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Grand Theft Auto V review

alex9234’s Sunday Review

Welcome to another episode of Sunday Review, and this time I have a confession to make.

I like Grand Theft Auto V.

Yes, you heard that correctly, I like GTAV. I had my doubts when I first played it, and when I did, I enjoyed every bit of it. I know some of you here aren’t very keen on the HD GTA games- Titan and ShadyKnights especially – but, well, I really enjoyed this one. And you’ll get to hear a review of the 2013 smash hit from yours truly.

The Plot

Grand Theft Auto V is set in the fictional American metropolis of Los Santos, 21 years after the events of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The story follows the story of 3 professional robbers – Michael Townley, Franklin Clinton, and Trevor Phillips, as they plan to take on the biggest heist ever – taking over $200 million worth of gold from the Union Depository in Los Santos.

9 years after a botched robbery by Michael and Trevor in the midwestern town of Ludendorff, North Yankton, Michael is living under witness protection with his family in Los Santos, and changes his last name to De Santa. The story then shifts to Franklin and his best friend Lamar Davis, who both work for a corrupt Armenian car salesman that often sends him on fraudulent repossession jobs. Franklin is sent to repossess Michael’s son’s car, and shortly after driving off with his car, Michael pops out of the back seat and holds a gun to Franklin’s head. Michael then orders Franklin to drive the car through the window of the dealer he works at, and after crashing into the dealership, Michael then proceeds to beat the crap out of the salesman, and after giving the salesman a good enough beating, he thanks Franklin for his help and the two of them eventually become friends.

The next day, Michael and Franklin find out that Michael’s wife, Amanda, has been sleeping with her tennis coach. The two of them chase the coach to a mansion, and Michael destroys it by hooking up a pickup truck’s tow cable to a steel beam supporting them mansion and then drives off, taking down the entire mansion. Michael and Franklin get themselves into a whole world of trouble, as they find out that the mansion belonged to the girlfriend of a Mexican drug lord named Martin Madrazo, and Martin then tells them to pay him enough money to fix the mansion – or else. Michael then decides to return to the life of a robber to get the money, and with the help of computer hacker Lester Crest, he and Franklin rob a jewelry store and manage to pay off Madrazo. The story then shifts focus to Trevor, Michael’s sole surviving partner from the Ludendorff robbery, who hears about the jewelry store heist and finds out that Michael faked his death and is still alive. Trevor then heads to Los Santos to reunite with Michael after he manages to track him down.

Then, the lives of our main characters take a turn for the worse. Michael’s erratic behavior and his return to a life of crime causes his family to leave him, Franklin is constantly being sent to rescue Lamar from gangster Harold “Stretch” Joseph, who is constantly plotting to kill Lamar to improve his reputation, and Trevor’s violent attempts to increase his control over numerous black markets in Blaine County gets him in a war with the San Andreas chaper of The Lost outlaw motorcycle club, numerous Latin American street gangs, rival meth dealers such as the O’Neill Brothers, private security mercenary group Merryweather, and Triad boss Wei Chang.

Michael, in an attempt to redeem himself, gets involved with billionaire investor and corporate raider Devin Weston, who gets Michael in contact with movie producer Solomon Richards. Michael and Solomon instantly become friends and the both of them work on a new movie called <em>Meltdown</em>. However, Devin plans to demolish Solomon’s movie studio and build condos on the land that the studio sits on, which angers Michael. Devin’s assistant, Molly Schultz, takes a film reel that contains Solomon’s latest movie and drives off to the airport, and Michael chases after her, which angers Devin. After chasing Molly to the airport, Michael chases her into an airplane hangar, where he witnesses Molly, in fear, run right into the path of a jet engine which sucks her in and kills her instantly. Michael retrieves the film and heads back to the studio, however, Devin blames Michael for Molly’s death and vows to take revenge. He sends a Merryweather squad to kill Michael and his family at his house on the day Meltdown makes its premier, but Michael manages to fend them off.

Then, Federal Investigation Bureau (FIB) agents Dave Norton and Steve Haines order Michael, Franklin and Trevor to undertake a series of missions to undermine a rival agency – the International Affairs Agency (IAA). Under the orders of Haines, they attack an armored truck convoy carrying funds intended for the IAA and rob a bank which contains the payroll for all corrupt police officers and public officials in Los Santos. As Haines gets put on the hot seat for his methods, he then makes Michael & Co. to infiltrate the FIB headquarters and erase all evidence being used against Haines from their servers. Michael also uses the opportunity to erase all data on his own activities, which instantly removes Haines’ leverage over him. The three of them then begin to plan the big one: robbing the massive amount of gold stored in the Union Depository.

