BLOG: GTA V - Day 11
WELL thank heavens for that.
Finally, after waiting all my life – well, it seems like it - for a new GTA game, I finally have it, in my hands.
It didn’t spend too long in my hands of course – I slapped it in that wonderful little slot on the PS3, waited in fidgety anticipation for the whirring to stop and – yessss!!!! Well, almost.
Then I thought, I’ll write a blog about it, to share my experiences with all you gamers out there, even though most of you are probably sitting there, surrounded by pizza boxes, having had no sleep and only very necessary toilet breaks, with a demented smile on your face, because you’ve already finished the entire game.
Well, I’m just starting – here goes…
I turn the box over in my hands, feeling its smooth exterior, soaking in the artwork, the words.
Then, reverently, I slip my thumbs between the two halves and open the case – like I was unscrewing the cap to a very, very old bottle of Scottish whisky.
Then…the magic doesn’t happen. I get that annoying message that tells you that you don’t have enough memory.
So it’s close down again and time to delete some of those games I kept thinking I might play again, but never did.
Great – so back to GTA, which seems to take ages to load, although there’s some pretty cool artwork to look at as the megabytes tick over.
Then….the magic doesn’t happen again!
The prologue starts and I don’t have any sound – arrgh!
So it’s back out of the game and into my settings, which all look ok, so what’s wrong.
Try again….aha! I have sound this time as well as the swish new Rockstar logo graphic.
And finally, I’m playing.
First impressions? A little bit undwerwhelmed and confused. But then I’m still getting used to the controls and it’s all a bit clunky and stop-start for that reason.
A few minutes later and I’m getting the hang of this now. The weapons control is really easy to master and the easy switch between characters is fairly useful and something fairly original for a game.
Then I’m behind the wheel and GTA has come alive. I’m being chased by cops, being shot at by cops and I’m shooting back. This is fun.
And this is just the prologue!
When it’s over, I find the game is only just starting, with a scene which could be straight out of Analyse This.
Then I’m out in the open for the first time in Los Santos, which looks pretty amazing.
A few minutes later, I’m controlling another character and racing through the streets.
More new characters and I’m into familiar GTA territory – cut scenes, missions, great dialogue, humour, and varied gameplay.
But everything looks just so alive.
Yes, there should be more cars around, probably – Oystermouth Road never looks that quiet in the middle of the day – but other than that this feels like a real, living breathing city.
When I was waiting for the game to load, I looked at the map of Los Santos and surrounding area – it is absolutely massive. It would take days to drive across it – surely! I feel like a tourist with my own virtual holiday playground to explore.
Back to the game, there’s a surprise in store early on, which neatly takes you back to an earlier character.
The fun here leads to the best bit of the game so far for me – the chance to stroll around the city, hearing its sounds, listening to the conversations. You can almost taste and smell it.
Then I’m back at home – my character’s virtual home - and I’m slumped on the sofa watching cartoons.
One more mission? The temptation is there – but an early start the next day beckons. So I reluctantly save and quit.
But I will be back for more and…oh…there will be so very much more – I can feel it!
First there’s the dog to walk, then the kids’ tea to cook.
But in between all that, I manage to squeeze in a second day’s play at Grand Theft Auto V.
No sooner have I switched on, than I’m empathising with one of the main characters - Michael de Santa.
He may be relaxing on a sunbed by the pool in his swanky gated mansion, but he still has the same family worries as any other parent of teenage children.
Of course, his worries are a little different from mine - his son is trapped in a stolen yacht for a start.
The yacht is being towed through Los Santos, so getting him out of it alive is a little tricky. Thankfully, Franklin is there to help, although I end up having to save his life as well.
Franklin, meanwhile, is worried about his friends, some of whom seem to have succumbed in a very bad way to drugs.
He’s still trying to make a living, towing abandoned vehicles to fill in for a pal who is too spaced out to do it himself.
I think’s he’s beginning to see a future working with Michael, even if the latter is ‘retired’.
Michael, meanwhile, has also discovered the downside of drugs. Not sure I’m too keen on the weird fighting aliens sequence here - yes, I did say fighting aliens. It seems that in this instance the drugs don’t work, they just make GTA worse.
Hopefully, tomorrow, things will be back to normal again.
By the way, the sunsets in Los Santos are stunning.
I’m on a beach, the shore lapping gently at my feet, looking at the most amazing sunset.
I don’t know who they got to do the sunsets in GTA V, or even if it was just one specific person, who whoever it was, they did an amazing job.
Just driving around Los Santos as the sunlight changes and everything takes on that orange glow is a joy.
Then, as the light fades and the artificial lights take over, it changes all over again.
I know it’s not real – I have not been entirely assimilated into this virtual world, not yet, but it feels real.
I hear virtual reality is going to make a comeback. Los Santos 360 degrees? Not that will be hard to leave.
As it is, time and tiredness are limiting my game time at the moment. After a week of very early starts, I just don’t have the energy to spend all night in Los Santos, however much I’d like to.
My latest excursion began with Franklin, and a mission helping a paparazzi snapper get some up close shots of some celebrity in a moving vehicle. They are some crazy folk in this game and the paparazzi fellah is one of them.
