Given the pedigree and almost brutish levels of hype surrounding Grand Theft Auto V, it might have been a shock if this wasn’t the five-star humdinger that you simply expected. But right here we’re: Grand Theft Auto V is the head of open-world video game design and a colossal feat of technical engineering. It takes a template laid down by its predecessors and expands upon it, enhancing on and streamlining some of its rougher aspects. It doesn’t get away of that template and will be brash, nasty and nihilistic. But for all its more unsavoury features, this is a game built with expert mechanical expertise and inventive artistry.
And money. Numerous it. If the reported price of £170m is to be taken at face value, GTA V is the most costly video game ever assembled. If nothing else, that lavishness seeps from every pore of Los Santos, Rockstar’s twisted facsimile of Los Angeles and the grand stage for our crime caper. It is a virtual world of such super scale and effective element that it continues to baffle how the builders have managed to squeeze it all onto current generation hardware.
The urban sprawl of the city itself is a tangle of roads and definable districts; Strawberry is an space of limited social mobility, characterised by boarded-up shops, tatty slat-board houses and gangland graffiti. Downtown is a cluster of high-reaching skyscrapers, the city’s houseless shuffling alongside office yuppies. Rockford Hills houses town’s wealthiest, lavish mansions sitting alongsideside costly hotels, tennis courts and golf clubs (both with playable sports, they’re good too). Vespucci Beach is a hive of swim-suited pin-ups and party boats. Vinewood is the neon-splashed refuge of film-star wannabes
Travel north and town disperses into countryside, attain Blaine County and also you find a brushland littered with trailer parks and filthy hick bars under the shadow of the County’s mountain range.
It’s enormous. And while the broad strokes of GTA V’s map are spectacular sufficient, the finer details are lavished with the same care. Boxes piled carelessly in a participant’s safe-house. The crude sign for a chinese restaurant daubed on sheet metal fencing. The night sun dappling an orange sheen throughout the panorama as it glints over the Los Santos highways. Hell, I used to be even impressed that my character’s flip-flops actually flip-flopped. There isn’t a expense spared on any inch of its colossal mass.
To place it another approach, Los Santos feels like a metropolis that folks live in, somewhat than a digital playground constructed in your enjoyment. The danger of this method is that real cities won’t be as a lot fun as a bespoke city-Americana theme park, but Rockstar make it work. My admiration for video game designers knows no bounds, however it befuddles as to how a mass of land as enormous as Los Santos is so tightly crafted and densely interactive. There’s a natural openness, range and cogency to the design of the map that makes it a pleasure to explore. And it’s a place in which the game’s missions can slot into in a approach that leads to emergent and sudden thrills.
I’m in Downtown, and after stealing some valuable weaponry for a jewellery store heist from a moving van, I find myself beneath the eye of native constabulary. Sirens blaring behind me, I gun my automobile through the latticework roads before finding a freeway. Thundering into oncoming traffic, vehicles scatter and smash into the partition. It’s not lengthy before I’m in countryside. I slide off the freeway into the brushland, sweeping round dusty trails and leaping over grass hills. Dropping sight of the cops, I dump my vehicle behind a bar, walk into a discount store, change my garments and discover one other car. I’m miles away from the place the chase began, in a totally completely different area, purely due to the pure course of my actions. Now I’m out in the sticks, freed from the legislation and with a scenic journey back to town ahead.
Such a state of affairs is enabled by just a few things. The map design is one, with vast roads that can help you weave by means of its dense site visitors and a cogency that means the expanse of land feels related from high to bottom.
Secondly, Rockstar has tweaked how the police hunt you. Now you’ll be able to play a game of hide and search from the very starting, nipping out of sight down an alleyway or underneath a bridge and watch police cars prowl by. Or you’ll be able to go hell for leather and try to lose them in a high-velocity, harmful chase. Your choice.
Thirdly, the car dealing with in V is far sharper than the heaviness of IV. It retains just enough of IV’s weight and hyperactivity to make crashes feel consequential and handbrake turns difficult to regulate, however is tightened up enough to make driving more immediately gratifying. IV’s dealing with was nice but took some work to master, V’s dealing with is healthier and simple to pick up. This extends to sea-based vehicles and flying aircraft.
The driving is one a part of GTA V’s technical enchancment over its predecessor. But earlier than we delve an excessive amount of further into normal mechanics, let’s talk about V’s most disruptive change. Instead of the traditional give attention to one character, GTA V has you enjoying as three separate crooks. It’s a change that seems so primary on paper, however in observe is a revelation, making Los Santos’s large expanse more negotiable as you freely switch between each character, adding spice to missions and allowing for a more layered narrative.
Let’s meet the boys. Michael has been described by Rockstar as “the gta 5 android character who received”; a retired thief that has found his means into witness protection while keeping the stash of money he appropriated over the years. He lives a quiet, boring life in an enormous mansion in Rockford Hills with his wife and two children. He hates it.