Michael and his family make up and they start living together again. Then, Trevor discovers that friend and former Ludendorff heist member, Brad Snider, is not in prison as he was told, but instead was killed during the heist and buried in a grave marked for Michael. Trevor then develops a massive grudge against Michael, which threatens to undermine their plans to rob the Union Depository. Then, after Michael meets up with Dave Norton to talk about future operations, both Norton and Michael are betrayed by Haines, and the two of them are caught in a Mexican standoff between the FIB, the IAA and Merryweather. Trevor helps rescue Michael and Norton, and states that only he has the right to kill Michael. Although Trevor does not forgive Michael for lying to him, the two of them agree to part ways after the Union Depository heist. Now that everything is ready to go for the heist, can Michael and his crew succeed in pulling off the heist – which would set them up for life, or will they die trying?

The Gameplay

GTA5’s gameplay is third-person based, similar to that of Resident Evil 4’s. But unlike RE4, you can move and shoot, as well as take cover behind walls or objects on the ground. You aim and fire your weapon with the shoulder buttons on the DualShock 3, and you can detonate sticky bombs by using the left button on the D-pad. You can also use the auto-aim option to help you with taking down enemies. When you lose all your health, your character respawns at the closest hospital, or if you’re in a mission, it takes you back to the latest checkpoint at full health. When you commit crimes in the game, the police will respond and the wanted meter (ranging from 1 to 5 stars) will show up. After disappearing from the police, the meter enters cooldown mode and disappears after a certain amount of time if you are not found by the police. Also, all three characters have skill sets that represent their ability in certain categories, such as Stamina, Driving, Flying, Shooting, etc. Plus, each character have one special skill – Michael enters bullet time in combat, Franklin can slow down time while driving, and Trevor can deal up to 2x the amount of damage to enemies while taking only half as much in combat.

Though there are numerous missions that all 3 characters must complete in order to make progress in the game, the more difficult heist missions require aid from CPU allies with unique skill sets like shooting, driving and hacking. If an accomplice survives a heist mission, their skills improve, they take a cut of the cash reward, and can be used for future heists. Heists also require you to make preparations beforehand, such as stealing a certain vehicle, getting certain body armors or weapons, etc. Lester also has a set of Assassination missions for Franklin to take on in between heists, Devin Weston has Franklin take on repossession missions, and Dave Norton has Michael and Trevor take on jobs for the FIB.

Also in the open world, characters can customize their own cars by going to any Los Santos Customs shop throughout Los Santos and Blaine County. Each character has their own personal car, but you can obtain more by using the in-game internet on each of the character’s mobile phones, or by stealing parked cars, as well as the usual way, carjacking someone. New engine upgrades as well as parts are unlocked as you make progress in the game. You can also store cars you’ve bought, stolen or customized in the garages at each character’s home or in their own separate garages which are located throughout Los Santos. You can also fly planes and helecopters in this game, and each character has their own hangar – Both Michael’s and Franklin’s are located at Los Santos International Airport, Trevor’s is in Blaine County.

There are also in-game radio stations available when you are driving a car, like in previous GTA games, loaded with songs from all types of genres from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, etc. The soundtrack features songs from tons of various artists and bands, like Bob Seger, The Cult, Hall & Oates, NWA, Rick James, Stevie Nicks, Don Johnson, Elton John, Chicago, Kenny Loggins (who is also the DJ for Los Santos Rock Radio), Queen, Simple Minds, Phil Collins, The Alan Parsons Project, Def Leppard, Foreigner, Smokey Robinson, Marlena Shaw, B.T. Express, Suicidal Tendencies, Billy Squier, Rihanna, Wham!, Stardust, Pet Shop Boys, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Hank Thompson, Stevie Wonder, 2Pac, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, etc.

Each character can buy weapons from any Ammu-Nation store in Los Santos or Blaine County. There are no limits to the amount of weapons the characters can carry, so if your have the money, load up, because you’ll need to. Newer weapons are unlocked as you make progress throughout the game, and you can improve your shooting skills by going to an Ammu-Nation store that also has a shooting range attached to it.

The Characters

Michael Townley – Age: 45 – Michael is the lead protagonist of GTAV. He was one of the members that took on the botched Ludendorff heist in 2004, and after the heist, he fakes his death, changes his last name to De Santa, and he and his family moved to Los Santos, where they currently reside. He grew up in a poor environment as a child, and by the time he was a young adult, he became a criminal, and had been in prison twice by the time he turned 20. He is a very muddled person, confused by his “good and evil” personality. He spends an long amount of time daydreaming, where he thinks or reminisces about certain things and aspects that gives him a brief moment of nostalgia from his glory days.

