The beauty of Grand Theft Auto has also been its biggest crux: freedom. Grand Theft Auto’s freedom has never been more true than with its newest spawn. Grand Theft Auto V or 5 on the newest generation of systems has yielded some very interesting results. First of all, it is one of the most beautiful games ever built, and there are articles online that show just how similar to actual photos GTA5 actually is. GTA5 is known for being “violent” and lacks any compassion for a fellow human being. But how true is that opinion? GTA5 I believe, does just what all the other Grand Theft Auto games have done in the past, but hit their mark more efficiently in this installation. This is accomplished in the first-person mode. Grand Theft Auto has always skirted the line between genius and insanity, and it likes where it lives. The genius is not necessarily in the game design, but in how the player uses the game design. Sure, famously, you can kill ladies of the night and take back the cash you paid them. However, the game doesn’t really reward you for doing so, and in fact punishes you for it (as the money is not equal to that which was initially paid). The Grand Theft Auto series thrives on letting the player have moral choices, but these choices aren’t scripted. These choices just occur by free-roaming the city, and the game doesn’t judge you one way or the other.
Rockstar is not trying to force anyone to do anything, but they are certainly not trying to stop any player from doing anything they want to do. However, if you are killed or arrested (which will happen when you break the law) the game will take money from the player. There is one exception to this, with full spoiler warning. At one point in the campaign you will be forced to torture another human, and I did find this rather disturbing. The scene itself wasn’t graphic, and had purpose and feeling to it, but it can leave a bad taste in one’s mouth. The first-person mode emphasizes this moral decision-making even more. It may seem like a small addition, but it is quite the opposite. Including such a mode will likely make players feel as though every choice they make hits closer to the heart, as it seems as if the player is doing this rather than just a character on screen. Games like Lionhead’s Fable series may pride itself in choices made, but the choices are forced and predetermined with a predisposed plot line in place to hold the player’s hand in feeling a certain way. GTA5 does no such thing. It simply . . . is. It may not necessarily be the best “sandbox game” available, but it is the greatest “choice” game available. You can complete their story mode or not, but the entire city is yours to do with as you wish. An individual can just sit on the beach and do absolutely nothing except soak up the rays of the sun and drive around the cars that the characters paid for, or the player can play the missions that reveal corruption, lies, espionage and burglary (if they so choose). Their single-player heist missions are the game’s best part, and have complex planning attached to them.
It is a rare opportunity that a game, or anything else for that matter, allows an individual to indulge in any activity they want. Be it golf, tennis, racing, mountain biking, hiking, SCUBA-diving, hunting or sightseeing. GTA5 actually has it all and never forces the player to do anything they don’t want to do unless they want to progress the story, and it does so in style. GTA5 also supports Multiplayer online, and allows up to 30 people to play competitively in several different game types, such as: racing (land, air, and sea), deathmatch, and objective-type games. It also features extensive unlockables and co-op missions. It allows you to buy property and cars online that you can use in missions. Finally, Rockstar has announced that its “heist” mode will be available for players before April 14, 2015 (the PC release date), and will allow players to plan complex heist missions online with their friends.
GTA5 has learned from its many design flaws over the years, such as: the eating/workout system of San Andreas, the dating of GTA4 and not being able to swim. GTA5 wants you to explore the world of Los Santos (GTA5’s setting), and play the side quests and minigames, but doesn’t make you. The choice is in the player’s hands, and if the player decides to be a stone-cold killer the game does not reward them. If the player decides to wander around aimlessly getting lost in the mountains while hunting wildlife the game does not reward them. This is how sandbox games work when done properly, and is a must-own for anyone who loves sandbox-type games.
(GTAV is currently available on PS4, XBOX1, PS3 and XBOX 360. Available on PC on April 14, 2015)