Wednesday, 9 December 2015

My Usual Spiel: Grand Theft Auto 5 PC (Story)

Release Date: April 14th 2015
Genre: Action-Adventure
Publisher: Rockstar North
Developer: Rockstar Games
Platform: Windows/PS4/PS3/Xbox one & 360
Players: 1
Classification: R (Restricted)

Well you’ve all been waiting for this haven’t you? Yes I’ve now finally played through GTA5, as you’ve probably guessed what took me so long is that I was waiting for the PC version to come out, I did actually try playing the game on PS3 but got frustrated with the stick aiming and decided just to wait for the PC version. Of course as you all know this did take roughly two and a half years to become available on Steam on the 14th of April 2015, but was it worth the wait? Well I guess. It feels weird to say this but after GTA: San Andreas came out I never felt as much hype for a GTA game since. Maybe I was so awash in the world of MMORPGs (I was playing WoW heavily at the time) that It didn’t really matter to me anymore. Nevertheless I got right into GTA4 when I heard about it and that I could use it on PC (even though it did use that awful Games for Windows Live thing) and as you’ve probably read in my review of it. I was very impressed by the greatly updated new look and ragdoll physics. I didn’t care at all about the gripes with the car handling and the limited amount of flight and extreme sports options though this was brought back mostly in the Ballad of Gay Tony expansion.

This is one of my favourite shots of the game, in the park with Chop
 As I said I was not at all fussed about waiting for the PC version to come out, I was excited but honestly I had enough games to play and could endure since I would have to compete with my brother to play it on the PS3 and I’d have to put up with awful stick aiming. So I waited, and waited for a damn long time at that but I suppose it was worth it. Before the game came out it was listed as being just over 65gb! damn talk about blowing your hard drive space, looks like I wouldn’t be putting it on my solid state any time soon though this will all change once I get my new solid state drive of course. I managed to download it at Lanslide Lan as they had a steam server dedicated to it so I bought and downloaded it in no time, I decided to purchase it on Steam just to make sure playing multiplayer went as smooth as possible. I still had my credentials from the Rockstar social club so was able to log in to that ok and thankfully that was the only thing that was needed then you just went straight into the game.

Michael and Lester plan a heist
When I heard that GTA5 would be set entirely in Los Santos I wasn’t too surprised, I didn’t think they were going to do the whole map of San Andreas again with the three cities, as you know the entire map of the region was suitably huge, when looking at the GTA5 map in comparison to San Andreas, GTA 4 and Red Dead Redemption. GTA4 is pretty much the size of the city area, the San Andreas map takes up about half and the Red Dead Redemption one takes up just more than half, which as I suspected doesn’t add up to all of them meshed together like I’ve heard some people saying. Red Dead Redemption was pretty damn big but was mostly desert and rock, which is true enough being set in the early 19th century. The “Island” of Los Santos is similar as the majority of the landscape is wilderness with just under a third being the Los Santos City itself and there’s a whole host of people and activities out there, some random some not and I feel even though I’ve finished the game I haven’t explored out there to the fullest degree.

A Map size comparison with that of GTA4, San Andreas and Red Dead Redemption

Indeed I enjoyed GTA4 as a simple gritty realistic experience with semi-believable characters though GTA5 was a very different story. The first images I saw of GTA5 were pretty damn impressive, the picturesque views and awesome graphics looked great but I wasn’t too pleased by the introduction of the three-protagonist feature. GTA had always been about you being a single guy, yes guy I actually would have preferred a female protagonist rather than 3 guys or maybe just one playable female character to make things interesting at least. I always liked the fact that most of the time you had come to a new city and were relatively unknown and had to work your way up but with the descriptions and the history of the three new protagonists only Franklin seems to fit this which I believe was the intent, Michael was the retired criminal who has beat the game, Trevor is the crazy player who just likes killing and carnage and Franklin is the similar protagonist to the previous games. Don’t get me wrong I liked Niko and I liked CJ and I I liked Tommy Vercetti, but for some weird reason I think I liked GTA 3’s Claude the best cause he was the most unknown and the most small time and also that he didn’t talk, I don’t mind silent protagonists, I was very much a fan of Gordon Freeman and found it funny when lots of people are talking to you but you say nothing which is exactly what happens with the GTA Online Protagonist. In my view the GTA5 Protagonists had too much going on and talked way too much but then again I guess people like action and drama and few hold my view as Claude being one of their favourite protagonists.

