Grand Theft(of time) Auto V

7 Oct

The Grand Theft Auto games, since the first release in 1997, have always been the poster child for the worst side of video game culture, the sex modification “Hot Coffee” scandal, the promiscuous artwork and the fact that the main action of the game and its identity is associated with a criminal offense.

But when a game is around as long as the GTA series, it has the ability to grow into a pop culture phenomenon to not only rival but also obliterate blockbuster movies in terms of sales.

GTA V, released on Sept. 17th, cost around $270 million to make and in the first 24 hours of going on sale it made $800 million dollars. Trouncing previous records set by the likes of Call of Duty: Black Ops which sold more $200 million in about a week.

The effect this game has on the population is immediately apparent, as numbers don’t lie. Grand Theft Auto V has instantly become the best-selling game of all time.

So, is it deserving of its success? Or is it just an overblown fluke of titanic proportions?

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GTA V is the latest installment to the massive series, created by Rockstar Games and subsequent branch Rockstar North, and features similar gameplay and atmosphere from previous titles.

An open world game, advertised as being three times larger than any other map the team has developed, a do whatever you want action game, with guns, cars, planes, bikes, and a myriad of activities ranging from skydiving to tennis, all tied together by a coherent narrative.

The story itself puts the player in the shoes of three separate protagonists who live in the fictional state of San Andreas, and the city of Los Santos which mirror California and Los Angeles respectively.

Franklin, the black youth who’s tired of the small time repo work and has something to prove; Michael, the retired big time criminal whose materialistic family is driving him insane; and finally Trevor, the most deranged, frightening, and nasty videogame character to date.

As light hearted as the GTA series may seem this entry especially needs a gigantic red, “Not for Children or the Squeamish,” sticker plastered on the box art.

GTA V has intense scenes of gory violence, extensively horrid language, and an un-ironic handling of the satirized material found in games like these.

MINI-TORIAL-Everyone’s bad, so it’s okay to kill them.: One thing I’ve noticed about the GTA games is that I never feel guilty about a single soul. This could be that I’m a rational human being and that I’m not actually hurting anyone, or it could be that everyone you meet in the games, NPC or otherwise, are awful ugly people. You never see children or kindly old people, just a wide array of 30-something A$$-holes waiting to curse at you or flip you off for no reason. This of course makes it easier to expend these jerks as you revel in your own debauchery as one of the three awful human beings you play.But amidst the vulgar story and presentation there is a beautifully realized game. The city of Los Santos feels alive with the chatter of NPC’s, sounds of sirens music and driving cars makes you feel like you’re living in the world.

You can level up different abilities of each character by performing mini-games. A shooting range will improve weapon handling, as well as performing in triathlons will increase a character’s stamina.

Driving and handling vehicles in the game has been incredibly improved from the more “realistic” driving found in titles like GTA IV. The graphics are top notch, as the game squeezes every last bit of power out of the PS3 and Xbox 360. Buyer, beware though since this working of both systems has led to some major graphical issues.

On the PS3 the game will randomly crash or become corrupted to the point of being unplayable and requires a reinstall of the game data which can take up to 10 to 20 minutes at a time.

As for the Xbox 360 the game has to install the data from one disc and play it on a separate disc just to keep up, and if you install both discs the game will lag to a third of the games actual speed. The PC version couldn’t come sooner.

But when the game is playing successfully it’s easy to get lost in the world as you switch between the different characters and commit to different missions, the highlight of which are the Bank heists that allow you to plan out from different angles and let you make your own team to perform the job.

As GTA and open world games in general go this is the gold standard. While the story and character dialogue is hit or miss the game as a whole is fantastic, filled with time sinking side missions, a whole city to explore and three different perspectives in which to enjoy it, GTA V does indeed deserve its phenomenal success.

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