Grand Theft Auto V goes where the series has never gone before

By Emma Sandler

The fifteenth installment of the Grand Theft Auto series surpasses all that came before it. “Grand Theft Auto V” is a culmination of perfection for Rockstar Games, combining superb graphics, an intense storyline and witty, irreverent satire of contemporary America.

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Set in Los Santos, a fictional version of Los Angeles previously visited in “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas,” the game focuses on three criminals: Franklin, a street gangster looking for opportunities and lots of cash; Michael, a professional ex-con who views the world through delusions of grandeur; and Trevor, a hilariously volatile maniac fixed on finding a cheap high and the next big score. The three men work together to pull off daring, dangerous heists that will keep them financially set for life.

What makes GTA V stand out is the ability to switch between these three protagonists freely, although loading times between characters are often too long.

Missions are usually categorized by the skills of the game’s characters. Motor vehicle theft missions are typically left to Franklin, who we learn is a repo man for a scamming car salesman. Michael’s missions usually involve his family, such as one in which he tries to chase down his yacht after his son tries to sell it, or another in which he seeks vengeance on a tennis instructor for sleeping with his wife. Some missions also involve his past, and include striking a deal with an FBI agent to fake his death and allow him to go into retirement. The game’s murderous rampages (of various proportions) are left to Trevor.

Although the heavy dialogue scenes intended to move the plot along often bog down the game, the large-scale heists and humorous side objectives make it continuously enjoyable. The alternation between characters really comes in handy during missions and heists, when a character’s avatar will flash red if they are in danger and need assistance, or white if that character has a strategic advantage that can aid your success. Multi-character heists always offer a heart-pounding thrill.

The setting of the game itself is like another character that you can interact with. Los Santos is a city of fool’s gold, full of fading D-list stars, wannabes and self-help gurus. Throughout the game, you can ride jet skis through the city river, get a tattoo, play tennis or visit the Vanilla Unicorn strip club. You can also climb mountains, dive into the game’s ocean and lakes and take to the seemingly endless sky. No one in Los Santos lifts a finger without calculating their financial loss or gain, exemplifying the city as the epitome of corporate greed and reckless abandon of morals. It is a city of narcissists, liars, losers, lunatics and criminals – and it’s yours to conquer.

GTA V has achieved universal acclaim in the gaming world, earning a 97/100 on Metacritic based on reviews by 54 critics. Rated M for mature audiences, it ranks not only among Rockstar’s best products, but also among some of the best games ever released.

Emma Sandler can be reached at [email protected]