‘GTAV’ a prime example of excellence throughout
Rarely does any multi-faceted piece of work — whether it be art, engineering, writing, et cetera — maintain such a blistering pace of excellence like “Grand Theft Auto V” does. From opening cinematics to daredevil stunts to engrossing plot points and everything in between, “GTAV” exemplifies stellar gameplay. We should all be so lucky to get to say we played such an incredible game.
(For the review of the basics, including storyline and overall game mechanics, see the First Impressions review here.)
Refining what it learned from the video game gem that was “Grand Theft Auto IV,” Rockstar Games’ “GTAV” merges together a surprisingly effective blend of wit, satire, all-out chaos and random openness. Whether it’s when you’re conducting some of the seemingly asinine heists, listening to the always-humorous banter on your in-car radio while driving for a mission or cruising in your custom car through the mountains of Los Santos, you’re never not entertained.
One of those entertaining highlights include its three-character system, which allows for a variety of pacing and storyline change-ups, along with separating different psyches and avoiding the pitfall of having a normally sane character suddenly and jarringly become crazy-psychotic. Our main characters — Michael, Trevor and Franklin — each have different motives, different outlooks on situations, ranging from family to murderous mayhem. it’s a group dynamic that works in the sense that someone hast to pull the trigger, right? One big ol’ dysfunctional family.
Keeping up with tradition, the storied franchise’s newest release keeps you abreast of all the latest developments ailing America. In this post-economic crisis setting, satire is king. The biting commentary on how the nation fares is hilarious and intelligent, playing off the inanity of politics, the Millennial generation’s behavioral problems, biased media and the vaunted middle class. It’s provocative and offensive at times, but it doesn’t stop that wit from being dangerously clever. There are plenty of potshots at America’s reality.
But, as with any GTA game, “Grand Theft Auto V” truly shines during the heist sequences. (Of course, by the time you’re done with any given one, there’s a strong possibility nothing is left standing, much less shining.) These extravagant, ambitious events — spanning multiple stages on a scale that would crash most other games — are climactic masterpieces with a trove of options and strategies for how to accomplish them.
You can toggle between a more stealthy approach, seeking to avoid the heavy firefights in an effort to finish your mission (though that outcome is far from guaranteed). Or, you can go in guns ablazin’ (which, admittedly, can be more cathartic). Each option, and the myriad in between, allows for near-unique gameplay. Combine that with the ability to redo any mission, and you have replay value for days.
One note of contention: You will, at times, encounter framerate and pop-in issues. Rare and generally insignificant in the grand scheme of things, they’re only noticeable because you rarely run into them.
Probably mentionable is that this is a GTA game, and sex, drugs and violence are fairly commonplace. Not only that, but “GTAV” has a penchant for taking those vices to the extreme. Most of it is done tongue in cheek with a nod to what constitutes reality versus video game, but there are a few instances where things are pushed a bit too far (a particular torture scene, for one).
Either way, what flaws there are don’t amount to anything. Simply said, “Grand Theft Auto V” is a cut — or stolen car, if you will — above all the rest, a rare addition to the pantheon of “Best Games Ever.” It is, in no uncertain terms, a masterpiece.
Final count: Five glorious stars out of five, and a critic’s pick.