1. Massive World
Gamers are introduced to a new city: Los Santos, a fictional representation of Los Angeles. I say city, but what Rockstar has given us is a whole new region. Los Santos and Blaine County (the surrounding rural area) make up one of the biggest RPG maps I've ever played on a console. It's amazing. Gamers are not limited to causing chaos in the city; they can also wreak havoc in the mountains, oceans, deserts, and the sky surrounding the city.
When I play open-world games, I like finding the end of the map, the place where gamers cannot go any farther—drive no farther on the road, climb that rock wall no higher, or just simply desynchronize (Assassin's Creed franchise I'm looking at you). In the case of GTA V, not only haven't I found that place yet, the game is so big it feels as though there is no end to its world.
If looks can kill, GTA V is murdering everything in its path. Los Santos is extremely detailed and downright gorgeous. Streets in the city are disgusting, mountains are beautiful up close and afar, water looks delicious or foul (depending on where the gamer is located), and everything has a layer of realism to it. No stone was left unturned when Rockstar tackled graphics.
GTA V pushes the PS3 graphics to their limit, and I'm curious to see how this game will look on the PS4, because it already looks fantastic. I find myself driving better because of the graphics—I just can't destroy the beauty that is this car.
2. Three Playable Characters
Upon initially learning of GTA V's three character system, I was worried that the game would be crowded or that I would spend most my time loving one character and despising the other two. Once September 17th hit and I played the game, however, I instantly loved all three characters. Patience is definitely a virtue.
Michael is an overweight white male in his 40s, a retired criminal, rich, and dealing with a mid-life crisis. He has a cheating wife, a daughter who's clueless to life (she reminds me of a non-famous version Miley Cyrus), and a heavy-set son who plays video games all day thinking he's a thug. Watching this family fall apart makes for some of the funniest moments in the game.
Franklin, a young African-American male, becomes a young protégée of Michael and aspires to make as much money as possible. He is a stereotypical gang-banger in the 'hood, fighting other rival gang members with his homeboy Lamar. One of my favorite segments with Franklin involve his missions using a tow truck with local crackhead Tonya…hilarious.
Trevor, a white male the same age as Michael, can be described in just one word: INSANE. He is a career criminal who enjoys killing for sport, and gamers will enjoy his outrageousness. From the moment you meet him, you do nothing but cringe: over the mess he calls his trailer home, his random yelling, or the way he treats his rural American associates. Be prepared for a wild ride.
The transition from character to character is smooth, and puts the game into a Google Earth view of the city, a neat visual that hides a load screen. Missions are unique to each character and addicting. Character animation is some of the best I've seen and is complemented by top-notch voice acting. Ned Luke (Michael), Shawn Fonteno (Franklin), and Steven Ogg (Trevor) deliver great performances that highlight three fundamentally different characters with identical realism.
3. Side Missions and Games
Gamers still have the basic elements that make GTA a GTA—hijacking cars, punching people in the face, and just good ol' fashioned running people over on the sidewalk in your vehicle. Yet a lot has been added and/or improved in the side missions and games, such as
Playing a game of tennis...
...or a round of golf.
Game mechanics for both tennis and golf are some of the best I've seen in a GTA game.
Hitting up the local strip club.
I kid you not; I spent an actual shameless hour at the strip club and saved so much REAL money in the process.
Robbing the local convenience store.
A good friend (also living vicariously through GTA V) told me, "Be careful robbing the same convenience store twice. The clerk will have a gun ready and waiting for you!!"
There is still so much more! I could keep going, but go and get the game for yourself and explore!
4. Online Gameplay
By the time this article comes out, online gameplay should be in full swing. October 1st, 2013 is the release date. Features include
Open-World: The online feature will have the same open-world concept as the single player game. Online play includes a fully functioning world that grows and takes shape over time. Gamers and their online buddies will be able to catch a movie, go dirt bike riding, and rob convenience stores.
Activities/Sports: Gamers will be able to play tennis or a round of golf together. You'll be able to compete in races for money and increase your reputation.
Online Missions: There will be plenty of missions and jobs to undertake either alone or with your crew. Can you imagine? Pulling off a heist with friends…sounds like a good time to me!
For more and up-to-date information on online gameplay check out Rockstar.
5. Main Missions
Get ready to stay on your feet; GTA missions bring the punch. I could go on and on talking about them, but I think it's better to show rather than tell. Here is one of my favorite missions, "The Heist" by the RadBrad (a favorite YouTube subscription of mine):
There you go! Five reasons to go out and buy GTA V! Go out and buy it now. What's your excuse not to?