GTA5 is big, really big. It’s an epic world filled with activities, random encounters and stunning vistas. We couldn’t possibly cover the full game anytime soon. So here at TwinStick we have decided to give you a short tour of our time in Los Santos. There should be no spoilers, but if you know nothing of the game you may find something here you don’t want to see.
Mike ‘Digitalgonzo’ Butcher
I love the GTA series. I have 100% all of the 3D offerings. 200 pigeons? No problem. It’s the world that Rockstar creates that I love, and it keeps drawing me back in. Other open world games have never captured the street level charm of GTA. The harsh changes between the upper and lower class areas of the city. The chatter of people and life moving around you is truly immersive. Districts have recognisable landmarks, the grubby and downtrodden alleys, filled with hobos and shopping carts are brimming with character and purpose. GTA cities play as big a part in the game as your main character.
GTA5 turns the notch to 12. Los Santos, Rockstar’s most ambitious game world yet is a true marvel for the current gen. The draw distance alone is impressive, but when combined with Rockstar’s confidence and skill at creating a believable world it’s something very special. From the sun baked beaches of Del Perro to the misty top of Mount Chiliad the visual fidelity is almost unrivalled (on consoles).
Characters are another one of Rockstar’s strong points. GTA5 features a solid and well voiced cast of characters. I spent the first few hours of the game debating with myself who was my favourite. Switching between Michael and Franklin after most encounters, I couldn’t decide whether I preferred Michael and his love of drinking and classic movies or Franklin and his buddy Lamar constantly bitching at each other. Then I met Trevor. Now, a lot of people won’t like Trevor, he’s crude, violent, and constantly talks about his dick but he’s the wildcard of the bunch.
Splitting the game into three vastly different characters allows Rockstar to bring back some of the fan favourites missing from GTA4. Rampages and general mayhem is totally Trevor’s MO. Street racing and assassination missions are left in the capable hands of Frankiln, and Michael gets to do a little yoga?
Mind = blown. Where do I begin? The fantastic and surprisingly seamless console graphics, the already convincing playable characters and their storylines, or maybe the massive interactive environments? All of them, and more! For those that have played previous titles in Rockstar’s flagship franchise, this resembles the older GTA San Andreas more than the predecessor, GTA IV – but it’s bigger, and better. I’ve only played a couple of hours so far, and I’ve already got excited about the statistics available to ‘level up’, noticed bicycles that I sorely missed (for some inexplicable reason, I loved those bicycles!) and felt a bigger gangster ‘vibe’ that I would have never felt in GTA IV.
I’ve already played 3 sets of tennis with one of the characters and I’m not bored yet, that’s 2 sets more than I played on Topspin 4; every detail has been fine-tuned for the best user experience, and I thank the developers for it. The missions I’ve played so far with the characters Franklin and Michael are intuitive and definitely break the boundaries that other popular mainstream games have set in the past – I cast my mind back to a scene with a Yacht. It also looks like similar lip-syncing techniques were used with GTA V as there was with the Rockstar published title, L.A Noire, as there isn’t any ‘fish mouth’ facial animation going on whenever speech is involved.
So far, only a few things have marred my experiences with GTA V, the main of those being the presence of Rockstar’s Social Club. It may well be in the game, but it’s not working. We’ll let them off as it’s likely due to the unprecedented number of sales. There have been a couple of spelling mistakes on the in-game ‘internet’, and I believe the UI/wording used for restarting missions could be a bit smoother. But, so far, so good – I haven’t played the whole game yet, but in terms of other games up to this point in gameplay, this is my GOTY so far.
It’s hard to sum up my experience with Grand Theft Auto V so far. What I will say is this: since June, this is the longest period that The Last of Us has spent out of my PS3. GTA V has successfully supplanted Naughty Dog’s masterpiece since the morning of September 17th.
Rockstar’s latest controversy laden hit is absolutely stunning. Right from the prologue style first mission, you know something is different. Everything has more polish and just fits together so much better than before. The presentation is of the kind of standard seen in the very best TV dramas or movies. The dialogue and banter between characters flows easily and naturally and somehow the game puts you in a position of being able to jump straight into missions OR explore the world around you freely without it ever feeling like you’ve broken character or lost the plot. When you are on a mission, it feels like you took it on at the perfect moment. Likewise, when a mission is complete you feel simultaneously free to carry straight on with the next part of the story – or, as I did, take Franklin down to the shooting range and Michael out for a game of tennis.
It’s truly amazing, seamless stuff. Each mission (so far), regardless of length, feels well put together and important to the plot and character development.
Having the freedom to customise characters (or dressing up the dollies, as my wife likes to call it) right away is something I’ve been enjoying immensely! Being able to have some choices in what my characters wear, how they have their haircut and facial hair arranged is a small but important part of feeling like the game is tailored to you – this is YOUR story as much as it is Franklin, Michael and Trevor’s (naturally, I bearded them all up at the first opportunity). It might not make a difference to many, but the fact that MY Franklin travels about the place looking like Questlove from The Roots adds to my experience immeasurably!
Too early to say if it’s my personal Game of The Year yet, but it’s definitely hit the ground running!
My love for the Grand Theft Auto series waned after GTA Vice City. The game itself was, and still is, magnificent. However, at the time, I was ready to move on to new gaming experiences. The other GTAs on offer couldn’t entice me back, not in the same way GTA 3 or Vice City had. But the excitement surrounding GTA 5 was too much to simply put off.
I’m delighted I didn’t. Whilst this is still very much a recognizable Grand Theft Auto, everything – for the first time in a long time – feels fresh and polished. Everything I loved about the PS2 originals has been restored, yet re-invigorated. The whole feel and the various vibes and styles of Los Santos are so engrossing, you could easily forget you have missions to carry out. In the short time I’ve played GTA 5, I’ve taken time out to simply explore. Speeding down the winding streets and stretches of motorways to come across beaches, mountains and countryside was awe-inspiring. On my motorbike I sped up to the highest mountain (that I’ve currently come across) just to see if I could. Just to see what was up there. I spent 10 minutes taking in the scenery. The vastness of exploration before me. Then, like a cat who climbs the curtains, I began to wonder how I was going to get down.
Most amazingly, unlike previous GTA’s, these transitions between scenery appear seamless. In the past, the sections of previous cities felt like they were in blocks. Here’s your ghetto, here’s your upstate houses and here’s your yuppie office buildings. Those boundaries are torn down in GTA 5; Los Santos has its territories but, like a real city, when travelling from one area to another, those changes only seem to hit you once you are in the thick of it. Los Santos is certainly a living, breathing city.
What compliments these transitions is GTA 5’s three main characters, Michael, Franklin and Trevor. Each one comes from a distinct estate and you really feel that each character belongs there. Each one has a history that feels lived in. In previous GTA’s you play one character and through circumstance are thrown into areas and situations you wouldn’t normally end up in. Whilst not blatantly apparent, this always felt a little forced to me. With GTA 5 the characterization and story telling is spot on because of the interwoven links these three characters have. Every single one of them has the right to be somewhere within Los Santos without feeling out of place. All of this opens up Los Santos into the player’s playground. Many games have claimed to be “the most immersive” but I doubt many, if any of them could challenge GTA 5.
There we have it, the first impressions from a select few of team Twinstick. We know what you’re thinking: there are some people’s thoughts missing. Actually, there are a lot of people’s thoughts and first impressions missing. All of yours for starters!
So tell us what you’ve enjoyed so far in the comments below! What should we people look out for? What have you seen that has wowed you? Shocked and appalled you? Or made you laugh your tea through your nose?