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HomeArts & CultureWhy aren’t you playing: Grand Theft Auto V

Why aren’t you playing: Grand Theft Auto V

GTA V brings you three new protagonists to the Los Santos area. (Press photo)
GTA V brings you three new protagonists to the Los Santos area. (Press photo)

Before starting this review, I’d like to share something. I remember thinking to myself as a young gamer that one day, games would be so detailed that when somebody walked up stairs, they’d take each individual step. For some reason, that was my yardstick for game craftsmanship.

Grand Theft Auto 5 takes every step. Why do I tell you this, dear reader? Because it is detail, and detail, in this game, is king. Every inch of the fictional Los Santos County feels as if it was crafted with loving care and a tongue firmly planted in cheek.

Best known for their brand of biting satire, Rockstar Games has certainly not held back. The game tears the celluloid off this faux southern-California, reveling in its true ugly face. You’ll be hard pressed to find a character in-game—including any of the game’s three main pseudo-protagonists—that you would ever want to even brush up against in real life.  They’re slimy, selfish, violent and self-absorbed (though the psychopathic Trevor has a certain manic charm). While this may deter some, the point of the game remains to have fun, and along the way, make a bit of a statement. GTA 4 was about the death of the American Dream; GTA 5 is about the people that killed it, and where they’re all left off.

Granted, there’s plenty to do beyond the satirical traipse that makes up the main storyline. I set one simple goal after completing the brief introduction: to get to the Hollywood inspired “Vinewood” sign. The ensuing adventure there had me stealing a 780-ton dump truck from a quarry, running across a desert, accidentally steering into deer with a cement truck, and even climbing through an in-game version of the SETI array. I never did make it to the sign, come to think of it—getting there was more fun.

Beyond the open world, the heists that make up large portions of the story are a blast. Providing you with the chance to plan how you want to pull off the heist and who you want to hire, you’re tasked with weighing risks and rewards, and it’s brilliant watching your plans play out.

Really, there are a wealth of aspects that make this game what it is. Gameplay is smooth and efficient, improving on previous games in the series while retaining that familiar GTA feel. Driving has been greatly improved and the AI is clever. The three protagonists’ special skills add wonderful variables to the formula, a noteworthy case being Franklin’s slow motion driving skill, which turns my vehicular destruction into artful trick jumps.

But ultimately, there is one question must be answered: is it fun?

Yes, dear reader, it is. A perfect game it is not, but it promises to entertain, and without fail it delivers.

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