Some Bits (originally…)

This started out as one of those, “another month, another post” kind of posts. Then I made the mistake of “I’ll just put some words down about my GTA V experience,” and now we have this. Basically a review. Except I never meant to review it so there are no screenshots to do the picture things. Once I play the thing again (The Witcher has me right now), I’ll snap some shots. I had meant to write about GTA V, NAG magazine stopping production (though I guess I did that in their comments), The Witcher (still on number one, even though I went and pre-ordered three…), perhaps The Smashing Pumpkins’ new album (I like it – not Siamese Dream or Machina love it, but like it), maybe Star Citizen’s recent developments (or rather this mini game), and generally waste your time. But now you have this. So, there you are.

[picture goes here?]


GTA V … … … (ON PC!)
A more critical view to follow, but first: It was amazing – everything I knew it would be and more.

From a gameplay sense, the whole package felt smooth (albeit after a minor learning curve – this isn’t a pure driver/racer or shooter title as I have become accustomed to). I like to think the bloody long wait time to get this on the Master Platform was spent making things run well. Character movement is predictable, vehicles handle well, and gunplay is solid (with a much-improved cover mechanic over GTA IV). The act of playing this game doesn’t get in the way, and for the most part is a great enabler of whatever shenanigans you find yourself pulling. The world is a marvelously realised, delightfully irreverent poke at an often all-too-serious Real Life(tm) – from mild mockery of today’s tiny-screen-addicted urbanites to disturbingly wild parodies on invasions of privacy by all-seeing intelligence agencies that touch a little unnervingly close to home (particularly when you’re feeling just a little more cynical than usual). The three-singleplayer-characters thing has been a stroke of genius for dynamising the gameplay of potentially drab missions, and a storytelling tool that injects a kind of vitality into the singleplayer. Just as soon as maybe you’ve started having enough this blok- OH, back to you, I like you…

[maybe a screenie?]

While the overall story might not be some great epic of humanity or whatever, it and the missions that come up as you progress are compelling enough that you want to play them. The characters themselves and how much you like them is down to you, but in my case I found myself very interested in their personal stories. Various threads twist and tangle, going off on seemingly-unrelated tangents that may or may not come back in to affect the group and the overall story arc. Michael’s rich-people problems, Franklin’s too-smart-for-the-ghetto troubles, and Trevor’s crazy-“normal”-flip-switch personality will find something to keep you curious.

The multiplayer? Man, the havoc you can wreak in singleplayer was just getting you warmed up. Killing time in the world of GTA Online with friends and strangers is almost enough. However, Rockstar have seen fit to work up some really good multiplayer activities. You can race cars, planes, helicopters, dirt bikes, bicycles, and others. Play quick missions involving the assassination of multiple targets or the theft of multiple vehicles, and the subsequent evasion of authorities. Engage in the usual fare of deathmatch, capture, and hoard/survival modes. Perform parachute jump challenges, play golf or tennis, and a bunch more I haven’t even tried yet. And then there are the heists – essentially, heists are GTA Online’s primary co-operative multiplayer modes (each with some kind of throw-away but certainly entertaining story bit, complete with cut scenes and voice overs). The multiplayer heists mirror the singleplayer missions of a similar nature, except now there are actual people completing various tasks (and all the hilarity and/or frustration of human antics). A single heist will see you, along with up to three friends or strangers, complete a series of “set-up” missions before embarking on some big score. These tend to involve acquiring the information, tools, vehicles, people, or whatever else is required to perform the final job. Players are often split into two groups that each perform their own objectives, one group hits the base while the other runs interference on the backup, or something, and then link back up for the final hit or exfil. They get repetitive, the cut scenes are unskippable, and in too many cases one AFK twit or derpy n00b or laggy bugger can ruin a mission with their ineptitude, forcing a restart that to the rest of the optimally-performing crew can be highly frustrating. There are understandable limits that serve to keep everyone participating, but it can feel like there are too many limits at times. But when those heists go well and everyone plays nice, oh man can they be fun.

[give us an image, then]

Lastly, something that has stuck with me after finishing the campaign and having essentially stopped playing some two weeks ago, was just how much of an adult piece of entertainment GTA V is. It goes dark places (Trevor’s torture scene, well…), it doesn’t shy away from ugly (beat-up hookers in first person, anyone?) – those moments have stuck with me just as much as making intensely fun parachute drops out of helicopters and the exhilarating, blistering sense of speed when zipping through traffic in first-person on a racing motorcycle (and the uncomfortable sense of disorientation and stomach clenching that comes with hitting crashing and flying off of said motorcycle at said blistering speeds, in first person). I guess I just like it when my entertainment knows its subject matter is not for children, and doesn’t try to sugarcoat it for lower age ratings anyway.

[something to break the words is all]