Friday, December 6, 2013

Grand Theft Auto V Single Player and Multiplayer Review

Whenever there's a new Grand Theft Auto video game out, there's always some controversy. After all the game features stealing, murder, prostitution and just about every vice known to man. Simply put, the games are evil. And they're a lot of fun. Grand Theft Auto V came out in September and the online portion was launched in October. I played the daylights out of both parts of the game and to brag a little, I got the One Hundred Percent Achievement for single player. But is this video game worthy of your Christmas giving? Well, let's review this game via the title of Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Western, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly."


The Story.

Grand Theft Auto V is a visit back to the fictional state of San Andreas which is based on California. San Andreas was the basis of game maker Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Of course, the major city in California is Los Angeles. And in the Grand Theft Auto World it's Los Santos.

Grand Theft Auto V starts out with a flashback. It's here we meet two of the story's protagonists. Michael and Trevor. They're part of a three man crew that's robbing a bank in a cold northern state. It goes bad. And the player is immediately thrust into a violent and exciting gun battle with the police. One of the crew dies. We then flash forward to Los Santos where Michael is a middle age wealthy man who has a family with a wife and two teenage children. He leaves a session with his psychiatrist when he accidentally runs into a young African American man named Franklin. He is currently working for a crooked car dealer by repossessing vehicles. Franklin's a guy who's a small time crook who lives in the hood and wants to make bigger scores. Michael can't stay away from the only thing he knows how to do. Robbery. Fate would later bring the two together as a de facto father and son criminal team. Meanwhile in the San Andreas desert, Trevor is living the life of a meth manufacturer, and arms dealer. Trevor was under the impression that it was Michael that died. He finds out that he did not and travels to Los Santos to find out the truth.

In any Grand Theft Auto game there's going to be a degree or hyper realism. So once you get by that, Grand Theft Auto V has a compelling story. The three characters all have interesting lives albeit criminal ones. And it's not easy making three murdering thieves appealing. But writers Dan Houser, Rupert Humphries and Micheal Unsworth have done so. Director Dan Houser also does a fine job getting genuine performances from the voice actors and the computer animation. One wants to know what the future will hold for Franklin, what trouble Trevor will get into and about the family life of Michael. As for Michael, I can't recall a video game where a main protagonist is a middle age man with a family.

There is a slight story for the online multiplayer. You create your own character based on the grand parents and parents of your character. You then become an upcoming criminal new to San Andreas months before the events of the three main character. You are assigned missions by some of the characters in the single player game. But the twist is you are the criminal. It's a cool RPG idea in an action open world game.

I also appreciate the social satire. On the radio and television stations, the writers go after conservative politics here as they have done in the other games. Other targets are celebrities, and reality television. It's funny stuff.

The gameplay.

In every recent Grand Theft Auto game there's going to be a Heat like bit gun fight. Grand Theft Auto V starts out with a thrilling one. And that's just the first one. There are multiple big gun battles in GTA V. They're fun and exciting. You are often given the ability to switch between the three main characters. If enemies are flanking Michael, you can switch to Trevor or Franklin. If you want big explosions, GTA V doesn't disappoint. You can acquire heavy weapons early on, so later missions are a literal blast. Another cool Grand Theft Auto thing repeats here. You can complete many missions in various ways. Have to get off a building with enemies? You could take the elevator. But how about jumping off it with a parachute?

The controls are basically good. The auto aim works smoothly and is needed as you usually engage in combat in the third person view. Driving cars will take some getting used to but also works well. If you have trouble driving a car, I suggest the first person mode.

As with any Grand Theft Auto game, But there's more to do than just combat. There are races. Car, water ski and athletic triathlons. Parachuting contests make a comeback here. In one mission you operate heavy machinery. It doesn't sound like fun but trust me it is. An enjoyable tennis game is here. And there's a real golf game that is relaxing diversion away from all of the murder. There's also a mission replay feature that will allow you to instantly relive any great moment in the game rather than having to play it from the beginning. This allows you to go flaror the Gold Medal achievements on multiple attempts. It makes those achievements doable. Kudos to game designers Leslie Benzies, and Imran Sarwar.

If you just want to explore the world, you can do that too. San Andreas is huge, maybe too large. There's the city of Los Santos. Then there's the desert. Mountains. Small towns. And don't forget the ocean. You can dive underwater here. All of this is rendered beautifully. You'll find yourself taking many pictures of this world.

As for multiplayer, it's full of great ideas. There might more to do here than single player. Car races. Ski boat races. Death match. Parachute jumping. Mass Effect 3 like Survival games. Missions for your character. Customize your character. Buy cool sports cars. Have material wealth that one could only dream about. It's a cross between MMORPG, and a video game sandbox. I would call it brilliant except for some major technical flaws that I will cover later.


I'm a guy who hates some political correctness. There's one word I want removed from the American language. N... ger. It's racist. Yeah, I know black people use it. But even the late great comedian Richard Pryor stopped using it. But in GTA V, the African American characters constantly use it. And it's all over the rap "music" in the game.

The music is nondescript. In past Grand Theft Auto games you had some classic music. I mean in Grand Theft Auto IV, you had a jazz station that played John Coltrane, Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker! In GTA V, there are three rap stations. And I'm sorry, it's not music because there's no melody. The country station plays old time country but there's no new country. And the funk station plays comedian Eddie Murphy's "Party All the Time." This is an example of good funk? Really?

Is this good funk?

GTA V brings back flying airplanes from San Andreas. Bad idea. In that game, the controls were miserable. There's not much improvement in GTA V. It may even be worse. Sometimes when you are trying to slow down your chopper, it will continue to accelerate, the same with fixed wing craft. And trying to land a plane is no fun. It's hard to gauge distance, and alignment in a third person video game, and that exists in GTA V. Then there's the real world physics imposed on unreal situations. One mission asks you to land your plane in the cargo hold of another plane. Unreal. But the game throws in real world turbulence. Ugh. Tough.

You can expect controversy in a GTA game but Rockstar goes a little too far with one mission. In it, you have to torture a terror suspect. That's after you rescue him from American intelligence for the FBI er... FIB. They turn the torture intoa minigame. You get your choices of torture. Pull a tooth with the sickening graphic of seeing the tooth wiggle until you remove it. Electrocution. Beating the poor guy in the groin with a wrench. And of course, there's waterboarding. What next? Taking poor hitchikers to a cannibal cult as the next meal? Um, sorry that's also in the game.

The technical problems with the online portion of the game are an unmitigated disaster. Problems I've encountered are constant lagging out or being thrown out of a game. There's difficulty connecting with other players. GTA V Online is the Obamacare of video games. Great ideas but horrible execution. It got so bad that during the first online special event for the game, Rockstar had to cancel it early for the technical glitches. During that weekend, I couldn't access any of the special jobs. Mass Effect 3 this ain't. I do note that Rockstar is working on the problems so in the future, the online multiplayer will get better.


Trevor. Physically, he's not pretty to look at. But it's his actions. Has there ever been a video game protagonist more revolting than Trevor? You might catch him murdering someone. Or puking. Taking people to be eaten by cannibals which by the way you don't have to do. Finishing up a session of masterbation. Drunk on the street. In his underwear or wearing a dress. Okay, that last one is funny.

That being said, Trevor does have a sense of honor. Hey, even thieves have rules. And he does have a sensitive side. There's a touching romance between him and his kidnap victim.


Grand Theft Auto V is an epic action RPG. There are hundreds of hours of gameplay. More importantly, it'great fun. The grade is A.

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