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Grand Theft Auto V Review

Grand Theft Auto V (1)

If the benchmark of artistic expression is the ability to evoke an inward examination, then Grand Theft Auto V is undoubtedly Rockstar Games’ magnum opus. While detractors and the ratings-ravenous media are bound to critique the title’s sporadic viciousness, unapologetic misogyny, and precarious moral foundation over the coming weeks, they’ll be overlooking a thornier issue:  these are the afflictions of America ensnared in a post-economic crisis. Providing a blend of the actual and satirical, Grand Theft Auto V demonstrates Rockstar having the time and technology to construct a dizzying diatribe on vapidity, violence, superficiality, and sociology. Most amazingly, the Edinburgh-based studio doesn’t allow the action to be overpowered by the allegorical. At its core, GTA V parades Rockstars’ passion for cinema, indulging players’ yearnings to reenact some of Hollywood’s best heist jobs.

At the turn of the century, director Michael Mann’s Heat and Collateral provided seminal depictions of the City of Angeles, contextualizing crime drama amidst the shared real estate of the haves and have-nots. With Grand Theft Auto V’s protracted playtime, Rockstar North is able to craft an even more nuanced representation. Expectedly, the architecture and postcards picture points are all fastidiously recreated. From the ferris wheel and roller coaster which give the pier its signature silhouette to the sprawling skycrapers that jut from the downtown basin, Los Santos is Los Angeles reimagined- only without the pestilence of traffic.

Grand Theft Auto V (2)

Yet, it’s the small details which really sell the simulacrum- the propensity for exclusion and conspicuous consumption in the wealthy neighborhoods or the working-class streets which fill during the evening hours. While most open-world titles have detailed environments, GTA V raises the bar, filling the landscape with a myriad of tiny sardonic details. Head over to Rockford Hills, the game’s rendering of the 90210 community, and you might spy a snobbish sports car positioned across two handicapped parking spots. Adeptly, the game’s soundtrack echoes Los Angeles’ sonic landscape, with staples DJ Pooh and Big Boy serving as in-game DJs, while local television voice-over artists lend their pipes for faux public service announcements.

Outside the urban spaces, Blaine County stands in for the Inland Empire. Here, players won’t find the affluent yoga studios, (playable) golf courses, and tennis courts, instead they’ll discover the specter of suspicion which lingers around a dusty meth lab or the locals-only sentiment at the isolated biker bar. There areas are effectively juxtaposed with the urban spaces, conveying a feral menace that’s unlike the danger of the inner city.

Grand Theft Auto V (4)

Driving, walking, boating or biking through this enormous sandbox reveals the exertion which Rockstar went through to making the sprawling metropolis an enjoyable destination. Whereas water traditionally represented the boundary of Grand Theft Auto’s landmasses, now players can careen across the surface via a jet ski or even explore the ocean depths. Incredibly, campaign missions scarcely compel players to visit the marine environments. Instead, aquatic areas are just another part of the playground, enticing exploration. Likewise, skyward ramps, a plethora of wildlife, and venues which raise a character’s stats all vie for a player’s recreational hours. Some gun shops are more than just markets now, offering medal-bestowing mini-games for players who want to increase their precision. Players can even enroll in flight school to improve their aviation abilities; the potential for self-actualization is remarkable.

The GTA franchise has always been elevated by the tension between straightforward campaign missions and wild, improvisational, mischief making. Amazingly, both sides of the conflict have been enriched for the fifth installment. Rockstar has apparently listened to the fans who complained about the abundance and austerity of driving duties. While players will still spend a prolonged amount of time behind the steer wheel, vehicle physics and roadways have been tuned to make driving more enjoyable. Now, it’s possible to effortlessly weave between cars and execute textbook drifts, recalling Rockstar’s Midnight Club racing series. Similarly, taking cover and shooting borrow from Max Payne 3’s repertoire- mending a chronic ailment in the series. Moreover, replaying entire missions in mended through judicious checkpointing. Frustration would often grow from failing an undertaking multiple times. Now, Grand Theft Auto V is kind enough to allow players to skip the assignment after three botched attempts.

Grand Theft Auto V (3)

Naturally, these mechanics also improve the extemporaneous play sessions. Elective errands which task players with using certain types of machinery are marked by an escalation of temptation, as players ask a series of “what if” questions. Early on- an assignment took place near an armored car, and the game seemed to recognize my curiosity. An on-screen prompt flashed, disclosing that the valuables were mine if I could figure out how to dispose of the drivers and crack open this steel-clad piñata. Of course, this is just one small, spoiler-free example. Players will be bombarded with enticements every few minutes, as GTA V flaunts its procession of ever-increasingly exotic weapons and vehicles.

