The Good: Fantastic story with believable characters, gigantic open world that feels alive, gun play has finally been fixed and feels great, a lot of customization options, amazing attention to detail
The Bad: Huge frame rate issues, graphics are technically very dated, main story feels a tad short, online component isn't shipped with the game, missions can be overly difficult most of the time, cars still control poorly
Well, here it is folks. Probably one of the most anticipated games of all time. It's breaking records everywhere. It has made over $1 billion already, it was the UK's best selling game of all time, the list goes on. Why is such a "real" game like GTA5 so popular? Usually sequels and series are dead at their fifth iteration, so what makes GTA5 so special? Love and care. Rockstar loves their franchise so much, they have put 5 years into GTA5 to make it what it is which is nearly perfect. There is so much freaking detail in this game I could go on forever describing it all. So let's start with the story.
You play as three characters this time around which is a first for GTA5. Trevor, Michael, and Franklin are your average joes trying to get rich quick. The game starts out differently than any other GTA. You aren't starting out just outside of a car, this time Rockstar got a little cinematic on us. You're in the middle of a bank heist in a small town. You end up fighting your way out and the story fast forwards 10 years. Right from the start you get introduced to Michael, then Franklin, then Trevor later on. Each character is very well fleshed out and you end up getting attached to all of them in the game. Of course the other half of the great characters are people you get your missions from and this doesn't change here. While there aren't as many characters as past games they are more well designed and original. You end up going through the trials and tribulations of these three men as they get caught up in the mafia, street gangs, the government, and millionaires. Basically Michael is trying to make amends with his family on the side while Trevor is trying to find out what he really wants -- Franklin just wants to get out of the hood.
The largest problem with GTA has finally been addressed: the terrible shooting mechanics. GTA IV tried to fix this, but it felt too sticky and too clunky. GTA 5 is finally more refined and feels like a third person shooter should. You can snap into cover, aim with precision, and all that great shooter stuff. You can even change the reticle if you want, honestly GTA 5 gives you more options on a console than any other game I can remember. While we're on combat you can finally customize your guns for the first time in a GTA. Add supressors, scopes, extended mags, flashlights, new paint, etc. It's not Call of Duty deep, but it's a huge step up for GTA. However, the combat is still tough as nails. You will die in a few hits if you aren't careful and I restarted many missions a lot because of how hard the game is.
Secondly, the vehicles still control like you're driving on syrup. You will spin out a lot, and easily lose control. At least the cars look updated and are actually knock offs of real cars. The Banshee looks like the Dodge Viper and there's a car in here that's called the Coil. Figure out what that one's based off of. They look good and you can customize these as well! Yes! It's a lot deeper than you think. There are different levels of upgrades and they make a huge difference on how they perform. Some missions even require upgraded cars. Car wise, the game still shines and doesn't disappoint.
While we're talking about cars and combat they all tie into missions just like previous games. Honestly, GTA 5 feels so polished and refined and is a perfect GTA game. The missions are a huge step up because you get to choose how they play out this time around. There are large heists that you need to perform and you can pick your accomplices and can choose two different routes to go. They are usually sneaking and going through the front guns blazing. It's a lot of fun and you really feel like you earned your cash in the game. During some missions you can switch between the three characters on the fly for an advantage. This adds a whole new layer to combat in GTA. The missions are much more varied than previous games and are just so much fun, honestly I haven't had this much fun in a sandbox game in a long time. You get rated after each mission and there are side objectives to complete for gold stars.
Outside of those story missions are side missions called Strangers and Freaks. You meet weird people that you help out and these characters are both funny and strange. On top of that, you have random encounters where you help people on the fly as you pass them. It really helps bring the world to life. While we're on that subject, GTA 5 is one of the most surreal game worlds ever created. Los Santos is huge and I mean just huge. There are whole mountain ranges, huge areas of the ocean, and San Andreas as well as Los Santos itself to explore. Even the ocean looks so real thanks to the great water physics and under water effects. Scuba diving is a brand new option here, and yes there are under water missions. However, Rockstar took all this to a whole new level when it comes to detail. You can hunt in the mountains, the scenery gradually changes as you move around the world. It's just so awesome it's hard to believe that this is all out of someone's imagination.
Your cell phone for example is an expansion to the one in GTA IV. You can buy stocks and bonds online, buy vehicles to get delivered to your garage, buy boats, planes, and various other things on the phone. You can now order a cab and most messages are done through text and email. It helps bring GTA to the present times and feels that way. The amount of detail in both the characters, world, graphics, and gameplay is just phenomenal. From the turbulence in aircraft to the way boats bounce off waves. GTA 5 has unparalleled detail that is rarely seen in any entertainment medium.
At the end of your first day you won't want to put the controller down. With over 100 missions GTA 5 is full of things to do and places to explore. Michael, Trevor, and Franklin are great characters and everyone will have their favorites. Despite the ultra violence, cursing, and nudity in the game GTA 5 is gritty and raw and should be. Rockstar is one of the only came companies who have the guts to show everyone their vision without being afraid of political backlash. I'm sure GTA 5 will have plenty of that (thankfully Jack Thompson will be absent for this one). GTA 5 is one of the best games I have played in a long time and I can't find much wrong with it. Honestly, it's just typical stuff like frame rate slow down, some ugly textures, the online component was missing at launch, a few bugs and glitches here and there, but other than that the game is almost perfect.
(Review based on PS3 version)