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Grand Theft Auto V Review (Single Player Portion)

Before I start…

We at CCU want to approach our reviews a little differently, by providing you — the reader with our history with said game. You know, hitting the extremes and everything in between ie. whether this is our first time (noob) with the franchise (of course New IP’s everybodies new to it right?) or  if we’ve bought every game in the franchise or have extensive history or knowledge of a particular title.

Basically our personal background so you again — the reader can see not just a review score but exactly the mindset behind the review; is this my first time playing A RPG? A first person shooter?  Do I even like first person shooters? That way you can determine whether the person reviewing the game is coming from a place where you can relate or if it’s something that you need to consider.

Also we will be separating our Reviews for Single Player and Multiplayer for now on since they’re such different experiences we don’t believe one portion should affect the others overall rating.

Now as far as GTA V…

I’ve pretty much played every GTA game (console related) except the legendary…forgive me gamers…San Andreas (puts hands up to hide face) although I did go back and try to play it this gen but it wasn’t the same — couldn’t finish it.

GTA IV was the first game in the series however I took ultra serious as far as a story/mission part of it goes, before that I did what most GTA players did — and still do, just run around the city and wreak havoc with no purpose, just mindless fun. I did play I believe Vice City story missions all the way to the end but it wasn’t with the same focus as GTA IV.  When it came to Vice City and doing missions that was more I guess to see what other mischievous things I could get into rather than paying close attention to the story.

I felt Rockstar evolved and had the same vision as what I wanted from the series when it came to “IV”; (which might have been my favorite up to that point, I think “V”is it now) to take the franchise and give it a more serious tone than previous iterations and although some gamers seem to want to keep it in the mindless fun realm, it made me appreciate the franchise even more.

Now to the Review…

(You see before you touch right?)

Here’s one thing I see about the graphics (see what I just did there? see — graphics, agh never mind) They’re pretty good — for an open-world game, but therein lies the problem. Why is it just pretty good for an “open-world” game and not just plain good or great even? It’s because of Rockstar’s choice to go open-world, with that decision I always feel their graphics will be a step behind other Triple A titles that choose a linear route with their games. As they say you can squeeze a lot of graphical power into a corridor, open-world not so much . But with no fault of Rockstar’s own per se, it’s just the nature of the beast.

But if you consider that this is indeed a living-breathing, open-world game based on a replica Los Angeles, what they did visually and technically is pretty darn remarkable. The game really shines graphically, not so much with the characters themselves but throughout the city of Los Santos. Every Crack in the ground, every dirty —  lived-in street, the street signs, the highway signs, look worn and realistic.

Can’t talk about Grand Theft Auto without talking about automobiles right? Thankfully the game shines in this area too. The cars have significant detail, you can see the dust streaks on a window or raindrop streaks that dirty a car over time, even the cars finish, especially when sunlight hits it, from matte to metallic you can really appreciate the finer details with there quest to produce realistic looking cars.

And the water!…Oh the water! I don’t know how they did it but it’s probably one of if not the most realistic water I’ve seen in a video game. It’s so good there are times when I’m swimming and the water rises up in a wave and hits the camera I felt like I just swallowed the water and the feeling of drowning overtakes me, NO LIE!

Much like in real-life the Stories in GTA are virtually the same — the “come up” story, achieving the “American Dream” just from different characters perspectives. GTA V is no different albeit with a twist from Rockstar  this time. Instead of focusing on one character (as they normally do) they chose to focus on multiple characters namely three; Franklin, Michael, and Trevor. The  opening scene is absolutely phenomenal, probably one of the best opening scenes this generation had to offer, but not in a typical way you  may expect.

The genius in this scene is not so much the action, even though great it was the combination of surprise — Rockstar never started a GTA game off like this, the aforementioned action and what I really loved about it, which is  how they set up the story.  You knew you were in for an adventurous ride with high drama. Convertibles are introduced into the game shortly after — another Rockstar first,  with a button (right on the D-pad)  to lift the roof or put it down, SWEET!

