Grand Theft Auto V Review: A stunning triumph, one of the greatest games ever made
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Marrying gameplay brilliance to compelling characters and a world matched only in size by the number of things you can do in it, Grand Theft Auto V is a masterpiece--one of the greatest games ever made.
- Enthralling gameplay, with refined shooting and driving
- Breathtaking world with hundreds of ways to occupy hundreds of hours
- Thrilling story, with memorable characters and performances
- No custom music playback
- One particularly gratuitous scene
There's something overwhelmingly magnetic about Michael, Trevor, Franklin, and the ever-shifting relationships that tie them together. The ability to switch between all three, almost at will, rounds out their stories in ways that cutscenes cannot and gives player-driven context to scenes when two or all of them are united. When Michael exhibits fatherly love for Franklin during a heist, it's made more powerful for the times when the failings of Michael's real son caused inconveniences for me as the player. When Trevor's thinly veiled anger erupts over Michael's lazy lifestyle of excess, I feel the injustice--I had just spent three hours in and around a hillbilly hellhole chasing biker gangs for meager earnings.
When you're playing as one character, the others are living their lives--lives you'll often be thrust into when you switch between them. The perspective is interesting; it's not unusual to find Franklin walking out of a marijuana dispensary, or to step into the shoes of a half-naked Trevor, in a drunken stupor, on a beach outside of town. Your ability to switch will be limited or tailored at times, but it's often for the thrill of a mission. As Michael, you're shooting a way out of police resistance when Trevor's voice comes in over the phone. The next moment, you could be hearing the second half of his line in person as you smash a getaway car through the police blockade to give Michael a way out.
Having three playable protagonists also mitigates some of the narrative dissonance that comes from one playable character helping a random pedestrian one moment and slaying dozens of mercenaries the next. Michael's white-collar air and family-man ethic lend themself to chasing a purse thief and returning the purse to its frightened owner. As Trevor, I might run both of them over because it fits the kind of messed-up logic I know he subscribes to. As Franklin, I can't be bothered to take time doing either: there's paper to chase.