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Grand Theft Auto 5 is an impressive sandbox experience

Game informer editor-in-chief Andy McNamara
Grand Theft Auto 5 shows much progress in selection of cars, graphics and freedom in games. (PHOTO CREDIT: MCT CAMPUS)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Dylan Palazzo

Time to call in sick, grab some soda, and order delivery; this week we are playing “Grand Theft Auto 5”.

Released Sept. 17 for PS3 and Xbox 360, “Grand Theft Auto 5” boasts the largest assortment of activities offered of the Grand Theft Auto series. On the release day alone, “Grand Theft Auto 5” sold 13 million copies, and grossed $800 million. With a budget of $250 million, publisher Take-Two provides a good storyline, huge game depth and the awesome sandbox we have grown to love.

The story opens with a small heist, followed by firefight, which encompasses the brief controls tutorial. After a dramatic string of events, “Grand Theft Auto 5” appears on the screen, and focus is brought to our first protagonist, Michael De Santa. Throughout the game, two other main characters, Franklin Clinton and Trevor Philips, join the story. At any point in the game, the player may choose to switch control to either of the other characters, and doing so is necessary to advance the story of any one character. What makes this mechanic of the game really unique is the player may do this even during combat: if you are controlling Michael and get pinned, you can switch to Franklin to aid him, and then collectively continue.

The selection of cars never disappoints, and the options have become wider and more modern. Driving feels much cleaner than in the other games, which is great since it is a large portion of the game whether playing the story or for fun.

Graphically, everything is sleek and sharp; all the characters’ proportions look right and the faces have great expressions. All the vehicles are spot on, and the sports cars look fantastic. The water looks and plays right, on which it is great fun to escape by wave runner. Some controls are a little tricky to get used to, especially simultaneous things like driving and shooting.

Much of the freedom in the game is made exceptionally enjoyable by the absurd things the player can do. We can carjack a Viper and speed our way off a cliff, influence a bus off a pier and just go around punching people. Any Grand Theft Auto player knows constant behavior like that provoke police, but the things we can do with them are just as entertaining. They will follow you as far as they need to, even if that means driving off the pier, in a car, with you. If you are making a mess on the highway in a bus, you all meet many police vehicles trying to stop you, which is great fun since buses put up a better fight than multiple cop cruisers.

The only downside to “Grand Theft Auto 5” is that if you play as a perfectionist, such as myself, you will be putting in a lot of time. There is almost too much that we can do in the game; it is very manual in the sense that you need to do every little thing by hand. Characters will send texts and emails to each other’s cell phones, which you check manually on your in-game phone. When you are done customizing your car, you can get involved with some hobbies, like playing tennis or golf. Train your protagonist to compete in triathlons, or start taking flying lessons. Finishing every pastime and hobby will only fulfill 10 percent of the 100 percent completion.

All in all, “Grand Theft Auto 5” really outdoes its previous installments. The island is massive: just getting out of Blaine County will run the player many hours, though they will be action packed. The protagonists have great character and excellent storylines. Driving has become significantly smoother than in earlier games. I would recommend this game to any kind of player, whether they are casual or perfectionist, since you can easily pick it up and progress without being glued to it for long periods of time. There are nearly no limits on what we can do with our time in “Grand Theft Auto 5”, and it is a genuine blast.

Score: 9/10

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