December 6, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 46°F


Review: Sequel game continues violent streak

Grand Theft Auto V

Rockstar Games

Since its debut to 3D with “Grand Theft Auto 3,” Rockstar Games’ “Grand Theft Auto” series has routinely been the subject of critical acclaim and controversy. The series boasts open environments for players to explore at their own leisure. Each subsequent title has been lauded for giving players unparalleled freedom and criticized for its glorification of sex, drugs and violence.

The latest entry to the series, “Grand Theft Auto V,” is the most ambitious of the saga. While some critics will pan the game for its liberal use of violence and sex, they will herald its open world gameplay, wonderful storytelling and its interpretation on American society.

GTA 5 has the player control three protagonists. Michael is a middle-aged, retired criminal, who seeks happiness and lives to do good for his family. Franklin is a young repo-man, who works with Michael to get involved with higher-staked and higher-paying jobs. Trevor is a maniacal drug and arms boss who thrives in mayhem and madness. Through the eyes of these characters, the player explores the city of Los Santos and the crazy and sinful people that inhabit it.

Like past games, this installment features mission-structured stories and sandbox elements, better aiming controls and realistic car handling. GTA 5 adds to these existing mechanics of the series, allowing players to go into shelter during gunfights. There is also a wider variety of extra missions and events to help the player sink into the game.

Additionally, new mechanics, such as being able to instantly change characters, engage in sport and leisurely activities and invest in the game’s virtual stock markets, add more diversity to the game. Missions are noticeably more complex than in previous games, often sprawled across the city as each character does his own task for a mission. One event has Michael rappel down a building while being carried by a helicopter flown by Trevor, while Franklin supports them from a nearby building by shooting at enemies. Storyline events in particular are extremely diverse, often introducing new weapons or mechanics, such as purchasing property that add flavor to the mission and unlock the mechanic’s use when roaming the city.

Graphically, the game is beautifully realistic. From watching the sunrises on the Los Santos bay from atop a Ferris wheel to marvelling at the skyscrapers’ lights that brighten the city at night, the game is visually spectacular. Environments never feel recycled, and each part of the city seems distinct. The variety of cars on the streets and the animated faces of the lively characters add to the aesthetic to the game. Some objects and textures, such as the fauna and the ground, aren’t as pleasing when closely examined, but given the open world nature of the game, it’s forgivable.

Sound elements, like roars of gunshots and screeches of tires, add to the city’s natural noise. The game’s voice actors deliver their characters’ lines believably, allowing even the most ridiculous characters and caricatures to seem plausible. In terms of in-game radios built into the cars, the stations they play are diverse, with mixes of classic and more obscure songs, and the radio personalities are flamboyant and hysterical.

In addition to gameplay, graphics and sound, GTA 5 achieves a level of greatness through its writing and social commentary. The game uses devices like fake ads on the radio to satirize American viewpoints of immigration, fame, the American Dream ideal, race, family, spiritualism, technology and government. Viewed as political commentary, GTA 5 hits the U.S. harder than a hammer on a nail.

This game gives an experience that veteran players will enjoy for the improvements to the series’ mechanics, and new players will walk into the most refined open-environment game of all time. The missions are varied and intricate enough to appeal to those wanting more than simulated violence. Rockstar Games has crafted what is likely the best open-world game yet. So sit down and turn on the console; the wonderful yet disgusting city of Los Santos awaits.