Is it already time for part V again? Time to complain if the game doesn’t get a 9 or complain when it gets a 10, which seems unreasonable? Yes, it is! It’s the most anticipated Game of the Year, will probably receive dozens of awards for being GOTY and will be one of the best-selling games of this year.
It’s Grand Theft Auto V! But what is it that makes this game so damn good? What is Rockstar’s magic?
To try to capture the experience which is GTA and to see how it holds up after some time, I will write three posts the coming month: one after a day (which is the one I’m writing right now), one after half a month, and one after a month. Sounds fun and objective? Well, at least it’s fun!
My first impression when my Collector’s Edition arrived was a moment of excitement. I felt like a little kid again which saved up all his money for this one game he would buy for half a year. Except this time I already bought three other games the week before. Details, details. Looking at the whole package, I can say Rockstar did a classy job. A Los Santos cap, a blueprint map of the whole area, a “cash bag” with a key, additional downloadable content (to be redeemed online via a code) and a beautiful casing to hold the discs. Chapeau Rockstar, chapeau. You never cease to amaze, although the “drug stash bag” from GTA IV was pretty cool as well. Yeah, I’m an obsessive collector.
Fun fact: if you shine a UV light on the back of the blueprint, it reveals a secret message…
Did I mention the cap looks fabulous?
But that doesn’t say that much about the game now does it? Well, fortunately for you, I played the game as well! And boy oh boy, my first impressions were good! I find it amazing how Rockstar always meets your expectations, even though they’re always crazy high. You start the game with a flashback (no spoilers) which gives you a general idea of the controls and interface, which looks familiar to GTA IV players. A few slick adjustments can be seen though, especially in the interface. The GPS map seems to be more 3D and in-game Internet can be accessed from your phone this time as well.
After the introductory flashback, you can either choose to free roam or continue along the missions to meet the three main characters. Oh, you don’t know these fine fellas yet?
Let me give you a heads-up in case you forgot or didn’t know yet.
An ex-military pilot who basically is bat-shit crazy. He used to rob banks with Michael (we’ll get to him) and is also drug abusive. The real anti-hero of the lot, and not really the perfect example to kids.
Michael de Santa
Trevor’s old bank-robbing buddy who went into a FBI witness protection programme. His wife spends most of his money, while he’s on retirement and his kids are living the good American life. He portrays a satirical figure of “the Californian good life” and carries a lot of moral message with him.
A young kid from the streets who does repo jobs to make a living. His friend Lamar tries to get him to do gang-related jobs, but he tries to stay out of it. When he meets Michael, his life at the bottom of society is about to change.
My first free-roaming session
Now that we got them covered again, let’s move on. After the introductory flashback I chose to free roam, which is typically a thing most people do in a GTA game. And it’s typically a thing which just feels so perfect in Rockstar’s creations! I decided to drive around when I noticed question marks. These missions were called “Strangers and Freaks”, which allow you to make new friends by doing small and funny side missions. For one of them, I had to drive a motorcycle up to a limousine with a celebrity, while the Paparazzi on my back would take pictures. Another one entailed jogging with a muscular 39-year-old woman who was single. It’s all possible in the world of GTA.
After a few question marks, I felt like doing some casual stuff. So I went to the beach and rode a rollercoaster and Ferris wheel, after which I went to the tennis court to play tennis. Poor Anye, apparently she didn’t know who she was up against. (Or maybe I started on easy difficulty..) After that I noticed a bleeping sign on my radar. It was a random occurrence! A preacher named Jesse told me about life and death, and the fact that death would be even cooler than life. I chuckled. After the conversation I called for a blimp (pre-order bonus content) and flew around Los Santos. For a moment, I felt pure happiness. What a game.
This is why GTA is the leader in its genre. It’s because it’s packed with fun stuff to do, carries an intriguing storyline (so far) and is full of details. A good example is Michael, who is mid-40s, and will have a heart attack if you sprint too long with him. The game also carries a lot of humour (humping dogs, just keep that in mind) and overall makes you feel good. You escape from the outside world and feel part of the Grand Theft Auto story arc. But that’s not all.
For those who are looking for more, there’s a moral message underneath all of the big time violence, the satire of real life television and our capitalistic society. It reveals a lot of our Western world’s moral flaws with exact precision, precisely by satirizing the hell out of it. Michael who saves his son, but loses his boat (sorry for that tiny spoiler) and screams “Don’t you DAAAD me, you little shit”, is just one example of many to come.
And for now, I bid you bye-bye. I am going to play some more GTA V. See you in half a month!