Another time, whilst driving around in an off-road buggy, I got distracted by something that looked like a path up one of the San Andreas mountains.
Turns out it was a path, and I spent 15 minutes following to the summit, where I nearly ran over a group of hikers. ” one of them yelled at me, as if he nearly gets run over by a rogue ATV on top of a mountain every time he goes on a hike. GTA V has an abundance of such moments, big and small, that make San Andreas – the city of Los Santos and its surrounding areas – feel like a living world where anything can happen.
And at long last, Rockstar has finally slain one of its most persistent demons, mission checkpointing, ensuring that you never have to do a long, tedious drive six times when you repeatedly fail a mission ever again.
Grand Theft Auto V is also an intelligent, wickedly comic, and bitingly relevant commentary on contemporary, post-economic crisis America.
It’s immediately noticeable that the cover system is more reliable and the auto-aim less touchy.
The cars handle less like their tires are made of butter and stick better to the road, though their exaggerated handling still leaves plenty of room for spectacular wipeouts.
Pick a character and the camera zooms out over the San Andreas map, closing back in on wherever they happen to be.
Michael might be at home watching TV when you drop in on him, or speeding along the motorway blasting ‘80s hits, or having a cigarette at the golf club; Franklin might be walking out of a strip club, munching a bag of snacks at home, or arguing with his ex-girlfriend; there’s a good chance that Trevor could be passed out half naked on a beach surrounded by dead bodies or, on one memorable occasion, drunk in a stolen police helicopter.
It is a leap forward in narrative sophistication for the series, and there’s no mechanical element of the gameplay that hasn’t been improved over Grand Theft Auto IV.Grand Theft Auto V accommodates both, masterfully, allowing neither to undermine the other.The actual act of switching between them also provides a window into their individual lives and habits, fleshing out their personalities in a way that feels natural and novel.Narratively, it’s effective – even off-mission I found myself playing in character, acting like a mid-life-crisis guy with anger issues as Michael, a thrill-seeker as Franklin, and a maniac as Trevor.The first thing I did when Franklin finally made some good money was buy him an awesome car, because I felt like that’s what he’d want.Everything about it drips satire: it rips into the Millennial generation, celebrities, the far right, the far left, the middle class, the media...