Top positive review
Well it's GTA
on 1 October 2016
Many people, myself included, were disappointed by GTAIV on its release. There was still the initial thrill of exploring a beautifully crafted city, but that soon wore off. If I had to choose one word to describe GTAIV, it would be dull. Generally dull characters inhabited a dull world, which was scattered with dull sidequests and predominantly dull missions.
I admit that I bought GTAV in no small part because of the hype. It was difficult not to get caught up in it, and I had very high hopes for a new Rockstar world. Many games struggle under the weight of such unrelenting hype, but I'm pleased to report that in my opinion GTAV is one of a very rare breed of games that actually lives up to the expectations that have been set by the gaming world.
Simply put, the world of Los Santos is stunning to explore; it is brimming with life and colour and it feels a privilege to inhabit it. In terms of scale, it took me over 10 minutes just to traverse from one end of the map to the other (land only), and that was using a very welcome fast-moving motorway that runs all around the outside of the island, weaving between traffic on a very nice superbike. The detail of the game world is also fantastic, with every corner of the map populated by little details, such as a colourful little hot dog stand nestled behind a farmyard barn right on the outskirts of civilisation. Taking all this into account, it would be ludicrous to criticise the graphics as not being as polished as very linear, closed-world games, but when the orange sun is setting behind you as you trek up a mountain side and look out at the sea crashing against the rocks, I challenge anybody to quibble about the graphics then!
In general, GTAV is a refinement of previous entries in the series and Rockstar's other open-world series, such as Red Dead. The character and car mechanics, the missions and the game world are all cases in point of this. Your character (there are now three main protagonists) handle well and the shooting mechanics have improved over previous series entries, but in my opinion it still doesn't feel as polished as some dedicated third-person shooter games, such as the underrated Binary Domain. The cars have real weight to them and are a pleasure to drive, and the sheer number of them is staggering. Unusually for open-world games (where exploration and carnage is king for me), I'm really enjoying working my way through the missions. There is so much more variety than the majority of GTAIV missions, and some in-mission twists that genuinely take me by surprise. You now get rated on each mission based on whether or not you met a set of criteria, some more difficult and outlandish than others, which has got me re-playing some missions just to get the higher rating. It's a simple but clever idea that brings added replayability, as they're available to retry as soon as you've completed them. If you don't fancy missions right away, however, why not just cruise around the city area, which is now less than 1/4 of the map size (don't worry - there's plenty to do in the rest though), and look for random events that you can participate in. Do you join two gangsters in holding up a woman outside a supermarket, or help her out? Or do you risk incurring the wrath of the police by trying to rob a security van? Do you return a civilian's bag to them after you've chased down their mugger, or keep the money for yourself? The choices are yours to make.
I could go on forever about the brilliant attention-to-detail that GTAV boasts, and the moments that never fail to make me grin like a kid who's just won a Mario Kart race. Instead, please feel free to ask any burning questions in the comments section and I'll answer if I can and I'm not too busy playing the game!
I'll leave you with two little silly morsels of information if you're still on the fence. Some cars now have three headlight settings: off, normal and raised. Brilliant eh? And when you've completed a taxi fare, keep an eye on the punter to make sure he pays you!
I cannot recommend this game highly enough if you're even remotely interested in the open-world genre, because in my opinion this game is at the pinnacle.