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whatshot Grand Theft Auto V PS3 Review - www.impulsegamer.com -
Grand Theft Auto V
Reviewed by
Andrew Bistak
on
Grand Theft Auto V PS3 Review. The gameplay is flawless as are the graphics which creates one of the finest games of 2013 and will be a contender for Game of the Year.
Rating:
4.25

Gameplay 10
Graphics 10
Sound 10
Value 10
Distributor: Rockstar
Rating: R18+
Review Date: Sep 2013
Reviewer:
Andrew Bistak

10


Grand Theft Auto V

Rockstar have definitely challenged the gaming industry with their latest instalment of the Grand Theft Auto franchise, which in every sense creates this living breathing virtual world that delivers everything what our own personal delusions of grandeur could not. It’s bold, it's original and its grand design is quite unparalleled in the current market that really makes this title a true game changer.

However, if you're looking for a kid friendly political correct game than you really should be finding a new past time because Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V) is the total polar opposite and could be considered the Breaking Bad of video games. From calculated jewellery heists to cold blooded murder, police chases, hijacking planes and even the ability to control a dog with some truly hilarious results, GTA V has one of the best stories to date that is not only well-written with some great comedic moments but boasts some really fun protagonists.

Initially, I was a little apprehensive at the trio of characters that was given to the player to control but in the grand scheme of things, it actually works and it works very well. The first character introduced into the story is Michael De Santa, a retired bank robber who is now living the life of luxury in Los Santos (a parody on Los Anges) but is unhappily married with two deadbeat kids. There is also an air of mystery to Michael that meshes with his past and provides a great twist to the storyline.

Then we have Franklin, a gangbanger from Los Santos who lives at home with his mother and is trying to cut his ties to the local gangs but always manages to get drawn in again. Franklin also happens to be an expert driver and was probably my favourite character in the game due to the rags to riches formula. Finally, we have Trevor Phillips, a meth dealer and psychopath that no one wants to cross. He is fuelled by drugs and power with a touch of trailer park class thrown into the mix to make him a person to be truly feared. It also doesn't help that Trevor has history with Michael and the history is bad.

All three characters are used amazingly well to tell the story of GTA V and without spoiling the game, the dynamics between these characters creates this almost real world crime drama that would not look out of place from a TV show such as Breaking Bad, Southland or the recent movie Pain & Gain (Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson). It's also an insightful social commentary on contemporary America. Each of the three characters also have their own unique skills with Michael being the planner (great for heists in choosing methods and team members) plus an ace shot with a gun, Franklin the expert driver and Trevor the murderous psychopath who could take down a small army due to his anger.

In regards to skills, each of the characters can increase their overall skills which includes their special "skill", stamina, shooting, strength, stealth, flying, driving and lung capacity. By completing mini-games and doing things like practicing to fly planes or swimming, your skills slowly increase. It's  great for some additional side fun apart from maiming and causing mischief. 

When the game is finally loaded on the Playstation 3, it starts with a bang and when a bank robbery goes to hell, it seems that Trevor’s crew are destined to either die or be imprisoned. Fast forward to the present day and Michael is now suffering a midlife crisis with a psychiatrist to boot who unwittingly pisses off the local crime lord of Los Santos. It is during the first quarter of the game that Michael and Franklin become buddies and as a result, Franklin becomes his surrogate son as his real children are quite messed up. His son is addicted to video games (and happens to be a great trash talker), whereas his daughter hangs out with the wrong crowd and that includes the local pornographers.

The thing about these characters is that they are portrayed quite realistically and you actually feel a connection to them, even the heinous Trevor. Franklin is the most grounded character of the three and has a pet a Rottweiler who likes to hump other dogs. In relation to the other characters that you control, including Franklin's dog, at times you need to swap between characters and this is achieved by a push of the button and then a point in the right direction. A really cool cut scene then takes to that particular character. The game also swaps between characters at key stages such as the time Franklin was being chased by the police in the sewers and once out, it then swapped to Michael in a truck. These transitions are very smooth.

Another interesting inclusion into the game is how the police are shown on your mini-map that flashes red and blue when you are wanted. The star system is also used but the flashing system does help in evading the police, especially when you hide down an alley or someone's garage. At times, the police are quite strict but for the majority, they leave you to your own accords. Needless to say, escaping from the police is a true victory, especially when you’re just hiding around the corner and hear all the sirens pass by.

Gameplay is reminiscent of the previous instalments which is a third person action adventure, however GTA V puts it into overdrive. At its deliciously crime ridden heart, players must complete a variety of missions and side quests in order to gain equity and generally solve their problems. Missions are also displayed on your GPS map which makes it easy to access them when necessary. If driving is too time consuming, you can always catch a taxi or even pretend to be a taxi driver if that’s your thing. The great element of GTA V is that you can find missions and people almost anywhere and everywhere in the game such as the night I found a politician trying to legalise marijuana. Michael decided to sample his scientifically modified weed that resulted in him fighting off an alien invasion. It's just one of those classic Grand Theft Auto moments that had me going WTF… but in a good way.

