“Grand Theft Auto V” review

“Grand Theft Auto V” has already been heralded as quite possibly the best game ever created. When looking at it and playing it, it’s actually hard to refute that point.

Needless to say, this review won’t deal with the social aspects of the game, which have caused much controversy and discussion all across the gaming industry and those who follow it. Instead, the technical and gameplay triumphs that it holds shall be the sole focus.

That being said, it’s hard to know where to start considering what a behemoth this game really is. But seeing as it’s a very good place to start, let’s go to the beginning.

While the free-roaming mechanics of “GTA V” are nothing new to series, to see them in action this time is nothing short of perfection. The amount of space through which to wander coupled with the drastic changes in scenery offers both a feast for the eyes as well as a fix for any exploration addict.

The fact that there are beaches, deserts, metropolitan cityscapes and mountainous regions boggles the mind when thinking about the amount of work it took to sculpt this world as well as the strain it puts on current-generation console hardware.

Unfortunately, Rockstar has yet to fix the issue of not being able to walk in to any place you desire, but in all honesty, the amount of work it would require to make every building interior accessible would severely diminish the scope of the gameplay environment – or at least have pushed the game back another year or so.

It is hard not to compare Rockstar titles to each other since they seem to be in a class all their own, but if one were to do so with “GTA V,” the size would be comparable to that of “Red Dead Redemption.”

Take to the friendly skies and tour the coast in a plane.

While the two games offer miles of playable land, “GTA V” conquers “RDR” in a more fleshed-out populous. After 35+ hours of playing the game, I have yet to see two non-player characters that look alike on the street. While I’m sure that if I tried I could, the fact still stands that there is a multitude of detail and randomization in the game that allows for a more realistic world rather than a clone-filled metropolis.

Driving has been improved with more realistic car physics and handling. Damage to vehicles is almost beautiful when looking at the individuality of nicks and dents that can pockmark a vehicle.

Air transportation is still frustratingly cumbersome, but then again it is probably hard to mimic the multifaceted task of piloting a helicopter or airplane. Don’t fret as there is an in-game flight school at which you can hone your aerial skills.

Speaking of skills, each of the three main characters in “GTA V” has their own unique skills that can be improved upon as well as molded. Each character also has a special ability. Trevor goes into a rage which makes the damage he takes almost minuscule, while Michael can use bullet-time-esque abilities to fire weapons more accurately. Franklin is able to focus hard to slow down time and make minute or even drastic adjustments while driving, making him far superior to his compatriots behind the wheel.

The stories are sweeping and are full of the classic “GTA” wit and poignancy as well as not-so-subtle humor and commentary. The flavor of each storyline feels rich and full.

It’s almost hard to comment on it without saying the phrase, “You have to play it and see what I mean.”

While the story and world can be compared to “Red Dead Redemption,” the gunplay and combat mechanics can be more accurately pitted against “Max Payne 3.” “GTA V” has seemingly picked up the successful qualities of its predecessors and applied them more finely-tuned to itself.

The gun-wheel is more intuitive and sleeker on the user interface, while the cover system has had its kinks worked out.

I could go on and on about the single-player missions, the little tasks and strange but memorable side quests that populate the world, but I’d like to now talk about “GTA Online.”

Runnin’ and gunnin’ with friends is always a plus when gaming.

If you’re not playing “GTA Online,” you may only be playing half of what Rockstar intended for the consumer to have. “GTA Online’s” flexibility and multiplayer aspects are the dash of competition and excitement that the franchise needed.

While multiplayer isn’t so new to Rockstar titles – even to the “GTA” franchise – it seems to have been expanded upon and really polished. Of course, I’m referring to it post-launch after the terrible fiasco of absolute unplayability.

Creating a custom character and taking them on their own journey through Los Santos is fun and a new twist, but it isn’t the only reason to play “Online.” Getting friends together to play missions and go on crime sprees is another big draw to the online portion of the game.

While races, deathmatches and sports minigames can satiate the competitive player, the loads of co-op content are wonderfully fulfilling.

“GTA V” is a symphony of gaming bliss, if you’re the appropriate age to enjoy a violent, sex-filled, drug-addled romp through a fictional state. The missions for single player don’t reward you with enough money and playing the stock market to get cash is less than intuitive, but aside from these nitpicks and a few others, the game could be viewed as perfect.

“GTA Online” is probably the only multiplayer experience that could be created to compete with its single-player counterpart in spades.

For those thinking of picking up the game, do so as quickly as possible.