Given the pedigree and virtually brutish levels of hype surrounding Grand Theft Auto V, it could have been a surprise if this wasn’t the five-star humdinger that you just expected. However right here we’re: Grand Theft Auto V is the head of open-world video game design and a colossal feat of technical engineering. It takes a template laid down by its predecessors and expands upon it, bettering on and streamlining a few of its rougher aspects. It doesn’t break out of that template and may be brash, nasty and nihilistic. But for all its more unsavoury points, this is a game built with skilled mechanical expertise and creative artistry.
And money. Numerous it. If the reported cost of £170m is to be taken at face value, GTA V is the costliest video game ever assembled. If nothing else, that lavishness seeps from every pore of Los Santos, Rockstar’s twisted facsimile of Los Angeles and the grand stage for our crime caper. It is a virtual world of such great scale and superb detail that it continues to baffle how the builders have managed to squeeze it all onto current generation hardware.
The urban sprawl of town itself is a tangle of roads and definable districts; Strawberry is an space of restricted social mobility, characterised by boarded-up shops, tatty slat-board houses and gangland graffiti. Downtown is a cluster of high-reaching skyscrapers, town’s residenceless shuffling alongside office yuppies. Rockford Hills houses the city’s wealthiest, lavish mansions sitting alongsideside expensive hotels, tennis courts and golf clubs (both with playable sports, they’re good too). Vespucci Beach is a hive of swim-suited pin-ups and party boats. Vinewood is the neon-splashed refuge of movie-star wannabes
Travel north and the city disperses into countryside, reach Blaine County and you discover a brushland littered with trailer parks and filthy hick bars below the shadow of the County’s mountain range.
It is enormous. And while the broad strokes of GTA V’s map are impressive enough, the finer particulars are lavished with the same care. Boxes piled carelessly in a participant’s secure-house. The crude sign for a chinese restaurant daubed on sheet metal fencing. The evening sun dappling an orange sheen across the landscape as it glints over the Los Santos highways. Hell, I was even impressed that my character’s flip-flops really flip-flopped. There isn’t a expense spared on any inch of its colossal mass.
To place it one other method, Los Santos seems like a metropolis that individuals live in, quite than a digital playground constructed to your enjoyment. The hazard of this approach is that real cities might not be as much enjoyable as a bespoke city-Americana theme park, but Rockstar make it work. My admiration for video game designers knows no bounds, nevertheless it befuddles as to how a mass of land as huge as Los Santos is so tightly crafted and densely interactive. There’s a pure openness, range and cogency to the design of the map that makes it a pleasure to explore. And it’s a spot in which the game’s missions can slot into in a manner that leads to emergent and unexpected thrills.
I’m in Downtown, and after stealing some precious weaponry for a jewellery store heist from a moving van, I find myself underneath the attention of native constabulary. Sirens blaring behind me, I gun my automotive through the latticework roads earlier than finding a freeway. Thundering into oncoming visitors, cars scatter and smash into the partition. It’s not long before I’m in countryside. I slide off the freeway into the brushland, sweeping round dusty trails and leaping over grass hills. Dropping sight of the cops, I dump my vehicle behind a bar, stroll into a discount store, change my clothes and discover one other car. I’m miles away from the place the chase started, in a totally totally different space, purely because of the natural course of my actions. Now I’m out within the sticks, freed from the law and with a scenic journey back to the town ahead.
Such a state of affairs is enabled by just a few things. The map design is one, with huge roads that assist you to weave through its dense visitors and a cogency which means the expanse of land feels linked from high to bottom.
Secondly, Rockstar has tweaked how the police hunt you. Now you possibly can play a game of hide and search from the very beginning, nipping out of sight down an alleyway or beneath a bridge and watch police cars prowl by. Or you may go hell for leather-based and attempt to lose them in a high-velocity, destructive chase. Your choice.
Thirdly, the car handling in V is much sharper than the heaviness of IV. It retains just sufficient of IV’s weight and hyperactivity to make crashes feel consequential and handbrake turns tricky to regulate, however is tightened up sufficient to make driving more instantly gratifying. IV’s handling was great however took some work to master, V’s handling is better and easy to pick up. This extends to sea-based mostly vehicles and flying aircraft.
The driving is one part of gta 5 android apk V’s technical enchancment over its predecessor. But before we delve an excessive amount of further into normal mechanics, let’s discuss V’s most disruptive change. Instead of the traditional deal with one character, GTA V has you enjoying as three separate crooks. It’s a change that seems so primary on paper, however in practice is a revelation, making Los Santos’s big expanse more negotiable as you freely switch between every character, adding spice to missions and allowing for a more layered narrative.
Let’s meet the boys. Michael has been described by Rockstar as “the GTA character who received”; a retired thief that has discovered his way into witness safety while keeping the stash of cash he appropriated over the years. He lives a quiet, boring life in a huge mansion in Rockford Hills with his wife and children. He hates it.