Grizzly Bomb knows its audience: Fans want to know as much as humanly possible about upcoming titles without having the whole thing spoiled for them and plot details, twists, and an overload of content run rampant on the internet when a game like Grand Theft Auto V hits store shelves. Which is why we’ve put together this quick piece to give you our opinion on the early moments of the game, without getting too deep into the details.
Here are our SPOILER-FREE impressions from the first hour of GTA V:
1. A visual step up from GTA IV, but not quite next-gen graphics: GTA V is a gorgeous game, don’t even dare get me wrong, but you will notice some muddy details and texture hiccups in the opening sequences. There are some janky animations in the establishing shots of Los Santos that might be distracting, but rather than get bogged down by the blemishes, consider that this is a wide open sandbox world (A massive one, too) that looks just below the quality of Max Payne 3. Los Santos is far more beautiful than Liberty City, both in physical attributes and raw graphical power, and it’s far and away the best GTA has ever looked.
2. A story that embraces play: We haven’t seen much of Los Santos yet, and the majority of mission types, activities and emergent scenarios within the game haven’t even been introduced, but it’s already evident that GTA V has learned from fan feedback on GTA IV. Niko had plenty of mini activities to do in Liberty City, but many of them felt restrictive, hands-off, or just plain boring. The story and pacing pushed the player more toward the next mission than, say, stealing an ambulance and playing pedestrian shot-put. GTA V feels a lot more generous in letting you handle the play style. The characters in V aren’t as mopey and goal-focused as poor ol’ Niko, which makes hauling off and painting the sidewalks red feel less like a no-no.
3. Mechanics, mechanics, mechanics: Grand Theft Auto has always suffered from the Jack of All Trades issue, in that there are so many gameplay elements that few of them, if any, feel particularly honed. This time around the shooting and driving have been completely reworked and they feel a lot more responsive. Driving takes a while to get used to, as there’s much less a sense of hover-gliding over the asphalt, but that’s a change for the better, and those of us who have played Max Payne 3 will recognize the gun mechanics, which have essentially been cut and pasted into GTA V. Even the menus and the mini-map have been refined to make cycling through information that much more efficient.
4. That Rockstar shine: It just feels good to be playing a Rockstar game again. The satire seems a little more on the playful side than it did in GTA IV, with the first few digs at the California lifestyle made quite early. The character writing is exactly on par with the developer’s pedigree, introducing characters that you’ll immediately feel like you already know. Finally, the game is just fun. Where we left off, we’d just completed a mission that already felt like an exhilarating, Indiana Jones-style action sequence and our save state shows only 6% game completion. Whoa.