It is difficult to find many faults with Grand Theft Auto V. For years the Grand Theft Auto series has been associated with several things. Among those have always been innovation, quality, and controversy.
Rockstar Games has taken quite a bit of flak during the course of the GTA series for violent gameplay. But the developers have also been acclaimed for the work they put into each entry of the beloved crime series. Grand Theft Auto V is yet another example of just how fantastic the games made by Rockstar can be. However, there are some issues that crop up in the jump to online multiplayer.
Grand Theft Auto IV turned into a bit of a dry run for multiple protagonists. (Two DLC add-ons were created to complement the story of Niko Bellic in Liberty City.) In GTA V, however, the base game comes complete with three interesting and varied protagonists in a series first.
There is a former bank robber jaded and soft from a life of luxury. Protagonist #2 is an ambitious young driver with his eyes on the good life. And the third “hero” is a disturbed man who seemingly has no real direction in life other than open conflict. Together, these three characters present the player with multiple glances into the lives of very different people.
While there could have been a bit more done with this gameplay mechanic, it worked incredibly well for a first run in this game. Each character is worth becoming invested in and easy to enjoy despite their laundry lists of character flaws.
Overall, the game feels good to experience. The character movements are smooth and generally easy to control. The combat is competent enough to be useful, whether you’re gunning down enemies, beating a rude civilian with a melee weapon, or dodging punches from someone you’ve most likely wronged in some way. The game gives you the ability to be a societal problem. Then, it tosses you the tools to make it a fun way to kill some time between missions.
Of course, the missions are also a big part of the game. The quality of these gameplay chunks can range from a tad boring to wildly fun and memorable. It’s a shame that the entire game couldn’t have kept that top-tier momentum the entire way through. But even the more mundane missions are still pretty great to play.
In my opinion, the best part of the game is the driving mechanics. Gone are the days of Vice City in which the cars handled like cartoon vehicles. While some may miss that wacky feeling of flipping a car 17 or so times, the driving in Grand Theft Auto V feels more in line with an exceptional arcade racer.
The cars handle well and are a dream to race with. They are not so weighed down that they’re basically locked to the ground as they were in Grand Theft Auto IV.
Possibly the biggest change to the Grand Theft Auto series so far comes in the form of Grand Theft Auto: Online, packaged within GTA V. I never knew causing havoc and mayhem in Los Santos with friends could be so fun. Of course, playing with online randoms can be both rewarding and frustrating. It depends on whom you run into on the streets of the gorgeous city and rural countrysides.
The online portion of the game features a wealth of content that has a little bit of something for everyone. Racing modes are both chaotic and intense. The battle modes against other players give you a chance to test your mettle in combat. One of the main draws to the online experience comes in the form of heists of all types.
Naturally, the heists can be really fun if you have a good team of players on your side. It does fall apart a little bit when dealing with randoms who enjoy botching the plan for laughs. For the most part, however, players typically play seriously.
The main drawback for the online mode, and possibly the series in general, are the Shark Cards. Simply put, these are microtransactions that give the game a real “pay-to-win” edge to those willing dish out a little real world cash for those sweet weapon, vehicle, and clothing upgrades, all of which can be used in the wider world of San Andreas.
As you can imagine, these microtransactions have had an effect on the overall gameplay of GTA: Online. Players who do not wish to buy Shark Cards are forced into grinding missions, heists, and money-making game modes in order to afford the fun stuff like hovercrafts, businesses that offer awesome in-game bonuses, and cool weapons that give you a fighting chance against other players.
Grinding these admittedly fun game modes doesn’t really sound all that bad. The modes are actually what makes the online portion of GTA V worth playing, but the sheer amount of times you will have to play them and the amount of dedication required just to afford a simple super car makes the fun fade real fast in the end. It all comes down to what you value more: your time or your hard-earned money.
Grand Theft Auto V is most definitely a full game with tons of content to enjoy. The story may not be as deep or heartfelt as sister series Red Dead Redemption, but it is fun and engaging. The characters serve as an interesting experiment in playing the game differently and seeing more of what San Andreas has to offer.
All of the great gameplay translates well to the online side of the game, with Online being a joy to play with friends. However, the grinding elements and pay-to-win feel of the game will keep a lot of people firmly planted in the single-player mode.