Given the pedigree and nearly brutish levels of hype surrounding Grand Theft Auto V, it might have been a surprise if this wasn’t the 5-star humdinger that you just expected. But right here we’re: Grand Theft Auto V is the top 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, improving on and streamlining some of its rougher aspects. It doesn’t get away of that template and might be brash, nasty and nihilistic. But for all its more unsavoury points, this is a game constructed with expert mechanical experience and artistic artistry.
And money. A lot of it. If the reported value of £170m is to be taken at face value, GTA V is the most expensive 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 is a digital world of such super scale and fantastic detail that it continues to baffle how the builders have managed to squeeze all of it onto current generation hardware.
The city sprawl of the town itself is a tangle of roads and definable districts; Strawberry is an area of limited social mobility, characterised by boarded-up shops, tatty slat-board houses and gangland graffiti. Downtown is a cluster of high-reaching skyscrapers, town’s houseless shuffling alongside office yuppies. Rockford Hills houses town’s wealthiest, lavish mansions sitting alongsideside costly hotels, tennis courts and golf clubs (each 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
Journey north and the town disperses into countryside, attain Blaine County and also you find a brushland littered with trailer parks and filthy hick bars beneath 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 player’s secure-house. The crude sign for a chinese restaurant daubed on sheet metal fencing. The night sun dappling an orange sheen throughout the landscape as it glints over the Los Santos highways. Hell, I used to be even impressed that my character’s flip-flops truly flip-flopped. There is no such thing as a expense spared on any inch of its colossal mass.
To put it one other manner, Los Santos feels like a metropolis that people live in, fairly than a virtual playground constructed for your enjoyment. The danger of this method is that real cities might not be as a lot fun as a bespoke urban-Americana theme park, but Rockstar make it work. My admiration for video game designers knows no bounds, but it surely 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, variety and cogency to the design of the map that makes it a pleasure to explore. And it’s a place in which the game’s missions can slot into in a manner that leads to emergent and unexpected thrills.
I’m in Downtown, and after stealing some precious weaponry for a jewellery store heist from a moving van, I find myself under the attention of native constabulary. Sirens blaring behind me, I gun my automobile by the latticework roads earlier than discovering a freeway. Thundering into oncoming visitors, cars scatter and smash into the partition. It’s not long earlier than I’m in countryside. I slide off the freeway into the brushland, sweeping spherical dusty trails and leaping over grass hills. Shedding sight of the cops, I dump my vehicle behind a bar, stroll into a discount store, change my garments and discover another car. I’m miles away from where the chase began, in a completely totally different area, purely as a result of pure course of my actions. Now I’m out within the sticks, freed from the legislation and with a scenic trip back to the town ahead.
Such a scenario is enabled by a couple of things. The map design is one, with vast roads that can help you weave by its dense visitors and a cogency that means the expanse of land feels connected from prime to bottom.
Secondly, Rockstar has tweaked how the police hunt you. Now you can play a game of hide and seek from the very starting, nipping out of sight down an alleyway or beneath a bridge and watch police automobiles prowl by. Or you’ll be able to go hell for leather-based and try to lose them in a high-speed, harmful chase. Your choice.
Thirdly, the car dealing with in V is much sharper than the heaviness of IV. It retains just enough of IV’s weight and hyperactivity to make crashes really feel consequential and handbrake turns tough to regulate, but is tightened up sufficient to make driving more immediately gratifying. IV’s handling was great however took some work to master, V’s handling is healthier and easy to pick up. This extends to sea-based vehicles and flying aircraft.
The driving is one part of GTA V’s technical enchancment over its predecessor. But earlier than we delve an excessive amount of further into common mechanics, let’s speak about V’s most disruptive change. Instead of the traditional concentrate on one character, GTA V has you playing as three separate crooks. It’s a change that appears so primary on paper, however in follow is a revelation, making Los Santos’s large 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 5 for android character who won”; a retired thief that has found his way into witness protection while keeping the stash of money he appropriated over the years. He lives a quiet, boring life in an enormous mansion in Rockford Hills with his spouse and two children. He hates it.