Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Vehicular Robbery Five Thoughts (GTA 5 For The Idiots)

Alright man, this is a post about Grand Theft Auto 5.  I'm pretty sure a few of you have played this obscure gem of a game.  I mean it only made $800 million on first day sales (beating out Modern Warfare 3's meager $500 mil) and had more than a thousand people work on it.  But I might as well talk about it, especially since driving is a crucial part of the game which means millions of people are gonna go cruising the streets of San Andreas.  So let's get this rant out of the way now--what I liked and disliked about the game.  Please note I haven't played GTA Online yet.


* It's fun, I really enjoyed it.  They loosened up the handling from GTA4 so you have more control at high speeds.  It reminds me of San Francisco Rush but with normal gravity and you're less likely to spin out.  The cars is very springy and the camera shakes at high speeds which conveys a nice sense of speed.

* The car damage is well done too.  Unlike previous GTAs, simply running into stuff at normal speeds won't cause the car to ignite into a fireball.  Instead, the wheels will get jammed or pop which has a slight impact on handling, plus engine power can drop off rapidly which basically renders the vehicle useless on its own.  The cars seem tougher this time around too.  The visual damage is toned down a bit too so you car doesn't look like a total piece of crap after a wreck or two.  The only thing that irks me is that the car lights go out from even the slightest wreck which means at night, you're driving around in the dark too often.

* Love the car selection in the game--you can see pictures of each here.  Watching my brother play the first time, I watched him jack a Porsche and before the text popped up, I said "that's a Comet" and surely it was.  Jacks a Viper, "that's a Banshee."  Jacks a Lamborghini, "that's an Infernus."  I like how they gave fake names to the car manufacturers--Vapid = Ford, Bravado = Dodge, Declasse = GM, Canis = Jeep, Benefactor = Mercedes, Obey = Audi, Ubermacht = BMW, Pegassi = Lamborghini.  I kinda wish there were more definitive vintage muscle cars in the game (they're all kinda bland IMO) as well as a stock car (the Hotring Racer from previous GTAs) but you can always get a Buffalo (Dodge Charger) and put a stock car spoiler on it.  Which leads to...

* Car tuning!  You can take any standard car to Los Santos Customs and soup it up some.  Change the paint job and rims, add a few body mods, even install some performance parts.  The customization is really shallow though.  Paint jobs are still limited to basic two-tone paint jobs (no generic flames/stripe mods) and with the exception of turbo, lower ride height, and bulletproof tires, there's not much improvement you can make to the cars.  Handling and acceleration receive a boost but if you were expecting Forza or even NFS customization, you will be highly disappointed.  Which leads to another...

* One thing that really irks me about a lot of racers is the lack of a speedometer.  I mean why not?  You're cruising along and you have the GPS, ammo count, and maybe the phone, so this whole "minimal HUD = good" crap is nonsense.  So why not add a MPH/KPH counter somewhere?  It'd make cruising down the highway that much more intimidating.

* And now to the subject of actual racing (or driving really fast).  I harped on this before a while ago--how GTA city racing isn't all that great.  The "racing" is kind of tedious for one reason--it's WAY too easy to hit something and come to a dead stop.  In traditional arcade racing, if you smack into something, at least you'll still have some forward momentum.  But here, obstacles littered near the street like trees, power poles, even seemingly innocent things like metal or wooden signs cause you to immediately die and come to a dead stop.  Literally, I saw my brother drive a big Ford (errr, Vapid) truck through a volleyball net, the truck stopped, and the net was still intact.  What's the deal?  Also, are there any other street races in the game besides this one near Franklin's house?

* The camera angle while driving.  I do like how the camera pitch is close to the ground--gives it a great sense of speed and all that.  But sometimes I wish I was driving with a camera that was higher above the ground so you can see over the traffic and get a better sense of the traffic and racing line.  The primary use for this would be when the car pitch changes (you go up/down a hill).  Sure you can use the joystick to move the camera up but that can get tedious.  I can't tell you how many times I would go over the hills near Michael's house only to hit a SUV that decided to stall in the middle of the road and once I saw it, it was too late.

