I never had a doubt that Grand Theft Auto 5 would be great; however, Rockstar still found a way to completely floor me with their most recent entry into the series. Apparently a lot of other people were floored, too, with an unprecedented 97-98 score on meta-critic, and pulling $800 million in sales in the first 24 hours! With these kind of numbers, Grand Theft Auto 5 has quickly become the biggest entertainment launch in history in only three days, crossing $1 billion in sales! Makes me wish I had the foresight to buy some Take Two stocks when it was first announced.
If you recall, I spoke of what mechanics I was concerned about prior to the release of the game. It turns out, I needn’t have been so worried. Overall, Rockstar has done a fantastic job on most of them. One of the biggest exceptions, however, is that the melee combat is still trash. In retrospect, though, Grand Theft Auto games have always emphasized shooting over melee combat, so this concern may have been irrelevant.
The driving in the game takes a moment to get used to, but overall, I believe it to be solid. At first, I was crashing all over the place until I realized that the driving mimics more of a driving simulation, where you must try to separate steering from the gas and brake pedals. Once I grappled with that idea, I began enjoying the driving much more.
The gunplay in Grand Theft Auto 5 is pretty solid, as well, borrowing heavily from Max Payne 3’s system. Heck, even Michael has a bullet time special ability not dissimilar to Max Payne. However, my main gripe about the combat is that you die far too easily. Now, you’ve never necessarily been a bullet sponge in Grand Theft Auto games, but this iteration got a little crazy with death. Not only can you die in just a few short seconds when caught out of cover, but the penalty for death is very severe and can cost your bank account 1-5k in medical expenses (provided you died whilst free roaming).
This doesn’t sound so bad, right? Well, that brings me to the economy in the game, which I’m actually a huge fan of. Usually, your bank roll in GTA games was practically irrelevant except very early in the game. In the most recent entry, money is very scarce– just trying to bring enough money together to buy a business can be grueling. I really like that mechanic, though, as it really makes you earn that 150k property. Perhaps if you’re good/lucky, you can make tons off the in-game stock market, but I haven’t had too much luck on it myself.
The graphics and re-imagining of LA is fantastic to behold. Rockstar has outdone themselves again with creating a vibrant and a believably lived-in city. The desert area outside the city is great, as well, creating a stunning contrast to the tall buildings and cramped streets. I really don’t know how Rockstar pulled it all off on 8 year old consoles. I do know, however, that using both disc resources and hard drive resources simultaneously has helped them achieve this phenomenal optimization–so don’t complain about that installation!
The one new feature that Rockstar has added that has impressed me the most so far is the character switching. I was very skeptical to how well switching to another character would work on the consoles. I figured it would take a very long time for the game to load up. While it does take a moment, the time it takes is practically negligible. Not only that, but it entirely eliminates one of the most annoying things in Grand Theft Auto games.
Imagine you just finished a mission that ended on the very end of the map in a desert far away from any other mission and/or activity. In all the previous open world games, you would have to drive your butt all the way back. However, when that happens in GTA 5, you just swap to another character, and that character will find his own way back. Not only that, it’s entertaining to see what the character is up to–Trevor probably has the funniest character swap transitions out of all of them (He likes to lose his pants).
All in all, Grand Theft Auto 5 has delivered on just about everything so far, and I have high hopes for Grand Theft Auto Online. The more I read about it, the more it sounds like a Grand Theft Auto MMO. We’ll see in a week’s time!