Last time I was in Los Santos, my name was Carl Johnson... Now my names are: Franklin Clinton, Michael De Santa and Trevor Phillips. Finally I got to play Grand Theft Auto V and here are my thoughts about it.
Like the change in Liberty City from III to IV, The City of Los Santos suffered a massive Transformation from the PS2 Generation to the PS3/XB360 Generation. Unlike the PS2 San Andreas, GTA V lacks Las Venturas and San Fierro, but it's way bigger than the PS2 SA and I think that it's bigger than the PS3 Liberty City too.
So, a familiar, yet different place with characters that are somewhat familiar, yet different. Some Missions feel familiar, yet different. Which is good and bad, since the game feels familiar, yet different. Kinda like when your favorite food joint kinda changes the recipe of a seasonal item.
Before I start with the review itself, I will comment on the whole Misogyny issue with GTA V. A Gamespot Reviewer got a beef with GTA V and docking one whole point in the rating scale because "it is misogynistic".
It's ridiculous! She's lowering the game's score due to an agenda and not due to the games real flaws; like say: Too short, cheap deaths (damn the cougars, the felines, I mean!), Online issues, being forced to do pointless activities (like Yoga, or the towing missions) to progress the already short story mode. Those things are reason enough to dock points off from the game's score. Poking fun at an obvious parody of fringe feminists by mocking their anti Patriarchy cries is not a real reason to deduct points off the score. The GTA series has made fun of pretty much everyone. Even in GTA V we have a pushover of man who worships his unfaithful girlfriend. Then there's the possibly Mentally Challenged male character. Not going to mention how most of the characters are NOT DECENT HUMAN BEINGS and are CRIMINAL SCUM, NOT GOOD PEOPLE!! Then again, the Criminal Underworld that GTA is inspired by,is not known for having positive role models (for men and women).
There is a lack of "powerful roles" for women in the GTA series, because the Criminal Underworld is not an area where many women are present. You get the odd female character like Elizabeta Torres, Catalina, or Asuka Kasen and they are special BECAUSE of how rare they are in this criminal underworld series. Using this as an excuse to deduct points would be similar to deducting points from DoA Xtreme Beach Volleyball because it lacks male characters.
Remember kids, GTA V is sexist because Strippers, but this is Totally OK!
AGAIN, the game glorifies crime, violence, racism, drug and weapons trafficking and all that is A-OK! Taking a jab at a caricature of a Feminist, Aw Hell No! That is bad and wrong! (Not to mention that the game makes fun of cults, juggalos, gang culture, gamers, etc.)
It bugs me that a "professional reviewer" ignores the game's real faults, but decides to dock points from the score for "Questionable Morality" issues on a game whose title is the name of a crime!
Now that I got that out of my system, I'll rant about the game itself.
I feel the game is a glorified DLC. Yes, Los Santos is big and there are lots of things to do. The problem is that the Story Mode is too short. Then again, the game feels like it was meant to be GTA ONLINE: Los Santos and the Story Mode was some sort of Afterthought.
Michael has a bit of shades of Vercetti, while Franklin is Basically CJ 2.0 (Then again, Franklin's VA is the cousin of CJ's VA. The playable character who doesn't seem to be a copy of a past GTA Protagonist from the 3D and HD eras is Trevor. (who happens to be my least favorite protagonist)
Unlike Toys I use a 1-10 scale on game reviews where 1 is bad and 10 is awesome.
The Story of the three characters intertwines. You have Franklin a former (Green Clad) Gangbanger from Los Santos that is trying to make something out of his life and works as a Repo Man. Fate leads him to Michael, a former Bank Robber (now retired) who is under a sort of Witness Protection Program with his dysfunctional family. Last but not least, Trevor is a former accomplice of Michael who now acts as CEO of Trevor Phillips Enterprises (Sells meth, smuggles weapons and other criminal activities on the Desert North of Los Santos.) is reeled in back into Michael's life. Crime, Corruption, Betrayal, and Over the Top Movie-inspired Heists.
