11:59pm, Westfield Stratford City, London, and people are excitedly queuing in anticipation of a momentous moment in their life. The queue snakes through the shopping centre with those at the front having waited for as long as 24 hours. It’s a scene reminiscent of a state funeral, Justin Bieber being in town or Hollywood stars walking the red carpet in Leicester Square. But there is not a teenage girl amongst them, nor is there an old lady waving the Union Flag – nope these are geeks and violence lovers, which could only mean one thing… GTA is hitting the shelves.
Yes I awoke on the morning of the 17th September 2013 with the same giddiness I would have experienced as a youngster on Christmas morning and as I switched on Sky News and saw these people waiting outside the same Game store I was on my way to, to pick up my copy of Grand Theft Auto 5, I could already tell it had been well worth the wait.
Rockstar have produced a masterpiece with the 15th instalment in their flagship franchise and when you play the game you can tell why it took them five years to create it. The attention to every last detail and the depth of the world they have created in the fictional state of San Andreas means that even after endless hours of gameplay you are still finding more and more things you have yet to come across or experience.
What sets this aside from all the others was the return to the original format of the first game in 1997 where we are given multiple characters to control, although they take on a completely different angle. First we meet Franklin, a streetwise repo man working for a car dealer stealing back the cars from clients who failed to keep up with the finance payments. You work alongside his best friend Lamar and eventually Franklin runs into retired criminal Michael, who takes him on as his apprentice.
You are able to switch between the two at any time you choose and complete missions which eventually leads you to meet Michael’s former partner in crime, psychopath Trevor, who becomes the third person under your control.
What’s great about the ability to choose your character is how different each of them are and it’s bizarre how they even ended up friends in the first place. Because of this you are given a variety of missions unique to each of them and Rockstar gives you the freedom to decide which ones you want to complete at which time.
Without spoiling it, the story mode is very deep, giving you options of how you want to carry out heists, learning out more about the backgrounds Franklin, Trevor and Michael along the way and how the latter two ended up falling years before. What’s more there are three alternative ways to finish the game, so it leaves you discussing with your work colleagues afterwards which one you all decided upon.
Also, if you get bored of the story you can just go out and explore Los Santos and Blaine County, wreaking havoc upon the poor citizens by stealing their cars, robbing them or even holding up local shops and petrol stations. Yes, all your deepest criminal desires can be satisfied without the messy business of sharing a cell with a hairy fat guy nicknamed the “Wrecking Ball”.
You can drive up in to the mountains and run over deer, hunt, play tennis, golf, darts and learn to fly and shoot. There’s so much more than just the story that will keep you playing, even after the missions are completed. The story will only provide you with half completion of the game, and finishing all the side tasks and property ownership will be the only way to get to 100%.
The online mode provides you with hours of entertainment as well. Despite the early hiccups of the servers, it’s obvious Rockstar gave an incredible amount of backing to ensure the multiplayer section was a game in itself. Plus, the risky decision of only allowing gamers to go online two weeks after the launch was a stroke of genius. This ensured that the game remained fresh long after the story mode was completed by the players of the game.
Online you can meet up with friends, go for a haircut, participate in races and share money amongst you from robbing liquor stores. Although it can be annoying that if the police spot you in a stolen car you are immediately running for your lives from the trigger happy rozzers.
What they tried to do was make it as much like real life as possible, with gamers having to buy car insurance for their personal vehicles in case of a serious accident. This all goes towards ensuring GTA 5 is set aside from any other game out there.
I’ve been playing for a month, and despite already completing the story mode I am still coming across things I hadn’t before. Only recently I discovered the prison in Blaine County and am still yet to master the art of landing a helicopter inside it without being killed instantly by the police. You can even take a trip up the cable car from the coast to the highest point in the state where you will find a parachute you can use to get back to sea level.
It’s obvious as to why this game provoked so much controversy with some community leaders going as far as saying it should be banned. However, the notion that a video game could turn our youths to a life of crime is to the say the least ridiculous. Of course before 1997 there was no violence in society, nor did anyone ever use a prostitute. (In case you missed it there I was being sarcastic)
I won’t go into a full blown rant about this though as all the controversy did was only enhance the sales of the game with some people just wanting to see what the fuss is all about. Those people now no doubt addicted themselves.
It’s hard to find any negatives with this title as every minute is enjoyable. The life span of the gameplay seems endless I really do feel that there’s nothing Rockstar could have done to improve it. Oh wait, the noise the deer makes when you run it over doesn’t quite sound how they do in real life. I of course being a seasoned deer hit and run driver.
If there was ever a game to go out with for the PS3 and the Xbox 360, this was definitely it. It showed the sheer power of the consoles and leaves me wondering only one thing – how good will GTA VI be on the next generation machines. Let’s just hope Rockstar aren’t going to make us wait another five years. Perfect.