Written by DeadonSight666x; PSHG Team Writer
Being a gamer since the early 90’s, GTA has been a major part of my life. I remember the 8-bit birds eye view of the first city GTA had offered us. Seeing it come so far has been a real treat. With this title, I was a little skeptical of its arrival and how it would be received. I mean, how awesome could the game be? Games like Call of Duty and Halo have had long running series with repetitive and bland content, along with a slew of “map pack” gimmicks (only to find later they were just old maps done differently one or two ways) and they still managed to do so well. In my mind Rockstar would have its hands full competing with the up and coming “Call of Duty Ghosts.” or so I thought until I opened my game case and popped in the disc.
GTA V brings a whole new experience as well as a whole new feel to your time in Vinewood. When you first arrive in the city, you’ll almost instantly notice the flawless textures and frame rate while driving around the city. At top speed in the fastest vehicle, the scene keeps pace with your vehicle without any lag or loading issues. The city is very much alive and bustling. Taking a walk down the street is as dangerous in Vinewood as is it would be in Compton, California. A walk to the 24-7 for a sprunk could mean walking past a shooting in progress or even a high-speed chase, as well as interacting with other pedestrians by pressing the right button on your D-Pad. Responses are not too predictable and exhausting, which is nice for once. The characters you play as well as the civilians also have an effect on the city at large. For example, if playing as Franklin you blow up a series of Burgershots and Trevor or Michael has invested in Burgershot stocks in the stock market, this will deplete the worth of those stocks and businesses. However, the upside? This can actually be a very lucrative trick! A quick tip I’ll insert for those of you interested in the Business side of Vinewood, stock holders can manipulate their profits by having one of the characters destroy a particular chain of businesses and make the stock low. When that is done, buy buy buy!!!! Give it a little time and allow your stocks to rebuild themselves, then sell sell sell!!! Everything from listening to your favorite radio stations, watching tv stations and buying soda from machines will affect your Business investments depending on how well sales go.
If cars are your deal, then you’re in for a treat when it comes to Vinewood. Without spoiling too much of the story, you’ll discover as the story on Franklin’s side of Vinewood moves along that there are many races throughout the city as well as many customs shops. This time around Rockstar has combined the regular Pay-N-Spray routine with the old Customs routine from GTA : San Andreas. From chrome paint jobs to high performance engines and shocks, Los Santos Customs (inspired by West Coast Customs) has everything you need to be at the top of your racing game or just stay flashy around the city! What I enjoyed this time around as far as cars go, it doesn’t feel like you’re driving a boat with wheels. There is better control, traffic flows a bit more naturally and damage isn’t taken as easily (unless of course you’re a speed demon like me and enjoy driving off cliffs and inside buildings for kicks). Cars, boats, bikes, even planes can be purchased via any computer, even your phone. (I’ll cover boats and planes in a moment.) Your cars that are purchased from your browser will be automatically found in your garage. Planes are a bit of a challenge this time around. They can be used for trafficking goods like weapons or drugs but they’re also a fun transportation vehicle. If you want to be at the top of your flying game, you’ll want to check out the flying schools around the city which will show up as a plane icon on your map. When you enter a flying school classroom, you’ll need to complete a set challenge for each course and complete it with a particular score. Once completed, your flying skill with increase. If you’re interested in taking up arms or drug trafficking you’ll need to buy a plane yard first in order to store your planes or helicopters. Once you’ve purchased a plane yard, you can begin various trafficking jobs for pretty good cash! Boats can be purchased as stated before via any computer. But in order to purchase one, you’ll need a permit at any marina. Once you’ve got your permit, you can order as many boats as you like. Boats can be used for deep-sea diving expeditions for treasure or just a nice cruise along the waters of Vinewood.
Real estate is also something you can dabble in for cash. Buying various properties will get you “rent” payments as an owner. Some businesses (such as marijuana dispensaries) require you to have a relationship with the property manager and occasionally help them with minor problems. For example, I own a marijuana dispensary and occasionally my trucks will be hijacked by gang members. Not reclaiming those trucks will hurt your income and your stock investments. So be careful.
The friend system has returned to us in GTA V but on a MUCH less annoying and persistent level. You wont have friends calling you every 5 minutes to hang out this time (thank god). This time if you want to hang out with a friend you will need to be the one to call THEM. From darts to yoga, from tennis to strip clubs there is a lot of fun to be had in Vinewood and other parts of the area. Strip clubs are a little different this time around, lap dances are more interactive. You can flirt with the girls, “make it rain” on them while they’re on stage and during a private dance, you can even touch the dancers. But don’t let the bouncer catch you touching more than he’s willing to let slip, otherwise you’ll be literally thrown from the bar.
