Regardless of whether or not you do in fact play video games, you’ve most likely heard of Grand Theft Auto. The franchise originally gained critical acclaim on the PlayStation 2 with titles such as Vice City and San Andreas. Spawning numerous controversies over its incredibly violent and inappropriate nature, the Grand Theft Auto franchise has finally released its fifth numbered installment: Grand Theft Auto V.
Grand Theft Auto V features three protagonists. Michael, a retired bank robber whose family life is in shambles, is the narrative anchor. His story quickly runs through some fairly basic motifs of betrayal, revenge and redemption after meeting the second protagonist, Franklin, a street hustler who looks to Michael for new opportunities. Finally, there’s Trevor, a sadistic drug addict who worked with Michael on past jobs. Once each character is introduced to each other a few hours into the story, you’ll be able to freely switch between them to utilize their unique abilities and assets.
Driving and shooting are at the heart of Grand Theft Auto V, and the game does a great job of building missions that have you doing both of these things in unexpected ways. Driving is simple enough and changes depending on what vehicle you’re in. Cars, planes and submarines all handle extraordinarily well, and you’ll quickly gain the ability to stock these vehicles in garages for later use. Meanwhile, shooting is tight and responsive. Getting in and out of cover is easy, and despite an incredibly small aiming reticule, leaning out of cover to take a few shots works well. Missions will often have you driving to a location before shooting someone or something down, but more unique operations might have you robbing a train or stealing a cargo plane while being tailed by government jets. At the end of most missions, you’ll be rewarded handsomely.
That being said, Grand Theft Auto V is all about the money. Nearly every activity in the game, be it buying weapons, clothes or customizing your car for an upcoming mission, requires cash. Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities to earn money, with more being unlocked as you progress through the story. Activities like racing, hunting, investing in real estate or assassinating certain corrupt members of society will award you with cash to spend on whatever you’re itching to buy. Furthermore, certain story missions will have you pulling off complex heists that allow you to choose some of the finer details of the operation. Do you load up on heavy weaponry and take the jewelry store by storm, or do you use a specialized gas to knock its customers and employees unconscious while you make off with the merchandise? It’s up to you.
Encompassing every aspect of Grand Theft Auto V is a beautiful presentation that shows off excellent attention to detail. Mountains, cities, cars and even character models (which were a sore spot in the last game) all look fantastic. The characters in particular are animated surprisingly well, which is good considering that their dialogue certainly demands an energetic presentation. Conversations in Grand Theft Auto V feel natural for the most part, with Trevor in particular delivering some of the most disturbing but altogether hilarious lines in the game such as, “Bring me my coffee or I’m gonna cut your arm off!”
Featuring impressive graphics, an incredible soundtrack that plays different songs to suit the vibe of a particular mission or heist, and with an unbelievable amount of activities to take part in such as tennis and skydiving, Grand Theft Auto V is arguably the franchise’s magnum opus; and with an online component coming on October 1, fans shouldn’t hesitate to pick up Grand Theft Auto.