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What’s Killing My Social Life This Week – Grand Theft Auto V

GTA-image-1Welcome Evil Geek gamers! it’s time to talk the title that’s currently keeping me occupied, making me miss appointments, and calling in sick to work… well that is until a new game comes along and pretty much has the same effect, regardless the game that’s got me glued to my widescreen is the one, the only, the notorious Grand Theft Auto V.  Intros? Seriously, if you’re reading this column and you don’t know anything about the GTA franchise or Rockstar Games, then get the F@#$ out.  Seriously, just get the F@#$ out right now and if I ever see you here, so help me Thanos I will go all Tommy Vercetti all over your noob ass with a baseball bat!!!  Good, now that the freaks are gone we can get down to business.

This guy had the cojones to ask me where the Cluckin’ Bell was.

This is going to be a wicked hard review to write.  When I say that everyone is familiar with GTA, i really mean that EVERYONE is familiar with GTA.  Some of us have been playing since the original GTA hit shelves back in 97.   An open world where you can steal any vehicle and commit nearly every depraved crime known to man was intriguing even back then with the overhead view and the poorly defined world.  When GTA 3 hit, our minds were once again blown as the expanded world shown to us courtesy of the then “cutting edge PS2” took the game to new heights.  GTA 3 gave way to GTA: VIce City which refined the formula even more; bringing us even more craziness and depravity (Coincidentally enough, Vice City is set in a fictionalized Miami, Florida and according to Wikipedia, the state motto of Florida is “Bringing the U.S. even more craziness and depravity”).  As that console generation was winding up, Rockstar bestowed one last dip into the world of GTA with GTA: San Andreas.  That game gave us not only an even larger world than its predecessors, it also brought so much more detail with a customizable character and cars, along with gang warfare and controllable territories.  The 3rd gen release of GTA 4 in some ways continued the tradition of advancing the scope of the game and the beauty of the graphics.  At the same time though, it felt like a step back because of the lack of customization.  Luckily, GTA V feels like a direct descendant of San Andreas.  Back is the customization, back is the buyable businesses and properties (Seriously, when in my life did I ever expect to miss the ability to wheel and deal in real estate???) and more importantly, back is the feeling that we’re moving forward artistically and technologically.

The story of GTA V revolves around not one, but three different characters.  There’s Franklin, a tough, ambitious, and smart street tough, who aspires to do greater things;  Michael, a former bank robber now in the witness protection program after faking his death nearly 10 years ago; and Trevor, Michael’s old criminal partner and former best friend who believes that Michael is dead until he sees him on TV one day.  Trevor is, ummmmm… a bit of a wild card.  He’s a deranged psychopath, looking to kill and our bang anything that enters his field of vision.  The stories of the three men eventually intertwine, leading for chances at greater criminal ventures and mountains of cash.

 

As far as the graphics of GTA V, it wouldn’t be out-of-place to call them drop dead gorgeous.  I usually try to keep my PS3 pretty well ventilated, but after a 6 hour gaming coma I could have fried an egg on top of that poor machine.  I’ve got an OG model PS3, so there’s totally enough room for a side of bacon and some hash browns atop that sizzling techno-griddle too after all that rendering. The look of Los Santos and its surrounding areas is breathtakingly realistic not only in the look of the graphics but in the feel of the city as well.  Even though it’s called Los Santos, we all know it’s clearly a mock version of Los Angeles.  If you’re familiar with Los Angeles, you will see familiar landmarks and neighborhoods. One of the early missions with Franklin takes you to the GTA version of the Chateau Marmont.  Later on you’ll take a drive to the Staples Center or even take in the view of the city from the iconic Hollywood…err, excuse me, “Vinewood” sign.

For one glorious day… we lived in Trevorwood. We’ve never spoken of it since.

