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Grand Theft Auto V!

The latest in one of the most well-known, critically acclaimed franchises in gaming has finally arrived as the biggest title of the year, but will GTA V live up to the substantial amount of hype surrounding this AAA title?

First Impressions: Whenever possible, we try to give our loyal website viewers the most video footage and most in depth unbiased reviews imaginable. Part of that development is our "initial impressions" where we offer up our first impressions of the title that we are playing.

This gives our website visitors more of clear understanding of what to first expect out of the game when they initially pop it into their consoles.

If you scroll to the bottom of the page in the Rent vs. Buy section of the review and do not see the "final impressions" assessment then it's safe to say that you are reading our initial impression of the game. Once the final impression is up, there will be no further video or review done to that particular title.

Final Impressions: The final impression is just that, our completed breakdown and overall thoughts on the game based off of our entire game playing time.

You can locate the final impressions assessment in the "Rent vs. Buy" section of the review (always located at the very end of all of our reviews). Here you will be able to read our final thoughts on the title and also see any potential grade changes that were made to the game as well (higher or lower). Should a grading change occur, it will be clearly noted with the previous grade, the new grade, and why the change occurred.

Although this approach is more time consuming and requires many more man hours, our entire goal has always been to provide the best and completely unbiased reviews possible and we feel that the inclusion of the Initial Impressions and Final Impressions sections will give you a better view of what to expect from a new game.

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Friendship, Betrayal, May As Well Be Shakespeare: After undergoing a massive install of the title which comes in at 8GB, GTA V starts things off quickly as you and your trusty crew of felons are in the midst of bank heist which ultimately goes wrong. Around the seeming death of the one of the members of the crew and picking up 10 years after the botched job is where GTA V is focused.

As you have undoubtedly been aware of in the lead up to the launch of this heavily marketed title, the main gimmick of GTA V introduces the ability to use and actively swap between three different characters.

Unlike all previous Grand Theft Auto installments and the vast majority of games as a whole, GTA V takes on the challenge of allowing you to walk in the shoes of three unique protagonists, each quite different from the others.

The first character you will be introduced to is Franklin, a man raised in the ghetto and living a life of petty crimes and gangbanging, but aspiring for grander opportunities of money-making. Franklin is a stereotypical, gang member black character in a lot of ways, but the people he interacts with go even deeper into the realm of stereotypes.

Loud and obnoxious friends and family surround Franklin, and while some will undoubtedly find the first life you are thrust in to a bit annoying, I found the characters to be quite interesting. More notably, as you will uncover over the course of the game with all of the main protagonists and those who surround them, even seemingly insignificant characters have their own intriguing stories and reasons for doing what they do.

A chance meeting in a repossession gone wrong by Franklin leads gamers to the second character in GTA V, Michael. In witness protection and living the highlife in a ritzy district of Los Santos, is a retired ex bank robber who managed to "win" and escape his crime-filled life in one piece with enough money to sustain a pricy lifestyle.

However, in the middle of a dysfunctional, spoiled family and with boredom bearing down on him, Michael opts to get back into the game for the thrill and monetary rewards that is brings.

The final character that is introduced, some hours after booting up the game, is Trevor, the former best friend and partner-in-crime to Michael. While Franklin is just looking to hit it big and Michael is the no-nonsense veteran, Trevor brings a maniacal mindset and homicidal rage to the table.

Mentally unstable and not opposed to starting trouble with anyone and everyone that sparks his unreasonably short fuse, adventures that involve Trevor are often action packed and devoid of deep thinking or planning.

Living Life To The Fullest: Aside from having their own storylines that smoothly intertwine with one another, Franklin, Michael and Trevor each undertake their own set of missions that pertain specifically to each other.

When not working together, the missions of Franklin typically consist of helping out friends and looking to establish contacts while looking to avoid big trouble and seeking out as much money as possible. In constant pursuit of the "paper", Franklin undertakes a lot of smaller, odd jobs in an attempt to fatten his wallet.

The experience Michael takes on a different sort of mission, as he usually does more missions on a bigger scale revolving around either his family or talking to his old contacts about heists. Michael does the majority of the missions when it comes to planning, scouting, setups for robberies and the like, but do not let that fool you, his narrative and missions are arguably the most intriguing of them all.

Trevor, however, is seemingly the stress reliever for players as the mentally unstable maniac takes up a variety of missions that usually end in murder. Often flat out attacking rivals who threaten to push in on his drug dealing and arms running and with many of his initial missions revolving around his expanding business, Trevor engages in relentless gun fights against large numbers. Some of his missions even have short periods of being a rail mission with infinite ammo and a slew of baddies to kill off.

The three are far from attached at the hip to each other, and one of the most impressive new features of GTA V is that all of the characters lead completely separate lives even when you are not controlling them.

Quite a few hours into the game you will have unlocked all three antiheroes and be able to quickly swap between any of them by using the D-Pad. Now, swapping between characters is valuable when doing specific heists and robberies together as occasionally your buddies will require assistance or be in an advantageous position, but even when switching characters at random times you will see that all three men lead their own lives simultaneously, and doing random activities when you drop in on them.

A Talented Bunch: One of the more significant and interesting aspects that relate to the multi-character system is the introduction of upgradable skills and specific talents that the three men own. All three characters have a "Special" ability that is represented by a yellow bar that refills when doing action-packed activities.

