I’ve been away for a little while, so I haven’t played enough of Guild Wars recently to write a good review of the recent releases. I’ll try to do that as soon as possible, as lots has been happening in Tyria!
I have been playing GTA V every so often for the past couple of weeks though, so I thought I’d write about my thoughts so far. This isn’t meant to be a full on review, just a collection of thoughts about what I’ve experienced so far.
I’ve made it about 1/3 of the way through the story as of writing. I’ve spent a fair few hours beside that just having fun though; that’s what I’ve always loved about GTA games. The stories are good and make me want to play them, but what really makes me play it years later is just how fun it is to explore the world and mess around in.
So, is the world of Los Santos everything it was hyped up to be?
It certainly is! The world is vast and varied. From the dockyards to the peak of Mt. Chiliad; from the well healed suburbs of Rockford Hills to the caravan parks of Sandy Shores – there is such a wealth of places to explore.
Exploring these places is fun as well. There is something in every last corner of the world to make a visit rewarding. Whilst much of the map looks empty, going and investigating these parts will reward you.
I’ve particularly enjoyed taking my characters on road trips along the main highway, turning off when the mood suited and off-roading along the east coast for no reason other than to see the views. The game encourages this, with me stumbling on to a spontaneous beach party of young city types escaping for the weekend.
Central to the world feeling so amazing and being such a delight to explore is how good it looks, really pushing the boundaries of the current generation of consoles.
The Characters & Story
So what about our characters in this world? How do they feel and how do their stories fit in?
You start off as Franklin, ordinary guy on the poverty striken streets trying to make an honest living as a repo man. His friends are in to gangs though, and they drag him in on some of their activities, where he begins to realise that he’s got a bit of a talent for it. Eventually your work brings your path to cross with Michael – old friend of the final protagonist Trevor – but who has since faked his death and ‘retired’ from a career of high yield heists.
Michael and Trevor have history and so a lot of their missions are together with them working out their history, and the decade apart since Michael faked his death. Franklin almost feels like the third wheel on their ‘date’ at times, which is a shame, as Franklin is the character who I connected with the most, felt was most realistic and felt most empathy towards.
Trevor has become a fan favourite for his psychotic ways. Personally, I don’t have a problem with him but I want a character I can connect with more and feel more empathy towards than you get with Trevor – as brilliantly voice acted as he is by Steven Ogg.
Michael is probably the blandest of the characters for me, which I guess he should as a retired bank robber going through a mid-life crisis and sorting out his dysfunctional family and friends.
The story is ok, with repeated strong missions matched by several mundane errand style missions. Although the story line does get a bit lost at times. Missions in the same story section don’t always feel like they belong together, and certain characters get ignored for whole portions at a time. That’s part of the problem of having three main protagonists.
The heist missions, as peaks of previous missions, are fun but often too short after all the work put in to them. Once you’ve completed one you’ll never be watching the bank balance again though, which makes sense but almost makes the game too easy.
The most frustrating thing for me so far, and it should only be a minor thing in the big picture, is that when you switch to a character from another they will be out doing their own thing – which makes sense. It also makes sense that they change their clothes while you’re away with another character, but I’ve been finding this incredibly irritating. I spent thousands of dollars on a suit for Michael, only for him to be wearing scruffs the next time I switched to him and finding him far away from anywhere where I could change him back into the suit. It makes sense but its incredibly irritating at the same time.
I want to include another minor gripe so far that has irritated more than it should, and that is the introductory mission to Trevor. Trevor is busy trying to cement his criminal empire in the rural desert north of the county, and that leads him in to conflict with a biker gang – the lost mc. I got to know and care about the Lost in their DLC to GTA IV, so I was sad to be going around killing them.
I was especially unhappy when the main character of the Lost’s GTA IV story line, Johnny, was killed by Trevor within the first cut-scene. A character I had previously poured hours into was killed wantonly before I’d even began. I guess that got me off to a bad start in how I felt about Trevor.
The Combat & Driving
The melee combat has been drastically improved. It’s not as fluid and spectacular as that of Sleeping Dogs, which I recently reviewed, but its now far more player friendly. The gun play has been slightly tinkered with since GTA IV, and I generally preferred the GTA IV gun play, but it gets the job done very effectively all the same.
Driving has also been tinkered with, although I never particularly experienced what many felt was ‘unrealistic’ car physics in GTA IV. The cars drive well, although can be a little too over-sensitive in several cases. Each vehicle handles differently and feel like they should, a lorry will be slow and sluggish and a sports car will be quick and agile.
Although, air vehicle controls feel a little too temperamental. Helicopters will wildly wobble in the air with the slightest twitch of your finger, and the same for airplanes – which I’m finding incredibly difficult to control confidently even after many attempts. Something about air vehicles just doesn’t feel quite right to me so far.
The main change I’ve realised whilst playing is enemy AI. On foot enemies will flank you like never before, but the most noticeable change is when trying to flee in a car. Not only will random npc civilians try to ram you off the road to help the pursuing police but the police have become much better. The police will ambush you, they will try to immobilise you and they will track you down.
Once they’ve immobilised you, you are dead, they are that powerful. Of course, that makes sense, as does the best way of escaping the law being hiding in a bush or behind any nearby wall. However, as realistic as that is it just isn’t as fun as the endless running and gunning chases you could have with police in past GTAs – i miss them. I miss sieges against the police on the whole actually, and I’ve not yet found anywhere that lends itself to sieges.
Overall So Far
I’m enjoying the missions, but I’m missing a lot that made previous GTAs special. I miss huge gun battles, which I’ve just not been able to have in such spectacular size. I also want to see more of a focus on Franklin in the story (with Michael and Trevor boring me if I’m honest).
Although, the very early word seems to suggest that ‘CJ’ might be making a return (the main character of GTA: San Andreas) for a DLC, which holds a lot of promise for a cracking story. In fact, with GTA IV the story was much better on the more refined and focused DLCs, so perhaps that will be the perfect GTA V experience for me. We shall have to wait and see!
Digital Salad – https://lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com