Video Games – Review – Grand Theft Auto V/ Current Gen

gtav_review

Played On: PS4*
Available On: PS4/XBOX ONE/PC (also previously available on PS3 and Xbox 360)
Released On: November 18th, 2014
Developer: Rockstar North
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Genres: Action-Adventure, Open World
ESRB: M – Mature
Modes: Singleplayer, Multiplayer
Distribution: Disc, Download

*Review copy was sent by Rockstar Games*

We have been waiting to get this game for a bit more than a year and it’s released in a month filled with AAA titles. Coming out on the same day as Far Cry 4(review pending), Grand Theft Auto V is finally here with a bunch of new features for current-gen console owners and returning players to the GTA V universe.

For my review, I will evaluate the game as a full game and not just the new features since Me-Time Gamer wasn’t around at the time of release last year. I would also like to thank Rockstar for giving me my first official review copy to help me review GTA V. Now, without further adieu, let’s take a drive down memory lane and explore the depths of GTA V.

STORY

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At some point, crimes has to pay, right? Well, that’s what our protagonist Michael, Trevor and Franklin will find out in their hard adventures in Los Santos. Playing as all 3 characters, you must build a team and perform heist to get some of that old mighty dollar by robbing banks, jewelry stores and much more. Friendships are tested and put to their limits between Michael and Trevor while Franklin tries to learn the tricks of the trade from Michael.

Now, there is a back story to all this, but I won’t spoil it for you. The story has its ups and downs but in most cases is very entertaining, Trevor especially. Michael and Trevor are old buddies. They would perform heists together until one of them went wrong. Trev thought Michael died that day, which will create friction in their renewed friendship, or not. Franklin on the other hand is an ex-gangbanger that wants a change of pace and be legally successful, but when he meets Michael, it changes really quick and does have some hard decisions to make during the game.

I really enjoyed the story because you get 3 distinct personalities and they all mash-up perfectly together. You get the cool, calm and collected character, the “I’m retired but losing my mind” guy and you got Trevor. He is the most memorable protagonist of all 3 and will make you laugh, cringe and everything in between.

VISUALS

The visual enhancements in this game are incredible to look at. Everything is so smooth and the current generation game has a greater draw distance, which is also breathtaking. The wildlife is well detailed and the foliage will make you take a second look while driving. The damage on cars when there is a collision are pretty accurate to where they were hit and looks really cool. You do get rare pop-ins but nothing noticeable, meaning you won’t get buildings popping in at the last-minute like other games of this genre. Compare to PS3, the PS4 version is a big improvement. What I also enjoy are the environmental assets, which are visually and physically more proportional to our characters.

GAMEPLAY: WEAPONS

Guns are not foreign in the GTA franchise. They are offered in a wide variety and can be customized widely, unlike previous titles in the series. You can add flashlights, scopes, paint jobs, suppressors and anything you’re murdering heart desires to make an impact in the world. This new feature is fun to play around with and can make or break your survival in certain situations. One of the most fun I had with weapons in this installment was the dynamite, especially online. Driving around with friends and trying to get someone to chase you so you could just throw it at them is a blast, no pun intended. Diving deeper into the weapons, I really like the weapon wheel this time around. It is very sleek and lets you quickly pick what you want to use.

GAMEPLAY: DRIVING

GTA  always had a unique driving style. In this version(old and new) however, they changed the mechanics a bit. If you are driving an aged vehicle, your drive will be nothing short of the most horrible thing ever and that’s what it’s suppose to feel like. Getting in an Inferno? The faster, sportier cars handles better and has a tighter turning radius. Operating an 18 wheeler? Oh yeah, you’ll feel the trailer’s weight behind you. It is still a very fun experience and doesn’t feel weird.

There many types of vehicles to choose from and they all offer their own unique experience. This time around, jets, planes, bicycles and more are back to GTA with a big bang. What was once our favorite past time in San Andreas, is now available once more and it is a welcome comeback. The most memorable is, of course, the jet. This time around, it will be a bit more of a challenge to get to, but well worth the effort. Any plane-type vehicle has a new control scheme from San Andreas and feels great in action. It did take some time to get comfortable with it, but in the end, you will be doing barrel rolls and loop-the-loops.

GAMEPLAY: SIDE MISSIONS

If you played a GTA game before, you know that it is rich in side missions. This one is no different. There is random encounters, bounties, collectibles, freaks and strangers missions, and much more. And that is only the campaign side of things. Online gives you a tone of side missions to play with friends or randoms. What I like is the random encounters.

Going back to the campaign, you’re just walking or driving down the road and a random blue bleep shows up on your map. One of the first one is helping 2 guys out that just robbed a joint. This one is quite memorable because you meet an old friend from GTA IV. What’s nice about these missions is that people you meet can become contacts for when you setup heists in the campaign. Side missions are a great way to just play around and experience Los Santos in its entirety. The PS4 version has funny peyote missions which transform you into animals, it’s just a fun times all around.

GAMEPLAY: FIRST-PERSON VIEW

First-person view is also a new feature set to release with the new console version.

