Grand Theft Auto V revs up character development

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The first trailer released for this game came out in November 2011, and since that time, the Internet has exploded into a frenzy of Grand Theft Auto V news. Various YouTube channels and entire websites have developed as a result of the massive hype and high expectations of this game. Now that the game is finally here, it is safe to say that not only were these expectations met, but they were surpassed. GTA V is the staple of open-world games and a great example of a worthwhile sequel to a franchise that has already received massive critical acclaim. Through its story, world and gameplay, GTA V proves to be a strong contender for game of the year.

The story of GTA V is consistently entertaining. For the first time in the Grand Theft Auto series, there are three playable characters who all add something new to the narrative table.

Michael is a wealthy, middle-aged “retired” criminal who is miserable due to the terrible relationship he has with his dysfunctional family.  Franklin is a young gang member trying to get out of the hood and gangbanger lifestyle in order to be a part of the 1 percent. Trevor, the third new character, is a middle-aged psychopath who is trying to control the drug and weapons trafficking businesses in Blaine County. Each character has his own motives and personality, and the way they interact and develop their relationships with one another contributes to the engagement players will have in the plot.

The map of GTA V is huge — almost 50 square miles to traverse. However, not only is the map colossal, but it is also very diverse, with a variety of environments such as tall mountains, beaches, strip malls, urban environments and upscale neighborhoods. Moreover, all of these environments are different not only through their aesthetics but also through the personality of the NPCs. These aspects produce the feeling that this is a living world, with living people, who are living out their lives.

Each part of the map has its own flavor and aura around it — downtown Los Santos feels like the financial district of Los Angeles, Rockford Hills encompasses all of the glam that people would feel in Beverly Hills and Sandy Shores trailer park feels like a real redneck haven.

The shooting, driving and mission structure in the game have significantly improved, giving the player more control over his or her actions and giving the impression that no two missions are the same. To illustrate, there are certain missions in the game in which all characters are present, and players are able to switch between them to progress in a different way. There are also a number of side missions to get involved in and random events to encounter. Additionally, some of these events can correlate to main missions.

For instance, while playing as Michael, I picked up a woman who had just gotten out of a car accident due to a robbery gone wrong. Later on, I was actually able to hire this woman to act as a driver in one of the heists. This shows that the game has so much depth that no one player has the same experience as another.
With an engaging story, a massive living world and improved mechanics, GTA V gives the player a gaming experience unlike any other. This game represents not only a revolution in the GTA franchise but a revolution in the entire industry. This game is a must-buy, making the wait for the Oct. 1 release of Grand Theft Auto Online — the multiplayer component — that much harder.