While the aforementioned changes are significant, they are dwarfed by Grand Theft Auto V’s narrative reformation.  Whereas previous installments focused on a single character, GTA V’s storyline interweaves follow a trio of protagonists that cater to different play styles and story beats. Franklin Clinton is an inner-city youth with his eyes fixed on a higher economic status; regretfully, he lacks the social connections to make the jump. An unlikely assistance comes in the form of Michael De Santa- a retired bank robber whose growing increasingly frustrated with the tawdriness of life in Rockford Hills, where a mansion, entitled children, and cheating trophy wife are triggering a mid-life malaise. Tension is injected into the storyline, as Trevor Phillips enters the picture. Once Michael’s best friend and partner in crime, Trevor’s life has followed a radically different trajectory, with years of drug use and resentment transforming the character into a wild, unpredictable psychopath.

Grand Theft Auto V (5)

In effect, the roster represents the Rockstar trinity. Franklin is the plucky underdog we can all root for, Michael provides the pensive story that the developer wants to tell, while demented Trevor offers an outlet for the unruly mayhem and killing. In effect, the trio marries Grand Theft Auto’s elements in a way that Niko Bellic’s inconstant attitudes toward violence couldn’t. In execution, the mechanic is brilliantly executed, allowing players to shift between storylines at will and also give endow each character with a sense of presence. A press on the directional pad brings up a radial dial allowing the selection to be made. After, gamers are given a descending aerial shot which cumulates in the character caught in their usual routine. Much like The Sims, there’s a sense that each persona is a living breathing character- whether Trevor is passed out, underwear-clad in a restricted zone or Michael is longing by the pool, sipping a drink to sooth the sting of dysfunction. Dexterously, each character is articulated with a pleasing amount of depth. I found my actions subliminally steered by the ambitions of each protagonist, which was a new sensation for the series.

The use of a character triangle is also expertly employed during GTA V’s showcase heist jobs.  Pleasingly, the game gives a bit of leeway in the preparation, allowing players to engineer either a stealthy or infuriated robbery. Players determine the role of wheelmen and hackers, balancing experience with a portion of the plunder, which has a noticeable effect on the execution of the raid. While inexperienced contractors may save gamers a bit of coin, their slower cars and unproven security breaching skills will make the raid that much more challenging. Stunningly, this kind of variable tracking isn’t unique to the game’s heists. A player’s actions can even affect the world’s stock market, making gamers truly feel powerful. It’s little wonder when Michael complains to this therapist that he feels like he’s being controlled, because we are manipulating every small detail in Los Santos.

Grand Theft Auto V (6)

Although the game runs at a fairly fluid framerate, and only divulges draw-in when players take to their air, there are a few blemishes which sully the sense of immersion. One of the largest offenders are mission rules- which are customarily imperceptible to gamers. When players perform the unexpected, such as shoot an enemy too early or pass a car that they are supposed to be chasing, the title bares its logic tables, and stumbles over the unforeseen. Fortunately, this is a rare occurrence and Rockstar should be commended for fumigating the bugs from GTA V’s sandbox. Across over 35 hours of play, I only experienced a few, forgivable glitches- not of which required a restart or reboot.

For some, GTA V’s weary worldview might induce a bit of detachment. Beyond the stinging (and relevant) harangues on American culture- from our obsession with youth and celebrities to our ambivalence toward torture, the title’s outlook can be nihilistic. In the end, every entity in the game has an egoistic and rancorous side, from the main protagonists, secondary characters, to the game’s corporations and government bureaucrats. I can’t dispute the perspective, but for those seeking a reprieve from the viciousness and backstabbing, should know going in to GTA V that the Houser Brothers aren’t going to sugarcoat their standpoint.

Grand Theft Auto V (7)

In an era where sequels are often little more than recycled cash grabs, Grand Theft Auto V stands as an exemplar. Each of the game’s core mechanics- shooting, driving, mission structure and story development have all been reworked, merging into a mesmerizing playground which pleads for exploration. Even without Grand Theft Auto Online, a separate online component slated for download services on October 1st, 2013, GTA V is one of the richest, most enthralling experiences in all of interactive entertainment.

