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*This review may contain spoilers for GTA V, read at your own risk.*
Rockstar never ceases to amaze me with its crude, gut-slicing humor and psychotic satire. That being said, if you enjoyed the previous Grand Theft Auto games, then GTA V is going to take you around Uranus and back (No, not the moon! That would imply that anyone who had a hand in this game is legally sane). I'm sure that when this masterpiece foraged from the fires of a thousand improvs was born, its creators were absolutely ready to screw with all of us.
And screw with us they did. GTA V takes place in the fictional city of Los Santos but upon light inspection, anyone that has lived in or visited Santa Monica, California will immediately recognize the striking similarities to the Pier, Pacific Coast Highway, the odd pastel homes that lie on its edge, and the ironically named L.A. River.
The game follows three interesting characters with seemingly uncommon backgrounds but with a common goal. The hijinks that ensue between the three of them will have you doubled over in laughter so far that you'll probably mow down a few civilians, but hey, who else but GTA?
1. Graphics and Aesthetics
I first watched the playing of this game from the sofa that I shared with my now-husband and brother-in-law. As soon as we walked out of your therapist's home we were screaming. We were next to that crazy Barbie-looking house on PCH and holy crap it was in the game! They had it in the freaking game! (As previously stated, I know some interesting things about that place, but I digress). If you've ever seen pictures of this strip of pretty, expensive houses in the game next to the real ones in Santa Monica, you would understand the appreciation we all had for the details and care that was taken for this game to resemble that area.
There were also cool references to Beverly Hills, Compton, The Valley and the Mojave, and even though these places were sort of melded together to make most of the Los Santos area, it didn't take away from the fact that Rockstar really held its own in this one.
Having been to L.A. myself, I enjoyed the attention to details and those facial expressions were to die for! Considering all the screaming and yelling that goes on throughout the game, I feel like little to no expressions would've ruined the whole experience. The cut scenes were pretty crisp as well if you're the kind of guy that likes watching game scenes where a lot of the characters have that crazy eye look.
Oh, and I guess the cars were nice too *heh*.
2. Music and SFX
Most games that allow you to use a radio that plays most types of music has an A+ in my book. The only trouble with this was the fact that you could only play music in a car.
I mean, it's not like 80 percent of the game is spent in cars stolen or otherwise.
You set your station and jam while literally flying through streetlights and I can't think of anything more therapeutic. So please, turn on your gangsta rap and blast it as you speed through the pretentious homes in the valley.
And be extra as hell about it.
3. Storyline and Plot
So, while I didn't get to see too much of the previous GTA games, I was engrossed with the plot of this one. Each character has his own backstory which very much helps the player understand why they are living such nightmarish versions of their lives now. Michael's life, for lack of a better term, sucks. His wife rakes through him at almost every chance she gets and is constantly putting all his faults on trial but doesn't look at her own infidelity or seem to appreciate the life he tried to build for his family...at least not while he's paying for her probably $1,000 tennis lessons.
Franklin has the almost typical kid-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks story and thrives in his conning and petty theft to turn a quick buck when he needs. His backstory isn't as elaborate as Michael's but their stories do merge into a much better progression.
Trevor is insane. There's absolutely no way around that statement, Trevor is super bat-out-of-hell crazy. And I freaking love him. He's probably the most entertaining character from that entire year of video game releases. Even though it appears that he's a whacked-out, drug-pushing tyrant, you find that he actually does give a crap about some of the people around him. His backstory is actually pretty messed up and its reveal sets in motion the climax of this game. Any time you can play Trevor, you should.
And why aren't you doing, like, all the side missions?
4. Game mechanics
GTA V handles much like the others and keeps many of its common themes. Just like in previous versions, there are no children (because I don't need to explain why), you can steal cars from driveways, shops, and even directly off the street by tossing some poor fool out of the driver's side and the gratuitous amounts of tools and weapons at your disposal is unprecedented. You don't level up in this game but you can improve the stats on each character.
Doing certain missions will earn you plenty of money to remodel your car, get better weapons, and it also pays off the hospital that continuously takes you in when you die and just doesn't ask questions. Car mechanics work differently in different cars allowing you a wide variety of options (as if you aren't going to literally crash everything you get into) and don't forget to customize your character so he can look like an upstanding citizen...or a bum.
Overall, take some time and have fun playing this. I'm sure I lost a few hundred brain cells but who's counting?