Given the pedigree and virtually brutish levels of hype surrounding Grand Theft Auto V, it would have been a surprise if this wasn’t the 5-star humdinger that you expected. However here we are: 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 break out of that template and will be brash, nasty and nihilistic. However for all its more unsavoury aspects, this is a game built with expert mechanical expertise and creative artistry.
And money. Numerous it. If the reported price of £170m is to be taken at face value, GTA V is the costliest video game ever assembled. If nothing else, that lavishness seeps from each pore of Los Santos, Rockstar’s twisted facsimile of Los Angeles and the grand stage for our crime caper. It’s a digital world of such super scale and tremendous element that it continues to baffle how the developers 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 residenceless shuffling alongsideside office yuppies. Rockford Hills houses the city’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 you discover a brushland littered with trailer parks and filthy hick bars below the shadow of the County’s mountain range.
It’s enormous. And while the broad strokes of GTA V’s map are impressive sufficient, the finer details are lavished with the identical care. Boxes piled carelessly in a participant’s protected-house. The crude sign for a chinese restaurant daubed on sheet metal fencing. The evening sun dappling an orange sheen throughout the panorama because it glints over the Los Santos highways. Hell, I used to be even impressed that my character’s flip-flops truly flip-flopped. There isn’t a expense spared on any inch of its colossal mass.
To place it one other method, Los Santos appears like a metropolis that folks live in, quite than a virtual playground built to your enjoyment. The hazard of this strategy is that real cities might not be as a lot fun as a bespoke city-Americana theme park, however Rockstar make it work. My admiration for video game designers is aware of no bounds, nevertheless it befuddles as to how a mass of land as huge as Los Santos is so tightly crafted and densely interactive. There’s a pure openness, diversity and cogency to the design of the map that makes it a pleasure to explore. And it’s a spot in which the game’s missions can slot into in a manner 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 discover myself underneath the attention of local constabulary. Sirens blaring behind me, I gun my automotive by the latticework roads before finding a freeway. Thundering into oncoming visitors, automobiles scatter and smash into the partition. It’s not lengthy before I’m in countryside. I slide off the freeway into the brushland, sweeping spherical dusty trails and leaping over grass hills. Dropping sight of the cops, I dump my vehicle behind a bar, stroll into a reduction store, change my garments and discover another car. I’m miles away from the place the chase started, in a very totally different space, purely because of the natural course of my actions. Now I’m out within the sticks, free of the legislation and with a scenic trip back to the city ahead.
Such a scenario is enabled by just a few things. The map design is one, with extensive roads that will let you weave via its dense traffic and a cogency meaning the expanse of land feels related from high to bottom.
Secondly, Rockstar has tweaked how the police hunt you. Now you can play a game of hide and seek from the very beginning, nipping out of sight down an alleyway or under a bridge and watch police vehicles prowl by. Or you can 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 much sharper than the heaviness of IV. It retains just sufficient of IV’s weight and hyperactivity to make crashes really feel consequential and handbrake turns tough to control, however is tightened up enough to make driving more immediately gratifying. IV’s handling was nice however took some work to master, V’s dealing with is healthier and straightforward to pick up. This extends to sea-based mostly vehicles and flying aircraft.
The driving is one a part of gta 5 for android V’s technical improvement over its predecessor. However earlier than we delve too much additional into general mechanics, let’s discuss V’s most disruptive change. Instead of the traditional focus on one character, GTA V has you playing as three separate crooks. It’s a change that appears so basic on paper, however in follow is a revelation, making Los Santos’s enormous expanse more negotiable as you freely swap between every character, adding spice to missions and permitting for a more layered narrative.
Let’s meet the boys. Michael has been described by Rockstar as “the GTA character who won”; a retired thief that has discovered his way into witness safety while keeping the stash of cash he appropriated over the years. He lives a quiet, boring life in a huge mansion in Rockford Hills with his wife and children. He hates it.