Grand Theft Auto 5 review
Grand Theft Auto 5 (or Grand Theft Auto V, to give it its correct roman numeral-flavoured moniker) is unarguably the most anticipated game of the year. With front-page exclusives, multi-storey murals and millions of web clicks for the slenderest of cut-scene-encrusted trailers, Rockstar Games' September-set new sandbox for Xbox 360 and PS3 is the hottest of gaming properties.
GTA 5: Characters
Yet what we've seen has our mitts itching undeniably for a joypad or two, as Rockstar has rethought the mechanics of GTA more than the overly familiar, wise-cracking trailers suggest.
The new three-pronged structure has you jumping between Henry Hill-esque bank robber-turned-witness protection case Michael, car repo man Franklin and war-vet trailer-dweller Trevor with a push of a button, a character wheel jumping up at the bottom right.
We can but hypothesise that a co-op campaign with a mate helping you out in heists would be all kinds of ace. Like the second Kane & Lynch's Fragile Alliance multiplayer, but, y'know, good. Well, that's the dream.
GTA 5: Gameplay
In fact, we have a hunch co-operative heists are going to spawn a whole new genre of brag video on YouTube this year. We realise we keep saying heists a lot, and that's because GTA V has taken its predecessor's much-loved Three-Leaf Clover mission not just for its action set-pieces but much of its narrative.
GTA 5: Combat
We're thrust straight into the heat of one particular heist, straight out of, er, Heat (the old "block the road with a big van and ram them with another big van" routine), weapons of choice some dust trucks, boiler suits and a set of horror-film masks. Apparently it's a "Blitz Play", not an actual "Heist" – they are differentiated in- game by the amount of planning required and the size of the payoff – but it looks like one.
GTA 5: The World
Throughout our hour-long demo, Los Santos feels truly alive, whether you're paragliding above dirt tracks coursing with ATVs as adrenaline junkie Franklin, grabbing an abandoned speedboat, Far Cry 3-style, as Trevor after waking amidst a passed-out throng of familiar biker gang The Lost, or just being over-run by night-walking weirdos on Vinewood Boulevard. These feel like lives being lived; over-the-top, occasionally homicidal lives, but lives all the same.
War vet Trevor can dish out and take more damage than anyone (fair dues), speed demon Franklin can slow time when in cars for last-minute U-turns (makes sense), while Michael indulges in a familiar bit of a bullet time gunfire-dodging (because, well, he looks a lot like Max Payne).
GTA 5: Verdict
Yet these are still just hints, small tasters of what Rockstar has under the hood, and all our strained peepers can garner in a 60-minute sitting. Hopefully in the coming months our hands will be able to join in the fun and we can judge whether the most anticipated game of the year is on its way to being the best. But our eyeballs say it's looking good.
Ever wondered what the GTA V iFruit phone could look like? Check out our concept video below.
GTA 5 release date: 17 September 2013
Hands-on review: Matt Hill
Grand Theft Auto 5 review
Grand Theft Auto 5 reviewT3
Grand Theft Auto 5 takes an unblinking look at the dark side of American culture while returning Rockstar’s open-world series to its Bacchanalian roots
Grand Theft Auto 5 review
- Los Santos
- Gargantuan gaming experience
- Paying for therapy
- Recycled mission structures
- Having to wait for GTA Online
‘Grand Theft Auto’ isn’t just a video game franchise. It’s shorthand for an entire genre of games. Any title that contains a vast, sprawling map in which players tool about using firearms and vehicles to make mischief - such as Saints Row 4 and Sleeping Dogs to the upcoming Watch Dogs - is tagged as ‘GTA-esque’.
So when a series looms so large over the gaming medium, how has the developer gone about keeping it fresh while giving fans the experience they crave and expect from Grand Theft Auto 5?
Grand Theft Auto 5: Gameplay
GTA 5’s first innovative step is to plonk players in the shoes of not one, but three protagonists, which they can then switch between on the fly. In missions that involve all three, players are given a tactical edge, as they’re effectively given three vantage points to view the action through.
Can’t target an enemy with a clear shot with one character? Simply switch over to a second character that just happens to be situated in a raised position with a sniper rifle.
In some missions, GTA V's multi-pronged interface offers different ways of playing the same mission. In one instance, players can cover one character with a sniper rifle as they sneak onto a boat, or they can play the character on the boat and transform the experience from a shooter to stealth mission.
The quick-change mechanic also keeps the action moving at a pace. Finished a mission but don’t fancy the lengthy drive to the next one, which just happens to be on the other side of the map? Simply switch characters and get stuck right back into the action.
Every mission has a rating – ranging from Bronze up to Gold – and a list of mini-activities players need to clock in order to score a 100 per cent completion. For the first time in this series, players now have the option of going back and replaying any mission they’ve attempted at any point in the game they choose.
The missions themselves vary from tried and tested templates familiar to GTA fans to some truly imaginative action-packed shenanigans we won’t spoil for you here. The centrepieces of GTA 5, however, are the Heist missions.
Grand Theft Auto 5: Heists
At certain points during GTA 5’s narrative, players will be given a target to take down. In the past, this sort of activity would simply take the form of a self-contained mission, but here, players have two approaches in how they tackle a score. They’re initially briefed on their options and are able to pick out crew members to assist on the job.
Each member will want a percentage of the take and usually their percentage reflects how skilled they are at what they do. Crew members also improve with each score, but their percentage doesn’t, so it’s possible to level a rubbish hacker, for example, up to the point where he’s rather good at his job, but he’ll still only ask for 4 per cent of the score.
Once the method and crew are selected, players may find they have to scour the city for some equipment – like high-grade military tech for a bank job or a fast car stashed in a parking lot for a getaway. Once all the equipment is assembled, the heist commences and, without giving too much away – because really, they house some of the best moments in the game – it’s some of the best game design Rockstar has pumped out into the world in ages.
All the GTA playbook is brought to bear – driving, gunplay, precise timing and the ability to outrun the cops with a four-star wanted level – as the Heist turns from nail-shredding tension into a high-octane action set piece.
Not only are the Heists immense fun to play, they feel like a natural evolution in the GTA series. Best of all, a lot of this mayhem has an immediate pay off in the form of cash – once all the crew has taken their cut, naturally.
GTA 5 is finally on the horizon and T3 nabbed a behind-the-scenes live demo of the hottest game of the year
GTA 5 iFruit concept render
What if you could buy the GTA V smartphone?01:28
GTA 5 Official Trailer
Since Red Dead Redemption, all has been quiet on the Rockstar front about the next GTA, until now of course, Rockstar has unveiled that Grand Theft Auto is back and is coming next year.01:24
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