Holy shit! Grand Theft Auto V rocks! I haven’t been so obsessed with a game for years. I can’t remember the last time I played a game and didn’t get the tiniest bit bored after just a few hours. Not with GTA V! I’ve been totally absorbed by it all day. The only reason I’m not playing now is to write this review and let you guys know just how awesome it is. GTA V  has been a long time coming, especially so with the news at the start of the year that it was to be delayed by 6 months, but it was well worth the wait. Take note EA, Rockstar delayed the launch because GTA V wasn’t perfected, thank God they took that decision. The online mode won’t be enabled till October 1 but there’s plenty to be getting on with in Grand Theft Auto V single-player.

We’ve spent the last week here at UGP HQ, staring at the letter box each morning till the post man comes, hoping and praying our copy of GTA V from Rockstar arrives but alas, yesterday morning’s, now ritual, routine of watching the letterbox, didn’t yield any

copies of GTA V when Mr Postie made his rounds. We had a decision to make, do we gamble that it’ll arrive launch day morning or go and find somewhere with a spare copy to buy? Of course, we went with the latter option so, come 10pm I jumped in the car with a buddy who was off to grab his midnight release pre-order, and headed out in the hope that I might be able to find a copy. I knew that the odds were stacked heavily against me but, luck prevailed. Same said buddy, had ordered two copies…one for him, one for his other half. However, she wouldn’t be able to play it all week and due to an exorbitant vet bill for a very cute a worthy pooch, said that I could buy her copy and she’d buy it back once when she wanted it. AWESOME….me thinks to myself, going to be playing GTA V, tonight!

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GTA V comes on 2 discs, one is labelled play and the other install. I had to install one disc before being able to play the game, 8.7GB of data, and for very good reason. I unfurled the poster map in the box while waiting for the installation to complete, something instantly struck me, the map is absolutely gargantuan. It’s properly massive! Anyone who played GTA: San Andreas will remember the impressive size of the open world in that title. We’ve calculated that the entire San Andreas is the size of JUST the city in GTA V. The city accounts for perhaps 20% of the map area, to give you an indication of just how big the game world is. Not only is the game world massive, the visual impact on you is intense. Visually, GTA V is stunning. Everything has been designed and crafted with meticulous precision and care. I play Xbox 360, till the end of November anyway, and this is one of the best games I’ve played in terms of quality of graphics. The lighting and water effects are superb, something that is a trend in new games. The importance of lighting and water in games these days, seems to be earning a rightful places. It makes the game so much more enjoyable. Graphics, in case you couldn’t tell, are very important to me. I’ll play a game that is truly crap, just because it’s got amazing graphics.

Once I’d stopped gawking at my surroundings and wishing I could actually live in them, I soon realised that there’s plenty to be doing in my new world. I know it’s going to keep me entertained and busy for days on end throughout this vast map. The game plays in a very familiar way, although vastly refined and reworked in places, but it took me just a moment to feel right back at home in the GTA world. The list of activities and things to do, aside from the main missions and storyline, is sure to keep me and you occupied for a long long time after completing said storyline. I’ve spent all day playing, don’t tell the boss, and I’ve spent more time messing around driving different vehicles, shooting different weapons and visiting  and partaking in different activities and attractions then playing the actual missions. I’ve only just completed the mission my friends online completed at 11am this morning! It really is that easy to get distracted in GTA V and it’s because everything has been done to an exceedingly high standard. I feared that everything outside of the missions may suffer from rather lacklustre completion, something there to keep you mildly entertained once the story is complete but no, it’s all brilliant. I found myself enjoying a round of gold of the 9 hole course just before lunch. It’s a game within its own right. The graphics were great, the physics were great, the controls were great, the only thing that wasn’t so great was, you guessed it, me! I believe my 2 under par score was respectable but I made a mess of the 5th and the trees played havoc with my game at the 7th. I haven’t been able to get out and try a triathlon or go base jumping simply because I haven’t explored that part of the map yet. Whereas in previous GTA titles areas of the map would require unlocking by progressing through the story, it’s the characters that get unlocked with storyline progression in GTA V. 

Each character is very unique, I must admit, I’m yet to play with Trevor (cue sniggers) but from what I’ve been hearing over Xbox Live today from friends, he’s the most unique out of the three, and is accurate to the pre-release video depictions. The game starts with Franklin, a gangster looking for an out from the lifestyle. He and his incompetent and inept friend, who lands them in more trouble then he’s worth, lead you on the stories opening and the first few missions of the game. I’m not going to give away any spoilers on missions as there’s already enough out there and I don’t want to spoil your fun!

The character integration in the missions is something that I was a little concerned about. I feared that it could break up game-play and cause horrible delays when in the heat of action but it’s actually really very good. During a mission you can hot swap between the different characters with a simple tap of down on the D-Pad. There’s no delay, nothing. It caught me out a couple of times, unsure if I had actually changed characters. During free play, the camera zooms out miles before zooming back in on the newly selected character. If it did that in missions, it would suck but it doesn’t, so it’s all good!

