trevor is a complete psychopath.  He’s a few steps short of being a total Meth-head and provides the more ludicrous side of the GTA experience.

As with GTA IV this outing hinges heavily on the story.  The characters are better than ever.  Franklin makes a nice transition from wannabe gangbanger to street smart big time.   Michael’s life is not what it seems and you get a nice slice of middle-aged angst.  Trevor, as mentioned, provides the comedy factor.  His story arc is the most interesting in many ways and reveals more and more about him as the game progresses – you’ll find Trevor vile, well at least you SHOULD find him vile.  You will find him unpleasant to listen to and some of his missions provide the most controversial of the game.  You will find yourself oddly compelled to play as him though which is strange but great writing!

GTA V

The world of Los Santos is immense…  I mean truly jaw dropping in scale, population and architectural ambition.  Unlike other GTA title Grand Theft Auto 5 gives you the entire game map from the start.  Jump in a sporty number and cruise out of the city, up through the hills, snake down the windy roads and then blast out through the dusty roads and towns and you head straight for what seems like ten minutes before you hit the end of land… and then hurl yourself off of it and continue you travels on a Jet Ski until you reach the very limits of the game world.  Now at this point any normal title would place an invisible barrier or concoct a stupid reason that you can’t go any further.  In GTA 5 your vehicle slowly sinks leaving you in the water swimming – oh yes you can swim properly this time around.  Swim a little further and test the game’s patience?  I was circled and then eaten by sharks!  And that was just going from the centre of town to the top of the map – you have East, West and South left to explore!  Saying the game world is large is a ridiculous understatement.

Graphically the game astonishes.  Not with its high resolution visuals or silky smooth motion capture.  No.  This is a massive open world title after all.  It’s amazing just how good they’ve got it looking and running despite of its open world origins.  Characters and their animations are probably one of the areas where a lot will think “this maybe looks a little ropey”.  You’d be vaguely right in some instances.  Secondary characters and NPCs do look a little rough on the animation front at times.  Some of the actions of all characters take a turn for the wooden at time and facial animations range from absurdly good caricatures to odd plasticine mimicry.

The world though is superbly realised and crafted with an attention to detail not seen in any game before – The Getaway is the closest I’ve seen previously for a real feel city I’d say… Maybe GTA IV too.  The environment around the city feels just as alive and populated with plenty of animals roaming the outlands and sharks swimming the oceans.

GTA V

Vehicles are well represented and each has its own quirks and features.  Naturally everyone gravitates towards the faster sporty cars and thankfully Rockstar have beefed up the resilience of the vehicles this time around.  Each car will soak up a very impressive amount of damage before it becomes a flaming wreck on the side of the road.  This means you feel so much more at liberty to tool around the game world at ludicrous speeds without the fear of one good smack demolishing you and the car.

One thing I have found with the ridiculous amount of hours I have put in to Grand Theft Auto 5 is that zipping around the roads never gets old.  Sure at times you want to jump in a cab and get to the next story mission as fast as you can, but for the most part it’s just good fun taking the journey.

Flying is another major component of GTA 5 and it once again highlights the cast size of the map.  Zipping about in a crop duster or stolen fighter jet it just great fun.  Even the initially clumsy flight of the choppers soon become second nature.  Plenty of missions are based around the air as well and the road and sea so it’s great to have a real mixture or transportation to break up constant car/truck/bike/shoot-out missions.

The world is also littered with extra activities.  Boat races, road races, rampaging gun runs, hidden object locations, bounty hunting, drug and gun running, tennis, golf, darts, yoga, movies… the list just goes on.   A month after discovering all of these things it has to be said that most lose their shine rapidly.  It’s very unlikely – unless you want to up a stat for one of the characters like stamina for instance – that you’ll return to a lot of these things.  Initially though the inclusion is overwhelming and most welcome.

