Tag Archives: GTA V

Grand Theft Auto V, crass comedy in a crazy world

GTA V final overall impressions just okay

Grand Theft Auto V is the first game in Rockstar’s entire hooker-killing franchise that I’ve actually completed, and by that I mean I successfully played all of its main story missions, picked my A, B, or C choice for the finale, and watched the lengthy end credits–over thirty-five minutes long–scroll by as I pondered my collective time and experience as three unsavory souls stuck in Los Santos. And…exhale. Considering I still can’t even get past the second mission in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, this is a real, genuine accomplishment, a feat worth featuring.

To be honest, I don’t think much overall about GTA V. Now, please be sure to read that sentence a second time before you blow a blood vessel; I did not say “I don’t think much overall of GTA V,” but rather about. It’s kind of everything I expected it to be based on past experiences with the franchise, and I feel like it went through all the motions, and I went with it, a mute player. If you must know, I enjoyed what I played of Grand Theft Auto III, really dug Vice City for its vibe and tunes, and never got too far in San Andreas. Also, Chinatown Wars is a surprisingly good time, but quite a different beast from its bigger siblings. Truthfully, Saints Row: The Third is more my kind of freedom.

The story in GTA V revolves around three men: former bank robber Michael Townley, repo man Franklin Clinton, and uncontrollable psychopath Trevor Philips. They have their own personal stories to see unfold, but they also eventually all get mixed up in the same nefarious business, which involves running a bunch of heists and making some serious moolah. It’s clearly a videogame story, as things happen so that the player can take part in extravagant setups and scenarios and leap from tall buildings and blow up important locations and all that. A few missions feel like they just came up with some third part to play, spur of the moment, so all three protagonists could be there, even if there was absolutely no need to bring the greenhorn Franklin along. Of the three main characters, I was most disappointed in Franklin’s overall journey, as it seemed like the whole “other guy got the girl” subplot fizzled within the game’s first hour. Michael has heavy family stuff that gets resolved, but not in a way that fills me with confidence. And Trevor…well, he’s pure crazy, a lot of fun to watch, but just walking insanity, and GTA V would actually be a lesser game without him to keep everyone on their toes.

The open-world gameplay in GTA V is everything you’d come to expect from the company that certainly had a big hand in creating the genre. When you’re not accepting main story missions as either of the three gruff dudes, you can drive around the sprawling city and its outskirts, play a round of golf or tennis, do some yoga, get a haircut, shop for new clothes, invest in buildings, visit the strip club, surf the Internet, watch TV or a movie, take the dog for a walk, and so on and so on. There’s quite a lot of miscellaneous, nontrivial time-wasters for those wanting just a bite of action, as well as larger side missions in the forms of Strangers and Freaks. Random events like “Stop that purse snatcher!” occur from time to time, and you can also just stand still and watch the world go by or sit in your car listening to your favorite station. I found a lot of the side stuff more interesting than the main missions, as they are clearly trying to be big and bombastic, and there’s always an excuse for a gunfight, no matter what the scenario. Thankfully, thanks to a rather easy auto-aim feature, shooting down gang member after gang member is no big thing, and probably the biggest aid I had for completing this game next to Franklin’s bullet time mode when driving.

Let me talk briefly about the collectibles scattered around and outside of Los Santos, as I only stumbled across one during my entire criminal career. Which is very similar to my experience in finding those golden film reels in L.A. Noire. Either they are extremely well-hidden or I’m going blind, a likely case. According to the Internet, there’s a ton of things to find: Spaceship Parts, Stunt Jumps, Letter Scraps, Hidden Packages, and more. I found a single Letter Scrap, which ties into the Mystery of Leonora Johnson side quest–and that’s it. I started the missions that opened up the ability to find Spaceship Parts, but never came across them, and I felt like I did a lot of “off the path” exploring, mostly because I was trying to hide from cops, and changing elevation is a vital tactic.