Even strangers will take part in activities with you. For example, as Trevor, I noticed while exploring the countryside and going into the different dive bars that the locals don’t mind getting in a game of darts or two with you after a few beers! In addition, there are a few carnival rides to enjoy on the boardwalk by the beaches. Nothing too great but still pretty cool! I didn’t notice any dance clubs this time around, strange for a city trying to emulate LA. But the rest makes up for it, indeed. The fight system is a little different this time. Hand-to-hand combat is no longer a series of button mashing that always works out. Hand-to-Hand combat in GTA V requires a bit of focus. It’s not DIFFICULT per say, but it’s definitely something you’ll want to pay attention to. Since throwing punches and kicks flows a bit more naturally, you’ll also need to time your dodges just right or you’ll get a good crack to your jaw or a kick to the knee. Gunplay reminds me of Max Payne 3. There is no “crosshair” on your screen just a white dot, when you are locked onto an opponent the white dot becomes red. GTA V has also mixed some hints of Red Dead Redemption into the mix by introducing the “weapon wheel” to the series. If you need a weapon you’ll simply hit L1 and select your weapon of choice from the wheel and if you think you’re rusty on your shooting skills, stop over to an Ammunation location with a shooting range and start maxing out those skills!
Living healthy is also a part of daily life in Vinewood. Yoga, jogging, triathlons, tennis, swimming and a good game of golf are some great ways to relax during your more stressful days in Vinewood. Yoga is somewhat boring for me personally, you use your analog sticks to move into and hold certain positions while your L2 and R2 back triggers are used to inhale and exhale. In my opinion, yoga is pretty repetitive and I haven’t noticed it giving any stamina boosts. Triathlons and jogging are good ways to boost stamina and have some fun. The triathlons get pretty challenging and grueling as time goes on. Most of the triathlons start on land then end up in the water. Others are tours around the city on bikes. Tennis and golf I thoroughly enjoyed.
What I found interesting is there are random events that pop up around the city (muggings, robberies in progress, I even came across a guy whose wife was throwing his clothes out of his bedroom window) and if you manage to help the people involved in these situations, you can gain new friends for new activities. Saving a gentleman from his wife throwing his things out the window earned me a golf buddy (only problem is he’s hard to beat at golf, lol). On the topic of socializing, Rockstar has also incorporated a mock social media site (one you may actually access and enjoy, using your Rockstar Social Center ID that is linked to your PSN or XBL account) as well as an app for their mock Iphones known as “Ifruit” , which is a companion app to the game. The app allows you to keep up with LifeInvader which is their version of “Facebook”, as well as train your dog Chop. Chop can be interacted with (once you unlock him) by walking to the bone icon at your house and holding L2. You may press R1 to walk him. Chop cannot be trained without using this app unfortunately…another downside is android users seem to be left out. There is currently no Ifruit app for android users.
Looking for risk taking opportunities? Drop-zones, extreme jumps and various Heists are all over the city for the adrenaline junkie. Heists take special and careful planning. We’ll go over heists in a bit. As for jumps and drop-zones, there is a website you may access on your phone or any computer which displays various drop-zones and extreme jumps in the entire city.
Avoiding any and all spoilers, the main game plot focuses on a series of bank heists needed to boost your characters cash in order to make a better living in Vinewood. You’ll need to carefully plot each move you make. Choose the right man/men for the job and choose the way you want to go about it. Will you go in guns blazing or calculate a quick and highly effective ninja style heist? If you’re feeling greedy you can hire low pay rate criminals but you’ll sacrifice the skill needed to get the job done safely. You’ll need to do things to prepare for each heist as well. For example, in a lot of major heists you’ll need to steal a getaway car and store it. Some heists will require multiple types of equipment you’ll need to pick up as well so be prepared for a little scavenger hunting.
All in all, I’d have to say that GTA V has more than lived up to it’s expectations during its release. With MANY things to do and many paths to take around the city the possibilities for endless game play are just that. Also, with the up-coming GTA Online in the next few weeks the possibilities are even more endless. Expect my review on GTA Online in the future. But if you’re looking for a fresh new start to a great and long lasting series, you’ll want to book your next ticket into Los Santos right away!