Video Game Review: Grand Theft Auto Online

Details: I’m not sure how many hours I’ve played of the Online part, but total time spent including with the single player is about one hundred and fifty hours. At least fifty of those hours were spent in the Online part. Played on the PC. I purchased Grand Theft Auto V a while ago for $35.00. Grand Theft Auto Online came with it. A lot of additional content has been released since the game came out. It’s unclear if more content updates will be released.

I wrote a review for the single player portion of this game a while ago and I’ve finally played enough of the online component to give an opinion.

Grand Theft Auto Online is an online multiplayer game where players can inhabit and play in Los Santos (the fictional city from the single player) with others over the internet. It comes with Grand Theft Auto V.

Grand Theft Auto Online is essentially a free to play game. It is largely funded by micro transactions. They sell in-game, virtual hats and clothes and cars and boats for in-game money. You can buy in game money with real money from their website or your local video game retailer in the form of Shark Cards.

The good part about this is that after the release of the game, Grand Theft Auto Online has released pretty consistent content updates since and they are all free for everyone who owns a copy of Grand Theft Auto V. Usually, subsequent content updates are marketed as downloadable content and given a price. That’s not the case here. The downside is that all the really cool items that you’d really like to own (e.g. a fast car or a new property) cost a fortune. The game is situated to be fun enough to keep playing, but annoying enough to tempt players into spending real money on in-game currency. This gives the game that lousy, Candy Crush-esque feel. It’s a long, time-consuming grind to achieve any kind of progress in the game. An additional negative is the rampant hacking/cheating present which further impedes enjoyment of the game.

There are a lot of things to do in Grand Theft Auto Online, but most of it is derivative of everything in the single player and short-lived (after playing most things once, you’ll never want to play it again). The only things that I think are worth mentioning are the races, the heists, and the free roaming.

Racing in a Grand Theft Auto game is almost common sense and being able to race other players is fun. With the addition of stunts and a battle mode with rockets and other power ups, the game feels a lot more like Mario Kart than a traditional Grand Theft Auto game.

I loved the Heists in this game, but it was disappointing that there are only five and that it looks unlikely more will ever be added. Each heists generally consists of a few setup missions and then the heist itself, which is a big, multi-part mission where each player will be required to cooperate and perform a distinct function in order to complete. The best and worst part of these missions is that cooperation is essential, which is very difficult to find when you’re playing with some random players over the internet who don’t care about each other.

The best part of this game is that it realizes a dream that Grand Theft Auto fans have had for a long time: we get to inhabit the same city with other players. We can help each other, hurt each other (usually hurt), drive, shoot, or just screw around, all within a persistent virtual world. It’s just fun to be in a virtual world that allows you to do whatever you want while others play in that world with you.

Overall, GTA Online is a fun little distraction that can be fun for hours if you let it. The biggest flaw and best feature of GTA Online is that many of the most fun aspects of the game require a preexisting group of friends who own a copy of the game and will play with you. Otherwise, GTA Online is kind of short-lived and will get boring fast. As a standalone game, GTA Online isn’t great. As an online game bundled together with the Grant Theft Auto V single player, the game is great. I don’t recommend buying Grand Theft Auto V for the Online component alone. I do recommend the purchase if you want to enjoy the single player and already have a group of friends who own Grand Theft Auto V and want to play GTA Online with you.

Score: 6.8/10

Video Game Review: Grand Theft Auto V (Review of the Single Player Mostly, played on PC)

When I first started playing this game, I was worried that it might be kind of crap. I know the reviews have generally been positive, but the idea of splitting the single player campaign into three separate characters sound like a hassle that would slow down or break apart the flow of the story. I am happy to say that my fears were unfounded. The best part of this story is that it is told from three, playable points of view.

There are three protagonists in this story: Michael, Trevor, and Franklin. Michael is a retired bank robber going through a mid life crisis. Trevor is a user and dealer of crystal meth. And Franklin is your stereotypical gang banger from the ‘hood. Through various events, they come together to form a criminal team and try to pull the biggest heists they can find.

It’s a great crime story. Each character is distinct and the ability to see an event from differing perspectives adds a lot to the narrative. But what really adds to the story is the humor and the way the game offers an R rated parody/critique of real world things like Facebook, the entertainment industry, and corruption in law enforcement. If I were to try and describe this game as if it were a movie, I would say it is a crime/heist movie with some hilarious commentary on real world events.

Gameplay is exactly what you’d expect from this franchise. While you can play from first person perspective, I prefer the default view of third person view. You run around, drive and shoot your way through missions given by a colorful cast of characters in a very large open world setting. The city this iteration of the franchise takes place in is based on Los Angeles and is filled with details and landmarks reminiscent of the real city. The controls are familiar and driving is just fine. Nothing to complain about here.

The most noteworthy aspect of the game play to me is that you can switch between characters during a heist, performing each role necessary in the heist. The general rhythm goes like this: a few missions to prepare for the heist, then the execution of the actual heist mission. During the heist mission, you play as each character based upon the job that character was assigned. For example, you will first go through a portion infiltrating or robbing the target, then you switch to the shooting character who fights law enforcement, then you swap to the getaway driver for the escape. It’s a really fun way to tackle single player heists by letting a player play all gameplay aspects of a heist, rather than locking him/her into the getaway driver, shooter, etc. In retrospect, tying the ability to switch character both narratively and gameplay-wise is just genius.

Visually, for a years old game, this game looks amazing. Especially the way the city looks after a rain. Man, that water reflection looks good.

The legendary Grand Theft Auto soundtrack returns with more familiar tracks that you’d expect to hear on the radio. Lots of familiar songs on the radio.

In regards to the voice actors, they are spectacular and do an amazing job immersing you into this world.

I’ve played some of the multiplayer and it is fun. I just haven’t played enough to really have a full opinion. It does seem a little grindy though. Racing was fun, too.

Score: 8.6/10 With regards to the single player, this game is insanely fun. That they developed such a lengthy multiplayer is just icing on the cake.