Grand Theft Auto V is the latest criminal epic in developer Rockstar’s acclaimed franchise. The series returns to the fictional city of Los Santos, Rockstar’s satirical take on Los Angeles last seen in 2004’s GTA: San Andreas.
The game follows three central protagonists introduced over the first quarter of the game: Michael, a retired bank robber who has settled down with his family; Trevor, his psychotic friend and former partner and Franklin, a young gang thug looking to score big. Each character has a very distinct identity reflected in the story missions they undertake.
Many of Michael’s missions involve working to solve problems his (often dysfunctional) family has found themselves in. Franklin’s missions have him stealing cars and making drug deals, and Trevor’s missions often have him murdering an entire clan of people simply for pissing him off.
On many occasions the characters meet up for missions, particularly “heists,” large-scale missions in which a large amount of money is to be stolen or made. These multi-protagonist missions create a unique gameplay dynamic not typically seen in story driven third-person action games: the ability to switch characters on the fly.
In one moment the player will be flying a helicopter as Trevor and with the push of a button be sniping enemy helicopters from a rooftop as Franklin. Not only only does this keep missions exciting and fun but also allows players to experience multiple mission archetypes in a single scenario: driving, shooting, flying, etc.
Players are also able to instantly switch characters while not in missions, often leading to a humorous scene that gives us a bit of insight as to what the character was doing while the player was not actively controlling them. For instance, when I first switched to Trevor after not playing him for a bit, he was drunk, in his underwear, lying on the guardrail of a suspension bridge.
On the technical side, the game looks and plays extremely smooth, fully utilizing the graphical capabilities of both the PS3 and Xbox 360, letting both systems go out with a bang as the new console generation arrives in November with the release of the PS4 and Xbox One. With first day sales exceeding $800 million worth of copies, the hype-train has left the station and is rapidly heading toward critics’ Game of the Year Awards. Deservedly so.
GTA V is the epitome of the series in all its outrageous glory. Any GTA fan already knows that they’ll surely enjoy V, and for good reason. If you don’t have it yet, get it now.