Wednesday, September 18, 2013

GTA V - First Impressions

I've finally done it! I stopped playing GTA V long enough to write this post! This won’t be anything long-winded or too in-depth, mostly because I’m only about 24 hours into the game and I don’t even see the end in sight at all. Anyway, so as not to waste your time or mine, here are my first impressions of the game.

Let me say right off the bat that the game looks gorgeous. I haven’t read any other reviews (honestly, I haven’t, I promise), but the one thing I kept hearing on Twitter and Facebook was that the graphics look fantastic – the best on the Xbox 360, some have said. Well I would have to concur with the general idea on the graphics. They’re stunning, so much so that I found myself just stopping and looking around on more than a few occasions, and simply flying planes around or boating around randomly so I could catch looks at mountains, or the city skyline. Seriously folks, if this game can hang its hat on one thing, it’s the graphics.

However, GTA V is so much more than graphics (which is great because as many gamers would agree, graphics are not what make a game good): the gameplay, in-game distractions, and dialogue shine as well. General gameplay hasn't deviated much from GTA IV – the cover, driving, and shooting systems stay pretty much intact. Rockstar obviously and smartly stuck with the revolutionary cover system from GTA IV, allowing you to hide behind essentially anything solid in the game. Driving feels more realistic (as much as a GTA game can be), with crashes feeling more like crashes, and speed actually feeling absolutely reckless and dangerous. Shooting is almost exactly the same, with the only exception being that you choose weapons from a “wheel system”. Although this slows down gameplay a bit, it allows you to carefully select the proper weapon for the job while not leaving you too exposed to damage while cycling through guns.

The best part about the game so far are the extracurricular activities you can partake is – anything from yoga, to golf, to tennis, to races and more is at your fingertips almost from the start. This has been the most enjoyable part of the game for me thus far, as I've easily spent 5+ hours playing golf & tennis, running triathlons, and racing vehicles around Los Santos. If you get bored with shooting people or planning heists (which you will in a game so massive), there’s plenty of fun and well-designed distractions to partake in.

And what Grand Theft Auto game would be complete without hilarious dialogue and insane characters? In a world created to look and feel like Los Angeles, you’ll find plenty of interesting people, from celebrity stalkers, to rednecks, to cracked out biker gangs. And unlike GTA IV, I actually found myself laughing out loud at the dialogue, which Rockstar seems to have paid great attention to in order to make it not only brilliantly hilarious, but a great example of satire on American culture.  Will you be offended by some of this? Probably, but if you’re worried about that then you’re playing the wrong game, ladies and gentlemen.

The only issue I have thus far with GTA V is the difficulty in some of the missions. Far too often did I find myself dying randomly from one-shot kills. Apparently Rockstar made damage a bit more realistic, because I was taken down by head shots when trying to find cover.  It was a bit frustrating when in the middle of a mission or at the start of a mission when you’re trying to get set up for your attack, only to be reset because of some lucky AI sniping you down. Even missions that would seem simple and easy can turn frustrating when your enemies turn out to be crack shots and light you up unexpectedly. The moral of the story that I've learned is to always go loaded for bear, and find cover before any and all missions. Perhaps this was intentional by Rockstar to make you plan out all missions in some way, but if so it wasn't very apparent and led to some minor rage quitting in the first ten hours.

Well, there you have it. So far, GTA V is a stellar game, with beautiful graphics, hilarious dialogue, and fun gameplay. Nothing is terribly groundbreaking in this game except for the character switching which adds some variety when you get bored with one or more character. I’ll have a more thorough review sometime in the future once I play through the game once, but for now, I have a heist to plan…or shower. I’m not sure which one takes priority anymore.

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