A lot of material in GTA V is extremely off-putting, and for good reason. Rockstar’s treatment and regard of women is abysmal. If they aren’t there to either have sex with the main characters or sex with someone else to anger the main characters, then they are on their way. Take Michael’s family. He has a wife and a daughter. His wife is sleeping with her yoga instructor, and his daughter wants to get into porn. Take Trevor. Past the early intro scenes, you first truly meet him as he’s having sex with meth head Ashley, who never plays a further part in the game. Later, he kidnaps a man’s wife and begins to have a relationship with her. And lastly, take Franklin. He lives with his aunt, who self-describes herself as a “new age feminist,” and the two are constantly bickering. I don’t recall a single time that I returned home as Franklin that she wasn’t whining or complaining loudly from the other room. He has a childhood friend Tonya Wiggins, who is a crack addict. At first, it seems like he’s a man all about winning back his ex-girlfriend Tanisha Jackson, but that plot fizzles very quickly, so much that her sudden appearance near the game’s end was befuddling. Aside from these, there’s a few other women that stand out: Devin Weston’s lawyer Molly Schultz, the athletic MaryAnne Quinn, and celebrity-crazy old Mrs. Thornhill. In short, why couldn’t there have been a female gang leader or a woman working closely with Michael to keep his identity better hidden? Or some role more involved. Because to Rockstar, men do the ruling.

Early on, I actually watched some in-game TV, something I never even attempted before in Grand Theft Auto IV, despite a lot of people going gaga over the fact that such a large and completely skippable thing existed way back then. I ended up watching “Gordon Moorehead”, an animated detective drama radio show that looks innocent enough, that is until anyone starts speaking. I don’t recall the specifics of the episode’s story, just the constant degradation of Gordon Moorehead’s assistant Molly Malmstein, who Moorehead constantly treating her as a woman of little intelligence, often slapping her. I think the show is trying to to poke fun at sexism and misogyny, but actually just reinforces it all the way. It’s extremely disappointing; you literally can’t go anywhere in Los Santos without some knock against women.

I dunno. Looking back over this post, maybe I do think a lot about GTA V, just nothing too great. It’s got its problems, but it also felt very routine and predictable and crass for no good reason. The use of crude language, especially. I played a single post-credits mission, but haven’t really gone back to do any further exploring or money spending, and I just don’t really see myself getting back into the swing of things. I guess I’ve had my fill.

2013 Game Review Haiku, #41 – Grand Theft Auto V

2013 games completed gta 5 franklin bike copy

Three bad men team up
For the biggest score ever
Drive, shoot, open world

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.

Land the plane, bury the hatchet in Grand Theft Auto V

gta V bury the hatchet mission rant

Hello again. I’m back to moan and groan about Grand Theft Auto V, but this time it’s not about a glitch, rather an examination of my inept plane-flying skills and strange, faulty mission design stuff on Rockstar’s part. Also, the stupid tug of Trophies, the poor man’s Achievements, both of which I keep telling myself I really don’t care about any more, but find myself still interested in unlocking nonetheless. Le sigh.

I’ve made a big push to see GTA V‘s main storyline come to a close–something I want dead and done before we ring in the new year because I want to move on to at least one of the other two new PS3 games I’ve recently added to my collection, namely Sly Cooper 4–and I think I’m a few missions away from the big finale. That’s good. So long, that is, as I don’t get distracted with side stuff or simply driving around, blasting Eddie Murphy’s “Party All the Time” and zooming through red lights. Anyways, the other night I finished up “Bury the Hatchet,” a story-heavy mission with some graveyard shooting and flying that sees a major revelation brought to light and puts both Michael and Trevor in dangerous, but interesting places. I won’t spoil the exact details of the mission, but the final section has you controlling Trevor as he flies his plane back to Sandy Shores.

Let it be known: I hate flying planes in videogames. I was only ever okay at it in Saints Row: The Third, but mostly because no one designing that game cared a lick about treating vehicles right, putting fun first and realism last. However, that is not the case in GTA V, as one small tilt to the left can bring your plane nose-diving into Los Santos.

That said, I couldn’t finish the mission. I tried four times, but could not land Trevor’s plane. The first two times saw me overshoot the landing strip, crashing into whatever. I landed on the ground with the third attempt, but nowhere near the yellow targeted marker, and I thought I could just have Trevor hop out of the plane and run over to finish the job–nope, nope, nope. The fourth time, well…let me mention that the last checkpoint in “Bury the Hatchet” is pretty far back, and you have to fly straight for a few minutes, listening to mildly different dialogue between Trevor and [redacted] until you get near the airfield again. It’s frustrating and really harkens back to Grand Theft Auto IV‘s poor structure. So, for the fourth attempt, I simply crashed the plane into the ocean and opted to “skip mission,” just like I had a few times in L.A. Noire, an option presented to you after one too many failures. Not ideal, but I wasn’t interested in spending another 15 to 20 minutes attempting this touchdown. The “mission complete” screen came up with the general list of stats, I saved my game, and kept playing.

