GTA V released just over a year ago to rave reviews from critics. More importantly, players found the re-imagining of San Andreas the best yet with its wealth of single-player content and a healthy online offering.
A year on and Rockstar is set to release GTA V for the PS4 and Xbox One, with a PC release slated for early 2015. So the question is; is GTA V worth buying twice? Or is this just an unashamed blatant money-grabbing attempt by Rockstar?
Read on for the full GTA V review.
If you’ve already played GTA V on the PS3/Xbox 360 please feel free to skip forwards to the gameplay and graphics section, simply because it’s the same character-driven tale of past glories and wannabes. If you’ve not yet played GTA V (you crazy or something?!) or just fancy reading the opinions of this particular review, then feel free to read on.
The GTA games have evolved so much over the last decade, but one of the greatest evolutions within the series, for me anyway, is the storytelling. Of course the gameplay and graphics have been expanded upon with each release, but story-driven games have always been a favourite of mine.
This time around we don’t just play as one character; we play as three. Three protagonists may seem a little overkill, but a strong script and ample pacing ensures that each of the three playable characters are fully realised and given the character development they deserve.
The three characters in question are Michael: the rich and retired former career criminal residing in Los Santos with his wife and entitled kids. Trevor: Michael’s former partner in crime, a complete and utter nut-job and an all round bad mother-effer. Finally we have Franklin: the up-and-coming criminal who’s striving to find his place in the seedy world of Los Santos.
The trio are unique in their personalities and goals, offering different missions and branching story-arcs. It’s enjoyable flitting between the three as the story progresses as well as being a necessity to advance. Each of the threesome have their own quirks and traits that makes watching them bounce off each other during the cut scenes.
Trevor in particular stuck out as a real gem amongst the expansive cast. His psychopathic tendencies provide some of the games most hilarious moments with more than a few ‘laugh out loud’ occurrences owing to the fantastic writing behind the character, not to mention to excellent voice over work. The same rings true with Michael and Franklin, though the funnies aren’t as frequent, but they don’t need to be.
The game tells the stories of three individuals who have different reasons for their criminal endeavours with each of them representing something different. Michael is stuck in the past, constantly reliving the glory days of years gone by and just isn’t happy with the boring life by the pool. When he stumbles upon Franklin stealing his car the two quickly become acquaintances and as the story move on, friends. The characters have been offered the room to grow instead of just being presented as-is, though the same can’t be said for Trevor, or at least not to the same extent.
The main story is a lengthy affair and should take around 16 hours to work through from start to finish, and that’s including the optional side-missions that are scattered throughout the course of events. There’s a lot to do aside from the main story with some of the side-missions taking on tales of their own, albeit with varying degrees of success. Some will take you on grand quests throughout the vibrant city of Los Santos and up into the unforgiving hills and out to the expansive desert, littered with little easter eggs and explorable areas.
In short, the story is perhaps the strongest in the series, possibly the best tale that’s been woven by Rockstar, second only to Red Dead Redemption. The central characters are hilarious to engage with and tell a truly epic story of greed, corruption and friendship. Whilst it relies on laughs and dark-humour to get a rise from players, there’s actually a bit more of a deep-lying story of humanity and at times it actually had me feeling genuinely happy/sad/angry at each of the characters at one point or another, especially during the final few chapters which offer multiple endings. If you’re after a story that’ll keep you entertained with blockbuster values, an entertaining cast of likeable characters and replay value, then GTA V won’t disappoint, it’s even fun to play through for a second or third time.
GTA V is available now for PS4 and Xbox One from Amazon.