Every major release from Rockstar Games this generation has been brimming with creativity. And although their whole gang of games from these past five years have been unarguably flawed, I’d maintain the strength of their narrative and thematic hooks have more than made up for busted shooting or absent-minded hand contortions. Well, Rockstar North’s gen-closing, 30-hour, heist-a-rama Grand Theft Auto V, is the most polished and mechanically sound game the studio has ever produced. Unfortunately the title’s narrative has buckled under the the weight of the studios’ most ambitious project yet.
The artistry and scope of Grand Theft Auto V staggering. The world is dripping with love and detail -- it is very easy to compare Los Santos to the world Skyrim. Even the distinct ways each of the game’s three protagonist theft themselves some autos is a testament to how much time and energy went into making sure the world would feel completely realized. By the time I finished the lengthy story, there were still a number of blank spots on my map -- let alone whatever secrets the ocean may hold.
Despite the wide breadth of activities in Los Santos the game is still -- VERY frustratingly -- padded with a handful of dull ‘story’ missions. And there are still way too many quests that start with, “Ok you drove here? Good. Let’s drive back.” It’s a shame that the game wastes your time with that nonsense because the bulk of the game’s content is really engaging. The biggest addition to game are ‘heists’ which have players picking their crew and deciding how to tackle each job. The choices you make are few and far between, but it’s still cool to see the slight delineations, and the missions themselves are a blast.
The tone of the game is considerably lighter than Grand Theft Auto IV, which was a nice change of pace right up until the moment when the writers decide they also wanted to make a really biting and serious narrative. The game’s theme is basically that friendship is magic, so the moments of serious provocation feel completely out of place and do a lot of harm to the game’s overarching story.
It is remarkable that Rockstar North has managed to make an open-world game that uses scope to wow in the same way San Andreas did back in 2004. The title is well put together, and the majority of its missions will hold your attention throughout, but it’s hard not to be a little disappointed by the disjointed narrative that tries to be too many things at once.
- I love how blasé the game is about 'crib' upgrades.
- The tedious missions are at odds with the game's own bravado. Trevor Williams will kill someone for looking at him cockeyed, but is apparently up for some slow-ass dock work.
- The tenor of the game's story is beyond bizarre. The game is so willing to pretend the major missions aren't taking place one after another.
- In GTA4, when Niko Bellic would get put in touch with a new 'mob boss' or whoever, it really felt like you were stepping up in the world. As if you were arriving at a new 'chapter' or 'level' in the game. GTA5 is a bit more singular, although I suppose the heists are supposed to fill that roll.
- This game is still going to be crazy to see on pc -- crazy guys, crazy.
- I think it would've been great if they'd gone a bit heavier on the RPG mechanics. I would've loved exploring for significant stat boosts.