* Added the ability to rotate the car while airborne.  This can be insanely helpful and it's not overly sensitive like the wings from Rush 2049.  But what annoys me the most is that it only affects the pitch and roll, not the pitch and yaw (pitch = up and downhill, yaw = steer left and right, roll = flip over sideways).  It's a real mindf**k because I keep thinking I can change the yaw while airborne, plus I tend to prematurely hold the steering wheel in the direction I want to turn when I hit the ground to steer away from rolling over.  But rolling in midair just makes things more perplexing for me.

* Why isn't there an instant replay feature in this game?  When you perform a nice stunt or narrow escape--wouldn't it be nice to see it again?  Can't tell you how many times me or my brother did something YouTube-worthy only to say "crap, we'll never ever see that happen again."  Here's an example--thank God this guy was recording at the time!!

* Also seems really easy to die when riding a bike or four-wheeler.  It's hella fun to go cruising off-road on one of these but if you hit a rock or tree and stumble a moderate distance, you can die pretty quickly.  Boo!

* One last thing, it's about saving cars in the garage.  Each character has a default vehicle that even if they lose, it still appears in their driveway (Franklin = Buffalo, Michael = Tailgater, Trevor = Bodhi).  That's great and all, you can mod those vehicles and they keep 'em forever, but if I use another vehicle, sometimes it appears in your driveway or impound lot, sometimes it doesn't.  As Michael, I stole a Tornado (Chevy Belair), modded it, took it to a mission, had to leave the car behind and hop in a stupid van or something.  I return back to where I left the Tornado and it was gone.  Thankfully, I return home and the Tornado is parked in my driveway!  I then take the Tornado to another mission, leave it behind, and return home thinking the Tornado will still be there.  WRONG!  Instead, the Tornado is replaced by the daughter's Weeny Issi (Mini Cooper) convertible and the Tornado was never found again.  I really wish you could designate one or two vehicles as "yours" to permanently respawn at your house but I'm not sure you can do that.  Bummer...

* Radio stations!  Guess this belongs in the driving section.  Here's a list of all the songs in the game with YouTube links.  I wasn't too crazy about these this time around.  I'm still convinced Vice City followed by San Andreas had the best radio stations (70's/80's music FTW).  For me, there were a few gems in GTA5 that I had to add to my music collection, primarily The Trammps's Rubber Band and Foreigner's Dirty White Boy.  But a lot of it was "ehh, whatever."  It's like a bag of trail mix--some good songs I really wanted to listen to, others I had to change the channel.  The one classic rock station had some great stuff--Dirty White BoySaturday Night's Alright for FightingPhotograph, Hollywood Nights, Radio Ga Ga, the rest was soft rock I couldn't bear.  Needs more awesome driving music!  Why no metal stations like V-Rock from Vice City?  Probably my most listened-to stations in terms of "switch to it and not change it every minute" would be Radio Los Santos (rap) and Channel-X (punk), also Vinewood Boulevard Radio (dudebro rock) though that last one gets on my nerves quickly.  FWIW, when I heard Adolescents' Amoeba on the punk station for the very first time, instant Tony Hawk 3 nostalgia came to mind and I pissed myself.

* Overall, GTA 5 is a fun driving game.  But a fun racing game?  No, not really.  Aside from one NFS/Midnite Club-style event and missions that involve keeping up with a fleeing target, there's no real "racing" in this game whatsoever.



* Really nice draw distance.  Unlike previous games that would utilize fog to hide the pop-up, here you can see nearly forever.  Stand on Mount Chiliad's summit and see what I mean.  Great work for aging hardware in the twilight stage of its life.

* Shooting!  Okay, the auto-aiming is really nice since you can pop targets one at a time--it's really cheap at times, I admit.  But the problem happens when you fall out of auto-aim, you have to put the gun down, look at the guy, then put it up again just to lock on to the person.  This is tedious as hell when trying to kill people at close-quarters since you have to pivot the camera directly at him--try rotating 90-degrees only to die.  Manual aim is a bit difficult to get used to.  Games like Call of Duty have looking down sights and aim assist to lower sensitivity when aiming at people, though GTA doesn't seem to have that so it's hard to get a precise shot on anything.  Overall, if I wanted to shoot people, I'd rather play Call of Duty because in GTA, shooting people is either too easy or too hard.

