If you’ve read this blog much, you’ll have realised I’m a huge GTA fan. San Andreas was my favourite, but GTA IV comes in a very close second. All of this is simply to let you know that I know I’m biased towards this series, and to let you adjust your expectations accordingly.
So far, I’ve only managed three hours play. I’ve only done two missions, and spent the rest of the time driving around, exploring and taking in the new version of Los Santos.
There is no slow start to this GTA. You begin in the middle of a bank heist, which also serves as the tutorial. Once you finish that, and begin the story proper, your first mission is to steal a sportscar. From there you can go at your own pace, but you’ve already been dumped into the world of GTA V and been forced to swim.
There are a lot of changes from GTA IV. To begin, they’ve either rewritten, or tweaked their graphics engine. The scenery around Los Santos seems even more detailed than in Liberty City. The out of city areas are also stunning, complete with wildlife – I suspect they learned a lot from Red Dead Redeption. The people still have that vague cartoony edge that suits the GTA world so well, and have perhaps taken a slight step back away from realism in this one — a change I think is good.
With a return to Los Santos, there’s also a return of some of the things that disappeared between San Andreas and GTA IV. Back is the RPG like element of having various stats that you can work on and increase. Things like driving skill, stamina, lung capacity and the like. The thing I always liked about these things in San Andreas was that just using them would boost them over time. For someone like me that loves exploring, this was the most fun way to boost stamina, driving and the like.
Possibly to go with this change back to the skills, the driving has been changed. I know many didn’t really like the way vehicles handled in GTA IV – but I was one of the few. Still, once I got used to how they handle in GTA V I’ve been having fun with them. I haven’t noticed much of a difference as I’ve been upping my driving skill, but it might be so gradual I won’t.
We’re also back to a world where there’s more than just city. There’s desert, a mountain, coastal towns and plenty of countryside to explore.
They’ve introduced something new (for the GTA series, at least). There are now three characters that you play as. They introduce the switching mechanic early, but it really isn’t until the first character’s story gets into gear a little that you can begin using the second character, and then the third.
I was worried that this would go the way of L.A. Noire, which just switched characters in the second half without warning and disconnected me from the story. However, in this case, they’ve done it well. You get to “meet” each character and become invested in them. They’re also such different characters that it’s fun to play each one.
So, all in all, I’m really loving GTA V and I think this is going to replace GTA IV for my ‘go to’ game…