Vehicles play a key component of the game and Rockstar have once again fine-tuned the driving mechanics. At times, I amazed myself how I managed not to crash the vehicle going at high speeds through the streets of Los Santos with the police on my tail. Another interesting element to the game are the special abilities of the trio. Franklin has the ability to engage in bullet-time vision while driving that considerably assists in avoiding obstacles and taking corners at insane speeds. Trevor on the other hand uses his red (anger) bullet-time vision to go on a murderous shooting spree that makes taking out your enemy opponents quite an easy feat. Of course, both these powers are time-limited.

Given that, the missions in Grand Theft Auto V are extremely diverse and whether it's Michael rescuing his daughter from criminal pornographers, trading on the stock market, buying properties, driving a submarine or pretending to be a pest controller to steal jewellery, I cannot emphasis enough of how diverse the missions are. The developers have even improved how stealth works in the game which definitely adds to your gaming strategies and is usually less painful than running in gung ho.

With all this action and mayhem going around these three characters, there is plenty of downtime available from visiting strip clubs, attempting to pick up dancers, hanging out with friends at clubs and movie cinemas, collecting bounties just for the fun of it, having a hit of golf and even getting wasted with a variety of substances that results in some strange in-game drug vision. I haven't even scraped the surface of the amount of activities that your characters can get involved in. Then you have the vehicles and everything is available to the player from semi-trailers to planes, jet skis, bicycles, and a bevy of awesome cars to race around the streets of Los Santos and its surrounding areas such as Blaine County (aka Sandy Shores).

The controls work perfectly with all the vehicles and nothing is more enjoyable than cruising around the town, listening to the myriad of different radio stations available to the player. From hip hop to classic rock and some truly bizarre and comedic shock jocks, the radio really makes the game feel like Grand Theft Auto. Even while driving the streets, you can shoot a gun but it is a little difficult and Rockstar have perfectly balanced the controls in this aspect.

At times, you just have to stop and appreciate the work that has gone into creating this game and whether it's the random conversations that strangers have in the street or just watching someone get on with their everyday life, it's a true gaming moment. You can even go for a bike ride around the neighbouring hills of Los Santos just for the fun of it and when you want to find some more action, what not steal a jet and fly through the skies. These moments can even be saved on your mobile phone or for Trevor, that’s called selfies. In relation to the mobile phone, it does give you access to your contacts, e-mails, text messages, internet and a great quick-save function. The quick-save function saves the game and does not require you to head back to your safe house. But if you do go back to your safe house, there's plenty of things to do there such as watch TV, hang out with friends or for Trevor, get wasted on drugs. The GTA V internet is also highly entertaining!

Drugs! Grand Theft Auto V is a game made by adults for adults and pushes the boundaries to some very uncomfortable levels. When I was first introduced to Trevor, the first scene had him involved with a biker's girlfriend as he casually banged her in the kitchen but when this biker challenged him, let's just say it didn't end very well and was the first Jesus Christ moment for me. The second JC moment involved a torture scene that did make me feel a little uncomfortable. Add in the copious amounts of drugs, alcohol and naked women plus softcore sex and GTA V someone makes it relevant in the context of the story. The one most unrealistic aspect of the game is probably the portrayal of some women in the game with a few bordering on innocent naivety or just there for their sex appeal. Regrettably, we don't live in the perfect world and the creators of Grand Theft Auto V highlight this by crafting a realistic snapshot of the criminal underworld. I'm not challenging the subject matter but just highlighting the realism of the game and it still gives you some "moral" control as well!

Graphics/Audio

Graphically, GTA V pushes the capabilities of the PlayStation 3 console and almost borders on next-gen (e.g. PS4) graphics. The character animation is flawless as are the texture details that creates realistic virtual people to help populate the game. The facial expressions look real and Rockstar have almost managed to get rid of video game zombie eyes on characters. To complement the people are the areas themselves that looks visually stunning such as the Faux Hollywood sign or LAX Airport. The streets of Los Santos are populated well with some great attention to detail on just about everything. From buildings to pavements and trees, it's truly a living breathing virtual world.

The game also mixes up the gaming environments by including diverse areas such as Blaine County that looks like something out of Texas or even the lush hills of Hollywood… err Los Santos. Add in some great lighting and special effects and GTA V is a real piece of modern art that looks almost perfect on the PS3. However due to the amount of copious graphics used, sometimes the frame rate does drop and there is a touch of clipping here and there but it's a small price to pay for perfection my friends. Add in the brilliant soundtrack, radio stations and voice acting and GTA V is as close as one can get to immersing into virtual reality.

Final Thoughts?

Grand Theft Auto V is not just a game but a lifestyle and Rockstar have truly scored high in their latest game from this franchise. GTA V is also the true sandbox game and I cannot wait until Grand Theft Auto Online is available in a few weeks. Add in a variety of collectibles to be found and you could be playing this game for a very very long time. Undeniably it does help that you can play golf, race cars or even compete in a triathlon. There’s just so much to do in this game that is borders on craziness.

At the end of the day, the characters are quite relatable and are immersed in a very interesting and at times comedic storyline that is like an interactive version of the movie Pain & Gain that is all about power and wealth. The gameplay is flawless as are the graphics which creates one of the finest games of 2013 and will be a contender for Game of the Year. It's easy to see why this is the most expensive game ever created and will be the most psychological game that you have ever played!





 

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