Franklin can slow down time when driving and use that skill to navigate traffic and help escape his pursuers. Michael can slow down time in combat, a skill that helps him line up precise shots. Trevor also owns a combat specific special ability, with his being a sort of berserker mode where he takes far less damage and deals out far more than he usually would for a short period of time.

The skills are not always used and quite honestly the special ability of Franklin is almost never utilized, but Michael and Trevor can benefit greatly from their combat-focused abilities, particularly in the midst of tougher, larger scale skirmishes.

Hands In The Air: Tying into the storyline is the ability to take part in six mass scale heists over the course of the game. Netting you massive amounts of cash at the end of a successful heist, the set up to these large jobs is as vital as the job itself, and how you set it up will depend on the choices you make beforehand.

Most of the jobs that require prior planning, no matter who or what you are robbing, boil down to going in loud and lethally or going in quietly with minimal damage. One of the first missions you are asked to plan gives you the option to knock out a jewelry store full of people with gas, walk in with gas masks and pest control gear and nab the gems or walk through the front doors and forcibly rob the joint.

Both require some prerequisite work to be done as the quieter method will force you to find knockout gas and pest control outfits, while the loud method will task you with obtaining heavy assault rifles (without purchasing them, of course).

In addition, you will also have your choice of a crew to accompany you on the heist. Given multiple options, you are given the choice of taking along less experienced and less skilled, but cheaper, support or shelling out money for expensive but reliable teammates.

If your cheap support manages to survive the heist, they will improve and eventually be quite proficient and only cost the same rate they did when they were small time. But the risk of having your paltry crew killed or them screwing up their jobs is high, so appropriate thought has to be put into who you choose as a driver, gunman, etc.

In one instance, our cheap gunman was unable to keep up with the escape and crashed his bike into a wall, taking away not only his services but also a bag full of money he was carrying with him. Our cheap driver managed to survive the heist, but made poor decisions that caused the job to be more difficult than it would have normally been.

Non-Criminal Acquisition: Now, while GTA V does place a large focus on the brilliantly well done narrative and the interactions and uniqueness of the three main characters, the other half of the title obviously revolves around raw, open world gameplay.

Taking place in an amazingly expansive world, GTA V is set in by far the largest playground the acclaimed company Rockstar has ever developed. Claiming that Los Santos could hold the worlds of GTA: San Andreas, GTA IV and Red Dead Redemption, I am inclined to believe that statement as the scale of Los Santos is truly grand.

I personally took a helicopter around the edges of the map and attempted to get a grasp of just how large the city was, and quite honestly you lose sight of half of the city before you reach the edges of the world.

Bordered by water, it would take an hour if you are lucky just to get from one side of the city to the other, not to mention a full sized, rural community out in the boondocks outside of the city. There, where Trevor lives, there are trailer parks and even hunt-able wildlife that populates the hillbilly communities on the outskirts of the metropolitan city.

When you are not partaking in classic activates such as side missions (helping friends and family with seemingly insignificant, but snowballing problems) and odd jobs (taxi driver, for instance), you will also find an entire in-game online community at your disposal.

Websites that allow you to purchase small scale things like clothes and weapons return to this title but a new addition to the in-game internet of GTA V is the ability to check out and partake in stock trading and real estate investments.

Returning from previous installments is the ability to purchase properties around the city such a cinemas and medical marijuana stores that bring in weekly income, but stock trading and real estate investing is far deeper than those money-making aspects.

Able to choose from two different stock markets (the BAWSAQ and LCN), you will be able to invest in any company on the surprisingly large list available on each market for as many shares and as much money as you like.

The BAWSAW is influenced by the community, the real gaming community, and how they are playing the game can alter the stock prices. If a particular brand of vehicle is being stolen or specific businesses are being wrecked consistently, those stocks are bound to see the effect of that.

The LCN is influenced directly by your in-game actions and are far easier to predict and make money off of. Luck dictates some of how well you do on the market, but your actions in the game can have an adverse or positive effect on your shares as well, although you will be forced to think creatively occasionally if you look to singlehandedly influence the stock market

As far as the real estate market is concerned, it is a bit more self-explanatory but undoubtedly engrossing. Seemingly small scale things like stock trading and managing your businesses (including running missions for each kind of business you own) takes up far more of your time than you would even anticipate.

Rent vs. Buy: GTA V is a game that is seemingly flawless in a multitude of ways. As much as I hate to go along with what literally everyone else is saying, GTA V is quickly looking to be one of the best games of all time, and quite clearly the best installment in this historic franchise.

The very marginal problems that people may find with the game such as occasional graphical pop-ins and what some would call a massive, but subpar soundtrack (some will love it, some will hate it, most will find the soundtrack to be fairly good) are truly overwhelmed by the sheer awesomeness that GTA V continually displays.

Thrust into an engrossing storyline from the first 10 minutes of the title and never stopping, this title has been claimed to span 100+ hours. A lofty claim, that is entirely possible depending on how much time you spend managing businesses, playing the stock market, doing random side missions or just screwing around robbing convenience stores (yes, you can rob gas stations) and thieving armored trucks for the loot inside.

No other open world title can compare to it thus far, GTA V has established itself as one of the best titles not only of all time but likely the best title of the lifespan of the Xbox 360 and PS3. As stereotypical as it is to say, the latest in the Grand Theft Auto franchise is one to definitely one to put in your collection.

Report Card

GTA V is a game that is seemingly flawless in a multitude of ways. As much as I hate to go along with what literally everyone else is saying, GTA V is quickly looking to be one of the best games of all time, and quite clearly the best installment in this historic franchise. (Krakrabbit.com)


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