Sunday, July 25, 2021

Grand Theft Auto V

I swore I’d never go back to that airfield.  I hated those flying lessons that took me way too long to beat.  I spent months, on and off, trying to get the controls just right.  Then, GTA V comes along and eventually brings me right back to that same airfield.  The good news is that I didn’t have to do flying lessons again.  The bad news is that the controls were so complex that I nearly regretted buying the game.  At least it didn’t take me several months to master the keypad.

Game play for GTA V is, by and large, the same as GTA IV.  The controls are similar, as are the missions.  The main difference is that you’re now playing as one or three different characters.

You start out with Michael Townley, Trevor Philips, and Brad Snider performing a heist in Ludendorff, North Yankton.  It goes south and all three appear to die.  Cut to several years later in San Andreas.  Franklin Clinton is trying to survive at a legitimate job, except that he has a corrupt boss who isn’t above repossessing a car that was actually paid for.

Unfortunately, that car is used by the son of one Michael De Santa.  De Santa happens to be Townley, who was relocated and set up with a new life in Los Santos by the Federal Investigation Bureau.  Franklin and Michael eventually become friends and start working together.  Eventually, Trevor finds Michael and horns in on the action.

Since Michael has returned to a life of crime, the FIB enlist the trio to attack the International Affairs Agency.  Some of the missions feed into this, like stealing cars for a heist.  Others don’t.  There are also many side missions, like parachuting missions.  Not all of them are necessary to complete the game.

The one package-like mission I tried was collecting the note scraps.  There are fifty scraps that, when put together, create a confession.  This leads to an additional mission that was kind of a letdown.  It was way too simple for the amount of effort I had to put in to collecting the scraps.

There are some upgrades in the game play.  You can now save your progress on your cell phone.  (To be fair, this might have been available in GTA IV.  I’m not sure if I just didn’t notice.)  It does make things a lot easier.  Each character has, at most, two safe houses.  As with GTA IV, this makes going back to your safe house a problem if its way across town.

You also can skip segments of a mission after three attempts.  I’ll admit that this does remove some of the challenge, but after having to remember those flight-school missions, I’m not complaining.  I would occasionally make a fourth or fifth attempt only to realize that it would be way easier and more enjoyable to just skip a difficult section.

The friendship/respect aspect is toned down from GTA IV.  I never really liked that about the previous installment.  This isn’t to say it doesn’t exist.  It’s just not as important.  For instance, Franklin is given a dog to train.  You have to take the dog out for walks and whatnot, although there doesn’t seem to be any negative effect to the dog or anything else if you ignore the dog.

As for switching characters, this is necessary in certain regards. Some missions can only be accessed by one character.  Each character has a different color indicating their missions, so you won’t have to go to a location only to realize you have to switch and start all over.  It also saved me from driving a few times, which is helpful.  For the most part, it’s voluntary, but there will be cases where you have to flip back and forth during a mission.

There are also insane jumps, which act as a collectable.  They’re somewhat difficult to find.  Some are rather easy.  A plank of wood leaning against a wall at just the right incline is likely a stunt.  I was able to complete a few, but I failed a few, as well.  Apparently, they require you to land in a certain zone.  Since it’s not obvious where this zone is, it might take several attempts.  (Note that you have to land upright.  This took me a few tries to figure out.)

There is a casino on the map, but I was never able to access it during normal game play.  From what I’ve read, this only for the multiplayer mode.  To be honest, I didn’t really miss it.  It would have been nice, but it wasn’t really a big deal.

One thing that got me was that the map introduced a fog of war, so to speak, in that you couldn’t see places you hadn’t accessed yet.  I’d hate to fund out there was a way to get rid of this.  Important icons showed up and it didn’t affect GPS directions, but it was a little annoying.  There were even a few points in the game where it reset.  Again, it wasn’t really a deal breaker, but I could have done without it.

One nice upgrade with the map is the ability to save up to ten points of interest.  This was useful to me mostly when I found an insane stunt that I couldn’t complete.  I’d mark it to come back to later.

I downloaded the game through Steam.  I should point out that it was a huge file.  It took a while to download.  (I think the file was something like 70 GB.)  I’m not sure how it works if you get the game on DVD.  They might use compressed files.  It might require a huge download anyway.

Overall, the game was a little shorter than I expected.  Granted, previous games took a while because I couldn’t skip missions.  Having to come back to a difficult mission often created an unavoidable bottleneck.  So, it’s six of one, half a dozen of another.  If I had stuck out all of the missions, the game would have taken me much longer.  But do I need to remind you of that airstrip?


IMDb page


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