If the benchmark of artistic expression is the ability to evoke an inward examination, then Grand Theft Auto V is undoubtedly Rockstar Games’ magnum opus. While detractors and the ratings-ravenous media are bound to critique the title’s sporadic viciousness, unapologetic misogyny, and precarious moral foundation over the coming weeks, they’ll be overlooking a thornier issue:  these are the afflictions of America ensnared in a post-economic crisis. Providing a blend of the actual and satirical, Grand Theft Auto V demonstrates Rockstar having the time and technology to construct a dizzying diatribe on vapidity, violence, superficiality, and sociology. Most amazingly, the Edinburgh-based…

Review Overview

Gameplay - 95%
Story - 95%
Aesthetics - 100%
Content - 100%
Accessibility - 95%

97%

Amazing!

Summary : While Rockstar Games is a routinely ambitious developer, Grand Theft Auto V thoroughly surpasses expectations, delivering a game which captivates on multiple levels.

User Rating: 4.74 ( 2 votes)
97

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

142 comments

  1. For some reason, I though Robert might have not liked this one. Not because of the lack of lolis, but I heard it gets pretty mean spirited.

  2. Jesus, this is like GTA V review: The book. I’ll read it when I’m on the can.

  3. Good review.

    You realized had you scored it a 7/10, you could have got about 7 million more page views.

  4. So do you get to replay that shootout scene from Heat? I’ll yell like Pacino!

    Hoo-rah!

  5. Wow,good review. Such detail! I would have liked to have seen the full 2,200 work one!

    Game sounds fun as hell.

  6. well written and it makes me want the game even more

  7. SEE? Robert like Western games! The ones that make fun of America! ;)

    I plan on picking this up soon. Next B2G1 free sale.

  8. I just keep reading more and more and this game just keeps getting more amazing. Dear lord I need it.

  9. I’m not a huge GTA fan but I really rant to try it. Anyone know if they are redboxing it? I know it comes on two disks, so they might not carry the 360 version. (My PS3 is being borrowed right now)

  10. I wait in live for three hours with a bunch of idiots who all thought their iphone-powered vblog commentary was going to be fucking brilliant.

    It was all worth it, though. GTA is fantastic.

  11. You don’t have a problem with a game using the n-word all the time. You’re ok with women being sex objects or portrayed as horny all the time?

    Your review was good, but it seemed to lack what a review needs. To look past the action and story and look at what the game is saying. To me GTA is pretty disgusting.

    • Dude, seriously? Please stop your white knighting and enjoy the game. Its supposed to be fun, not serious. This isn’t 60 Minutes, it’s GTA.

      • I just want to know if a Black man can white knight?

        But can I concern over representation of my people in games? Half of all black characters are thugs who have to throw a cuss word in every sentence. So when I meet people who say “You don’t act Black” I have to wonder that that means and what Black means to them.

  12. I have to say I wasn’t super excited for the game prior to launch after 4 kinda fell flat but after reading the reviews and seeing the game play I’m excited to check it out.

  13. Wish I had GTA5, hearing so many good reviews!

  14. Wow this is one of the better reviews that I’ve read. I didn’t think it was possible but you somehow made me even more excited to try the game.

  15. I played about 4 hours of GTA V on Tuesday and I don’t think I’ve ever had such a hard time putting the controller down in my life. Not only is the game fun as hell, it’s like looking at the next generation right now.

  16. Great review Robert. You really hit it out of the park with that one. Especially cool to hear from someone that lives in LA.

  17. I’ve read about 6 reviews and this is probably one of my favorites. A ton of detail and description. You should do live streams on Twitch.

  18. Why isn’t your weeaboo ass at TGS?

  19. Very nice and well written review. Makes me want the game that much more!

  20. Good review, it explains the goods of the game without being biased.
    Thanks for the review!

  21. Great review, Deagle. A long read but well worth it.

  22. cool man. I would love to get this game, all i have to do to enter is comment right?

  23. Great review! Can’t wait to pick up GTA V.

  24. how will the winner be sent GTA?
    also I just realised i have entered for the contest, hi!

  25. Nice review. GTA looks like a awesome game. Better than SR amirite, haha.

  26. Thank you for the giveaway hope I win!
    I really really like grant theft auto

  27. Very awesome to hear this game living up to the hype.I won’t lie,I never liked Niko Bellic in GTA 4 but I’m liking what I hear about the characters in GTA5.Also,Love how you can switch between the characters.

    @Hestar69

  28. Any word on what Rock* is doing for DLC? They are one of the few developers that really create content that’s worth buying, at least for GTA IV.

  29. I am so excited that this is out. Been a fan since GTA on the original playstation (I know it shows my age) I don’t care Los Santos is here. Hope I am given the chance to play it :)

  30. Fantastic review! I loved how thorough and detailed it was without giving any true spoilers. It would be great if you did a review of the online portion when it is official released, too!

