Saturday, 9 January 2016

GTA 5/ PS4

Here we go........
I have half put off writing a review about GTA 5, simply because there is so much to write about. The protagonists themselves deserve there own profiling. After completing the game once, I am now going back through with the realisation that I have completed little bar the main story, so don't even get me started about online play; shit! We have a lot to get through and fortunately for me I still have a week off of work to play around with getting this out.
Happy New Year and all that jazz.

My first adventure with GTA 5 began on the Xbox 360 back in 2013. To say that I was impressed is an understatement, I was instantly hooked and played nothing else for at least 3 weeks; I hadn't in fact been as impressed with a GTA title since the days of San Andreas (recently downloaded to PS4 also).GTA 4 was a good game, but lacking a little something that has stopped it being a game that I have wanted to play again. GTA 5, however, is to put it plainly, a return to GTA's spiritual roots of good old fashioned fucked up madness neatly tucked inside a massively indulgent storyline with the added extra of robbing the fuck out of banks and anything not locked down tightly. It has the look of perfection (Oh the glorious weather), minus the odd character sinking into the background type lark that still happens even with all the modern improvements in games (I'm a damn perfectionist). It is a massive open world environment with little in the way of loading times, minus the ridiculous amount of instalment time when first playing the game, which is more than worth the wait. There is so much to do outside of the main story as well as playing through the missions of the three different main characters. Then when you've had enough or at any point that you wish, you can take it online and go into GTA OD (overdose) mode. I began playing the PS4 version last year around Christmas time and still this year the game remains a favourite of both mine and my sons. Admittedly my son invests more time in discovering what is hiding in the nooks and crannies of Los Santos and only recently have I began to fully explore the online arena; however that is the whole point of the game. It isn't something that you need to rush through, rather it is something that matures and gets better the longer that you spend playing the game.
Lets kick off with the main characters.

Franklin Clinton

For me Franklin is very much like rapper Ice Cube (he's a wannabe gangster). He looks the part and acts the part, but really he's just stumbled into the lifestyle by way of association with those who are really doing the dirt. His voice also has the twang of Ice Cube, so much so that I was convinced that it was Ice Cube until I did a little research and found out that it is in fact Shawn Fonteno who does the voicing, who is also the cousin of Young Maylay, who happened to be the voice of Carl 'CJ' Johnson in GTA San Andreas. Franklin is your typical LA thug, if your definition of an LA thug is based on what you know from gangster rap and not because you happen to live in LA or LS as is the case in the actual game. Franklin has a kind of legitimate job boosting cars for a crooked car salesman, which he attends to with his partner in crime and equally as thuggish ruggish friend Lamar Davis. Franklin and Lamar stumble upon Michael De Santa (another of the main characters) right at the beginning of the game when out to repossess two cars and consequently a little later on Franklin is sent out to bring back a car financed to the son of Michael, which sets up the beginning of a venture into more high profile crime for Franklin and the reawakening of an old school bank robber in Michael.

Thing's to do when playing as Franklin:
1) Take his dog Chop for a walk amongst the hidden beauties of Los Santos.
2) Visit a strip club in true player fashion, high off of the bong you can hit in his crib.
3) Enter into street races with pimped out high power cars and win cash.
4) Given that Franklin begins with little cash, you can go rob stores ghetto style.

Michael De Santa (formally known as Michael Townley)

As I fantasised about who the voice actors are when first playing this game, I made up my mind that the voice of Michael was none other than the voice of Michael Madsen, who did voice a character in GTA 3 and happens to look a lot like Michael De Santa. I later found out that the voice actor for Michael is in fact American TV and film actor Ned Luke, who happens to look a little like Robin Williams. I also found out that Michael Madsen said that he would never do another GTA because it is too violent (Tarantino is puppies and ice cream in comparison). Michael is a washed up criminal hiding like a hermit has-been celebrity up in the hills (De Santa, not Madsen). He is finding himself having a bit of a mid-life crisis after his criminal career ended with one of his friends being killed, another running into hiding (Trevor, who we'll get to) and himself being taken into witness protection with Trevor believing him also to be dead. Michael has issues to say the least, anger being one of them, which is how he ends up in the back of a car that Franklin is repossessing, with a gun in his hand and a hard-on for acting out on his suppressed daddy issues. None too surprisingly Michael has regular therapy sessions with an overpaid under-caring shrink. Michael accidentally makes friends with Franklin rather than shooting him, then precedes to set himself up for a full on relapse into his old ways. Cue the return of a highly strung out Trevor and the three of them find themselves quickly up shit creek without a paddle.

Thing's to do when playing as Michael:
1) See his shrink for some amusing dialogue and the theft of his red Porsche.
2) Play tennis (with his wife if you like), practise yoga or just get pissed up on whiskey.
3) Watch a movie.
4) Get your pilot licence.
5) Invest money in the stock market.

