Car theft, explosions, violence, prostitutes, strippers and mass murder on a truly epic scale. I am of course talking about GTA V. Unless you’ve been living in a vacuum you are bound to have heard about this. It’s an ultra violent, open world game that makes no attempt to hide from what it is and that’s why millions of fans around the world love it.
Grand theft Auto V centers around 3 characters, Michael, Trevor and Franklin and their attempts to survive on the streets of Los Santos. All three share one common trait and that’s a willingness to lie, cheat, steal and kill to get what they want. Franklin is a repo man for a shady car dealership and spends his time taking back cars from those unable to afford the extortionate loan repayments. One such person is Michaels dead beat son but Michael doesn’t let anyone mess with his family so makes Franklin drive through the window of the car dealership so that he can have a “word” with the owner. Michael has been in witness protection, living a “quiet life” with his wife and two kids having betrayed his partners years earlier to get out of his life of crime alive. Unfortunately for him, Trevor is one of his former partners and when discovering his old friend is still alive after he and Franklin commit a crime that is caught on TV goes looking for him. I won’t spoil the plot of the single player game too much but the three of them meet up and that’s when the real fun begins.
GTA V differs from previous installments of the franchise as you can play as any one of the 3 characters at any time after they have been unlocked in the story line. Don’t worry if you find yourself sticking to your favourite as it shouldn’t affect how the game plays out too much. I found Franklin to be the usual Grand Theft Auto character he’s hungry to make something of himself while Michael was the one who had made it, rolled the dice and survived to enjoy the proceeds from his life of crime. Trevor on the other hand is a psychopath, making drugs and constantly high on his own product. The first couple of missions I played as him I couldn’t empathise with him, all he wanted to do was kill. I really did think he’d kill Michael and his family and that would be the end of the game. But as the story progresses I found he wasn’t just a killer and did occasionally like people enough to call them friends.
Single player is a well scripted and executed joy to play. When not on a mission you can roam free; merrily causing chaos as you go on land, sea or in the air. I guess you could also obey the laws and stop at red lights to let pedestrians cross or park your car at the curb instead of in someone’s swimming pool but where’s the fun in that? GTA V is escapism pure and simple. In real life if someone passes you on the street and mouths off chances are you’ll walk away because you do not want to get into a fight, but in GTA V you turn round and fire an RPG in their face. It’ll kill you both but I guarantee it’ll make you fell a whole lot better.
You have a lot of side missions too like steal certain cars, chase down purse snatchers, races and parachute jumps but all this is optional, even the main story missions aren’t forced on you as you decide when to play them. And yes there are bank jobs that you have to plan and execute. Each one has different ways of doing them and it’s left to you to decide how, choose your henchmen wisely as the more skilled they are the bigger their cut. What you do with the proceeds of your criminal activities is your choice, spend it on fast cars, clothes, women and guns or gamble it on the stock markets (you can become a billionaire if you know how).
Los Santos having appeared in GTA San Andreas has been completely re-imagined, many say it resembles Los Angeles and I found it a welcome change from Liberty City. The terrain is varied from low rent, housing to tall, luxury apartments in the city or massive mountains and dust bowl desert in the country side. You can spend hours wandering on foot or in a vehicle; I’ve even cycled up into the hills to enjoy the views.
In addition to Single player there is a multiplayer game too that Rockstar, who make GTA V treat as a standalone game and update it regularly. It starts with Lamar welcoming you as you arrive at the airport and takes you into the city. GTA Online is a lot like the single player in that you’re not pushed to follow any particular path. Available to you are a variety of jobs. You can do Death match, Race, Rally, Capture, Survival, Hold, Contend, Raid, and Parachuting however I find myself in free mode a lot just driving about and getting into mischief. A favourite aspect of the game for me is collecting bounties set by players on opponents. They appear as little red dots on the map and I just go after them with a machine gun. The best gun fights are always against other players but attract the cops who get tougher the more your wanted level goes up.
Some Amount of criticism has been leveled at GTA V for its violence and portrayal of women. There is a torture scene in which you do the actual torturing and though I find it a bit extreme it does fit in with the GTA universe. Women get the usual GTA treatment, apart from Michaels wife they dress provocatively and most of them are hookers. I can smell the bras burning from here lol. To put all this in perspective, would you ban a book for portraying the same things? Or just close it and go do something else? GTA V is a game and as such is pure escapism just like a book or a movie. If you don’t like it then no one is forcing you to play it.
GTA V is a game that has broken records and pushed boundaries. Its production budget has been more than many Oscar winning movies. With a soon to be announced release date onto the PS4 and Xbox one and new single player DLC promised as well it will no doubt continue to be talked about for a few years yet. Personally it’s my favourite console game and not because of the violence, sexism or the opportunity to drive fast cars but because of the freedom you have in the game to play it your way. There is only one game I have ever stood in line for on opening night and that’s GTA V.