Grand Theft Auto 5 review: How to take it in America

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Published on September 20, 2013 with No Comments

Grand Theft Auto 5 features multiple controllable protagonists, a first for the franchise. There’s Michael, a family man retired from a life of crime; Trevor, the psychopath looking for the next big adrenaline hit; and Franklin, a street-wise hustler from the block. Though each character has a valid motivation for his journey, it’s difficult to want them to succeed. Michael’s motivation is to take care of his wife and two adult children, all of whom are a chore to deal with. Living in the lap of luxury, his son and daughter whine incessantly. His wife condemns him for past mistakes, while judging his life choices and sleeping with yoga and tennis instructors. Michael’s relatives are a painful bunch, and never have I dreamed so much for a big red button to detonate the nuclear family. Trevor’s motivation sways throughout, but he begins in search of the truth about a moment in his past. Saying more would spoil his story, but it’s clear that Trevor is never meant to be liked, as evidenced by the morbid way his character is introduced. Franklin is the standout, a kid who wants to rise past a menial life in his aunt’s house. He hews closer to Grand Theft Auto’s typical path, as someone who works hard to prove his worth to those around him – a character strong enough to kill but not willful enough to say no when ordered around. Grand Theft Auto 5 brings players to Los Santos and Blaine County – two regions located in San Andreas, a satirized recreation of California. Throughout the campaign you can switch between each character, and sometimes you’re required to swap leads on the same mission. In one scenario, Trevor hovers a helicopter in place as Michael rappels down a building, all while Franklin stands watch with a sniper rifle on an adjacent roof. Switching among the trio changes the objective, keeping you on your toes and providing momentum. Multiple story missions follow this path, giving GTA’s crime-focused gameplay a fresh coat of paint. Narrative has long been a crucial component of the Grand Theft Auto series, which prides itself on exaggerated social commentary of the Western world, but the franchise has been made famous for its sandbox gameplay. The core of GTA remains true in the latest iteration. You can run the streets of a fully-realized world, steal cars, cause chaos and attempt to flee from an extraordinarily irritable police force. There are still hiccups in the formula that poke holes in the world’s particular brand of realism. For example, running over a dozen civilians and accidentally bumping into a police cruiser are roughly equal in terms of illegality, as either action will summon the cops like you’re public enemy number one. That silliness aside, creating a mess of trouble and seeing how long you can last against the coming onslaught of police resistance – something I’ve enjoyed since since GTA 3 – is still thrilling. When you tire of randomly wreaking havoc, the story is prodded along by accepting missions, and Grand Theft Auto 5 introduces a new type: heists. Heists are multi-tiered missions with big cash payouts, and they typically begin with a recon overview that outlines the overall objective. Once the story behind a heist is established, you’re given the chance to plan how it will play out. Two different options of execution are offered. Generally you’re given a “smart” way to complete a heist that lengthens adversarial response time and initial resistance, or the “loud” way that often brings the full weight of your enemies down on you like a hammer.

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