Franklin Clinton – Age: 25 – Franklin is one of the main protagonists in GTAV. He is a gangster who lives in southern Los Santos, and he took part in drug dealing as well as carjacking, fighting rival gangs, armed robbery, before his best friend Lamar Davis got him a job for a corrupt Armenian car salesman, repossessing vehicles from owners who couldn’t make their monthly payments. He eventually becomes friends with Michael, and he takes on heists with him as well as Trevor, and also decides to take on the Union Depository job with them. Like Michael, Franklin also grew up in a poor environment, as his father and grandparents died when he was young, his mother became a cocaine addict, and was sent to live with his aunt until Lester helps out Franklin by buying him a house after the first heist mission.

Trevor Phillips – Age: early 40s – Trevor is the craziest Canadian video game character ever. He is a mentally unstable redneck and bank robber. He was a former military pilot, but he was discharged as mentally unfit, and after being discharged, he became a drifter, committing petty crimes along the U.S.-Canadian border with no goal in mind. He did not commit any serious crimes until meeting Michael in 1993 while escorting cargo across the border. Like Michael and Franklin, Trevor went through a tough upbringing in his youth, as his father was physically abusive and his mother was emotionally abusive. He was one of the members who took on the Ludendorff heist in 2004 and found out that one of the other members, Brad, was killed and sticked in a grave marked for Michael. However, he and Michael make amends and decides to join in on the Union Depository heist.

Lester Crest – Age: 53 – Lester is an IT expert, computer hacker, and criminal information vendor who is a close associate of Michael and Trevor, and he also helped plan the 2004 Ludendorff heist. He is the brains behind the heists that Michael & Co. pull off – he does things like researching options, establishing plans, planning out possible routes, and presenting them to Michael & Co to examine. Lester suffers from an unnamed wasting disease and is confined to a wheelchair, but can walk short distances with his cane.

Dave Norton – Age: 55 – Dave is an agent for the FIB, which is the GTA franchise’s equivalent of the FBI. He is a very corrupt agent and works under the equally corrupt FIB agent Steve Haines. He was also involved in the 2004 Ludendorff heist and worked with Michael to help fake his own death, as well as change his name and add him to the witness protection program. He eventually becomes worried when Michael returns to his old ways and attracts all the wrong attention. If Michael makes a wrong move somewhere, he risks exposing Agent Norton and himself.

My Thoughts

Well, I was surprised when I first played this game. I didn’t know what to expect and I originally avoided playing GTAV for some time because some fellow bloggers of mine on GameSpot spited GTAV, as well as critics hailing it as the BEST GAME EVAR. Well, not really, but you get the idea. Is it as perfect as critics said it was? No, but is it a bad game? No. I still think GTAV is indeed a great game and one of the best GTA games. The gameplay is excellent – the controls are very well done, the selection of weapons is excellent, there is a wide variety of cars, the open world is huge and you can explore pretty much every area of it. A lot of the missions are fun and challenging, however there are some easy ones that aren’t very eventful, like when you have to bail out Michael’s kids whenever they get themselves in trouble. My favorite missions in this game are the heists, and Lester’s Assassination missions for Franklin. The characters are quite the interesting bunch, especially Trevor, who is just SO messed up beyond belief. Just play the game and you’ll see what kind of things he does. However, Michael and Franklin, though they have issues of their own, aren’t nearly as messed up as Trevor is. The soundtrack is also excellent too. I usually just stuck with Los Santos Rock Radio most of the game, but I found tracks on other stations I liked as well. Though this is a great game, there are some problems. Though the game’s difficulty isn’t all that bad, enemies are constantly firing at you, which can deplete your health extremely fast, so you are forced to constantly take cover and you can’t always go in with guns blazing. Upgrading your car’s performance to the max, though is helpful when trying to get away from cops, can sometimes cause you to lose control of your car and flip over or crash into other vehicles, which can send you flying out the windshield at times. There is also an option to skip certain missions if you die too many times, which I find unnecessary and shouldn’t have been included in the game in the first place. There are also some bugs and glitches as well, but it’s not that bad, so I’ll give it a pass there. I mean, some of the greatest games ever made have some bugs and glitches too. Final Fantasy VI has some bad bugs and glitches, with a couple being gamebreaking ones. Overall, GTAV is a great game and one of the best GTA games ever made. I highly recommend it.

My score: 9/10


Published by alex9234

A skeptical game writer who doesn't believe the gaming press.

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