The story of the game lends itself for a lot of the over the top missions that the game has and sometimes it's not as logical as you'd expect from the HD Era GTA games. It does have a few nods to GTA IV, but the Story feels more like the 3D Era GTA games.
The cars handle a bit better than in IV, the duck and cover mechanic is slightly less sloppy than IV (though I still find it sloppy) The Phones have even more functions than in IV and there are tons of Side missions and mini-games that you can do. Golf, Tennis, Yoga, Watch TV,Skydiving, Hunting, SCUBA Diving are among the things you can do. Hell you can even MOP FLOORS on one mission. It's a bit ridiculous since there's a lot of random stuff to do than there are actual story missions. One bigger complaint is the fact that there are random deaths that happen (Lose a vehicle outside the city and your chances of becoming Cougar food increase rapidly.) Hell, I completed the Hunting Mission for Cletus and the moment the Mission Complete sign leaves, a Cougar pops up and kills me! Another Mission had me parachuting into a moving flatbed truck. I land on the freaking truck and for some reason my character simply falls off the truck and Mission Failed! (Had to skip that mission after Multiple tries because I was so frustrated with it... Seriously, I was on the verge of throwing my controller towards the TV in a fit of Cartoony Rage worthy of the Angry Videogame Nerd)
I replayed IV partially, before playing GTA V, so I had some familiarity with the Controls. Then Rockstar switched a few things on the controls to add the Character Switch Mechanic, which still confuses me. (Had unnecessary deaths due to this confusion between switching weapons and characters) I still loathe the shooting while driving.
Sounds, Music and Voice Acting:
Well, I have an issue here. There's a LOT of music in the game, but I just rarely seem to notice it!
It's just that nothing POPS! to me like in past games. There's a sense of familiarity (heard them before) but no odd piece that I can say I'll actively look for it...(Aside Disco Devil, which is pretty much the same song as Chase the Devil from GTA SA) I really don't bother changing the stations and listen to what the car has on by default. I haven't even listened to the talk station that much and I know Fernando is there.
On the voice acting spectrum, I only recognized two voices. Jimmy De Santa who is an Older Danny Tamberelli (yes, the younger Pete from The Adventures of Pete and Pete) and Franklin's Aunt played by the First Aunt Viv. I thought that Franklin was voiced by CJ's VA, but no. The VA, as I said before was Chris Bellard's cousin.
So, I am at a crossroads. Do I rate it while admitting that I've not heard all the music or do I skip it?
I mean I can still comment on the voice acting, which is great (though some voices I find a bit grating... Mostly Tracey's). To be fair, I checked the songs that each station has on the GTA Wiki and it's a decent mix, though I could swear that I only hear like the same 3 songs on each station.
Since this is a later era PS3 Game (I'm doing a review of the PS3 version) The graphics are a bit better than past GTAs (or in this case SINGLE GTA). Not sure if Intentional or if it is the Los Santos Effect. Since LS is more superficial, then the people in it care more about their appearance.
GTA V gets a 7.4 Overall score. I kinda feel that Rockstar tried to do too much and like the phrase goes: a Jack of all trades, a Master of none kinda applies to the game. It tries to do so much, but it falls short on everything. The story mode suffered the most, since the story feels as short as a DLC. Then there's the Online Monster. I've had a few Freezing issues while trying online, so I gave up on it. Not feeling like uninstalling and reinstalling the game to play online after I had to do this a few times to play the Offline Story Mode.
Don't get me wrong, it's a GOOD Game, but it is NOT GREAT! The character swap gimmick is OK-ish, but it tended to disconnect me from the story. I think they should have just scrapped the entire Story mode and Release this game as GTA Online: Los Santos and MAYBE it would have fared a bit better. Let's face it, Online Mode seemed to be the Main Focus of this game. While it's an improvement over IV, it's not as mind blowing as San Andreas was over Vice City. I will play it every now and then, since I need to get all the properties, but I don't feel like going through the story mode again (unlike the 3D Gen GTA games which I still play to this date. CJ and Vercetti 4 Life!)