Trevor Phillips

Ah! Trevor, the adorable little puppy. Put on a bit of Rick James and strap in your seat belt, the ride is about to get freaky. Sadly not voiced by George Clooney. I wasn't the only one to think that that was the case. The first time that my girlfriend ever heard his voice, she said is that George Clooney. Nope I replied, as by this point I had discovered that the voice of Trevor is the voice of actor Steven Ogg. (who)? Where do we begin with Trevor? He's the model citizen, the guy you'd take home to meet the parents.......hang on, wrong Trevor. Trevor Phillips. Murdering meth head, totally psychotic, sleeps with dead people and abuses cuddly toys....poor Mr Raspberry Jam. Years of therapy will never take away the memories of that horrible incident and I am just talking about being witness, never mind the poor little teddy. Trevor has spent many a year since his last hang out with Michael smoking large crystals that would put Sonic to shame, whilst writing to a dead friend he believes is behind bars and mourning the death of another who happens to be alive and well...well not well at all. The years haven't been kind to Trevor and he is on the verge of a full psychotic meltdown when he catches a news story about a robbery with something strangely familiar about it. Realising that his believed to be dead friend and one time partner in crime Michael Townley (now De Santa) may not be as dead as he once believed (stay with me), Trevor sets off on a rampage, whilst tasking his fellow meth head friend Wade to locate the man he suspects pulled off the robbery he has just witnessed on the news. Once Trevor has pretty much wrote his name into folklore, killing off a bunch of pissed off bikers, Mexicans and farm boys, he lands at the door of Michael's home in the hills ready to potentially extend his killing spree. Did I mention that he is nuts?

Thing's to do when playing as Trevor:
1) Go hunting or just shoot people, look for Bigfoot.
2) Take lost strangers to a cult in exchange for cash.
3) Fly a stunt plane or traffic drugs by land or air.
4) Work as a bounty hunter.

The Plot

Touched on throughout the character assassinations above, the game begins with a flashback to a robbery in North Yankton, 9 years prior to the main storyline. Trevor and Michael are part of team involved in a heist that goes wrong. Trevor escapes a police showdown after Michael and Brad are both shot. Trevor later on believes Brad to be in jail and Michael to be in the ground feeding the worms. However, fast forwarding to the present GTA day, we find out that Brad is in fact dead and Michael alive. Michael has been living in Los Santos in witness protection whilst Trevor has been hiding out in Sandy Shores. 
Michael manages to get himself into a bit of a pickle after unknowingly (at first) pulling down the house of a Mexican drug lord Martin Madrazo, whilst in a fit of rage, thinking that it belonged to the tennis coach who he finds to be serving up more than tennis balls to his wife Amanda. By this point Franklin is becoming involved with Michael and is invited to help Michael pull of a heist with the idea of paying off the none too surprisingly annoyed Madrazo who wishes to be compensated for the loss of the mansion that was inhabited by his girlfriend. 
The robbery on a local jewelry store goes as planned. Everyone gets away and lays in wait as the jewels are swapped for cash, believing that there should be no further complications to deal with.
Oh they are wrong, soooooooooooo wrong.
Trevor has figured out that Michael is behind the heist and has made his way to Los Santos to find out why he isn't as dead as he was lead to believe.
In comes Trevor mad as a box of bees.
After a bit of a kiss and make up, Michael, Trevor and Franklin decided to kick it together, each attempting to avoid someone or something whilst heading towards a possible heist to end all heists....the Union Depository; not to be confused with suppository.
Friendships and loyalties are questioned as trust turns to suspicion with sides ultimately having to be chosen.


Massive open world play is how you could describe GTA 5 to someone who is unfamiliar with the series and then possibly go on the explain what open world also means. You can roam free, the entire map, regardless of what mission you are on. Some missions may however have a timer that limits your roaming, but when outside of a mission there are no limits and a huge surface area to cover, explore and generally get up to no good in. There is a main storyline to follow which adds up to a ridiculous amount of playing time, giving that you play out the story through the three protagonists, as well as a whole bunch of side missions for each character. There are also random events taking place throughout the game that you can become involved in. The missions are very much action adventure and the side mission often borderline on the insane; for example, taking pictures of a celebrity being buggered whilst playing one of Franklin's side missions or fighting off a horde of aliens whilst high on weed, whilst playing as Michael or a horde of clowns whilst participating in a similar mission with Trevor. There is more than just the odd shock moment where you may check the limitations of your own personal morals and boundaries. (I find telling myself it's not real over and over helps). The creme de la menthe of this game however is when at certain points the chaps will team up and plan a heist, which usually involves a whole load of killing, stealing, espionage, popping off rounds, contacting people you've come across during game missions and either collecting a whole load of money or handing it over to somebody else because of one or another of your previous fuck ups. My favourite heist is the one where you dress up in giant bomb suits and walk out of the bank you are robbing to greet the cops with a minigun in hands. In game there is a massive selection of weapons to get trigger happy with as well as explosives and melee weapons for stabbing, slashing and smashing rampages. You can target whoever you like, rob whoever's vehicle, rob security vans and certain stores; you can also hunt animals, being paid cash for one such mission that involves hunting deer/elk. You can customise cars, customise weapons and customise your character. There isn't an unlimited option when doing so, but enough choice to keep it interesting. Similar to San Andreas, some cars can be pimped out, whilst others will allow for engine mods rather than bodywork upgrades. There is a large selection of cars to drive around in, as well as competitive races to win cash in that isn't limited to just racing cars. You can also get involved in stunt plane missions or drug trafficking missions. The disappointing bit of upgrading your character is the lack of options when it comes to hairstyling (particularly for Trevor and Michael). I have probably forgotten one or two of the possibilities in game, but by now you should be catching my drift. The game is fucking huge! Take a look at the medals that can be won and you can see just how many sub-missions there are too. There are also Easter eggs to be found throughout the game.

