Grand Theft Auto is and always will be my favourite game franchise so, I guess, yes, I am a fan boy. I have played these games ever since I was a kid and GTA's original open world/arcade concept made me fall in love with both its series and open world genre games in general.
I'd been looking forward to the release of Grand Theft Auto 5 since I first heard about it and yesterday, finally, I received the game in the post, calming my child like excitement and leaving me almost in a state of disbelief... Has it really been 5-6 years since the last game came out???
Once the game was installed and I actually started playing, I was thrown straight into the action in a Prologue that introduces us to some of the characters, Michael, Trevor and Lester all of which play key roles later in the story. The opening mission, which is a heist, introduces you to the simple game mechanics, such as aiming, shooting, character switching, covering etc. All of these mechs had a familiar feeling, characters had a feeling of weight, but the controls had been improved upon in comparison to its predecessors. I won't go into too much details about the Prologue for spoilers but once this mission is over, the team are separated and Mike is presumed dead but instead is now part of a witness protection programme and is relocated to beautiful Los Santos.
The next section of the game introduces you to Franklin and Lamar. Franklin and Lamar work for a car dealer who orders the pair to "repossess" cars in return for a reward. Franklin is a great character, as is Lamar. They stretch away from the cliché "gangsta" crap that is so glamourized these days and you actually feel a sense of empathy for the pair, they just want to make it, but they are brought up in a world where they are not told how and survival of the fittest comes first.
After playing as Franklin for a while I got a real good feel for what the game had to offer, the thing that always made me fall in love with GTA was the little details, the things that, if you stand back and watch, only become apparent when you take a moment to drink in your surroundings. At this point I had unlocked a few extra features by playing some of the missions and took my time to enjoy the sandbox. I started out by visiting Franklin/Franklins aunties house, you could do the usual, change clothes in the wardrobe, save your game by sleeping and watch TV. Then after investigating the house some more I could drink beer and smoke pot while watching cartoons. Though I do not encourage the use of marijuana, yet though don't exactly disagree with it, this was a nice touch, it added to the persona of Franklin and a touch of realism. Why pretend that pot isn't rife amongst African American gang culture?
So after getting high for multiple hours, watching a hilarious satirical take on shows such as The X Factor and Britain/Americas Got Talent, I decided to take my dog, Chop, for a walk. The thing I liked about the addition of a dog for your character is because Chop is both a powerful ally as well as a great companion for burning some leisure time. You can take chop with you in most cars that have passenger seats and when with Chop you're given a baseball and you can play fetch. This is when more of those little details came in; I drove myself and Chop to a part construction site beside a railway and we started to play fetch. At one point I threw the ball too far, sending it to the side walk, landing in the centre of a group of three construction workers. The three of the walked towards me, cursing and yelling and all of a sudden one of the workers smacked me in the face. Little did I know at this time that engaging in conflict whilst you were with Chop meant that... Well it wouldn't end well for your attacker. Chop leaps in the air and brings the construction worker to the ground and starts biting him while he's on the ground. Whilst Chop was busy on him I attacked the other 2 workers and knocked them out stone cold. After this event I took Chop home, then went to a strip club. In strip clubs you can watch strippers on the podium, tip them dollar bills or shower them with multiple. You could drink from the bar and get rat arsed or get a private dance which actually surprised me. The fact they finally incorporated topless strippers as part of the norm in an M+ video game was great, it's like someone had a breakthrough. I'm not saying this for perverse reasons but purely because, GTA still contains sex, gratuitous violence and heavy drugs and language yet it meant it was a crime against all things to have one exposed tit in a video game??? Ridiculous.
After getting a private dance I returned to my home, in the early hours of a morning, sat down, smoked a doobie and hit the hay. This occupied roughly an hour-hour and half maybe of my play time and this was just playing with the world and the things in it. This is why I love Grand Theft Auto. The moment I realised that I was going to enjoy this game was once I had managed to start playing as Michael again. Within one day I got drunk at my house, customised a "borrowed" vehicle and went to go and visit my shrink. After visiting the shrink I decided to go and get my haircut at one of the higher end barbers and upon walking it triggered an event with no forewarning. I was forced down to my knees and I had a gun held against my head, the place was being robbed by an Asian gang. After they leave I was left with a choice; cower in fear and let them get away or chase them down kill them and retrieve the stolen money. Now if I chose to get the money I then had the option to either return it to the shop owner or keep it for myself. I decided to return the money as I was playing as Michael, had I been playing as Trevor the outcome might have been a little different.
So, so far my experience of GTA V has been brief, I have only played the game for about 10-11 hours or so and have only just started to scratch the surface. Rockstar always manage to improve upon its predecessor and make it look so weak in comparison. The gunplay is better, the open world is better, the graphics are beautiful and detailed and the setting/atmosphere which changes when playing as each of the three protagonists is seamless. The soundtrack is great, there is tons of radio stations offering different tastes and genres, and the overall pop culture and satirical references are as good as ever.
The reason I don't give GTA V a 10 is because I don't believe any game could ever possibly be perfect. There is always improvements to be made regardless of if the game is an instant classic or not, there is still something's that could be done better. I'd give this game about 9.8/9.9 for pretty much being the best game released in the last half a decade.
I'd recommend this to any die hard GTA fan and even to those who are not. This is a must play... Believe the hype.
Stay tuned for my run down of GTA history, filled with my own experiences and why it's my favourite franchise of all time.