  31. The new GTA is the best one so far. I wish they would release these games more often

  32. GTA V is amazing. The three protagonists are one of the best things to happen to GTA in a long time.

    Great review by the way :D

  33. I heard that Rockstar doesn’t have any plans to port this over to the next gen. I would love to play on PS4 or maybe even the Xbone. I guess I’ll go PC.

  34. Great review. I have the game, so I don’t even know why I read the review, lol…

  35. Damn I’m really missing out, this game looks sick. I can’t wait to go back to Grove Street. Thanks for the awesome giveaway.

  36. man great reviews all around! really need to get this game! lol

  37. Great review!! Great game!!

  38. Such a good game. FTW

  39. Great game and a good review. Good read!

  40. I’ve never played a GTA before, but looking at all the things I have seen about V this may be the one I end up picking up

  41. This review gave me an orgasm. Very Well detailed and a enjoyable read. Three thumbs up for you :D

  42. Nice review, I got the game yesterday, but didn’t have time to try it yet. I really can’t wait to play it.

  43. Man this game looks BEAST!

  44. This game looks wicked, can’t wait till I can get it!

  45. Jared Z (@Darklurkr23)

    I think alot of people are going NUTS for GTA 5, like GTA have never been great on story, great sandbox though.

    and it kickn cods ass!

  46. Good review, thanks for this!

  47. It’s nice to see they are incorporating some of the more helpful innovations made in other sand box games such as Saint’s Row.

  48. Looks like a truly amazing game…one reason I still have my Xbox 360

  49. Really nice review. Well worded and insightful.

    Man, I want to get this game very much!

  50. So glad to hear they fixed the driving mechanics. They’ve been a mess for way too long

  51. Wow! Looks good.

  52. This game is getting so much hype that it’s making me interested in the game.

  53. Can’t wait to get this game.

  54. Great review! As always, Rockstar Games doesn’t disappoint. Everything I expected, and more.

  55. One of the best GTA V reviews I have recently read! Keep up the excellent work, and thanks for the chance to enter in your competition!

  56. Did you know that Rockstar hired real gangsters for this game? XD

  57. Just picked up the game as I came home from my vacation, been dying to play it.

  58. Seriously looks like an awesome game but too broke at the moment to buy it. I guess ill be just looking at playthroughs… :(

  59. This is super well written and it just makes me want the game even more! Sounds so interesting!

  60. You generally don’t get reviews as in-depth and long as this. seriously. Nice effort there, and I enjoyed reading it.

  61. This has got to be one of the best reviews i have rea in a while

  62. Great review! I would love to get my hands on this!!

  63. Awesome review! Gonna get the game :D

  64. Game looks amazing. Can’t wait to get a copy!

  65. Pretty much the last big release game of this gen’s era…well, I kind of count Beyond: Two Souls as a big release too but probably not as big as GTAV and it’ll probably get a port onto the PS4 anyway.

  66. Nicely written, I want to play GTA so bad right now!

  67. Nice review, it’s definitely a great game.

  68. It’s my birthday today! Really! I can has GTA V?

  69. Nice review! I’ve been playing this game so far and it has been a blast.

  70. I know what you’re doing

  71. Dis gaem fun look

  72. Nice review, I wish I could try it for myself.

  73. Greatest game I have played! seriously

  74. I really want to play this game, but haven’t the funds. :(

  75. Nice review, the game looks A-MAY-ZAAAAAH!

  76. Very nice & detailed review. It’s been a while since I saw a reviewer go into such depth like this about a game. Your review have gotten more interested in the game. The ability to switch between characters seems like it would be a fun thing to do especially if you start to get bored with the character you’re currently playing with. Plus the option to skip a mission after 3 failed attempts sounds nice as well because I agree it can get frustrating at time in some games when you get stuck on something. Seems like it would be cool game to play.

  77. I’ve actually never played GTA before, I was never sure if I would like it or not. With all the hype surrounding this one (Like GTA reaching 1 Billion in three days) I’m thinking I should give it a try finally. Just hope I won’t be disappointed, because I love sand-box games.

  78. Great game, Great review, and Great site that is all for now!

  79. Holding off until it hits PS4

  80. Provably the best game I have ever played in my life and awesome review

  81. This game is bananas! It’s crazy how big this series has gotten – can’t wait to see what comes next for this franchise.

  82. Great review and it is an awesome looking game. Would love to win a copy, but if not I will be buying for sure!

  83. One of the better reviews I have seen for GTA V. I really like how you can skip missions you fail. I also hear you can replay missions you like which is pretty cool.

