Grand Theft Auto V takes players back to Los Santos, a parody of Hollywood. For the first time, there are three protagonists (Michael, Franklin, and Trevor). They have their own quirks, personalities, and stories that interweave and bring the narrative to some very high, dramatic, and funny moments. The performances from top to bottom are tremendous and bring everything together. It takes awhile for it to sink in, but once it does it won’t let go despite some slow points.
At first glance it may seem like a standard face lift from GTAIV except with more to do. And really, that’s basically what is: a set of improvements. Characters, vehicles, and driving all feel better, if not a bit clunky still. Each character has their own set of main and side missions and money earned is divided up per character. While a neat concept, each character pretty much plays the same, even with the leveling up progression, like stamina for health, in place. On the plus side, any mission can be replayed from the menu, allowing players to re-experience some of the more amazing moments, like the set piece heists, spread throughout the game’s lengthy campaign.
To start off, Los Santos is gorgeous. There are tons of activities and places to see and do and finally being able to dive underwater is incredible. Unfortunately GTAV’s size is a case of quantity over quality. Sure golf and tennis can be fun, but it takes away from what makes GTA a good game. There’s just not that huge leap from GTA2 to GTA3 or San Andreas to GTAIV. Plus some of the mistakes from the entire series still haunt GTAV like the steep, and often times cheap difficulty alongside not being able to warp around easily. It was in L.A. Noire! Ahem, for positive end note the soundtrack is great, strengthened by its diversity.
At the end of the day GTAV is still GTA and that’s a good thing. It has its weak points, but the story is its strongest yet. The upgrades make it a worthy purchase for fans craving more, but for those looking for the next leap, this isn’t it. As a toy, it’s great, but it’s an uneven game all around. Perhaps GTAV’s biggest leap will be the online multiplayer, but only time will tell.
Score: 4/5 Stars
Special Notes: This article was originally published on September 30, 2013 via my Examiner account before the website shut down.