Welcome back to San Andreas-A A +A
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
I'M NOT even going to beat around the bush for this one, I'm going to tell you right now what you want to read; Grand Theft Auto V is great.
I am just 11 hours into the game, and I have done many things. To name a few, I have robbed multiple armored cars, stopped an alien invasion during a drug-induced hallucination and delivered a drunk couple to a shady cult living atop a mountain. Many times before, the open worlds of the Grand Theft Auto franchise have been criticized for being soulless. In Grand Theft Auto V, that isn't an issue, as once you start playing, you’ll realized you've been thrust into a world that is not only massive in scale, but also very much alive.
For those who have played Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, welcome back to San Andreas. You may find, however, that the world is somehow like a girl who you used to date in your younger years. The girl was great, and you had your time together but you grew out of your fondness for her and separated, then after a few years she comes back into your life. You don't recognize it immediately, but she is better in many ways. See, this isn't the exact same map you spent hours travelling in San Andreas. There is no more San Fierro or Las Venturas. Instead, you're left with the wide open, bustling city of Los Santos and the deserts of Blaine County. Do not be fooled, however, by the lesser number of cities. The world you traverse through is bigger than ever.
This, of course, comes with a tradeoff. The individual character models do not match up to the kind of detail you might see on games such as Call of Duty or Final Fantasy, but when you consider the sheer size of the map, it still holds up pretty well.
Speaking of characters, this is the first iteration in the franchise that has a single story revolving around three lead characters. First is Franklin, a young man getting a big start in the career of crime due to being mentored by Michael, a retired thief living comfortably under witness protection and used to run crime jobs with Trevor, a nutcase of a character who adds color to the otherwise barren lands of Blaine County's desert. Each of them are unique, with their own special abilities and hairstyles, clothes and tattoos to put on them. These differences also work their way well into the story, with each of them being clearly separated by differences in lifestyle and motivations.
I'm only 11 hours into the game but I'm around 24 percent done with it, according to the in-game stats. This could probably mean that the story of the game is considerably shorter than, say, San Andreas, but I feel that this is made up for by the world the characters inhibit and everything there is to do. Random events pop up at any time of day and you can get into sports such as tennis, golf and racing. There's even a triathlon which can take up to 30 minutes of your time to complete. All this, coupled with a huge world to explore means you will rarely be without something to do in San Andreas. That, I believe is the game's best draw, to always be able to do something in a world that's constantly moving.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 25, 2013.