  If you happen to have a decent TV, something along the lines of full HD, LED or the like, then you will fully appreciate the look of the game. It is difficult to fault visually. The weather changes are amazing, especially if you get caught up in a thunderstorm whilst out in the mountains. (excuse me I am British and we love to talk weather). There are glitches galore, which often give hilarious unexpected extras to the already wacky game-play, glitches that are showcased in the thousands on You Tube. My one gripe is always the same. When you are disappearing into the background or the floor it makes the developers look lazy. Sure I do not understand the mechanics behind putting games together (fully anyways) and I appreciate the time that is taken to satisfy my gaming needs, but there are some thing's that are still happening after years of game producing that have got to come to an end sooner rather than later. The AI however in GTA 5 are a heck of a lot smarter than in previous titles. You will be attacked on occasion for pissing a member of the public off. The dialogue is amusing as you wander about and you will occasionally come across some random doing something random that will make you stop and say out loud WTF? (Man tap dancing with his beat box nearby). It is a game where you will often just forget that you are following a story and instead head off onto a wander over, up or down the hills, either by foot, car, bike or in the air. There is something very satisfying about being able to take this type of break from play; just watch out for the wildlife as there are big cats that like to jump out and slash you to bits when you're up a small mountain. You can also travel out into the open sea and take a look under the water for some breathtaking views; in fact just talking about it I feel as though I am attempting to sell you a holiday break. You can take a dog with you (Chop) when playing as Franklin. Chop will attack anyone who is trying to attack you. Plus if you get tired of walking, Chop can jump into most cars and continue with you as you play, as long as you don't wander too far away from him. GTA 5 is not just about playing the game, it is about becoming as much involved in your environment as possible. The sweetest touch for me is that Rockstar clearly took into account what was publicly trending at the time of game development and added to the content such things as conspiracy theory (remember when every nut job was shouting Illuminati in the face of anyone that was listening)? Being able to practise yoga, which has been on the up in terms of trends was an added feature that for me just put the icing on the cake. (Murder spree followed by some deep breathing to make any lasting tensions disappear; epic). Overall it is a very satisfying game to play with much replay value that will keep you ticking over nicely until GTA 6. It is very easy to get into, with the control system being simple, even though at first it appears that there are a lot of buttons to be pressed with multiple actions for each button. The use of the PS4 controller speaker is also an added bonus that often comes into play when you are answering phone calls in game.

GTA Online

Briefly I will touch on online play. In all honesty I am not a big online player, simply because these days I have to choose to either play the main game or to play online, given that I have an incredible life outside of my incredible virtual one, I am often too busy to cram everything in and I am someone who likes to sit and complete one or two games at a time, rather than try to ridiculously multitask with online gaming as well. I dip in from time to time and haven't been hugely impressed. GTA online is improving all the time, so for that reason it is something that you can just keep coming back too, with an almost guarantee that it will be slightly different each time. It follows on closely to the main gameplay. You can team up with people all over the world and compete against or work with who you wish to in many missions that now includes online heists. Every so often there will be random challenges set and upgrades to tie in with the seasons. 10 years ago I would of had a field day with this type of involvement. Today I am much more cosy with my slippers and my planned Tuesday marathon of gaming in the company of me, myself and I.

The End (for now)

GTA 5 scores a straight 10 out of 10
The first game that I have awarded this score. It isn't something that I do on a regular basis. GTA 5 is one of those games that changes your perception, leaving you with fond memories that will be talked about when you are reminiscing with your grand kids.  
If you happen to be online playing GTA 5, look out for CarlosJuanWolf.
If you like this review or would like to add your own opinion, hit me up in the comments box. 
Happy New Year, happy gaming.
I will add to this review after it has been released, so keep checking back if you happen to like it so far.