You know how every time a new story about massive Grand Theft Auto V sales rises again in some way – it recently surpassed 160 million copies sold – someone makes the joke. , “Who the hell hasn’t played this game yet?” Yes it’s me. I’m the person who hasn’t played the game yet, or at least I was until Monday. Now, about 10 hours into Grand Theft Auto V on PlayStation 5, I feel like a fool.
Grand Theft Auto V absolutely lives up to the hype, despite my belief that there was no way an open-world game with so many systems and mechanics, nearly a decade old, would hold up so well. in 2022. I always knew GTA was going to be the series of rude jokes, vulgarity galore, and more along those lines. And to be clear, Grand Theft Auto V is just that, but somehow it all works. I’m laughing typing this because I imagine 99% of people reading this are like “Yeah man, duh” but if you’re someone who still hasn’t played this game let me tell you say: play it.
When I first started story mode and saw the visuals, I laughed. Rockstar Games shouldn’t charge for this next-gen version of the game in any way. It should have been an update because, at best, it’s just a 4K/60 FPS patch that makes things a bit better. Despite improved textures and lighting, Grand Theft Auto V still feels very much like a game from 2013. After getting rid of the feeling that this enhanced edition should have been free, I was able to play a game that I can already feel become a new favorite.
One thing I found particularly striking about Grand Theft Auto V is the immediate sense of authenticity these characters have. Michael, Trevor, and Brad all react and talk to each other like I imagine they would if they were real humans in a world robbing a bank in a remote snowy town. Fast forward to meeting Franklin and his friends, and I find myself constantly laughing out loud at their conversations. They are hilarious and very engaging. I’ve turned down the in-game music volume before to make sure I hear every interaction as I drive through Los Santos, and I love hearing phone calls coming out of my DualSense controller’s speaker.
But above all, the conversations between the characters in this game feel so real. Franklin and his friends relentlessly (and lovingly) give each other shit the same way my friends and I do. Michael’s nihilism fits perfectly into Rockstar’s Los Santos setup, and even though I’ve only just met Trevor, I’m already stunned by Steven Ogg’s lopsided characterization. Trevor is crazy, and Ogg plays it so well.
For me, the dialogue is the driving force behind this game. It ranges from real and well-written to absolutely quirky, but not in a bad way – the craziest dialogue feels right at home in this glamorous, Hollywood-centric version. . Wait a minute, I’m having a real conversation as Franklin while talking to Jimmy about his father’s flaws. Another minute I play while Michael listens to a vendor offer me a new strain of weed that gets Michael so high he goes on a rampage with a machine gun to assassinate dozens of aliens. Every corner I turn, I find something else in Los Santos that catches my eye, whether it’s a new Strangers and Freaks mission, a billboard with an advertisement that makes me laugh, or a street that reminds my trip to Los Angeles in 2019.
I’ve played old GTA games before and love both Red Dead Redemption and Red Dead Redemption II, but I figured a Rockstar game from 2013 wouldn’t offer as well-designed an open world as the latter, and yet, I am in it. love with Los Santos. It’s awe-inspiring how much Rockstar was able to cram into this town and the surrounding desert a decade ago, and my brain aches to think of how big Grand Theft Auto VI will grow.
Grand Theft Auto V also has incredibly clever writing. For example, as Michael, I came across my wife having sex with her tennis coach. Mad with rage, Michael decides to take revenge on the coach. He informs Franklin of the situation, and the pair drive to a Malibu cliffside home in a van. The two attach the truck’s tow rope to the beams holding the coach’s house up on the cliff. As they move away, the beams and most of the house fall down the hill.
I loved that scene, but I was always like, ‘It’s funny, but there’s no way a tennis coach could own a house like this. And sure enough, 30 seconds later, Michael gets a phone call from the coach saying this isn’t his house. In fact, it’s the house of another potential tennis player the coach is sleeping with. I was so happy with this twist because Rockstar quickly and comically answered a question I had. This level of clever writing has been present throughout my 10 hours in Grand Theft Auto V so far, and I can’t wait to see what else awaits me in Los Santos.
Does the gameplay, especially the shooter, feel like 2013? Oh yes. Are the visual and performance improvements worth the price charged by Rockstar? No. Does Grand Theft Auto V hold up extremely well? Yes quite.
Maybe it’s silly that I’m surprised – Grand Theft Auto V is the best-selling game of all time and one of the most successful entertainment properties of all time, after all – but this game really is , really good. I only wish I had played there years and years ago.
Anyone else playing Grand Theft Auto V for the first time? Let me know I’m not alone in the comments below!