Good Cop: Grand Theft Auto V Review

GTA GRANDUER

 

Do you love sex and violence, cops and robbers, cars and guns?  Do you inexplicably feel an aching every six years or so to cause senseless terror as a crime lord?  Well step right up because Rockstar has the game for you!

GTA has become its own beast at this point – it’s basically synonymous with the urge to cause mayhem en masse and disregard all established public norms.  The franchise has cemented its own lexicon of mission progression as well.  Drive somewhere and then deliver this package, do this thing, shoot some dude, etc.  The core formula remains intact for V.

Why complain about the mission structure when it provides the backbone for all the great conversations and chaos in GTA?  This is video game comfort food at its finest.

Why complain about the mission structure when it provides the backbone for all the great conversations and chaos in GTA? This is video game comfort food at its finest.

 

The satirical radio is also back and better than ever, embodying the same crass perspective but now provided with new ammunition thanks to the financial situation of the past four years.  Somehow Rockstar’s writers can always find new ways to make fun of the fat, dumb, fast food eating, racist, moronically liberal or blindly conservative, drug addled, trend addicted populace that comprises America.  Like the mission structure, it feels simultaneously familiar but fresh.

These GTA staples receive a bit of a facelift too.  Car conversations no longer continue seamlessly when the car T-bone’s a truck at a red light.  These chats are better timed too, such that Franklin or Michael’s arrival at the objective usually coincides with the end of whatever is being discussed.

It’s harder to attract the ire of cops this time around – stealing a car or hitting people is a little more permissible.  When they do give chase, they’re equipped with sight cones so escaping it more logical.

It’s harder to attract the ire of cops this time around – stealing a car or hitting people is a little more permissible. When they do give chase, they’re equipped with sight cones so escaping is more methodical.

 

But the big change is the addition of two other playable, very different but equal protagonists.  The player is allowed to switch between the three with almost full impunity, whether it’s to transition after a mission or to operate another character during a shared heist.

Switching between the central characters will often find them in the middle of a phone call or altercation.  It’s the perfect way to show that these characters have lives outside of criminal nonsense.  It also allows the game to pack in the same amount of crazy shit, but disperse it amongst different characters and make it more realistic.

Switching between the central characters will often find them in the middle of a phone call or altercation. It’s the perfect way to show that these people have lives outside of criminal nonsense. It also allows the game to pack in the same amount of crazy shit, but disperse it amongst different actors and hence make it more realistic.

 

Jumping back and forth between characters all collaborating to pull heists of increasing complexity makes this the Grand Theft Auto: Snatch Edition, in substance and tone.  Maintaining a more playful manner is a perfect change of pace from the somber, highly serious events of GTA IV.  It also fills in the gaps of the narrative at large in a way that traditional crime games never have been able to attain.

But most importantly it makes GTA an open box, allowing players to pick and choose what they want from their experience with it.  Prefer to drive the getaway vehicle or shoot from the passenger side?  Stakeout the warehouse or sneak in from the rear?  Run down the target or hold off the police?  GTA V accommodates no matter what.

There are countless activities that each must have taken days to design, all to be enjoyed for only a brief 10 minutes.

There are countless activities that each must have taken days to design, only to be enjoyed for only a brief 5 minutes.

 

Grand Theft Auto takes Skyrim’s hand and proudly proclaims that great open world games are built on the back of thousands of man-hours.  Both games feature an endless cascade of anecdotal events and scenarios that make the narrative experience so memorable and engrossing.  Cheap, procedurally generated approaches to constructing a world simply don’t cut it when compared to what said games have on display.

Assassins Creed and Batman’s of the world pay heed – this kind of long form, meticulous development cycle pays off.

Author: Wu

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