Voice work is superb throughout – I’m not sure I encountered a single dodgy delivery or terrible bit of acting.  The three main characters are superbly characterised by their vocal counterparts.  Dialogue is well delivered.  Script wise most things are agreeable.  There seems to be a over reliance on stereotypical exchanges between certain characters – for instance the first 30 minutes of the game is basically Franklin and his buddy dropping the “N-Bomb” in every other sentence.  It might set a tone or scene but it’s probably not necessary and it definitely goes in heavy handed.  The lack of any real female characters of note that were not moaning or trying to ruin your day harks back to the earliest annuals of this generation and maybe underlines where the origins of this series have come from.  It’s about time Rockstar managed to progress their writing of female characters to the same level as their male ones.  As it stands it’s mainly a sausage-fest and prohibitive to a female audience looking for a strong story character to empathise with.

GTA V

Earlier this month the online portion of Grand Theft Auto 5 came online – what a massive ball-ache that was for all concerned.  Servers would go up, then down.  Connections would time out, games ditched, money lost, cars lost etc.  Issue after issue seemed to come forth from the Rockstar press office and it all looked a real mess.

Two weeks and a few patches later and things were a different story though with only a handful of issues remaining and a promise from Rockstar to credit all early adopters with $500,000 in game.  The online portion is split up in to activities and the lobby.  The lobby in this case happens to be the entire open game map.  Here you are free to roam around, undertaking small jobs from quest givers, knocking over stores etc and making your way in the world.  From time to time others will appear on your map and you can then get together to take on some of the co-op missions.  These vary in success depending on who you happen to be playing with but on the whole are a positive experience weaving in some elements from the single player game.  Job complete then it’s a quick flick on the mobile to bank that take before some jokers takes you out and steals some of your loot from your pocket.

As you progress you earn more and more points.  These unlock levels for you GTA Online character.  As you progress up the levels more option present themselves to you in respect of being able to order hits on people, call out specialist units or take on harder jobs for more cash.

As it stands, almost a month after launch, the online portion of Grand Theft Auto 5 is an interesting curio that, after a few hours of play, feels a little shallow and flat.  The prospect that Rockstar will enthuse the game’s user base with new mission types, heists and other things is certainly a reason to hold out hope things will continue to improve for GTA online.

GTA V

Final Thoughts

So, one month of solid play later and I still have to say Grand Theft Auto 5 is one of the most ambitious games ever made.  The world is large but so, so rich and detailed.  The characters entangle so well it makes a compelling story as the game progresses.  I’ve barely scratched the surface in what I’ve written.  Partly as it’s more a summation review and partly because there is just so much!

The over reliance on videogame and movie tropes, the needlessly gratuitous couple of story missions involving Trevor and lack of any tangible female character to relate too all hurt the game though.

GTA:Online is a nice bonus feature and has a lot of potential to serve the GTA community for a good few months to come.  It might appear a little flat and lacklustre after a few hours of play now, but expansions look set to improve that.

For me Grand Theft Auto 5 is the perfect farewell to this generation of gaming.  It pushes the PS3/Xbox 360 to the maximum and it shows at times.  It represents a vision of where Rockstar are heading with regards to their game worlds and the detail they are cramming in.  I for one cannot wait to see the next generation title they produce from here – with luck it’ll be a new Red Dead.


Zeth

 
Zeth is our EU ninja and Editor in Chief. He's been writing about video games since 2008 when he started on BrutalGamer. He's pretty old and has been a gamer since he played Space Invaders as a young boy in the 80's. His genre tastes lean towards platformers, point-and-click adventure, action-adventure and shooters but he'll turn his hand to anything.


  • Slay

    you’re a generation late…

  • Fuck a hater.. I respect and appreciate when real gamers like yourself take time with a game. People visit to IGN, Machinima [< interesting definition, who knew] ect, they forget what it means to truly play a game, nice review man keep doing you.

    • Zeth Ward

      Thanks buddy – glad you enjoyed the review. I just wanted to take my time and “live” in the game for a few weeks – it’s HUGE!