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Review: Grand Theft Auto V will blow your mind!

Last updated on: September 24, 2013 14:16 IST

Review: Grand Theft Auto V will blow your mind!

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The latest game in the Grand Theft Auto series is here and it will blow your mind says Murali Venukumar.

Grand Theft Auto V
Platforms: Xbox 360 / PS3 
Price: Rs 2999 
Developer: Rockstar North
Publisher: Rockstar Games/Take-Two
Distributor: E-xpress Interactive Pvt Ltd
Genre: Open World Action/Adventure
Age Rating: 18+

And so it arrives.

Grand Theft Auto V sees Rockstar Games reaching for the sky (probably in a recently jacked fighter jet), more confident than ever in their craft.

A stunning evolution from the last numbered entry in the series (GTA IV), numero five is bigger in every way -- from the map to the characters to the missions.

Even the plot and writing screams of a grand assurance in some sort of over-arching plan, a grand pan-company ideology that's an unholy combination of Louis CK and Quentin Tarantino.

There's a strange comic-sadness enveloping every character in the game, from the three exemplary leads to the ridiculously large supporting cast.

A wink-nudge to the aches and pains of life juxtaposed against the now patented Rockstar take on the decaying American dream.

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Image: Grand Theft Auto V
Photographs: Rockstar Games/Take-Two

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As good as the plot is, what’s even better is its sheer enormity of it.

It’ll take you 40 hours to cover the main storyline and explore every one of the strangers and freak side missions… and that doesn’t include the crazy deep side activities, properties to purchase (and the quests that come with them), playing the stock market and the Read Dead Redemption-like random world events, to mention a few of the distractions you’ll find if you only follow the map.

What’s not on the map are secrets that’ll take dedicated players months to find.

You’ll also find yourself just spending time in Los Santos watching the world go by, more so than any previous GTA game.

The density of the game world is off the charts and almost everything you’ll see is unique.

There’s absolutely no copy pasting of city blocks, the NPCs have reams of incidental dialogue, and the variety in player and NPC animations and interactions as well as the vehicles is beyond impressive.

You can also customise vehicles and weapons to a rather alarming degree for a game that isn’t a full blown shooter or racer.


Photographs: Rockstar Games/Take-Two

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Each playable character even has a unique cell phone, complete with customisable interface, features, and access to the in-game version of the Internet.

Also worth mentioning are the dogs (you even get your own canine companion) and the in-depth customisable clothing, tattoo and hairstyle options for each character.

The fact that the characters can sport a new outfit each time you switch to them is also a nice touch.

The RPG-lite skill levelling from San Andreas makes a return with eight skills that you can gradually improve, and each character also now has a special ability.

Franklin can slow down time in vehicles to weave in and out of traffic and Michael has a variation of bullet time (very similar to Rockstar’s Midnight Club: LA and Max Payne 3 respectively) all governed by a special ability meter that recharges over time.

Trevor just goes berserk whenever you need him to, as you’d expect him to.

The radio is full of songs (240 of them, and that’s apart from the 20 hours of musical score by three composers) that aren’t confined to big names or genres, but expose discerning listeners to plenty of neat new artistes and bands.


Photographs: Rockstar Games/Take-Two

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The map, massive as it is, consists of two distinct areas -- the sprawling Los Santos metropolis and Blaine county.

It also marks a welcome return to more rural environs that was sorely missing in GTA IV.

It includes mountains, national parks, trailer parks, farmland, beaches, small towns, flora, fauna and water bodies.

The rain effects have been overhauled, and the lightning and puddles have clearly seen some TLC.

Also of note are the huge water bodies with some lovely wave effects that are now fully explorable by way of skinny-dipping, scuba diving or submersible vehicles.

There are plenty of missions and off-mission secrets that make use of all these new areas as well.

The plot itself revolves around the fates of Michael, Franklin and Trevor as their paths collide, and the consequences that follow.

Aside from standalone missions, the story beats ebb and fall around grand heists, a series of which you have to recruit, plan, and choose approaches for over the course of the game.

It’s every Michael Mann fan’s dream come true, and some of the situations you’ll find yourself in have to be seen to be believed.

You can also switch between the three protagonists at will, and story missions will often show you events from different perspectives.

GTA IV’s clunky controls have also seen an overhaul.

Your in-vehicle and on-foot controls aren’t as clunky as they used to be, making navigation around the game world a fun experience.

The Euphoria physics engine has also been enhanced, giving you some really nifty procedurally generated animations.

Melee combat has also been cleaned up, and boy, do the punches look brutal.


Photographs: Rockstar Games/Take-Two

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As near-perfect as this game is, there are a few oddities worth pointing out.

The difficulty level is all over the place, and some of the in-mission events aren’t signposted as well as they could be.

The weapon reticule is also ridiculously hard to spot on screen, leading to spots where you may have difficulty aiming your weapon.

There’s a bit too much guesswork with regard to when your wanted level will go down as well.

It’s also unfortunate that there’s no pool mini-game, food to be bought and consumed, or vigilante missions to be found when you enter police vehicles.

Helicopter controls can be really twitchy, much more so than they were in GTA IV.

Do these issues bring the game down, though? Not in the grander scheme of things.

The sheer atmosphere and sense of place of the world wins out in the end, so much so that it’s probably impossible to cover everything you can do in the game and all the incidental detail Rockstar has crammed into the world in a simple review.

And this doesn’t include Grand Theft Auto Online, a comprehensive multi-player suite that unlocks at the start of October -- no doubt Rockstar giving people time to finish out the single player campaign first.

Suffice to say that if there’s one game you buy this year; make it Grand Theft Auto V.

Not only is it a sure-fire Game of the Year contender, but also a crowning achievement for the medium.

Take a bow, Rockstar.

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Photographs: Rockstar Games/Take-Two
Tags: GTA , Rockstar

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