One of the complaints with the older GTA titles was that the missions could get a little repetitive.  There was really only a few types of missions, then just variations on them for the rest of the game.  I’ve got about 35% of the game completed, and so far there’s been very little repetition, if any at all.   Missions will find you performing a variety of tasks, from mundane jobs such as towing cars all the way to perfectly executing meticulously plotted heists with your chosen crew, or executing the remaining members of the Lost Motorcycle Club.  Keep an eye out for a broken down, strung out Johnny Klebbitz, the main character from the GTA 4 Lost & Damned expansion pack, returning as a shadow of his former badass self.  Aside from the rich variety of main missions, there’s enough side missions to keep you playing for months to come.  They aren’t a never-ending stream of side quests like Skyrim, but there’s still  hundreds of things you could be doing.  Feel like racing? Get all faster and furiouser at the street race of your choice.  Looking for an activity that’s a little more upscale? Then go play some tennis.  Want to brush up on your flying skills? Then head to flight school.  Feel like mowing down dozens of people with the biggest weapon you can get your hands on?  You’re in luck, because the Rampage missions are back in GTA V.  The controls are the standard GTA fare, if you’ve played one game then you’re probably familiar with how it plays.  One thing that I think they improved is the vehicle handling.  The steering in GTA IV was a little bit TOO realistic and it seems like they’ve toned it down a bit in this game because they handle so much better than before.  One of the new features of the game play is special abilities for each of the games characters.  Franklin has the ability to slow down time when driving, increasing his driving ability by leaps and bounds.  Michael can slow down time while on foot, and psycho Trevor can go into berserker mode allowing him to take and deal much more damage than normal.  To me this comes off as kind of gimmicky and truth be told, I don’t really use them often, with the exception of Trevor, because his ability makes rampage missions so much easier.  The feature doesn’t add much to the game play and is almost instantly forgettable.  I feel like it takes away from the reality of the game somewhat, if you can even talk about reality in a game that let’s you steal a blimp and fly it around a digital Los Angeles (If you pre-ordered at GameStop you get a blimp. One that explodes quite suddenly with minimal jostling).

Overall I would say GTA 5 feels like a perfected version of the GTA formula; one that we got incredibly close to with San Andreas.  The elements that were conspicuously absent from GTA IV return in this iteration of the franchise.  They add such an incredible extra dimension to the game that one has to wonder what exactly the F#$% was Rockstar thinking when they cut them out initially.  I haven’t played through all of the game yet, but the barely scratched surface of the world that I have encountered already lets me know that this is a strong contender for the title of best game in the series.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for some DLC to come down the pike in the coming months on par with the excellent DLC that was put out for GTA IV (Come on, I can’t be the only one that thinks the Lost & Damned story was better than the main story, can I?).  The vastness of the world and the attention to minute details is what really seals the deal for me on loving this game.  The feature that I think I love the most in the game is the radio stations available in the vehicles.  There’s so much good music to choose from. You’ve got pop hits, classic rock, LA area punk, and my personal favorite, the 70’s funk and soul channel.  That feature alone is worth the price of the game for me!  GTA V is hitting us at the tail end of the life of the 3rd gen consoles and I couldn’t think of a more fitting swan song for the era.  The humor, the fun, the beauty, all of it make this title a crowning achievement for 3rd gen gaming.  GTA V will be out on the new consoles too, which I’m pretty excited about.  Word on the street tells me that there’s going to be a trade in program for anyone who bought the current version and wants to upgrade to the next version once released. That’s not a horrible idea on paper, but think of what a pain in the ass it’s going to be to start over at the beginning again.  Then again, with a game like this, maybe that isn’t such a bad thing after all.  Thanks for reading Evil Geeks, Arkham Origins is dropping in a few weeks, so be sure to head on back here to get the breakdown on the newest adventures of the Bat in What’s Killing My Social Life This Week.

 

Find out what ELSE has been killing my social life…aside from my grating personality that is.

gaming-the-last-of-us-cover-art

Deadpool

Bioshock Infinite

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About C-Mart

A true Marvel Zombie, die-hard George Romero fan, Star Wars addict, Whovian, and life-long gamer. I make with the Tweets @CMart0979

Posted on October 4, 2013, in Features, Geekology, Reviews, Video Games, What's Killing My Social Life This Week and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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