Naturally, if you’re eager to just dive in and play the game, skip this and pick up a copy. Not many spoilers follow but there is some early game info here. I figured GTA V would impress me. That I’d be pleased how it was a bit more advanced than GTA IV. All I can say without getting into details is just wow!
In the opening moments that introduce you to the controls, it isn’t apparent right away just how advanced this game is. You’re with Michael and Trevor nine years ago as they work with an unmentioned character accomplice to rob a bank. The first surprising moments come when you begin your get away and a snowy landscape spreads out before you as you leave a garage door possibly behind the bank. The shoot outs feel much more responsive as you proceed to make your way to the get away vehicle parked down on a rural road.
The country landscape around you immediately lets you know what sort of scope GTA V has. I’d wanted to wander around and explore the area, but shortly afterward I was given more than enough to keep me busy for the foreseeable future.
Los Santos is introduced to you through the eyes of Franklin after a brief intro with Michael and his therapist. Not that you didn’t spend time driving with Michael in the intro, but Franklin isn’t on a country road. It feels incredible as you tear through the streets of Los Santos after doing a repossessing a ride for your boss with your friend Lamar in another car. I liked the driving in GTA IV, but I feel much more in control in GTA V. There’s even a dual joystick click skill Franklin can use to slow time and focus his driving for a short time. Risky driving raises the meter to use this skill again. However you can turn it back off before the meter runs out.
All of this was amazing. Wandering down the street from Franklin’s aunts house felt realistic. It didn’t feel like any game I’d played before. It felt like instead Franklin was standing on a street corner in a real world city. I don’t know if it’s the scale or what, but everything just feels huge. The wow moment came for me though instead when I was wandering down the beach before stopping for the night. I’d just panned the camera down beside Franklin to take in the city in the distance and my wife commented to me that it looked like something from a trailer. That it did. This wasn’t just some new video game. So much about it was startlingly beautiful. There is just so much to see.
Another surprising moment came when I took a jet ski that was left in the surf for the life guards out for a joy ride. The water is just incredible! The game itself is absolutely beautiful but I’d go as far to say that the water looks even more realistic than the game world it’s in, and that’s saying a lot! Even standing in the shallow surf, you can see into the water and it looks realistic. I couldn’t figure out how to dive yet, or if I can yet, but I’m eager to check that out!
Rockstar seems to have gone out of their way to remove or tone down the big glowing indicators that are standard in the series. In mission markers tend to be small yellow circles while actual mission start points just seamlessly flow into cut scenes that take place in game. Cut scenes are beautiful as well with camera work that really makes the quality shine.
Lastly, I’d looked at the map of GTA V and sort of felt sad that it seemed there was only one city. Dispite that we don’t know the full map it seems up North. I was delighted to see that Los Santos really is huge! During a chase gone wrong, I thought for sure I’d cover one end of the city to the other. After managing to return wanted level free and complete my mission, I was surprised to see the fog of war that covers the map wasn’t completely revealed at all. This game is just so massive.