Now that's quite a view
 GTA tells the story of the three protagonists Michael De Santa, Franklin Clinton and Trevor Philips with Michael and Trevor being playable in the intro and Franklin being the first played in the main game, the introduction sequence shows some history of Micheal and Trevor as you actually play out the intro as you get to grips with the controls and are introduced to swapping characters while they attempt to rob a bank some place called North Yankton which is an actual town called just “Yankton” in South Dakota. In short the heist doesn’t go so well and then we are treated to GTA 5’s opening sequence.

Part of the Prologue set in North Yankton, I showcase the screen flashing when an enemy is killed and first person shooting and driving.

After starting story mode and watching GTA5’s impressive intro you are then treated to a cutscene of Michael having a conversation with his psychologist which tells us a bit of background for him and then we switch to Franklin who is walking with his friend Lamar before they both steal some high end cars from the back of a house then have a high speed race then are chased by the cops then drive them back to the Premium Deluxe Motorsport business of the shady Simeon Yetarian then after that we finally drive with Lamar back to Franklin’s Aunt’s house where he lives. Starting with Franklin would seem the right choice though the other problem was I had pre-ordered the game so it gave Franklin (and Franklin only) $500,000 to start off with, which doesn’t really make sense and I couldn’t even distribute the money in between the characters. Oh well not that it mattered too much, I was soon doing more missions that involved more money. The missions with Franklin start out fairly low key and introduce you to the game, Franklin is from eastern Los Santos and is part of the “The Families” which I did look up and it appears that The Grove Street Families from San Andreas were actually a “set” of this gang not the whole gang as it was implied or so I thought. I also read that apparently there was something said by Lamar in the game that the Grove street OG’s eventually got out of the Gang bangin lifestyle and moved on with their lives possibly to be rich CEO’s lol which given the events of San Andreas made sense.

Franklin, Lamar, Jimmy de Santa and Simeon in Repossession
Playing a few missions with Franklin, Lamar and Chop were pretty fun to start with, the control scheme of things is basically the same as before so I had no problem with driving moving and shooting,  you are soon introduced to Michael via Franklin sneaking into his house and trying to repossess his son’s car. I must admit I was looking forward to playing as Michael as no GTA character had ever really had a wife and children in the game before and boy were they dysfunctional hah. Michael is by far the most well off having a mansion in the Vinewood Hills but apparently he is in debt. Trevor’s introduction to the game was one of the most horrifying scenes I’ve seen in a GTA game basically he is seen screwing a woman from behind then getting angry and stomping a man to death, I won’t go into detail who it was but man was it confronting and funny to think that young kids may be playing the game and watching this.
Trevor's first appearance was quite violent indeed.
 I have to admit I didn’t feel right swapping between characters just plonking yourself down in the shoes of one, plus it made things even more difficult with the fact that you had to remember who had what weapons though it only really bought weapons with Franklin cause he did most of the assassinations, you didn’t need to bother though cause most of the time you were given what you needed for the mission you were doing. The other thing was, as fun as doing heists and missions were, switching between the three characters at once just didn’t feel right, one minute I’m flying the chopper then the next I’m inside the building, though It works I guess, I just much prefer the way it’s done online with each person doing a certain job. Also each character has their own special ability. Franklin has the ability to slow down time when driving to make quick manoeuvres, Trevor’s ability is basically Invulnerability so useless to me haha and Michaels is the best in my book as it’s basically bullet time a la Max Payne and makes those headshots much easier.

The game's three protagonists along with Lester Crest planning a heist, Michael was in his underwear from a previous  mission but I just decided to leave him in it.
 Other changes to the game are evident as the Weapon Wheel is now used to select your weapons a la Red Dead Redemption and Max Payne 3, and there is now much a larger weapon pool, made even larger by the addition of DLC weapons and boy was there a lot by the time I got to the game. Apparently the card handling had also been fixed though as I said I had no problem with the previous games car handling, maybe they just suited my style though it seems they were now a bit lighter and twitchier whereas the GTA4 physics were a bit heavier.

Franklin using his special ability hence the green tinge, from what I can remember Franklin was green tingle, Michael was blue and Trevor was red.
Probably the most notable change was the first person mode which was a (pardon the pun) first for a GTA game, I initially felt like I should play the game through like this as it was a whole new way of playing, but after a bit of playing around including running and punching people across the footpath, having a fistfight, having a gunfight, standing on top of trucks and getting whacked in the head then ragdolling off the truck onto the ground all while in first person felt a bit nauseating. I will note here that you can actually turn first person ragdoll off and I did a small few missions in this mode where it worked rather well this was one point where I was running from the cops and climbing over walls and fences to escape then hiding behind a wall, another time where I was hiding from the cops while inside a car and I could see some cops around still looking as I sat inside. Using first person mode in both of these situations made the game feel more tense and realistic as it’s more personal though part of this feeling is the fact that you can’t see around corners etc and this does make things harder as you don’t generally have the “third person cheat vision” to see around walls and when in cover.

First person view from inside the car
Another reason I couldn’t play the game in the third person is though when driving there is now detailed interiors, similar to Test Drive Unlimited 2 and most driving games now I still want to see my damn car lol, driving with the mouse and keyboard makes this even better as it’s easy to place the camera all the way around when driving to get some different angles.

Oh yehh, wiiiiiiiide angle shots, the mouse swooparound helps a lot when being attacked from all sides especially in large vehicles.
 The game’s controls as I’ve said before are relatively the same though this time I have utilized my Logitech PS3 style controller to the fullest, the game allows for seamless use of keyboard and gamepad even changes the on-screen button prompts with you so much as move the stick of the controller which is a great help when changing all of a sudden to gamepad control before a street race starts or when you’re flying though no matter how I tried I still couldn’t stop spinning the tires when taking off though the controller made it much easier to turn and brake more fluently rather than the full on or off that you get with the keyboard. I only use the controller when flying and in races most of time, the first time I flew a plane in the game I had no idea what I was doing as there were no planes in GTA4 but now I even use the controller for helicopters as it just works so much better, I sometimes using it when driving but not when I’m going to be constantly getting in or out of a car of I’m going to need to at a certain point.

Got the gamepad contols for this jet down pat now.

On the ground I mainly used the keyboard and mouse due to the ease of the mouse aiming but even then I still went for headshots as there is this great new feature that when you kill a person the screen flashes blue or something showing that they are now dead, this was awesome for letting me know that I got a head shot. Annoyingly  if you missed their head they would flail around then fall over and appear dead then they just got back up again and I don’t know how many times I can’t remember whether I had killed an enemy and was sitting there waiting for them to get up before shooting a few more bullets into them. As with Niko in GTA4 you’re restricted for the most part by human physics and endurance you have to time your sprints so you don’t run out of stamina and also I noticed when doing things like running and pivoting it’s much more realistic as you can’t change direction rapidly you have to actually twist around as you would in real life.

The 'Repossession' mission with Franklin and Lamar, I try to do half the mission in third person and the rest in first person, this also shows the gun combat dynamics.

I will add in here that I was using a trainer throughout the game, the Script Hook V + Native Trainer to be precise as this was the most similar to the Simple trainer for GTA4 though with less options though I’m sure more will be added, there’s also the usuals there though inc invincibility, teleporting, never wanted, fast running, vehicle spawning etc and also a model changer which is quite hilarious as it has animals available such as monkeys and even cows though some obviously can’t drive cars and you unfortunately you cannot do missions with non-humanoid models. The vehicle spawner is great as always as I always like to try out unique vehicles in ridiculous places like driving a golf cart through the backwoods and being able to spawn anything at any time is a huge time saver. And yes I did use invincibility but not the infinite special ability and I also I tried to use the thing minimally for cheating but that damn health and stamina interface is so goddamn minimalistic and tiny that it’s hard to notice how fast it goes down plus if you’ve seen the mod you would know how awesome it is. On other thing I’ll add is that I no longer needed to use the “progress time forward” or back option as now if you attempt to start a mission that requires it to be night time it progresses time forward so it’s correct, so thank god for that no more goddamn freakin “come back between this time and that time” message.

Well that didn't exactly work out the way I planned
Other features that have been implemented are yoga, triathlons, jet skiing, parachute jumps, tennis, golf, hunting and scuba diving. Random events are also there too such as like Red Dead Redemption. These activities were great additions and I did all except the scuba diving which I now remember I saw my brother doing that with Michael though I will have to go back and do that though the things that I did were pretty damn awesome.  Your phone can now be used for internet as well as calling so you can effectively access the internet (and have it on full screen) all of the time, so no hunting for an internet cafĂ© (or using the trainer in my case) anymore it’s always there. Speaking of your phone, everyone was glad to know the random friends randomly ringing you up wanting to go to things feature has been taken out, man that was as annoying as the whole hunger thing in San Andreas. You can still hang out with people though if you do miss that part from GTA4 though it’s entirely optional, though I didn’t do this much I noticed that they did keep up with current events if you have previously done a mission with the person you are “hanging out” with they actually talk about the last mission which is pretty cool. There are plenty of side missions to do with each character, and a nice part of the new system means that once you have finished all of the missions and side missions and activities for the one character you can move on to the next. 

A few other GTA games included golf courses but you could never truly play golf or just use a driving range this time it's it's fully fledged golf with a course and golf carts.
Probably the biggest new feature of missions is the heists which form a lot of the main missions of the game, this basically sees you planning a heist with Michael’s friend and former affiliate from his old life Lester Crest who organises and sets them up. Lester plans the heist and at the meeting offers two ways of doing things which are usually some as aspect of “quiet” or “loud” approach, you also have to choose what crew you are going to take on the heist and you can see their skill and what percentage of cut they want, the more skilled they are the more of a cut they will take though the lesser skilled crew members will gain more skill with each heist they do. With the infamous first jewelery store heist I made the mistake of taking some lesser skill individuals and paid for it, I tried this mission more recently doing everything right and it worked well, I’m going to try it again at some point doing the bustin-in loud option with all of the worst crew I can and see what happens. These heists which you do a few of throughout the story game form a basis for GTA Online which is actually shipped as a different game altogether where basically most of the time you are doing heists or setups for heists but I’ll get into that another time.  

The Jewelery store heist planning board
The world of GTA5 is incredibly varied and full of life as the three characters you interact with everyone including friends and family members even in free roam mode, for example as Michael I once got up saw my wife and son on the breakfast table then when I walked out of the house I saw my daughter drive past out the gate quite fast actually almost running me over. It feels really weird to see people you know just walking around, it certainly wasn’t like that in GTA4 where seeing someone when not on a mission was incredibly formalized. People around the game world are more reactive as well, the screams gasps and reactions to what you do are slightly more realistic now. Once of the more prominent things I noticed is that people are now doing more things, their lying on the beach, their doing gardening, their driving in and out of their driveways, their running and cycling and working out and doing everything that you see when you walk around (and not see as well in some parts) their even diddling on their phones and taking selfies! Dang lol this is getting way too real. The internet makes a return in the game which is now accessible via your phone to make things a bit easier and yes it’s never been funnier, the entire “GTA internet” is a satirical haven with everything from facebook “aka Lifeinvader” to the stock market to real estate websites. The internet also has lots more functionality this time around with forward and back buttons and more interactivity for each website. The flight school made a return and you can also use the ammunition gun range though there was no car, bike or boat school that I could see.

Angry Trevor tries to enjoy the beach but is still plagued by mobile phones.
 One of the biggest things that fans were looking forward to with GTA5 was the updated graphics though after the major update to HD and the introduction of ragdoll with GTA4 I wasn’t really sure how much better they could do as modern games are just getting better and it’s hard to expect anything more. Case in point, the graphics were pretty damn phenomenal as with the PC and Console next gen releases they received more than a tweaking. I’ve got my system set for speed rather then graphics but it still looked pretty damn great, there’s so much detail in there it’s crazy, grass, weeds, roads in disrepair, papers blowing past, random trash cans and traffic cones all the little things add up. The scenery and HD weather elements such as fog and sunset are great  are the best they have ever been as most of my screenshots were out in the country on dirt roads and forests where you could really appreciate the sights though I must admit the city at night looked amazing especially during the mission Did Somebody Say Yoga? which is one of my favourite missions in the game.

Another great shot of the graphics, you can see the details everywhere
 The character models have never looked more realistic though still aren’t quite up to the photorealistic quality though this is also due to my machine limits though the 4K resolution modding is already happening as far as I know.   As for the technicalities of my machine I recently upgraded my monitors part way through playing so I went from 1680x1050 resolution to finally being at least 1980x1080 also I had a bit of a play around with the colour settings, I was unimpressed with the gaming setting due the dark parts coming up much lighter though I suppose it would help with visibility but I didn’t like the look, I also tried the “scenery” mode but it made the game just saturated with colour so I just decided to do the normal view which worked fine. There’s not much more I can say but the characters, the vehicles, the scenery, the water the sunsets all looked amazing and absolutely up to standard.

Ahh the end of a hard day's killing, on to a long night's killing.
The soundtrack in GTA5 is quite huge but the best feature in my book is the addition of an original score which was mainly used during missions but was played throughout both the singleplayer and multiplayer modes. Most of the time I actually didn’t turn on the radio much as I was just enjoying the soundtrack and tense music that played during the missions and suited them perfectly I might add. Regarding the Radio stations there is now a huge amount, roughly 17 stations were available in the original release now an extra one has been added making it 18 and damn it is a lot of music with some new and returning celebrity DJ’s including Kenny Loggins, Pam Grier and Cara Delvinge. Though I didn’t exactly spend much time listening to the radio the in game soundtrack suited just fine or maybe just what the characters had on at the time, I did at one point load some MP3’s on and listen to the self radio but though there really wasn’t much point as you have to copy a whole bunch of MP3’s into a folder to be able to listen instead of linking to your music folder and also there was more than enough music on the many radio stations not to mention the soundtrack. I never have that much to say about the sound effects and general speech though it’s top notch, I’m not exactly a big audiophile when it comes to sound, so everything sounded fine to me.

Push it to the limit! Crash the gaaaaaaates!
So in conclusion the story between Franklin, Michael and Trevor can be finalised in several different ways of which I have yet to try but even so it finished so quickly, I was always waiting for some big thing to happen but after several big things that I thought weren’t the big thing the game just ended though I should have known from the last game that it ends with a “choice” similar to GTA4 but I don’t know I’m not really that fussed. Having now played through the story I really don’t much of an urge to go back through it, this goes back to the whole three unlikable protagonists and the way it seems to just go from one big shooty action sequence to another. Frankly I’d rather just go back to being an anonymous hood  like in GTA3 and this is technically what you are in multiplayer. I’m not going to talk too much about it yet as I’m going to do a separate review but technically what I really want is a way to play the singleplayer as a random hood, but even after you’ve finished the main story this just isn’t possible the whole game would have to be redone.

Franklin, Michael and Trevor gear up for  Heist
I suppose I can say I enjoyed GTA5 not for the story but for the presentation, there was so much to see and do and I feel like there’s still a bit more to do and much more to explore and that’s what I want to do for next playthrough or maybe even next time I boot it up, after all most of the fun you get out of this game was what you made yourself. My qualms with the game were minimal though and was the only thing keeping me from a perfect score.



Things I liked:
  • Improved on just about everything from previous GTA
  • Immaculate presentation
  • Heists and planning them are great fun
  • First person view is a great addition
  • Seamless keyboard to gamepad transition
  • No more time of day requirements for missions

Things I didn’t like:
  • Unlikable characters, no female protagonist
  • Switching between characters during a mission
  • Didn’t enjoy story too well, too spontaneous and action orientated

The Grand Theft Auto V: PlayStation 4, Xbox One & PC Announcement Trailer

Crazy enough not to be real

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