There are two reasons why I am not doing a traditional review for GTAV. The first is that the game came out three weeks ago and made over a billion dollars in the first three days that it was available, so many of the people who are looking to pick it up already have. The second reason is that after two weeks of playing (I picked it up a week late.), I am still only about 45% of the way through the game.
The reason that I am talking about this game is that there is a market that it serves perfectly that no one is really talking about. Part-time gamers can find more things to do in this game than in another five games. I have spent an entire evening’s worth of gaming, 45 minutes in this instance, driving around randomly, riding a bike to the end of a pier and watching the sunset. The next evening, I meticulously planned a jewelry heist, robbed the store, and had a harrowing escape. The point is there is something in GTAV for every mood. But, not everyone. Seriously, this game is not for kids.
Previous GTA games have been a combination of a marginally interesting story with really interesting characters, marginally good driving with some atrocious driving missions, and terrible shooting with some marginally good shooting missions. GTAV is the first one to have good shooting, good driving, and a good (first half of a) story. There are some missions that truly impressed me.
The heists that I have completed are some of the coolest things around. You decide whether to go in guns blazing or try to be sneaky. Then, you slowly accumulate the things you need to carry out the plan, often with some choice about how you want to collect them. Then, you carry out the plan and hope it all goes well. The good news is that you will have a good time even if it goes badly.
The thing to keep in mind as a responsible adult with limited time for games is that you will have to learn which missions will take five minutes and which will take closer to thirty. There are some rough guidelines, like at the end of your gaming night, avoid missions that the plot has been building to and focus on sidequests. If you are pretty good about paying attention to the time and considering the mission at hand, then you can get months of fun out of this excellent game.
Now, there is one thing that I need to mention. There is a scene that has been generating a lot of controversy. In the mission called “By the Book,” one of the characters gleefully tortures an obviously innocent man in a fully playable scene. If “fully playable” and “torture” don’t make you incredibly uncomfortable, I don’t think I want to know you. This mission is just gross and made me feel dirty for enjoying other parts of the game. The worst part, aside from the interactive torture, is that this is a required mission. You can’t beat the game without playing it.
With the exception of one terrible mission, the game is pretty awesome. I have had a really good time running around the city and marveling at the beauty and realism that it has achieved. There are moments of pure fun and some spectacular missions that really sell the idea of you as a professional thief. Just don’t try to finish the whole thing in four days.