Game Review: San Andreas Dreaming in ‘Grand Theft Auto V’

Plenty has already been said about “Grand Theft Auto V.” Nobody wants a retread, so how about focusing on things you’d want to know?

Rockstar wasn’t kidding when they claimed the map was massive. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to explore more than a couple miles away from where the missions have taken me, since my copy of the game arrived later than expected, and I’ve been trying to catch up. Being a Los Angeles native, it seems Rockstar has really gotten the feel of the city and it’s surrounding locales. It’s as if someone reconstructed L.A. county from my oft-forgetful memory, though the lack of several favorite locations disproves my suspicions of mind-probing.

While the entire map is open right off the bat, a lot of the fun stuff is unsurprisingly left hidden until you delve deeper into the game – and I mean deeper. Kotaku has pointed out that even the seemingly unimportant side missions also have their own unlockable goodies. Players expecting the gameplay mechanic to allow you to switch to other playable characters may be surprised that the ability is not present until a couple of missions in, and that’s only for two characters.

Speaking of gameplay mechanics, the control scheme has been changed up quite a bit. The weapon selection wheel has been pointed out numerous times. However, you may be surprised to hear the radio stations now have such a selection wheel as well, to compensate for the right directional button’s change into an all around interaction button. I’ll miss the PS3’s square button use as a “brights” headlight switch, but the ability to shoot the finger in cars may be more than proper compensation. Controls for fisticuffs and gunfights have basically remained the same, though you can now tinker around much more with guns — suppressors, larger ammo clips, and even flashlights are available for attachment.

While I don’t feel I’ve progressed through the story much, it’s often full of hilarious dialogue. I can’t help but feel that the character of Trevor often steals the show from the other two characters. While Michael is a likable but beleaguered father of a dysfunctional family, Franklin is a nice nod to the main character of “San Andreas” while still remaining his own take on the reluctant gangster, and Trevor could be best described as an absurdly hilarious psychopath. While Michael and Franklin’s actions seem to stay in a morally gray area, it seems Trevor has gone the way of the honey badger and dove into the black long ago. Yet, save for a few seemingly uncharacteristic moments, he remains uproariously funny. And while each character’s own theme music is quite nice, I especially enjoy the deranged rock score that appears when you have him participate in some misanthropy.

Speaking of music, despite my previous concerns that hardly any of the songs in the list are familiar to me, they’re not too bad. Still, it baffles me as to why an expy of L.A.’s KROQ rock station isn’t included, or at least a custom music option to play your own.There are a lot of songs that would have fit the California theme of the game that were left out. I feel Trevor’s antics are just begging to be scored by Queens of the Stone Age.

All in all, “Grand Theft Auto V” is a game certainly worth getting – especially for the virtual trip to California, if not all the obligatory havoc to wreak.

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