San Andreas, it’s been too long. I miss your sunny days, wide open spaces with diverse culture, your colorful locals and rival gangs. Yes, it’s about time Rockstar went back to the lovely Los Santos, however, it’s had an interesting redesign that has stripped away a lot of the side towns I had grown to love in the previous game. I’ll get into that in just a few moments however.
First of all, let us take just a moment to appreciate how much better this game is than IV, because it makes the previous entry in the series look like a big streaming pile. The controls are tight, they introduced the weapon selection wheel, very similar to Red Dead Redemption, revamped the cars to make them sexy again, and really put their all into creating a massive map with diverse settings-with so little to do anywhere other than Los Santos you won’t believe it until the game competition hits 70% from you hardly doing anything but the story mode. Seriously, after the build up of there being so much to see and do in this game, the end product, though beautiful, well tuned, and enjoyable falls short of the expectations they set for themselves. Don’t get me started on the whole “there’s going to be more in gta online” because I don’t give a sit about that. (I’ll be covering that seriously in the next couple of weeks) GTA online does not not factor into the story mode, that’s why they didn’t launch together, so stop trying to use it as a band-aid to the sorry mess Rockstar talked itself into.
My major problems in this amazing game come from two sources. One, the money system is stupid. Now I’m well aware that if you abuse the stock market in the assassination missions good old Lester gives Franklin you amass a large quantity of money, but the fact that those for missions are the only ones that allow you to get a large amount of money anywhere close to what you would need to purchase any property in the game is stupid, and it requires you to look up the stock choices BEFOREHAND in order to have ALL your characters benefit from it.. You might as well ignore the properties anyway because only a few turn a profit any larger than pocket change, and that is only because they require you to do a lot of meaningless work to earn it. Two, what was awesome in GTA San Andreas was how much there was to do in the game, this game has three characters to flip through, Franklin, Micheal, and Trevor, each one with an awesome personality and personal flair that really involve you in the game, but they only have enough missions available to them during the story mode that kept me occupied for about two weeks. I’m a pretty slow player, I like to dick around a lot, and while GTA V was so involving that I kept wanting to push the main story, I still tried to dick around on the side, but couldn’t keep myself entertained with it. The Strangers and Freaks keep you entertained for a little bit, but they just send you on hunting a gathering missions, or have you preform random tasks like fighting aliens while stoned out of your mind, but they just didn’t hold enough to them to make me really want to seek them out. Other than that, there’s a few stores you can rob for pennies on the dollar, a few monotonous missions you can take for small cash, drive a sub around in the beautiful underwater environment for about 6 hours to try and find nuclear waste that can net you a decent chunk of change. Gone are the street wars that could bring all of Los Santos under your control, the girlfriends that could hook you up with awesome deals, and there are only three heists in the game that actually pay you. granted, they are awesome and fun to play, but a lot of the mechanics are used once int he whole game and then never again.
Okay, negativity aside, this game was amazing, it just wasn’t as amazing as Rockstar made it out to be, and some of the best stuff are things they didn’t even push for promotions. The best feature in my mind is the 3-character story, because it is so fleshed out and so involving. Franklin’s money problems kept me trying to find ways to get him money throughout the game, Micheal’s family issues kept me involved in pushing his character towards redemption, and Trevor’s devil may care, but secret moral core kept me wanting to push him into crazy situations. The dynamic between the three of them, and the fact that the antagonists in the game made them look like angles was so entertaining, but there should have been another twenty hours of game play for them at least. Granted, with DLC a given in today’s video games I am sure there will be DLC with more for the characters, but I felt like they got sold short in this first installment. However, that should be taken as a compliment to the developers that I am wanting to spend more time in this lush world they have created, however deceptively sized it may be (A lot of the map is three mountains that take up space with not much to do on them.). Especially in the beautiful environment created, I found myself wrecking every car I drove in for the first two hours of the game because the backdrop was so good looking!
In the end, I had an awesome time with this game, and I played it harder than any game I’ve gotten in the last year, so I feel like a kid complaining about getting a rocket ship for his birthday that isn’t the EXACT color he wanted. Buy this game, it is a work of art in terms of environment and characters alone, despite the faults that stem from high expectations.
9/10 Worth it!