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Grand Theft Auto V – PlayStation 3 Review

September 21, 2013 Leave a comment

GTA5 Box

Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Rockstar North
Platform: PS3 (also available on Xbox 360)
Genre: Action
MSRP: $59.99
ESRB: M (Mature)
Release Date: September 17, 2013

GR Choice Award

Review By: Eduardo Zacarias

Ah, the choices that life presents us.

Two armed thieves are holding a store manager at gunpoint but the idiots forgot to bring along a getaway driver … until you just so happen to stumble upon their dilemma. One thief tells you that you’ll get a cut from their score if you find a car and drive them the hell out of the scene and thus participate in a Drive-like cop-evasion car chase. Then again, you can be the hero your community needs by responding to the thieves’ request by shooting them dead instead and stopping the robbery.

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These are but just a few of the spontaneous activities that pop up during the course of Grand Theft Auto V as we make a return to the city of Los Santos in an epic story that brings together three very different characters.

Just as it was back in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the city of Los Santos is basically a tongue-in-cheek version of sunny Southern California from its tourist trap streets of Hollywood (called Vinewood here), down the gorgeous Pacific Coast Highway and straight into the great outdoors of what the game calls Blaine County. So, as you can imagine, the map is huge to the point that it makes the Liberty City of Grand Theft Auto IV seem tiny in comparison.

After a rather lengthy installation, you are quickly introduced to the game’s story mode where we take part in a bank heist gone wrong in another city. Years later, we find ourselves taking control of Franklin who not only happens to find and deliver repo cars to the auto dealership where he works but also deal with his neighborhood and his friends that feel that Franklin isn’t gangsta enough.

On the other end of the spectrum is Michael, a seasoned criminal who has made his money and wisely invested enough of it to buy a lavish home in the hills. Unfortunately, he’s not happy with his life and, most especially, his family that consists of an unfaithful wife, a selfish slob of a son and a superficial daughter. On top of his family situation, Michael feels that he was only truly happy when he was pulling elaborate heists.

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Finally, there’s Trevor, the unstable lunatic who will not hesitate to put a bullet in your eye if you even look at him funny. Michael and Trevor have a history together so Trevor considers him the only real friend he has in a world filled with idiots. In a way, Trevor is your excuse to go on killing sprees without a thought about your consequences … a personality trait that he does not share with Michael or Franklin who commit acts of violence but know that they have a choice to solve problems without causing a hefty body count.

Together, the three characters come together to become partners in crime as they plan and execute heists. You can, after meeting each character, switch between either three, which leads to a satellite view of the city as you jump into the body of the character you pick. Interestingly enough, each time you switch characters you interrupt activities they happen to participating in while not in use. For example, I switched between Franklin to Michael only to find Michael playing a round of golf (which is one of many playable mini-games). Then I switched to Trevor, only to find him – inexplicably – gunning down police officers at a roadblock with burning vehicles to his left and right.

The main story missions themselves are varied, thankfully; now include checkpoints so you don’t have to start the mission from the very beginning. As you might have already guessed, many of the missions involve impressive heists that make use of the individual talents of each character. You will participate in everything from a jewelry store heist to assassination missions like the one where you kill a target who regularly rides the bus. You even rob a cargo plane in mid-flight using a biplane you use to crash right into the cargo hold of the plane.

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Of course, there are loads of side missions, mini-games and even spontaneous moments that are triggered on the map such as the situation I mentioned in the beginning of this review. The side missions come in the from of the Strangers and Freaks missions that have you doing jobs for people that include a crack addict from Franklin’s neighborhood to a paparazzo who wants you to help him film a celebrity sex tape by sneaking into a celebrity’s home and record her doing the nasty.

Still, it’s the unscripted moments that become the one of many highlights of your GTA experience. You can spend hours just exploring every side street of Los Santos, the great outdoors that makes up Blaine County or even the depths of the ocean near Paleto Bay. The map is big enough to house thousands of secrets, collectibles and extras. I literally spend two hours taking a dirt bike through the woods, avoiding hikers who are either setting up tents or backpacking their way up the mountain. You can easily spend the time playing tennis in a country club as well as play a full round of golf.

Other activities help increase each characters skills or abilities by sometimes doing something as simple as driving around the city or even running. You can walk into an Ammu-Nation and take on a few marksmen challenges that can lead to unlocking discounts for weapons you can buy and upgrade. Speaking of upgrades, you can upgrade your vehicles (as well as take your car to a car wash because people in Los Santos judge your ride). You can even purchase clothing for your characters as well as give them better hairstyles.

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As far as the controls are concerned, Grand Theft Auto V improves on just about every aspect of the driving, shooting and even melee attack controls. Driving is a huge improvement, making the vehicles control more smoothly than in the fourth game in the franchise. Rockstar has taken a page from its own games like Red Dead Redemption as well as L.A. Noir for the shooting mechanics, making targeting so much easier. In fact, it can be a bit too easy for most, but you can always switch to free targeting. You can also take cover behind objects as well.

