Originally, I had no plans to get Grand Theft Auto V. I’ve not had a great track record with the franchise over the years, though I always enjoy the scope of the games, especially Vice City and Chinatown Wars. The mission structures and high level of difficulty have always worked against me, and thus I’ve never completed any GTA games. More or less, I play them for a bit, do what few missions I can, and then explore randomly, taking in the radio and sights and all the wee details that Rockstar throw in to make up one living, breathing city, the kind that can feel downright sentient in some spots.
But then, out of nowhere, I suddenly wanted to be in on all the GTA discussion spreading across the Interwebz, and so I went out and bought a copy for the PlayStation 3, which I think speaks oodles for how much I care about my Xbox 360 these days. You could also blame it on the mandatory 8 GB install one needed to perform to play the game on either system, and I have a ton of more free space on the PlayStation 3 than on my dwindling 360’s internal 20 GB, which is nearly full. Another bonus to getting the game on the PS3 is that I can fly some blimp, but I’ve not yet punched in the code to unlock it.
You could normally sum up a GTA game like so: the life of a criminal. Except in this case, it’s the lives of three criminals–Franklin, Michael, and Trevor. At the start of the game, you come to learn about Franklin and Michael a bit, eventually seeing how they become amiable with one another. Franklin has some gang history problems, and Michael is a retired bank-robber with a difficult family. They are difficult in that his wife, his daughter, and his son are all extremely shitty people. Michael also has a history with Trevor, a wild-eyed man that is the very definition of unstable. Eventually, through a series of crimes and plot twists, the three come together to…well, I still don’t actually know. Pull off more crimes? Bury the hatchet? Stick it to the Man? I guess I’ll find out in a few more missions, as I’m just before the second heist, which seems like a doozy, the sort that goes bad from the first breath. But we’ll see. I don’t expect Grand Theft Auto V‘s story to go anywhere astounding; I’m more interested if they resolve a lot of the sub-plots they keep hinting at (Michael’s troubles with his family, Franklin’s love not feeling the love, Trevor’s drug problems).
At only just over 25% completion, I actually think it is safe to say that Grand Theft Auto V might be the first GTA game I will ever complete. This is due to a better checkpoint system, as well as auto-aiming when firing weapons, which helps me immensely. The missions vary from chasing after someone in a vehicle, to sneaking through a building, to flying planes, to performing mundane tasks like towing cars and using a crane to lift cargo crates, and so on. Some missions are more fun than others. There’s also side missions, which venture into stranger territory, as well as random events. You can totally just not do anything specifically, too, and I’ve speak some good time just walking around, looking at graffiti and store signs and so on. Golf, tennis, barber shops, TV, movies, yoga, the Internet, strip clubs–there are a lot of non-mission distractions to spice up your mindless exploring. The heists are neat as a concept, but from the sound of it, there aren’t many in the game, which is a shame, as positioning everyone and setting up the perfect plan is surprisingly enjoyable.
At some point, I will also talk about Grand Theft Auto V and how it portrays women, but today is not the day.
And as for Grand Theft Auto Online, well…there really isn’t much to say. For two days now, I’ve tried connecting and getting online to play, but I kept hitting black screens of death or endless loading animations that eventually just give up and dump me back into the story mode. More frustrating than that is that I can’t even get the game to save the character I create for online play, so I’ve had to recreate her–yes, I said her–each time, and each time I just put less and less care into the matter. Pretty sure by the time I do get to create a character and have it save, I’ll just hit the “randomize” button and go with whatever first pops up. Truthfully, I doubt I’ll do much with the multiplayer stuff, but I am curious to see how it plays out; I can get into my own fun in the main game just fine, thank you very much.
UPDATE: I was able to get online last night, and it looks like the game saved the second character I created, which is a woman named Paula with fiery red hair and no reservation about tossing up the birds. I did the first mission, which was a car race against Lamar and no other players. I beat Lamar, got a bunch of experience for things like RP and JP, ranked up, and then found myself sitting on a loading screen that never went away. My only option after five or six minutes was to quit the game entirely and reload into story mode. I’ve not tried hopping back online since though.