I recently received an advance copy of Rockstar’s highly anticipated Grand Theft Auto V, and have been given the opportunity to provide the game’s very first review. After playing nearly ten hours, I can safely say I am well-versed and able to deliver an extensive review. Unfortunately for gamers everywhere, this reviewer is dismayed and downright confused with fifth iteration of this classic franchise.
Allow me to preface my review with a little background; I grew up on the Grand Theft Auto games, traversing the regions of Liberty and Vice City, but was quite excited with the prospects of returning to San Andreas, arguably Rockstar’s deepest territory. V promises a return to the last generation’s parody of Southern California, and this is its first mistake. Gone are the beaches, hookers, and crime syndicates, replaced exclusively with racetracks. Don’t get me wrong; I love racing. Vehicles have always been a major focus of the GTA franchise. What irks this reviewer, however, is the focus on racing in V. After popping in the game for the first time and selecting a race from the main menu, I was asked to select my car then immediately thrown into a race. Where was the introductory video, the character development, and the traveling to/from missions?
“Relax,” I thought to myself. “Maybe this is something new.” Little did I know how correct I was. With the wave of the checkered flag, I was off to the races. But the race got fairly monotonous quickly, and I decided this mission was not for me. Bailing on the race, I decided to hit triangle on my dualshock. “Huh? No I don’t want to go in reverse. I wanna get out of this ‘rari and bash in some bangers!” I thought they had changed the controls, but I was dead wrong. In V, they’ve done away with extra-vehicular activity. You can no longer get out of the car.
“That’s fine,” I suggested timidly to myself. “Drive-bys will have to do.” Guess what, folks: no guns either. It seems Rockstar, in an effort to appease various media outlets and concerned parents, have completely altered the game to enforce family values. The most havoc I caused during my gameplay was throwing on the horn and causing a public disturbance, and still did not see any sign of a wanted level. It’s clear public pressure has transitioned the series from a “Mature” rating towards an “E for Everyone” (seen on the right side of this column).
The positives? I guess the graphics were pretty solid. And Rockstar has arguably improved its racing mechanics. These improvements, however, pale in comparison to the vast demotions its developers have chiseled away. I, admittedly, did not so much receive the game directly from Rockstar as much as I walked into EB games and bought a copy early. I was curious why none of my friends were able to buy the game, and how nobody had written a review of the game. If there is one other thing to take away from Rockstar’s latest installment, we must appreciate the developer’s time-saving strategies. People used to complain how long it would take to drive back to a mission point should a gamer have died prematurely. GTA heeded said complaints, and certainly removed any chance of death during a race. They also, however, saved time in the game’s shortened title; “GTA” has apparently been shortened to “GT”, but its focus on “Auto” still reigns supreme in this video game giant.
In closing, those who loved the series will be in for a rude awakening. **/****
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