What I like about this story is that Rockstar chose to use a “Crash” (the movie) like approach with certain elements whereas these characters are living separate lives but somehow wind up crossing each others paths thus affecting each others lives.

All of this is brilliantly played out allowing you the player to play “dress up”. You go in as a janitor, security, construction worker, fireman, police officer and several other fun and exciting “get ups” to make money anyway you can including strategically planned bank heists.

It was also smart for Rockstar to capitalize off the methamphetamine drug angle made popular by the hit TV series ‘Breaking Bad’, the highest rated show on metacritic of all time. The area in Los Santos where the meth lab is set up even reminds me of the desert locations from the show.

While all this is going on you are morally challenged as well so get ready to make some tough decisions down the road.


Gameplay which in generally to me was one of the weak points in a GTA game is severely step up, it is still a tier lower in comparison to other Triple A titles that get this right, but boy! I had the most fun with the controls I ever had playing a GTA game.

Rockstar has tweaked the controls ever so slightly but ever so significantly that it just feels right. What helps with this is the body posturing your character has in a giving situation. So if you’re shooting at let’s say police and trying to make it to your getaway car the character goes into a slow jog posture allowing you to aim at the target realistically, like a human would do if faced with a similar situation. Also another example is if your trying to be discreet, you go into a stealth posture, these things might seem little but when you see it played out it tremendously helps with immersion. It also helps that the animations  for the most part all look good.

Some issues I had was although shooting looks and feels great I could barely see the reticle to properly aim on my target, I felt Rockstar did a poor job in this area and although you can change it in the menu settings it still wasn’t the best albeit better than default.

The other issue I have  — and Rockstar has been doing this for years; they need to find a better way to introduce tutorials, I never understood how they’re giving you instructions in the top left corner and sort of on the smallish side at that, all while you’re trying to concentrate on the road or are in the middle of high-action,  high-drama sequences, especially in car chase scenes or keep-up-with-me scenes.

Well anyone who’s played a GTA game before know that the radio stations are a big part of the game as you drive around the city by changing the station you can hear various diversified music and listen to real-world DJ’s that usher it in. The soundtrack or the radio is always real music so if you like real music 🙂 — and I do (they always highlight the classics) then 10 times out of 10 you’ll love the sounds in GTA, “V” is no different.

Now of course you can argue  and ask yourself was this the best selection/collection of music ever assembled in a GTA game?  For me? Probably not. And I like all kinds of music. Worth noting because it could come down to preference. Remember since this is a West Coast focused game — geographically, Rockstar approach is to always match its real-world happenings, meaning in this version you’ll hear more West Coast influenced music than anything — and that’s a good thing — again immersion. Side note* you can always turn your radio off.

Also surprisingly the sound effects in this game are very good too, from car crashes to guns going off to running in the sand they all sound just about right, and this is an area they could’ve slacked off on (I’m glad they didn’t) and probably would’ve got away with it.


This game is “crack in a bottle” and it makes me want to play the missions over and over especially because there are different ways to attack the same situation as well as different choices to make that may send the game in a different direction . Rockstar did it again.

Any real issues I had with the game  to be honest really stem from being ready for the  next gen  of gaming or specifically technology growth, with technology showing it’s age this gen (No fault of Rockstar’s own). Seeing things like  family members disappear when you sit down next to them, or walking over guns and instead of picking them up with your hand they magically disappear into this imaginary place; where is the shotgun or rocket launcher I have on me when I have on a tank top and some shorts? Or changing clothes where full outfits just magically appear on the body. And haircuts! Explain how I can go from a baldy or low haircut to full on braids or come in the barbershop with no hair on my face and leave with a mustache and full beard?…I’m so done with those limitations.

I give GTA V 9.7 ControllUs out of 10. Earns the “Controlled Substance” rating.


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