A year and an half since its release, Grand Theft Auto has finally gotten the online heists missions developer Rockstar promised. This, along with a decently long single player mode and the already robust online mode, means that the classic sandbox is still top dog.
The single player mode is big, clocking in at around 30 hours. I had played it for almost 80 before finally being tempted to try out the online mode. Even though the missions never deviate too far from what was available in previous Grand Theft Auto games. Even though it was fun, if you’ve played one Grand Theft Auto; you’ve played them all. This story mode isn’t any different. Except for the Heist missions and goofy characters, there’s no real need to get back to the story once you’ve beaten it. It’s the people you interact with that’ll keep you coming back. My personal favorite being Franklin’s smart ass friend Lamar
The real gem of this game is the online multiplayer. There’s more than enough diversity between co-op missions and standard multiplayer modes to keep it from ever really getting old. Customization is a big part of GTA online. The character creator is something like I’ve never seen, prompting you to choose your characters parents and which one of them your character takes after. It’s quite bizarre and I can’t say if it’s good or not because everyone ends up looking the same, just with different haircuts. What really distinguishes you from other players is your car. You want a tuner that Tokyo Drift would be proud of? You can have it. Want a muscle car that looks like it could eat hybrids? Won’t take long. Want a car that makes no noise and can take off at the drop of a hat? Get a hybrid. Online is the reason you will pop this game into your console years after it’s been released. After a couple months you’ll fall into a specific set of game types you like and don’t like. This is where 1st person mode really comes in handy. Trying to land a plane in 1st person, or running after enemies in a melee-only Team Deathmatch helps to break up the monotony of doing the same things over and over again. Couple this with new weapons and accessories every time you level up and you’ll wonder where the time went. I can’t tell you how much fun I’ve had whacking my friends in the face with a hatchet.
My biggest problem with Online was the matchmaking system. Every night I play with friends it’s a serious hassle getting us in the same lobby after we’ve played a few missions. It spawns us in different lobbies and when I try to invite them in, the game doesn’t let them. Other times I’ve gotten an invite to join a friend’s game and after accepting it, nothing happens. It’s a serious pain in my ass, but the only issue I have with the game. Lag feels non-existent, kills in Team Deathmatch feel fair, and the camera isn’t a nuisance like in other games.
Then there are Heists. In the single player campaign a heist isn’t just a regular mission. They take planning, multiple missions that involve getting supplies needed for the heist, and you even choose if you want to go in ‘loud’, or ‘stealthily’. For instance the first heist is done in a jewelry store and if you decide to go in quietly, there’s a mission that involves stealing a van, another stealing knockout gas grenades, and finally the heist which includes all those items and pays out $4.5 Million. These Heists are incredibly fun to go through multiple times, making you feel like you really thought out robbing a jewelry store. Expect to replay them over and over.
Just recently Heists became available for Online in a massive 4.8GB patch for the Xbox One, and a similar size for the Playstation 4. Included in the patch are new clothes, new online missions, and new vehicles like a hover jet that you might remember from San Andreas, a helicopter that features two miniguns on either side of it, and a military grade SUV with an optional .50 Cal Machine Gun. I highly recommend getting with a group of friends or players you trust to complete these heists. You will go through multiple preparation missions and if any of your teammates die, you start over. With restarts and traveling for the missions, by the time you finish the heist you will have spent at least 3 hours. You will earn a smaller percentage of experience doing the heists than regular missions or even survival mode, but the payout is enormous! After pulling the first one off, I earned about $125,000 for me and my teammates, not including the $40,000 the heist leader has to pay out up front for supplies. I say play the heists with friends because after a few tries its common for a teammate to just up and leave, and since you cant complete these with less than four people, you’ll be waiting for someone else to fill the spot. This happened to me last night in the middle of the actual heist four hours in, also costing me that $40,000 buy-in. I’m still a little sour about that.
Almost two years later, Grand theft Auto 5 is THE Grand Theft Auto to have. For many, San Andreas will always be the pinnacle of the series, but 5 has enough inspiration from SA that you’ll be just as happy in Los Santos. Despite the nagging online issues, it’s where you’ll spend most of your time, and be loving it the whole ride. There are microtransactions, but the game is so much fun you won’t ever feel strong armed into buying in-game currency to trick out your car or get a helicopter. GTA 5 is the best online experience I’ve had in a Rockstar game since Red Dead Redemption, and best ever when it comes to third-person, open world games. Highly recommended, if for nothing else than the stories you and your friends will share.