Grand Theft Auto V

8.0 Overall Score
Presentation: 8/10
Story: 9/10
Gameplay: 9/10

Fun Yet Dark Storyline | Huge Open World | Improved Gameplay Mechanics

Humor Can Be More Miss Than Hit | Requires You To Perform Horrible Acts In-Game | Feels Like It Belongs on Next Gen Hardware

Written by on September 30, 2013 in [, ]

It’s hard to imagine any video game franchise that has undergone as drastic a stylistic change as Grand Theft Auto. What started as a 2D, top-down shooter became one of the first major 3D open world crime games, spoofing everything from Goodfellas to Miami Vice. The release of Grand Theft Auto IV saw a much more serious tone than prior incarnations, which drew the ire of some and praise from others. Grand Theft Auto V represents, in many ways, the best and worst of all iterations, creating a game that is simultaneously one of the best games in the franchise and the one that sticks out like a sore thumb.


GTA V concentrates on three main protagonists: Michael, Trevor and Franklin. Michael is a former bank robber who faked his own death after deciding that the heist life was no longer for him. Franklin is a young, smart career criminal who’s looking for his big break to finally be able to live the good life. Then, there’s Trevor, a psychotic meth dealer and Michael’s former partner in crime, who acts as equal parts Hunter S. Thompson and Otis B. Driftwood from The Devil’s Rejects.

The three characters provide a fantastic dynamic throughout most of the game. As they team up to take on heists and other odd jobs throughout Los Santos, their relationship becomes more and more strained, creating a really interesting dynamic between all of the characters. This culminates in some surprisingly intense sequences where you are really not sure if all of the team will make it out alive. Be warned, though, that none of these characters are “good” people. They are all murderers, thieves and psychotic in their own way. If you don’t like playing the villain, this might not be the best game for you.


That said, the writing isn’t always as good as it should be. Often times, intense sequences are juxtaposed with jokes that, quite frankly, aren’t all that funny. While the game does have a sense of humor, often feeling like a buddy cop movie turned crazy, there are plenty of jokes that fall flat on their face. At one point, following an intense showdown, a running joke is introduced that feels forced and contrived. As a result, one of the most poignant scenes in the game is nearly ruined by a series of gay jokes. Maybe this humor was acceptable a few years ago, but in 2013 it feels like the easy, uncreative and offensive way to make humor.

Many of the missions in GTA V preserve the architecture of prior entries in the series. Often times you will have to drive to an area, shoot a bunch of enemies, drive to another area, rinse and repeat. These missions stand in stark contrast to the true star of Grand Theft Auto V: The heist missions.


At various points in the game you will team up to try to take down certain “scores.” These can lead to massive pay-outs for your characters. The game allows you to choose different approaches, as well as hire in team members to help you out. For example, the first heist has you stealing from a jewelry store. You can go in guns blazing or use knock-out gas to render everyone in the store unconscious. Depending on which approach you take, you may need to hire people with different skills. If you want to keep the alarms in the store from going off, hiring a hacker with a higher skills will help you out immensely, but with their higher skill comes the trade off of having to pay them more money from the score.

Additionally, you will have to do various things to set up the heist like finding and storing getaway vehicles or robbing someone of their credentials to enter an area. These missions are tense and exhilarating which makes how few times you actually do them a real disappointment. While the latter half of the game has more of a concentration on these heist missions, it would be nice to see more of them earlier on. Several heists, as well as almost every other mission not involved with a heist, will pay you nothing so you will have to make your money count when you get it.


Grand Theft Auto V has made several mechanical changes, as well. The most notable is the vastness of Los Santos. Liberty City in GTA IV was compact while Los Santos is absolutely massive, with a ton of various side activities to find throughout the game. There is a deluge of content available to players who wish to keep going after the credits roll, such as various collectables hidden throughout the world, races and even some random missions that spawn throughout the world, similar to Red Dead Redemption.

Driving has been re-tuned following many complaints about the mechanic in Grand Theft Auto IV. The driving in GTA V feels like a good middle ground from Grand Theft Auto IV’s “realistic” driving and Saints Row’s more cartoonish style. It feels far more tight and responsive than in GTA IV, but not so outlandish that you can do insane stunts with every single vehicle.


However, driving almost becomes more of a chore once you’ve gotten about half-way through the game. The world of Los Santos is almost too large. Sometimes, missions may be on the other side of the map, meaning you will need to spend a lot of time driving there. Once you finally take on a mission you may need to drive half-way across the map. Eventually, you might just give up on driving outside of missions all together and just call cabs to bring you wherever you need to go.

The Xbox 360 version does feel somewhat dated, even though it looks phenomenal. There is an incredible amount of detail in the world, but if you drive over a certain speed many textures won’t pop in for quite a while. You can crash into invisible objects, only to have their textures pop in seconds later. This feels like a game that needs to be on a PC or next-gen console in that regard.


Grand Theft Auto V really encapsulates many aspects of the Grand Theft Auto series as a whole, both for better and for worse. The storyline is dark (frankly, darker than Grand Theft Auto IV’s story) but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The humor is hit and miss and many of the more pernicious aspects of the series rear their ugly head far too often. The world is incredibly detailed and the changes to the gameplay make it the best handling game in the series. It’s not perfect but if you can get past some large flaws, you’re likely to have an incredibly fun time.

A copy of Grand Theft Auto V was provided to The Married Gamers for review.


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Author: Addam Kearney View all posts by

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