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The wait is finally over. Nearly two years after it was announced, Grand Theft Auto V is in stores and boy was it worth the wait. Having wrote countless features speculating about the game before release it is surreal finally talking about the game having already played it for over 65 hours. The game has received insane reviews including our own glowing review & is breaking commercial records everywhere. As a GTA super fan I am extremely happy with the game, but it is not perfect (nothing is). Let’s dissect what the game nails and what perhaps could be improved upon in the next installment.
Note. This is solely playing devil's advocate and trying to add a different perspective on the game. It’s obvious from all the reviews and if you've played the game how fantastic it is. This is merely talking about the minor flaws and criticisms I have with a modern day masterpiece. The only way you achieve perfection is if you seek it. So here goes nothing.
The open world in itself, which is undoubtedly the most important part of any GTA game, is almost flawless. Los Santos is huge and has so many activities to keep you entertained for many hours. It is bustling with life and has everything you could want ranging from random encounters and meeting strangers that offer interesting missions, partaking in a range of sports such as golf or the usual street races and base jumping. The whole map is given the same care and attention and the countryside is filled with gorgeous terrain and interesting sights to see. With the inclusion of wildlife also this really is one of, if not the best open worlds ever created.
When you consider how old the current consoles are it's extremely impressive just how amazing LS looks. This for me is the biggest achievement of GTA V as Liberty City lacked the replayability of past cities. This game really does have everything that will keep you coming back again and again even after your story ends.
The biggest flaw of the open world once again for me is the lack of interiors. The game is all about exploring the outside world and you don’t really notice it until you stop and think about just how many of the buildings don't have interiors. It has been a criticism of the series for years and I really thought this would have been worked out by now. It must not be a concern for Rockstar, but being able to enter almost every building in Los Santos would have just been incredible and added that extra level of detail that GTA games strive to bring to the genre.
Underwater is a tricky one also. I would not even mind if you couldn't swim like older games but with the scuba equipment, submarines and sharks it was clear before release that Rockstar was focusing on underwater more than ever before. The idea of being able to search through sunken ships was great in theory but that never materialized in the final game. Outside of when I had to for the story (which rarely happened) I haven't ventured underwater and don’t intend to. It seems like a waste of resources and needs to either have a reason to explore like the rest of the world which is admittedly hard, or just scrap it altogether.
The one area that did disappoint me the most was the story. While it is not vital to a GTA game it is still a big part and I do think there are still many ways in which it can improve. What started off as a rather unique take on multiple characters views and perspectives on trying to better their lives slowly turned into a more predictable and bland crime story. Stronger supporting characters such as Lamar started off strong, but were then thrown to the side in favor of the three protagonists and it was hard to ever feel attached to anyone due to how much screen time each individual character got.
I also felt that the game suffered the usual problems in the form of its mission structure. At times I felt like I was performing pointless tasks for people I didn't even know or why I was doing it. My motivation was unclear and it felt like the typical busywork in GTA games. I definitely didn't feel this as much as past games but it’s still a small area of frustration which I know can be improved upon in the future.
SPOILER ALERT - Story spoilers follow
The endings in particular I really felt underwhelmed. Boiling down the final choice into three boring options felt like such an outdated feature that shouldn't be present in 2013. None of the endings felt that rewarding in my opinion plus I would rather there was just one true ending like in Red Dead Redemption as opposed to giving the player multiple options, none of which felt satisfactory. My actions over the course of the game had zero impact and none of the options presented I felt stayed true to the characters I had come to know rather well during my time with the game.
Some of the character’s actions and motivations also do sometimes seem rather odd with Trevor in particular being rather bipolar at times. This does suit his character somewhat being a unhinged psychopath but I also felt that he went through a bunch of character revisions in production which ultimately muddles him slightly. The times where Trevor came across as a rather intelligent and scary human being were fantastic. He was aware of how crazy his actions were, made reference to them and was in on the joke. He was also clearly inspired by modern day super intelligent movie villains.
Then there was the unfortunately majority of the time where he seemed clueless at how abnormal his behavior was and at many times the butt of the joke. He was quite simply a dumb, deranged criminal and all the layers that were hinted out were thrown away in favor of an a more simple, comedy relief character. It is still entertaining but really could have been something way more memorable.
Having said all that I want to reiterate these are my minor criticisms of a game I absolutely adore. It was completely worth the wait and met my extremely high expectations in almost every way. The whole package is just so well put together it's really unlike anything we've seen before in the genre. Once again it's up to Rockstar to push the envelope in almost every direction and it really makes you wonder how long they can stay at the top. Seeing as they've been there since GTA III, I wouldn't take any bets on that happening any time soon.
Overall this game is undoubtedly a masterpiece. It will go down as one of the best games of this generation and arguably one of the best games of all time. Continuing to set the bar for everyone, Grand Theft Auto and Rockstar look set to dominate for many, many years to come. Long may that reign continue. The real problem with the game though; how will they top this with GTA VI?