Building (Critical) Consensus: Grand Theft Auto V
I don’t know if you heard but there’s a game coming out today. Not at all important. Nobody is really interested in it. But I suppose there’s probably one, just one, reader of this blog who might be interested in reading more about Grand Theft Auto V. Let’s be honest, though. I think that the smallest of minorities are actually waiting on reviews to determine whether or not they buy this game. Me? I’m waiting for the PC release. I’d reckon that it’ll be out around the time the next-gen editions of GTA5 are out.
As expected, the reviews are overwhelmingly positive but we don’t expect anything less for Rockstar’s flagship franchise. In fact, as of writing, only The Escapist had a review lower than 90%. While they loved the gameplay, they had major issues with the three main characters and the script. GameSpot had similar script issues but still gave the game a 90%. Before you start spamming the reviewers, remember that reviews are subjective. Here we have two people with the same issues and very different scores. As long as they’re legitimately reviewing a game and not trolling for page views, their opinion is entirely fair. Like I said at the top, if you have issues with GTA’s content, you’ve already decided not to buy the game.
Edge Magazine (100%): No one makes worlds like Rockstar, but at last it has produced one without compromise. Everything works. It has mechanics good enough to anchor games of their own, and a story that is not only what GTA has always wanted to tell but also fits the way people have always played it. It’s a remarkable achievement, a peerless marriage of world design, storytelling and mechanics that pushes these ageing consoles to the limit and makes it all look easy. As we stand on the brink of a new generation, GTAV sends an intimidating message to the rest of the industry. Beat that.
Giant Bomb (100%): The individual pieces of Grand Theft Auto V are nicely done. The driving is a lot looser and more exciting than it was in GTAIV, and the lock-on targeting and cover system means that you’re never fighting the controls in the middle of combat. It also looks great on current consoles, with a solid draw distance and a frame rate that takes few major hits along the way. Furthermore, the characters themselves emote well in cutscenes, which really helps make the story feel more meaningful.
IGN (100%): Grand Theft Auto V is not only a preposterously enjoyable video game, but also an intelligent and sharp-tongued satire of contemporary America. It represents a refinement of everything that GTA IV brought to the table five years ago. It’s technically more accomplished in every conceivable way, but it’s also tremendously ambitious in its own right. No other world in video games comes close to this in size or scope, and there is sharp intelligence behind its sense of humour and gift for mayhem. It tells a compelling, unpredictable, and provocative story without ever letting it get in the way of your own self-directed adventures through San Andreas. It is one of the very best video games ever made.
GameSpot (90%): GTA V is an imperfect yet astounding game that has great characters and an innovative and exciting narrative structure, even if the story it uses that structure to tell is hobbled at times by inconsistent character behavior, muddled political messages and rampant misogyny. It also raises the bar for open-world mission design in a big way and has one of the most beautiful, lively, diverse and stimulating worlds ever seen in a game. Your time in Los Santos may leave you with a few psychological scars, but you shouldn’t let that stop you from visiting.
[Ed. Note: Don’t read the comments on the GameSpot review. I thought it was the best written review of the game but that comment section. For the love of Jim Sterling (God), don’t read the comments. Reading some of the comments around the interweb makes me glad that I have sane readers like you guys. Never change.]
The Escapist (70%): A technical achievement, GTAV’s driving and shooting gameplay in an excellently crafted open world is marred by a script that presents despicable characters as the protagonists. It’s certainly fun to be the bad guy sometimes, but only buy Grand Theft Auto V if you’re prepared to play as characters with no justifiable motivation for doing awful things to people.