After 5 long years since Rockstar’s last open world flagship title, GTA IV, (or 3 years, if you count the equally awesome Red Dead Redemption) comes the next outing here to steal the crown as not only the best open world game, but the best game, of this console generation. With a budget of $265 million dollars, years of development, a very ambitious multiplayer mode and literal tons of content, it is easily one of the best games you will ever play, assuming you are reading this now and not playing it yourself. For those of you on the fence, read on to see if it is indeed worth your buck. (It is.)
GTA V (Xbox 360/PS3) is a mammoth of a game, so big in fact that no matter which console you play it on, you are greeted with an 8 GB installation that takes about 15 to 20 minutes to finish. After the installation though you are whisked away into Los Santos, Rockstar’s biggest fictional world yet. To help wrap your head around how big this place is, imagine the maps of Red Dead, GTA: San Andreas and Vice City put together; it is larger than that. In fact, San Andreas is a small part of this map. It’s that big.
However, the size of the world would be worthless if there was not anything to do in it. Thankfully, that is not the case. In a smart move, instead of opening the world to you gradually in the eyes of one character as per the norm in GTA games, the world is instantly open to you through the eyes of 3 protagonists: Michael (a former bank robber, now family man), Franklin (an ex-street gang member) and Trevor (crazy, Jack Nicholson in The Shining crazy). Although three separate characters, a few hours into the story mode, your paths cross and you begin to work together, utilizing each other’s strengths to complete missions and big heists. Now that might sound a bit dry, but take my word for it, the story will engross you. Each one is written fairly well, with a lot of tongue-in-cheek jabs taken at modern society. Seeing how a sociopath, an ex-criminal and an ambitious former gangster come together to make it big is both entertaining and hilarious.
Not to say this is all there is to see in Los Santos, however. On the contrary, the story is actually the smallest part of GTA V. The real strength lies in the city itself. Rockstar hit it out of the stratosphere with the sheer amount of things going on in this world. Now I’m sure you know about the traditional GTA playstyle of hijacking cars and looking for hidden collectibles or side events to do in your spare time. That is still here, but opens up to a wider degree. Cars are now customizable (ala Saint’s Row). There are more activities like playing darts, boating, racing, mountain biking, yoga, tennis, golf triathlons and many others. By no stretch of the imagination, you can go to a store and purchase marijuana, pilot a helicopter to the tallest peak in Los Santos, proceed to jump off and parachute down onto a random car while taking a cellphone selfie and posting it on the internet for all your friends to see. Now all that alone is well worth the $60 price of admission but to that there is also the GTA Online experience. It is such a big deal the developers have yet to patch it into the game for fear that no one would play the story mode. Each game comes with GTA Online which is essentially everything that I have already mentioned, but doable online with friends. The world of Los Santos is open to you and random other players on Xbox Live or PSN, wherein you and your friends can reap havoc on the city in any way you choose. You can go around getting in shootouts, races, and all the mini-games mentioned prior or go the ambitious route and perform your own heists like robbing a convenience store or a bank. Likewise you can take that money and buy a penthouse suite and invite your buds to come over and relax while watching fictional TV. Bottom Line: A wonderfully voice acted cast of characters and a brimming bright and boisterous world really makes this game stand out from among the rest. There is just so much here to do and see, and all of it so wonderfully polished, there is no way you can’t enjoy it. Easily one of the best games I have ever played and with its added online mode, there is a good chance I will be playing this well into the next console generation. Buy this today. Next Review: Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness