Welcome to Los Santos; the place for moody cops, crying fake celebrities and downright hypocrites. Since 1997 when GTA 1 debuted on the PS1, Rockstar Games have treated us with London, San Andreas, China Town, Vice City and even Liberty City. Grand Theft Auto V takes us back to San Andreas and it’s Los Santos roots. With next-gen consoles on the horizon what does Grand Theft Auto V have in store. The team that brought you Max Payne 3 and Red Dead Redemption brings you the next instalment in the open world franchise of Grand Theft Auto… and it’s an explosive blockbuster experience you won’t forget.

Rockstar Games have created a world of the re-imagined suburbs of southern California (their take on Los Angeles) Now this would not be a Grand Theft Auto game without the action, story, and explosions. Ever since the start of the franchise players have had the chance to play as one main protagonist, well for the first time in this series you now have the opportunity to get to know and control three protagonists.

The first of our protagonists is introduced as Michael, whom is a family man but has a background history of fighting the urges of crime after a long history as an ex-con. Being an ex-con can be hard especially trying to cope with family life too and when things get bad Michael tends to speak to a psychiatrist. Following from Michael is Trevor Philips, Trevor is a deluded psychopath and also a person you don’t want to mess with. If you get on Trevor’s bad side then be careful because the next thing that happens will be deadly. Moving on from Trevor is our final protagonist who is Franklin. Now Franklin is just a young man who wants to have with bigger aspirations: he wants the money, the big house, the cars and he wants respect. With Franklin he has his true friend called Lamar and they both reposes cars for a cheating businessman; whom buys the cars from Franklin and then sells them on. (This is only a very short part of his story and less relevant than above)

Controlling all three protagonists is really remarkable, Rockstar games have introduced an all new gameplay mechanic called the switch effect. The switch effect allows you to be able to switch from one character to the other with ease all by pushing down on the analogue controls and selecting each protagonist. Once you have selected the protagonist the camera will pan out and show the map and zoom up to the clouds and then zoom back down onto the protagonist. This is also used during missions where you will be able to see different angles what each protagonist can see.

When not in missions this feature can be used freely and you will get to see what each protagonist is doing in Los Santos. Our three characters have their own personalities in the game for instance Franklin is an all layed back person relaxed individual who you’ll find enjoying city life while Trevor is a rampaging bull who could trigger off a rage at no notice. Playing as each character has allowed me to see how they go about their lives in Los Santos. You can’t play as one of the three characters for long because the game pushes the story along.

Los Santos is a big living world and there is plenty of things to do. Rockstar have brought in many mini games for you to have a go at; from play a round of golf in the luxury golf course (not a links golf course, even though you feel you are like Tiger Woods), to even tying out yoga to get rid of your sexual desires. If playing golf does not take your fancy then you can learn to fly planes at the flight school.

The car mechanic gameplay controls have really improved over its predecessor GTA IV. It feels a lot smoother and also allows you to move in and out of traffic at top speeds. Each protagonist have their own skills and also special abilities, for instance when playing as Franklin; if you press down on both analogue sticks at the same time you will be able to slow down time and drive through traffic easily. Customisation has come a long way with the game, you can be able to fully mod the cars that you steal and be able to put on more power for the car engine. You then be able to store the car in your safe house, or garages located across Los Santos.

The map of Los Santos is really big and does take a while to explore at your heart’s content. It took me 2 hours to drive across the map and still had plenty left to see and explore. Similar to its predecessor GTA IV where you get to drive through Liberty City, Los Santos is a sprawling metropolis with a lot of tower blocks in the main city. Once the game has started up and got passed the prologue, you have the opportunity to fully explore the map and see what Los Santo’s has to offer.

Its all about the money with GTA V, in the game you have the chance to do heists, this allows you to find your crew and decide how to do the mission. When preparing for the heists you have to get the relevant items like a getaway car and also put it somewhere safe away from the cops. Once you have the items you then decide how you want to do the heist; for instance you can go in sneaky or even end up being stupid the choice is completely yours to decide. Besides from doing heists you also have the chance to buy property in the game and even shares. When buying shares you can go onto the internet and select the shares that you want all from the in-game phone.

GTA V has had a graphics boost since its last predecessor and this shows what Rockstar games have been busy making. Grand Theft Auto five V feels like a next-generation game but it is built for this generaration generation. This shows that Rockstar have made an impact on the series with their own in house engine. The gameplay has really come along since its GTA IV especially with the combat. It all feels smoother and you can now be able to pull out a gun with ease. When selecting the weapons you now have a weapon wheel where you can select the gun; this will pause the game for a short time, and then carry on once the gun has been selected.

Grand Theft Auto games have been made famous for its music, this especially is the radio stations. There are now 17 radio stations to choose from, with the hits from Britney Spears to even All Saints.

Grand Theft Auto V does have some flaws that you may come across, for instance the graphics do take a while to load in during cut scenes and also while you are driving at top speeds. If you come up close to a building the texture can appear faded and even sometimes start flashing colours at you, but this then settles down once the game has caught up with the memory load. Even though Los Santos is just one island it would of been good to be able to travel to Liberty City again and to see old mates and find out what they have been up to. Maybe this could happen with future downloadable content.

The online portion of the game has been delayed till October and this will be something to see when released. Therefore this portion of GTAV was not able to be covered in this review.

Rockstar Games have had some contenders as of late with the open world games; we have had Sleeping Dogs and also Saints Row to have a play at. But with all of this happening Rockstar still have to edge over their rivals and that is shown with Grand Theft Auto V. With the online portion of the game releasing only a few weeks away, fans will still be visiting Los Santos for many more months.

Rockstar Games have released a masterpiece to there collection and will be remembered for a long time and could be this year’s game of the year.

Steven Bourke

No longer writes for Console Monster... had a good journey with the team but a new horizon awaits.

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