Given the pedigree and nearly brutish levels of hype surrounding Grand Theft Auto V, it will have been a shock if this wasn’t the 5-star humdinger that you simply expected. However right here we’re: Grand Theft Auto V is the head of open-world video game design and a colossal feat of technical engineering. It takes a template laid down by its predecessors and expands upon it, improving on and streamlining some of its rougher aspects. It doesn’t get away of that template and will be brash, nasty and nihilistic. But for all its more unsavoury facets, this is a game built with skilled mechanical expertise and inventive artistry.
And money. A lot of it. If the reported price of £170m is to be taken at face value, GTA V is the most costly video game ever assembled. If nothing else, that lavishness seeps from each pore of Los Santos, Rockstar’s twisted facsimile of Los Angeles and the grand stage for our crime caper. It is a virtual world of such large scale and tremendous detail that it continues to baffle how the builders have managed to squeeze all of it onto present generation hardware.
The city sprawl of the city itself is a tangle of roads and definable districts; Strawberry is an area of limited social mobility, characterised by boarded-up shops, tatty slat-board houses and gangland graffiti. Downtown is a cluster of high-reaching skyscrapers, the town’s homeless shuffling alongside office yuppies. Rockford Hills houses town’s wealthiest, lavish mansions sitting alongsideside costly hotels, tennis courts and golf clubs (each with playable sports, they’re good too). Vespucci Beach is a hive of swim-suited pin-ups and party boats. Vinewood is the neon-splashed refuge of movie-star wannabes
Travel north and the city disperses into countryside, reach Blaine County and you discover a brushland littered with trailer parks and filthy hick bars beneath the shadow of the County’s mountain range.
It’s enormous. And while the broad strokes of GTA V’s map are spectacular enough, the finer particulars are lavished with the identical care. Boxes piled carelessly in a player’s protected-house. The crude sign for a chinese restaurant daubed on sheet metal fencing. The night sun dappling an orange sheen across the panorama because it glints over the Los Santos highways. Hell, I used to be even impressed that my character’s flip-flops truly flip-flopped. There isn’t any expense spared on any inch of its colossal mass.
To place it one other way, Los Santos feels like a city that individuals live in, reasonably than a digital playground built in your enjoyment. The danger of this approach is that real cities won’t be as a lot enjoyable as a bespoke city-Americana theme park, however Rockstar make it work. My admiration for video game designers is aware of no bounds, but it befuddles as to how a mass of land as enormous as Los Santos is so tightly crafted and densely interactive. There’s a natural openness, range and cogency to the design of the map that makes it a pleasure to explore. And it’s a place in which the game’s missions can slot into in a way that leads to emergent and unexpected thrills.
I’m in Downtown, and after stealing some valuable weaponry for a jewellery store heist from a moving van, I find myself under the eye of native constabulary. Sirens blaring behind me, I gun my car via the latticework roads before finding a freeway. Thundering into oncoming site visitors, automobiles scatter and smash into the partition. It’s not long before I’m in countryside. I slide off the freeway into the brushland, sweeping round dusty trails and leaping over grass hills. Shedding sight of the cops, I dump my vehicle behind a bar, walk into a discount store, change my garments and find one other car. I’m miles away from where the chase began, in a completely completely different space, purely due to the natural course of my actions. Now I’m out in the sticks, freed from the regulation and with a scenic trip back to the town ahead.
Such a situation is enabled by a few things. The map design is one, with wide roads that will let you weave by means of its dense visitors and a cogency that means the expanse of land feels related from prime to bottom.
Secondly, Rockstar has tweaked how the police hunt you. Now you can play a game of hide and seek from the very starting, nipping out of sight down an alleyway or below a bridge and watch police cars prowl by. Or you’ll be able to go hell for leather and try to lose them in a high-velocity, destructive chase. Your choice.
Thirdly, the car handling in V is way sharper than the heaviness of IV. It retains just enough of IV’s weight and hyperactivity to make crashes really feel consequential and handbrake turns tough to manage, however is tightened up sufficient to make driving more immediately gratifying. IV’s handling was nice but took some work to master, V’s handling is best and simple to pick up. This extends to sea-primarily based vehicles and flying aircraft.
The driving is one a part of gta 6 android V’s technical enchancment over its predecessor. But earlier than we delve an excessive amount of further into normal mechanics, let’s discuss V’s most disruptive change. Instead of the traditional concentrate on one character, GTA V has you taking part in as three separate crooks. It’s a change that seems so fundamental on paper, however in apply is a revelation, making Los Santos’s large expanse more negotiable as you freely change between each character, adding spice to missions and permitting for a more layered narrative.
Let’s meet the boys. Michael has been described by Rockstar as “the GTA character who received”; a retired thief that has found his way into witness safety while keeping the stash of money he appropriated over the years. He lives a quiet, boring life in a huge mansion in Rockford Hills with his spouse and children. He hates it.