This review is special because our good friend and part time staffer Bean has this review under control. Here's his judgment on Grand Theft Auto V.
Rockstar's Grand Triple Threat
Grand Theft Auto came into its own back on the PlayStation 2 with some well-regarded classics that included Vice City and San Andreas. However, when the series moved the 7th generation of systems in 2008 with Grand Theft Auto IV, something felt off. The many extras that had been included in the PS2 games were noticeably absent from the new Liberty City sandbox. To make matters worse, the game tried to play off with a more serious tone that did not work to its benefit with atrocious characterization and a stunning lack of mission variety. While Rockstar would try and amend their mistake with a couple of DLC-based games that added the features fans were missing, it was clear that they were going to have to go back to the drawing board with their next numbered title. I'm happy to say that this turned out to be a wise decision because GTA V finally brought the fun back with them.
Right off the bat, you can see that this game wants you to have some fun as it starts out with a prologue mission from nine years ago where a few criminals engaged in a bank heist gone wrong. After two of the three are presumably shot dead, the third escapes into the wild before the scene switches to a small-time gangbanger and carjacker named Franklin in Los Santos of San Andreas. It doesn't take him long for him to meet one of the men that was thought to be shot dead and the one that got away, and there is the hook to this game. You aren't just controlling a single protagonist in this game. You get to play as three. Franklin, the man that's back from the dead in Michael, and the one that was able to escape into the wild in Trevor. The three aren't always going to see eye to eye, but they will have to work together in quite a few missions if they're to see things through to the end.
|Aw. One big, happy family...|
That is that the variety in missions is back. So many times in GTA IV, I felt like it was drive to one location, shoot x number of bad guys, drive home. Very rarely did things ever break out of that mold, and it didn't help that the layout of the land was a flat, dull, and quite honestly, lifeless husk of a city. GTA V, even from the outset, gives you plenty to do. Storyline missions, races, random people and events that have you doing all sorts of things like driving, shooting, or finding items. Even better, you're free to explore the entirety of San Andreas' map right from the outset. No more having to wait for a random mission to open up another chunk of the map. Go out there and have fun exploring the whole state. It's a pretty interesting place, too, as Los Santos gives you your city environment, head on north to wind up at the countryside, and keep on going to visit either the desert or the game's two mountain ranges. More often than not instead of hailing a taxi and trip skipping to the next mission like I did in GTA IV, I found myself driving or flying off to the next mission myself because the world was an interesting place to explore.
|Riding a bike is just one way to boost your character's stamina.|
|Grand Theft Auto V is one of the PS3 and Xbox 360's|
greatest and most impressive looking games by far.
|Wearing his helmet, Franklin is always safety first.|
|Meanwhile, Trevor is always psychotic.|
That said, the occasional glitch or bouts of tedium don't take away from the fact that Grand Theft Auto V is a pretty fun game from start to finish. Never did I feel like I had 30-40 straight filler missions as the plot remained focused not including all of the other tasks I could take in to get away from just rushing through the game. In fact, during my 60-hour+ run, I found myself enjoying the majority of it, something that's been rare for this series outside of a DLC expansion for me in the last decade. Grand Theft Auto V is truly the first time I can say the series has been this grand since the PS2 days of yesteryear. Good going, Rockstar. You finally figured it out again.
[SPC Says: A-]