However, no Trophy unlocked. And I know from perusing some websites, that this is one of the few main storyline missions that rewards you with an Achievement/Trophy at the end, so you know your progress in all the main path stuff. Alas, I got nothing. I did 80% of the mission, failed four times at the end to land a plane, skipped it altogether, and got gipped on a supposedly unmissable digital reward. When selecting to skip, there was no indication that this would happen, no warning; if there had been, surely I’d have kept trying, scared to break the chain.

Evidently you can trigger this mission with either Trevor or Michael, but it really only affects the beginning part of the mission. If I’d gone with Michael, I’d have cut down 50% of the flying stuff, but it wouldn’t have matter because I’m definitely more of a pro at take-offs than landings, which I’d still have to do to properly complete “Bury the Hatchet.” Boo hoo and a bunch of Trevor’s curse words, too.

Unfortunately, I’ll have to “replay” the mission tonight because a part of my brain refuses to finish this game with mission-specific Trophies unlocked for everything but one mission. I guess Rockstar did this so Achievement-whores couldn’t just skip through everything and rack up those sick e-peen scores in their journey to have the largest, most meaningless number ever, but I’m not in it for that. I like seeing proof–however you want to call it–of my spent videogaming time. To this day, I’m still really annoyed with Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter for not giving me the “you beat the game” Achievement after I totally beat the game.

In short–what have I become?

Having trouble surveying the score in Grand Theft Auto V

gta v stuck vanilla unicorn mission glitch

I slip back into Grand Theft Auto V every now and then to drive around aimlessly, look at a few jokey billboards and websites on the game’s internal Internet, and do a main story mission or, at the very least, a random event. Truthfully, I’m always on the lookout for a new Strangers and Freaks mission, really zany one-offs, but they seem few and far between these days, especially since I’m maybe now halfway through the story. I don’t know. It’s hard to tell without looking up online and spoiling myself percentage-wise, so we’ll just pretend like I know what I’m talking about and say that GTA V‘s glass is currently half empty. Or half full. Whatever.

As much as I hate glitches, especially ones that bring a gaming session to a halt, such as Half-Life 2‘s Nova Prospekt level and the randomly spawning Alpha Male Deathclaw in Fallout: New Vegas, I still do find them fascinating pieces of broken tech and marvel at what they can do to a system, both visibly and behind the scenes. So far, throughout my decent amount of time with Grand Theft Auto V, I’ve not come across many, and if I did, they were pretty minor stuff, like a pedestrian getting caught in a walking animation against a wall or being unable to switch characters for seemingly no good reason. Nothing game-breaking, and so I continued to carry on, little by little. Please note that I’m not including my troublesome time in the early days of Grand Theft Auto Online in this analysis, which was a hot mess of server problems, but also some strange connectivity glitches.

While Giant Bomb streamed for 48 hours over the weekend to raise money for Extra Life, I tried to do my part at home as well, staying up with them and playing some games. Granted, I didn’t last terribly long, but I tried to keep things fresh, jumping between my Nintendo 3DS, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Ni no Kuni, and, our topic du jour, Grand Theft Auto V. I haven’t really played in a couple of weeks from the look of things, and as far as I can tell, the next main story mission is called “Surveying the Score,” which involves all three of our colorful characters–Trevor, Franklin, and Michael. It’s basically a reconnaissance mission, there for the characters to observe their next target, the Union Depository, and plan how to strike it based on the number of guards they see and its alarm system. That’s all well and good, but I can’t seem to start the mission, and the one time I did, my game glitched hard, with Franklin literally standing inside the car, unable to leave, unable to switch out over to Trevor or Michael.

Basically, you have to go to the Vanilla Unicorn, which Trevor owns, and find him in the back office to kick things off. However, something is seriously wrong in my game. The outside door that supposedly leads directly to the back office is locked, and I don’t think that’s right. If you try to go through the strip club, body guards will chance you when you cross into the back room area, and they shoot to kill. I died three times trying attempting this, but was once able to reach Trevor’s office to begin “Surveying the Score”–with body guards still in tow. I think that had a serious effect on the mission going forward, the system confusing itself, which led to Franklin stuck in the car, kind of clipping out of it, but unable to do much else. Grrr.

I turned on the DownloadStation 3 this morning to snatch up my free copy of Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen and noticed that there was a new patch available for Grand Theft Auto V. Alas, I think that’s mostly for Grand Theft Auto Online stuff, but maybe there’s a Vanilla Unicorn fix in there, too. We’ll see. I’ll keep playing until I run out of other missions on the map to do, and then I’ll try again; if I can’t get through Trevor’s strip club unscathed, I guess my dream of completing a GTA game for the very first time ever will come to a sad, but inevitable conclusion.