The missions themselves are superb, I love them! Rockstar has worked super hard on the script and dialogue and it shows. It’s engaging and entertaining. Some of the lines that they, that characters in the game, come out with are priceless and will have you in stitches. Be warned, the language is very very blue! Not for the kiddies, but it is an 18 rated title after all. Missions are long enough to keep you entertained but don’t become boring, frustrating or repetitive which was a problem with GTA IV, I felt anyway. There were just too many of them. They are seriously good fun and will have you making all sorts of weird and wonderful noises as you get more and more engrossed by GTA V. The pre-release videos we all saw showed multiple ways of carrying out things like a heist. It is executed very well. Make a sweeping decision, be surgical and stealthy or as subtle as a cold nipple in a tight top.  Then, fine tune your operation by picking members of your crew based playing financial cost off against skill and chance of success. It really is awesome and keeps you properly interested in what’s going on. How it goes down all depends on the skill of your crew and the style of heist you chose to do. The rewards are immense, if you can escape the clutches of the law. I’m finding the missions seriously good fun and I just need to keep an eye on the clock as hours seem to vanish without too much trouble.

The law is very much still a part of GTA, much in the same way as it has been in the previous titles. Minor infractions attract one star’s worth of attention, go on a murderous rampage and you’ll have the might of the state troopers hunting your ass down! Escaping the law is still very much the same, drive whatever vehicle it is you have, I don’t recommend running – it doesn’t end well, as fast as possible and hide. That’s if you want to escape! Otherwise you can bash cop cars, run people down and shoot anything you like till your heart’s content or you get gunned down yourself. I’ve died at least twice today from thinking I was “Rambo” and taking on the entirety of San Andreas’ law enforcement. I found the best solution, when I was actually trying to accomplish something, was to run away. There’s so much space, it’s not too hard to hide, even on a 4 star wanted  level.

Driving in GTA V, doesn’t feel like its had a lot of work done to it. It still feels very GTA, which I like. I started off wishing that it was different but, that’s just me wanting something in the game that doesn’t actually need to be there, nor would the majority of people either want it or care it’s not there. What I felt was lacking was the ability to drift the car. It’s totally unnecessary but it is a hell of a lot of fun and quite a good way to get round a corner from time to time. Yes there’s the handbrake but, the rear wheel drive cars have so much grips, that the wheels refuse to spin and just grip the road and off you go. You have to handbrake to the direction you want then go. No quick handbrake and flick and then meter the power, keeping the car in a nice sideways angle drifting round the corner. There’s some cars in GTA V that could be drift weapons. Like I said, it’s just me wanting something that isn’t there and isn’t needed. The physics and driving experience are very very good and fit the game very well. I’ve had a tonne of fun tearing down the interstate in one of the more powerful cars and trudging along in a big rig 18-wheeler! Let’s not forget the plethora of non-road or land based vehicles. Jet-skis, submarines, yachts, power boats, helicopters, quad bike, tractors…the list goes on and on. It is extensive and what’s awesome, is Rockstar, has replicated real world vehicles. Well, almost replicated. What is clearly an Audi R8 has slightly different lights and the badge is 4 semi-circles. The 911 is clearly a 911, it looks like one and sounds like one but again, it has slightly different lights and the badge is a bit different. Everything is like this and it is cool, it adds a touch of real world…you can quickly identify what’s going to be quick and what’s going to be, err….slow.

GTA V  really is pretty close to perfect but, there’s a couple of minor things that I’d like changed but, don’t for a minute think they are a problem. It’s really just me being incredibly anal and critical of the game. Things like the effects of when a boat I’m zipping over the waves in, dips below the water some of the textures disappear and you have holes in your boat where  you can see the water below the boat. It’s for such a split of a second that it really is irrelevant.

There are two slightly more annoying issues. One of which the general size of text on the screen, it’s as if it’s designed for PC users who are sat 12 inches from the screen, not 8 feet away. You literally have to stop what you’re doing and squint at the screen to read it. The images demonstrating which controls to use to complete the instruction are so small it’s almost impossible to make out some of them. It’d be nice if the text size was about twice the size. It’s not a game breaker by any stretch of the imagination. The dialogue is so good you rarely need to go back to the text brief and check what’s what. The latter and again, this is minor and in no way game breaking, is the volume of vehicles engines. They’re just too quiet. Some of the cars sound epic, the V8 of “Mustang”, the flat 6 of the “Porsche 911″…I want to hear them but I can’t quite, not enough anyway.

These minor minor issues do not detract from the game play in any way but it would just be nice  if they weren’t what they are. I can not recommend highly enough, anyone who hasn’t got a copy, get one! We’ll have them in stock at the start of next week hopefully, buy it…don’t think about it, just do it! You won’t regret it. I’ve played a lot of games and this is the best game to come out in years, I honestly believe it is!