Note: This is for the single player aspect only. GTA Online is included on the disc but is essentially a separate game, so is reviewed HERE.
GTA IV was a depressing game. I would go into it for escapism and come out feeling worse. TLaD is hardly worth mentioning, but TBoGT proved that Rockstar could do better if they tried. With V, they tried and they succeeded. Hell, they excelled. It’s still minus some key elements from the series past that I suspect were held back perhaps for future DLC episodes, or maybe even for GTA Online, but what’s included on the disc is a vast improvement over the miserable fourth numbered entry in every way. Nico is just a bad memory; that pleases me.
How is V better? There are too many reasons to list them all, but here’s a few: the driving is fixed (motorbikes are again the best way to travel); the targeting is fixed; saving your game is simpler; mission structures are more varied; the protagonists are more entertaining; the humour is back; and the radio stations are more interesting. RS learned a lot from the success of Red Dead Redemption, and quite rightly they've included the best bits of it in GTA.
Contrary to what the tabloids claim, it's not just a senseless murder simulator. I'm not trying to pretend it’s high art, it’s not, it’s just a game, but it’s a game that takes a long, hard look at the world in which we live and dares to make a statement about why it’s a complicated mess of selfish ideals, political chicanery and social stratification. It’s a game that takes the American dream and holds it up to a filthy mirror. It’s coloured with biting satire and pop culture spoofs while being critical of television, radio and newspapers, and that most abhorrent of control mechanisms: the opiate of the masses. And that’s just scratching the surface of what you can find within.
The amount of small detail that RS have included is staggering; I've never seen anything like it. I’d occasionally just stop and listen to NPC’s, drink in the ambience and exist for a short time in the game world. Check out this time lapse video and see for yourself just how alive the City seems to be: CLICK ME.
My only criticism is that the game world is too big. That may seem an odd thing to say, but the scale of it makes it impossible to take in and less intuitive to navigate.
You should also be aware that while it’s bigger geographically, it's also shorter in length than previous games and the difficulty level is lower. I've played all entries since III and this one is by far the easiest of them all.
5 carefully planned heists out of 5