After months of waiting, the biggest, meanest and the most grandest of all the video games is now here. And it is absorbing, shocking and overwhelmingly entertaining all at the same time. GTA V puts the players back in the fictional city of San Andreas, which is a re-imagination of the present day California. And this time, there are three playable characters, each of whom can be switched to during gameplay. Having a three player structure produces more variety in the narrative and also allows you to wreak triple the amount of havoc. San Andreas is insanely immense in scale. The map is bigger than those of GTA4 and Red Dead Redemption (Rockstar’s previous games) combined. Unlike the maps of other games in the GTA series, San Andreas will be unlocked right from the start allowing players to explore all sections of the city even when they’ve just begun playing it.
From the moment you take the controller in your hand and begin playing, you’ll come to know that all the core gameplay mechanics have been completely reworked. The shooting and cover mechanics have been revamped to add more fluidity and intensity to gunplay and combat scenarios. Driving feels tight and it is greatly improved allowing players to make sharp turns and close shaves flawlessly. During cut scenes and character-switches, the game seamlessly switches from cinematic to gameplay with absolutely no intervention by any load screens. This, along with the hand-held type of camera movements give the player a ‘you are here’ kind of gameplay experience which make the third-person gameplay feel genuine and natural. If you wish to take a time off from pursuing the main storyline (which although is slow-paced, is also gripping and never feels boring), GTAV has a plethora of mini-games and side-quests for you to play. Taking part in races, hunting wildlife, shooting guns at the shooting range, purchasing property and helping out the strangers and freaks of Los Santos are some of the many side activities that you will be able to take part in.
Rockstar has brought in the concept of ‘dynamic events’ to GTAV from the much popular Red Dead Redemption. While exploring the world when off-mission, you will come across unscripted events that occur randomly. For example, a police car would be chasing after some gangsters or a pedestrian would have gotten robbed. You can then choose to intervene during such moments by helping out the person who really needs your help or by simply ignoring the event and letting it run its course. This feature brilliantly showcases the game’s dynamism and offers the player a choice of doing good or bad. Although intervention in such events doesn’t promise large rewards, interacting with the non-playable characters do give the player a sense of satisfaction when they are carried out.
The AI powered NPCs and pedestrians are not by any means the ‘cardboard cutout’ type of AI we dealt with in the previous games. They are animated and voice acted really well and give a great deal in making the city seem real and lively. With GTAV, Rockstar Games has created a virtual world so dynamic and breathtaking that it feels almost impossible to put the controller down and go back to the real world. You’ll never realize how the time you spent playing the game went flying by because of so much that you would have accomplished in the game, and yet, it would all seem so little in this great big open world of San Andreas.