The Score: "GTA V Is A Sprawling Tale Of Criminal Maniacs Self-Destructing On A Blood-Splattered Career Trajectory To Hell"

Tuesday, Sep 17, 2013 3:30PM

Written by Cyrus Langhorne

Buy Now
  • Playstation 3, Xbox 360
  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • September 17, 2013
CVG 10/10
EDGE 10/10
GamesRadar 5/5
IGN 10/10
The Guardian 5/5

The game of the century has finally arrived after a handful of painful setbacks but just in time to have all the doors in your home locked, keep the TV dinners coming and put those sick days to good use. Grand Theft Auto V is here.

For diehard Grand Theft Auto fans, once you peel back the plastic, crack open the container and load your disc into your console of choice, the unimaginable journey begins.

Set mostly within the glitzily superficial city of Los Santos, a warped mirror of Los Angeles, GTA V is a sprawling tale of criminal maniacs self-destructing on a blood-splattered career trajectory to hell. Michael is the middle-aged thug, obsessed with movies, who pulled a witness protection deal with the feds after a failed heist many years ago. When his old partner Trevor, a sociopath who bakes meth out in the desert, turns up in town, the two join forces with a young black kid, Franklin, who's set on leaving his gang-infested neighbourhood behind. The aim is a few final high-paying jobs, but there's a festering resentment between Trev and Michael that goes back a long way, a fizzing fuse that trails all the way through the carnage. (The Guardian)

While its predecessor left some serious shoes to fill, Grand Theft Auto V makes sure to capitalize with improvements across all facets.

I could go on like this for ages. GTA V has an abundance of such moments, big and small, that make San Andreas - the city of Los Santos and its surrounding areas - feel like a living world where anything can happen. It both gives you tremendous freedom to explore an astonishingly well-realised world and tells a story that's gripping, thrilling, and darkly comic. It is a leap forward in narrative sophistication for the series, and there's no mechanical element of the gameplay that hasn't been improved over Grand Theft Auto IV. It's immediately noticeable that the cover system is more reliable and the auto-aim less touchy. The cars handle less like their tires are made of butter and stick better to the road, though their exaggerated handling still leaves plenty of room for spectacular wipeouts. And at long last, Rockstar has finally slain one of its most persistent demons, mission checkpointing, ensuring that you never have to do a long, tedious drive six times when you repeatedly fail a mission ever again. (IGN)

Along with immense ground journeys, gamers can engage in water adventures like never before.

And what water. Hop on a dinghy or a jetski and you'll be flung about by a delightful physics model, ice-white surf spurting out from beneath your craft as you jump off the crest of a wave and crash back down onto the surface. Dive down below and you'll find sealife and sunken treasures. There's a whole world down here, yet it's only used in a single story mission. You have to want to explore this new-look San Andreas, but the visual rewards for doing so are rarely less than stunning, and there are gameplay benefits too. Play tennis to increase your strength stat; ride a bike to up your stamina; visit a firing range to improve your aim. (Edge-Online)

Much like every title has done since its launch in the 90's, GTA V connects gamers to virtual adaptations of real-life trends like Apple's iPhones and the overnight popularity of celebrity-endorsed headphones.

It's insanely detailed too. Gangs loitering on street corners, cracked roads, foreclosure notices, and police searchlights cutting through the night sky give the poor areas of the city a tangible layer of grime. In Vinewood, sports cars glint in the sun, tourists snap pictures with their phones, and obnoxious starlets bray into their phones about movie auditions. Wander through the countryside and you'll see backpackers, cyclists, and people walking their dogs. Extras in rubber alien costumes take smoke breaks on studio lots, and bikers cruise the desert highways. The world feels alive. It's also a sharp reflection of the worst of contemporary pop culture. Whether it's privacy-violating social networks, overpriced rapper-endorsed headphones, TV talent shows, celebrity worship, or yearly military FPS sequels, nothing is safe from Rockstar's merciless satire. Their love of parody goes beyond radio adverts and billboards too, informing some of the game's best, and funniest, missions. These include a visit to the offices of Facebook spoof Lifeinvader, a stint as a paparazzo, and joining a religious cult. Few, if any, open worlds are this rich, diverse, and vibrant. (C&V)

To help make the game unlike any other, Rockstar banks on letting users shift from various characters.

As is the case with the human psyche, these different parts work together to create something stronger than the individuals ever could be. Whereas previous Grand Theft Auto characters have struggled with maintaining an interesting personality as they were tasked with slaughtering innocents for gameplay's sake, breaking the campaign into three parts makes for three better characters. They're all exceptionally written, and play off of each other well. Instead of forcing one character to climb his way up his own slice of the criminal underworld, GTA 5 does a remarkable job of providing each with their own motivations, their own missions, and their own personas you'll come to love as you swap between them. (Games Radar)

Despite its practical imperfection, there are a few tiny issues critics experienced.

This is really important because it allows us to forgive the game's flaws. You have to do a lot of driving. There are no shortcuts, so every mission involves hitting the highways to get to the trigger point; and yes sometimes you think "Ugh, not another car ride". Rockstar North has also developed a slightly irritating narrative trope that I'll call "the exposition expedition": there are a lot of long journeys that just seem to be there so that the lead characters can chat about back-story, or engage in meandering expletive-drenched conversations on pop culture and psychology - something we probably have Tarantino to thank for. (The Guardian)
Women are, once again, relegated to supporting roles as unfaithful wives, hookers and weirdos. The one successful female character in the story is suspected of just wanting to screw her boss. Of course, GTA is essentially an interactive gangster movie, and the genre has a long history of investigating straight male machismo at the expense of all other perspectives, but it would have been wonderful to see Rockstar challenging that convention. It's fine to parody the idiotic misogyny of violent men, but how about doing it by providing their opposite? It seems Rockstar North's all-male writing team is too in thrall to Tarantino and Brett Easton Ellis to really consider this. (The Guardian)

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