* Characters!  The three characters are pretty cool.  Franklin has no backstory other than "he's a hustla trying to make it big" but I'm cool with that.  He seems really "nice" for a GTA protagonist and has the hood lingo to boot and that's fine with me ("shit I always tryin to make some paper doo").  Michael is basically Tommy Vercetti as a family man, again kind of a cool guy with a nice pair of man boobs, plus he has a deep backstory that propels the game forward.  As for, he seems like the quintessential GTA protagonist.  The dude is hilarious.  He does say and do some things you'll find detestable but this is the kind of guy I can see winning a GameFAQs character contest round.  So props to Trevor and his big balls.

* Cops are too aggressive with the stars.  If you steal a car or blow something up, sometimes you'll get one star and get away easily because cops will take a while to get over to your location.  Otherwise, they just have a vendetta against you, being the protagonist of one of the most vile, disgusting games in recent history.  Shoot a pedestrian or gangster dead, get one star.  Bump into a police car, get two stars.  Gimme a break.

* Why is GTA 5's rendition of San Andreas on a big island out in the middle of the ocean?  This was also in GTA way back to 3, possibly earlier than that.  Saints Row could get away with their city being on a continent--here, being stranded on a large island just seems kinda pathetic, really.

* I beat the whole game and the missions were fair with a nice variety.  I don't feel like replaying them, particularly because of the funny shooting segments, but if you're a sucker for movie-based games that hold your hand with liberal use of checkpoints, well here you go, enjoy it.  MILD SPOILERS: The three multiple endings kinda sucked though, only one is the true rewarding ending with some badass missions to finish it off.  The other two are tacked on and don't really tie up anything other than to satisfy some vendetta against one of the other playable characters.  So you know which ending to pick, the one where everyone is happy and all the punk-ass bitches that harassed you the whole game die. :)

* I finally reached 70,000 Gamerscore cause of this game.  And yet I don't plan on getting the Xbox One so I guess my score ends there.  Playing through all these outdated sports games for the cheap achievements will definitely be worth it when I'm 90 years old.

* On the mission where Trevor works on the dock, you can crush this guy here with a crate and the mission still continues just fine.  I've done it on every playthrough, it's great.  I cried laughing over it, man I'm pathetic. :D

* This is the best cutscene glitch video I've seen and I happened to record it.  I only regret that I recorded the very end of it (couldn't find my phone soon enough).  If you get cops tailing you when you begin a cutscene, they will invade the scene and shoot you while it's playing.

Oh my gosh...I've said way too much about this game.  There's a few more things but I want to call it quits now.  Overall, great game despite my nitpicks but I didn't get the "wow, this game is awesome" vibe like I did playing Vice City or San Andreas (the PS2 one) for the first time.  Must be due to my age--I'm too cynical to enjoy games fully anymore--old games are always better than new ones.  Okay, good night everyone.

REVIEW SCORE: A crappy not-well-thought-out 8 out of 10


  1. Hi Eric, nice to see you commenting again! I'm always wary of hype so I'll leave GTV alone for now and discover it in my own time. Besides have quite a few of the GTA games already and haven't touched any of them. Not much happening at my end; started a new job last month (minimum wage and temporary though) and finished modding my original xboxes. Did manage to visit an arcade yesterday (first in about 8/9 months) but only managed one go on Scud Race. Had a go on Fast & Furious Supercars (ugh) and some Terminator Salvation which plays better with a mounted gun. Looks like all decent racing coin-ops will be staying in Asia for the forseeable future :(

    1. Awesome to hear from you again rjay! Not much else going on here--just looking for jobs and playing the same few games over and over. Recently got to play Initial D Stage 3 at the arcade. Best of luck to you and your new jobs and games...