This feature is fresh out of the oven for the current generation of consoles and the first attempt in the GTA franchise. On PS4, you simply tap on the touch pad and you can cycle from third-person to first-person views. This new feature takes the game to a whole new level and gives you a new perspective of the game. First-person comes with its own clever cover system and, to make life easier, Rockstar has added the option to switch between Standard Controls and Standard FPS Controls. These can be set differently from one view to the other. Everything seems to be graphically thought out in first-person view. Weapon actions look fluent, your head bobs when you are running and a couple new features. The player can also turn off some of the features in the first person view like turning off the head bobbing. The best is when you are driving and you jump out of the car, you actually do the barrel roll in first-person and is just insanely entertaining.

Another thing that I saw in this new addition was wildlife. I was swimming in the ocean to try to find a shark and came across a whale swimming not too far from me. I was astonished by what I was seeing, you could even hear the whale. This is a very nice touch to the game and really emerges you in the game. There is only one thing that I personally don’t like about this view and it’s the driving. The feeling of the car is just weird when you are staring at the road from the inside. You don’t really get a sense of where the extremities of the vehicle are and for some reason, this might just be me, the controls act differently. Also, There isn’t any usable reflections in the side mirrors, not a big deals. At the end of the day, first-person view is the best I have personally experienced and really adds a new perspective to the GTA universe.

GAMEPLAY: ONLINE

When online released last year, a week after the initial GTA V release, it was a gong-show. You couldn’t get online, you couldn’t create a character or you were just stuck on the first tutorial mission. Rockstar was quick to fix these issues and lets keep in mind that this is the first massive attempt to create a unique online experience for the GTA universe. Online offers a great variety of missions and quick money-making jobs. You can play with friends or alone if you like, but the most fun was with people I know. You do get the occasional player that will be a menace and make your life a living hell for a couple of minutes, but this is outweighed by the awesome moments.

For the current gen edition, if you played on the older gen consoles, you can transfer you online character to the game a start where you left off. I encountered a small problem when I started it up for the first time. The game saw that I had a socialclub account and it was link to an online character which gave me access to the returning player features. It displayed it on the left side and told me that is was unlocked. Now, when trying to log in the online, it told me that I didn’t have a character, which was odd after it just told me. Looking around the internet, I was able to find the solution. The problem was that if you hadn’t played the old gen version since 2013, for some reason, it couldn’t see you played before. Easy enough fix, I just started up my PS3, did about six updates and played online for a big half a minute. This solved the issue at hand.

Looking at the newer features, the new version comes with all the updates from previous console version of the game and they are awesome. You get a tone of guns, cars, missions and more. I’m still having a tone of fun with the online and I’m not getting any major bugs or glitches in this PS4 version. And it’s worth mentioning job creator in the online. For what i tried, it works great.

GAMEPLAY: 3 PROTAGONISTS

Having 3 playable characters at the same time is a new feature to the GTA franchise and brings a lot to the table. The fact that you can switch from one to the other is done very fluently and in no time. By pressing down on the D-Pad and holding it, you can switch between all three characters, and even your online one too. When doing so, you zoom out from where you are and got into the clouds. From there, you traverse the map to where your selected player is located.

What is even cooler is that when you are not using a certain character, they keep living their normal lives. For instance, if you drop into Trevor, he will sometimes be in his undies and located in the middle of nowhere. These are the little things that make this feature great, it is done very nicely and is unique to the genre. When they first announced this component before the initial release of GTA, most people were skeptical because this was brand new to this universe, but Rockstar accomplished something that hopefully will stick around in the next games.

MUSIC/AUDIO

With over a 100+ new tracks to listen to on the radio, there is enough music to listen too and comes in all genres, which is great. You get a bit of Hip-Hop, some old school Rap, R&B, Country, Rock, Alternative and more. You can even listen to talk radio if that’s your thing. What’s cool is that some channels only works in some parts of Los Santos and Blaine County which really adds to the effect that the map is huge. All these channels are available through an easy to use radio wheel while driving, which really simplifies the selecting of a certain frequency. It also tells you what song is playing.

When it comes to the sound effects, it’s on point. The guns sound menacing, the car’s roar get you in the mood for a race and, like I mention earlier, the wildlife sounds really great. Voice acting wise, pedestrians have a good range of sounds and depths. The main actors are all very unique to their own characters and really pulls you into the game.

FINAL THOUGHTS

From the moment it launched last year to the release of the current gen systems, Grand Theft Auto V has made its mark in the video game industry. GTA is often the point of reference for most games of this nature and when reviewing open-world games. This edition takes that barre to the next step and it does it right. The updated version is very well done and is really enjoyable even if you are a returning player from the old gen systems. Just the first-person view is enough to merit a second play through. I do suggest driving in third-person, it’s less of a pain in my opinion. Transferring your online character is done in a breeze and, for the completionists out there, you get all your trophies/achievements from your online save to the new version. If you didn’t get a chance to play on PS3/XBOX 360, definitely pick this one up, it is a fantastic edition to your collection.

9-5

 

 

 

Follow Me-Time Gamer on Facebook and Twitter! You can also read Jonathan’s articles at Gambitcon.com

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