Grand Theft Auto V Review: The World Which Comes Alive Again

Grand Theft Auto V has returned this year for the open world action-adventure lovers worldwide who have invested in the city of Los Santos since the original title’s debut on September 16, 2013, for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles. Rockstar Games has brought the renowned franchise to the next generation with essentially improved stunning graphics, a few more side-quests that differ from the original, and the most interesting feature to grace next-gen: the first person mode. Rockstar Games innovate a masterpiece in a few ways while trying to stick to the original formula as best as they can to create an improved and nostalgically beautiful version of the latest in the Grand Theft Auto franchise.

gtav4The storyline of Grand Theft Auto V features the same personality-clashing trio as the original title: Michael, Trevor, and Franklin. The storyline of Grand Theft Auto V has slight changes to the new generation version, but nothing too different from the core plot. The pacing of the storyline and mission structure remains identical to the last-generation title, with a storyline that has a lot of twists and turns as much as it has countless robberies and heists. Franklin is still that burly thug of a repossession agent just looking to make it in the city while Trevor is the same erratically flippant psychopath and Michael is still speaking to his therapist on robbery days long gone. The bulk of Grand Theft Auto V is smart, intriguing, and intensely clever in terms of the satire it presents to contemporary America. Convergence is the underlying thematic element that makes the storyline of Grand Theft Auto V revolutionary compared to other protagonists. The three different protagonists represent the core elements that keep things consistent for every character in terms of their personality styles and believability without a harsh disconnect. Niko Bellic seemed far more like Trevor in his murderous ways in gameplay, but more along the lines of peacemaker in the actual storyline. The various aspects with three protagonists removes any storyline discrepancies by allowing Michael the motive to provide for his family, Trevor the means to kill senselessly, and Franklin the cars to create havoc on the roads. Grand Theft Auto V‘s storyline has always been a masterpiece, and the remastered version keeps it this way.

Los Santos is full of wildlife now from the luscious deciduous forests, sun-lit countrysides and the beaches that shimmer along the horizon. In this world that is alive, you can see people walking their dogs along the beach, doing yoga, riding boats, and just living life. This is different from Liberty City where the city itself had such a great presence, but not quite the cohesive elements to make it feel more than a city with citizens who were not out doing much other than being screen fillers. As one of these lively citizens, you can do anything from the numerous side-activities such as golfing, parachuting, hunting, racing, hiking, yoga to the more serious matters of life such as the plot missions. Essentially the mission structure of Grand Theft Auto V revolves around playing the game’s three protagonists at specific times set by the developers. Once you complete a mission for Michael, you can either choose to continue your mission with him or switch over to Trevor with the intricate world-map zoom out/in view that is a sharp feature for style. At any time as you roam around the world, the other characters carry on with their lives. This is the first addition of a fluid character switching system featured for the first time in the Grand Theft Auto franchise, and one that many players have come to love in terms of logged gameplay hours proceeding past the 30 hour mark for the single-player campaign.

gtav6The combat in Grand Theft Auto V is generally better than Grand Theft Auto IV. The punch and block system is animated better in comparison while the pop-up wheel shows weapons in a more stylized fashion with combat statistic at the top right. Once you beat up some unfortunate character in a mission, the rewards system gives you money which can buy you customization options such as outfits, and car customization choices. Vehicle customization options are also more numerous from being able to customize handbrakes, license plates through the iFruit companion application, car colors, bumpers, and armor statistics of every car you own in purchased storage facilities or decide to steal. The customization options also extend into the weapons that you buy such as purchasing any gun with a suppressor and tint. The options to customize your items and use them in the vast State of San Andreas keeps things exciting and dynamic.

gtav2The believable voice-acting from the storyline combined with the large-scale and beautiful atmosphere of Los Santos creates a stunning life-like vividness that players first felt with last generation, but this time with a visceral vision aimed at the new changes. I contacted my good friend Dennis Crow, Senior Production Manager at Rockstar Games, over the latest improvements in detail.  After getting to know more, it is clear that the changes range in terms of not only the meticulousness of details put into them but also the simplicity of seeing the changes first-hand. The improved texture resolution from the skin to the textures of the shadows have been notably increased along with every single texture for every item and object in the game. Lighting probes for dynamic global illumination have been ramped up for this generation of new consoles, physics have been more improved, water reflections and refractions more life-like, and the weather system has been tweaked and improved as well. Everything in Grand Theft Auto V for the PS4 / Xbox One truly makes it worth the $59.99 MSRP alone from the graphical changes, but the one thing of excellent design quality and decision was Rockstar Games’ implementation of First Person Mode. This mode offers players a more immersive experience as they stride through Los Santos completing the free-roam missions that have so much character, comedy, and adventure along with the side-quests that rank high for variety. I enjoyed this mode a lot, and feel that a lot of players who love immersion in the titles they play will love it as well.

gtav5Grand Theft Auto Online returns as well. The premise is simple: create a character, join a crew, get a lot of money, and enjoy doing all the activities of the single-player campaign online. Players can perform jobs that include races, deathmatches and certain missions along with perform robberies, hang out at their purchased real estate, drive their personally bought cars, and everything else that resembles a sort of massive multiplayer online (MMO) experience. The online of this title is the only thing which suffers slightly because there is noticeable lag online at the time of writing and most player rooms only have about 8-10 people instead of the advertised 30. I hope Rockstar Games will work out the kinks soon so players can enjoy Grand Theft Auto V for all it has to offer without the slight hiccups.

Grand Theft Auto V surprises this new generation of gamers with an older title that has so much new energy infused into it that comes from being completely recreated and remastered (minus the programming mechanisms and scripts). The stunning improved graphics and enhanced physics simulations along with the immersive new First Person Mode make this Grand Theft Auto V not just the best one yet but also one to easily repurchase if you ended up buying the last-generation Grand Theft Auto V for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles. Rockstar Games has truly done it again with a masterpiece that has extended far beyond itself in terms of its renewed growth, intelligence, vibrant beauty and ultimately its memory in the minds of gamers everywhere.



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