Grand Theft Auto V was developed and published by different Rockstar companies. GTA V has, surprisingly, spanned across three generations of consoles from the PlayStation 3 to the planned PlayStation 5. It has also been on the Xbox 360 moving into the Xbox Series X. Development for Grand Theft Auto V began over a decade ago and involved more than a thousand people between two different companies under the Rockstar umbrella.
It’s clear the world of Grand Theft Auto V, called Los Santos, was modeled after Los Angeles, California. They even had production teams out in Los Angeles to document everything, including the network of roads. Grand Theft Auto V worked on a console without as many restrictions as the PlayStation 2 had. That meant the game was able to balance the control of three protagonists instead of one. Grand Theft Auto V was definitely a technical marvel for its time, but how did it hold up as a game?
The Open World
Let’s start with the open world of Grand Theft Auto V, it’s almost as if Rockstar lifted Los Angeles and put it into a video game. Of course, it’s not exactly the same, but it is an exaggerated and fictional recreation that tries to mimic everything from the surrounding towns and mountains to the nearby lakes and deserts. As you’re rolling through the city of Los Santos, completely ignoring conventional traffic rules, you’ll listen to radio stations complete with a mixture of parody shock DJs and real-life songs. Transportation in Grand Theft Auto V made no serious changes. You can still walk up to some unsuspecting person’s car and throw them out. It’s almost as if no one in Los Santos knows how to lock their car door.
Grand Theft Auto V was running on a stronger console, which means the draw distance was way better than games like Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, where you could only see so far in front of you. This longer draw distance made the details of the open world feel more alive. There’s nothing more beautiful than flying around in a stolen helicopter and watching the sun cascade across the horizon as it rose or set behind the mountains of Los Santos.
Instead of playing one character, you’re playing three different criminals who live vastly different lives. You play as Franklin, a lower-tier criminal looking to make it big. Michael is a retired bank robber who hides out in plain sight with a family. The third character is Trevor, a former associate of Michael, who has turned to a life of dealing drugs. Of course, the story is going to intertwine their stories as they continue their lives of crime.
The story starts off with Michael coming out of retirement after he meets Franklin, who reignites his love of committing crimes. It takes a little bit before Trevor joins the story. It’s relatively easy to switch between the characters too. When you switch to another character, the other two are going to go about their day. That means they’re not going to sit in one place and wait for you to control them again. They have things they have to do. You have no control over what the other characters are doing when you’re playing as one of the characters.
While the game is open-world, once a mission is triggered, your character goes into an instance of linear cutscenes. Some missions that involve other characters will have you supporting one of the other three protagonists or being supported by them. Some missions can get a little chaotic at times. There is a little over seventy story missions total. You’ll be doing a lot of chasing and being chased, as is Grand Theft Auto style.
Unfortunately, Rockstar has a knack for starting off strong and having people lose interest midway through the story. We don’t know if that’s because the open-world draws players’ attention away from the story or if the writing gets dull after an interesting start. The same phenomena happened with another Rockstar title, Red Dead Redemption 2, where players get immersed into the story before they end up wandering off into the open world.
Another problem could be one of the characters, Trevor, is not really a relatable personality. It’s hard to connect with Trevor because it’s hard to get behind him as a character. If the game had revolved around Michael and Franklin, then maybe their unlikely pairing could have carried the title. Unfortunately, when Trevor is introduced, Franklin gets pushed off to the side. Each character’s story has different energies. When you’re playing as Trevor, you’re feeling a bit of unpredictable psychotic energy. When you’re playing as Franklin, then you have fast-paced and humorous gameplay to look forward to.
Fortunately, there so much to do in Grand Theft Auto V that it’s easy to ignore the inconsistent storytelling and a not-so-relatable character. There are fun things and activities to discover as you explore the world. Some of them are unlockable as you progress through the story, and some are available immediately. You can jump into the first car you see after the initial tutorial missions and try to steal an airplane from the military base on the outskirts of Los Santos. Of course, it’ll be easier if you had some body armor and better weapons to try to take on the entire military, but doing silly stuff like this in an open-world makes Grand Theft Auto V worthwhile if you don’t want to do the story.
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