The character AI is both a hit-and-miss, however, leading to moments when your opponents seem to want to run into your line of fire instead of ducking for cover. Still, this is a minor gripe compared to a few other hiccups that pop up in the game. Still, whatever flaw you might encounter in the game feels minor compared to all the things the game does right. No glitch really detracts from the fun and there was never a moment where I felt truly frustrated. Sure, cops are alerted quickly for the littlest thing but once you know how to elude them you will find yourself moving on to your next crime.

How does the PlayStation 3 version stack up the Xbox 360 version, you might ask? Well, aside from the fact that the Xbox 360 contains two discs (one is the install disc while the other is to play the game); the two look nearly identical to each another graphics-wise. This is good news considering that Rockstar caught some flack from Sony fans for getting the short end of the stick for Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption. Sure, the Xbox 360 version has a slight advantage when it comes to shadows and foliage but the PS3 version does not disappoint in the very least.

On the visual side, Los Santos is absolutely breathtaking in just about every way and incredibly detailed to the point that you will often find yourself stopping long enough to admire the scenery around you. People go about their business impressively whether they stop to snap pictures of a car crash or go to a spot in the park to join others in a group yoga class. Even explosions look remarkable in this game.

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The game’s sound and soundtrack, once again, is a highlight of any GTA game. This is certainly the type of game you play with the volume cranked up just for the hilarious bits of conversation you’ll hear just standing around in the streets. The dialogue is handled wonderfully as well and the atmospheric sound effects drive home the feeling you’re in the great outdoors or standing outside somewhat familiar Vinewood locales. The radio stations are an eclectic mix that works whether you like hip-hop, classic rock or country just to name a few musical genres represented in the game.

The few minor glitches and gripes I have with the game pale in comparison to all the things the game has to offer including the massive map that comes to life more beautifully than in other Grand Theft Auto titles. This, along with the improvements in control, make for a rich and enticing experience that will give gamers literally thousands of hours of much to see and do.

One minor regret, however, is that the online multiplayer portion – billed as Grant Theft Auto Online – is not up and running yet. In fact, it will be available free to all GTAV owners in October so we will bring you a review for it when it is finally up and running.

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Meanwhile, you can take our word for it when I say that Grand Theft Auto V for the PS3 is one of the best the franchise has produced and, simply put, a truly epic game that has a lot to offer even for those who have become tired of the open-world sandbox games. With three intriguing characters, loads of missions and extras, you will find this huge world a sandbox you will not want to leave anytime soon.

GAME FRONTLINE RATING

Gameplay: 9.5
Graphics: 9.0
Sound: 10
Appeal: 10
Overall: 10

Review copy provided by Rockstar Games

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Categories: PS3 Review

XBOX ONE GETS AN OFFICIAL LAUNCH DATE … AND SOMETHING EXTRA

September 5, 2013 Leave a comment

Xbox One Logo1

Microsoft has managed to keep gamers in the dark about an official release date for the successor to the Xbox 360 even after Sony announced that the PlayStation 4 will find its way on store shelves on November 15. So when could we expect to get our hands on the Xbox One?

The Xbox One is getting a release date of November 22 in North America and in the United Kingdom. That’s an entire week after the PS4 hits stores but there’s more to this news than just an official release date. As we have suspected not too long ago when we got to see the Xbox One up close and personal that there was going to be a change to the console.

That change comes in the form of a boost to the Xbox One’s CPU from 1.6 Ghz to 1.75 Ghz, which is no surprise considering the fact that Microsoft – post-E3 – has made changes to the console to appease the enraged Xbox fans that have threatened to abandon Microsoft for Sony’s powerful PS4.

Microsoft is still confident that it’s next-gen console has what it takes to take on the PlayStation 4 enough that it will allow Sony to take a one week lead. When all is said and done, it will come down to which console gamers will crown a winner this November.

OUR TAKE

The console war is on and it’s anyone’s game. I know we have, like the cowards that we are, have decided to take a neutral stance. I mean, we love games and both consoles will gives us just that with the exclusives being the main attraction whether you support Sony or Microsoft.

That said, we love a good fight and both companies will come out swinging this upcoming holiday season. Sure, it will be bloody and sure it’s the fans that have the final say on who wins the battle but you have to admit that this will be a worthwhile slug fest that doesn’t require the presence of Don King.

While we’re on the subject of boxing, why aren’t there any more Fight Night games? We miss those and always thought that both Sony and Microsoft’s hands-free peripheral has the means of providing us with a real physical workout. We want an unlockable mode where we can use Don King as a punching bag for taking all your money.

Categories: Xbox One News