  84. Nice Review. Sounds pretty epic

  85. Very solid review. It certainly sounds like a great game.

  86. Thanks for the giveaway

  87. This game is freaking AMAZING!!!

  88. This looks incredible, would love to get this!

  89. Winning this game is the only way I’ll ever play another GTA game. Clearly you coddled this too much in your review.

  90. today GTA V coming to home :D….
    first impression :
    graphics quality : BEST
    Gameplay : BEst
    Story : Great !

    sometime got freezy….ps3 super slim @@

  91. Great review, the game sounds like a lot of fun.

  92. good review, I hope to pick this game up at some point. I would like to give the game a try.

  93. Great review! Game is gonna be awesome!

  94. I really need to get this >.< Gotta wait till Christmas time or so though.

  95. Nice review. Looks like quite the fun game, great graphics.

  96. I totally agree with this review. this game looks so amazing and the detail is so incredible it goes as far as making everything in the los angeles area near exact. if you’ve been to these places before and explore them in game you’ll instantly recognize everything about it.

  97. Awesome review, can’t wait to try this game

  98. Good review, this game looks amazing! I must try it!

  99. Usually I’m not into games like this but I downloaded GTAIII for my iPad ages ago and just started playing it and man. That coupled with reading reviews like tihs about GTAV really make me feel like I’m missing out. One of these day I’m going to have to check this one out and I swear my friends might actually manage to get me to buy GTA Online…

  100. I can’t wait to play this on Xbox 360. Nice review!

  101. This game is amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!! anyone that does not have this game should get it u get to do so much stuff in this one

  102. This game is amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!! anyone that does not have this game should get it u get to do so much stuff in this one sry for double posting but i forgot to add my name and email

  103. It’s great!!!!

  104. Man, Michaels the man! Isn’t he just the embodyment of a typical American these days! Doesnt give a $h1t about anything, and thinks he’s God! Love it! That gold bar usb is sick too! Rockstar, I love u!

  105. Thanks for the contest Love this game

  106. EPIC! Best…Ever!

  107. Sweet review I am also hearing so many rave reviews from friends also i am noticing my friends list is full of people playing it and 95% of people are hanging out in the Strip Club HAHA LOL I Still WANT GTA5 too <3 <3 <3 Thanks for the chance

  108. This game is awesome. Nice review as well.

  109. Nice review, seems like an amazing game overall.

  110. Best Game Ever!

  111. Looks like a great game. Great prize pack too.

  112. Game is amazing, and hard to beat with another addition to the GTA series.

  113. Awesome review, very much in depth!

  114. Thanks for the contest

  115. One of the best games I’ve played in a while, can’t wait for GTA: Online in about a week.

  116. Can’t wait for the review of GTA Online. Hope its as great as the single player!

  117. Great review. I wasn’t a fan of GTA IV, but this one is looking amazing.

  118. Thanks for the great review. Appreciate it!

  119. Great Review. Great Game.

  120. Seen videos online, graphics look amazing! Hope I get to play!

  121. Thanks for a thorough in depth review of GTA V. I have torn into it and am 60/69 missions into the game and have enjoyed it immensely compared to the previous ones. Looking forward to wrapping up the main storyline and seeing what else this game has to offer!

  122. Thanks for the giveaway and a great review!

  123. Very detailed review. Sounds fantastic. I am crossing my fingers that I’m able to play this game sometimes soon.

  124. Great review! I would love to get this title to add onto my game shelf.

  125. Another rockstar super hit.. Should we even be surprised anymore?

  126. great review! cant wait to play this and thanks for the giveaway chance!

  127. Awesome review I was gonna wait but I think my gaming schedule just got full

  128. Nice review….makes me want the game more. lol. I NEEEEED IT

  129. I would LOVE to have this game!!!!

  130. Great review and thanks for the giveaway!

  131. I’ve read 6 reviews for GTA V from the big name gaming sites. This one beats them all.

    Great job. Id love to win the contest.

  132. Seems cool, i’ll check it out eventually.

  133. Great review. This game looks absolutely amazing. Hope I win!

  134. Wow, this review makes me want the game even more badly than I do now! Nice work!

  135. Great review! It really makes me want to play the game. I’m looking forward to GTA Online too.

  136. Been watching a couple Let’s Plays of GTA 5 on YouTube, can’t wait til I can play through it myself…

  137. Pretty DAMN good review we have here.

  138. This looks like a very bad ass little title you sold me 10/10 review

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