But while a lot of what’s happened so far, I feel, has been getting me used to some of the game dynamics, the next mission, with Michael and Franklin, began to move the story on.
There is a very amusing sequence involving a tennis coach and a chase to a new area of Los Santos with some great views over the city, followed by a car chase under gunfire.
Maybe it was just my driving, but the crashes are spectacular in GTA V, with sparks and fire. They are much better than I thought. I suppose all the hype around the story, the characters and the huge open world makes you forget that, at its heart, this game is about driving cars, fast, either in pursuit of another car, or being chased by one.
The result of this mission is a debt that must be re-paid, which means a call to an old friend.
On day 3 – I’ll be off to see him.
GTA V really deserves its 18 rating.
Anyone allowing their kids to play this game, thinking “it’s only a computer game”, should think again.
It may keep them quiet for a bit but if you saw the sexual content in this game, let alone the violence, you wouldn’t let them go near it.
On that subject, I was back out with the crazy paparazzi photographer tonight, snapping an actress in a very uncompromising situation.
She turns out to be pretty mad when she spots me – Franklin that is.
Next up I’m Michael again and I’m meeting that old friend – Lester. He turns out to be a privacy paranoid computer geek with some serious issues. But he may help me settle some debts, if I help him of course.
GTA is great in the way the missions introduce you to different aspects of the game – like buying new clothes. You can go into a store, try on new clobber and get a whole new look.
This time I’m dressing as a computer geek so I can con my way into a building and, ultimately, settle a score for Lester. There are many ways to commit murder in GTA, including from the comfort of Michael’s sofa, as I discover.
Switching between characters is pretty cool in GTA V. When you do, the camera blinks out to a satellite view of Los Santos, swings over, then zooms back into another part of the city, where you find your character. When you find them, they won’t necessarily be where you left them and they might say something cryptic as to why they are there, making you feel like, when you’re not there, they just carry on living.
Anyway, it’s back to see Lester again…
FAMILY and friendships are not two words you would normally associate with Grand Theft Auto.
But they play a big part in GTA V. They are central to the storyline in fact.
There are few people, hopefully, with parallels to Michael De Santa – a retired crook for whom crime did pay.
But there are many with his problems – two teenage kids for example and all the complications they bring.
Some of the missions involve Michael trying to find some common ground with his kids.
For those of you who don’t really care about all this ‘deep’ stuff, they also involve you trying out a bike and cycling down the prom, and having a go on a jet ski.
The water in GTA is superb. It’s not that flat millpond you get in so many games. Here there are waves and swells, white water frothing on their peaks.
It makes the jetski a massive amount of fun as you sharp turn and launch into the air over a wave.
There’s a pier on the front of course, complete with fairground.
In other games this might just be for show. In GTA V, it’s fully interactable. You can take in the sights from the top of the ferris wheel, or enjoy the rush of the rollercoaster.
But Michael has a job to do – he needs money fast.
Today I’ve been on a reconnaissance mission, checking out a possible robbery target and discussing ways to carry out the crime. There’s the dumb way and the smart way. The latter will mean some planning and some prep work, and choosing the right people. Sounds like my first proper big GTA mission.
Meanwhile, Franklin may not have kid troubles, but he does have a dog now – Chop.
Not the friendliest looking of beasts, or the smartest, but I’ve found he comes in handy when you’re trying to sniff out people who are trying to stay hidden.
IF you’ve ever seen Heat, the Michael Mann film starring Robert de Niro and Al Pacino, you’ll know all the effort that goes into planning a big score.
And you get to experience that in GTA V in what did turn out to be the first proper big mission.
First there is equipment to gather and a vehicle. Some of that equipment might be in a moving target, so not at all easy.
Once everything is together, and your hand-picked crew is in place, you can carry out the crime.
The theft itself is quite simple, but the escape isn’t and involves a thrilling pursuit on bikes through tunnels and sewers.
The police don’t give up through, and it will take some switching between characters before you can finally rest easy.
Time for Michael and Franklin to lay low now, and therefore time to meet Trevor Philips. And what an introduction.
It only takes 30 seconds or so to realise Trevor is a complete and utter psycho.
A few minutes in and the death toll is rising fast.
This…is going to be interesting.
Trevor is someone you really wouldn’t want to have any kind of acquaintance with whatsoever – but he makes me laugh.
Firstly, if you know him, there’s a good chance you’ll have been hit by him, and a fairly high percentage you’ll be killed by him.
But he’s also very, very funny.
He easily has the best lines of any character I’ve met so far and delivers them with such perfect timing.
He is your archetypal psychopath, and very angry indeed – permanently angry in fact.
Playing as him, I found myself driving more recklessly (in the game that is!) and generally being more violent, not that much excuse was needed for Trevor.
He has some friends who he constantly abuses. You wonder how few alternatives these people have to end up having Trevor as their best option. Perhaps they think it’s better to be with him than against him.
I’ve had an explosive day of gaming with Trevor, blowing lots of things up.
But at the end, I find Trevor does have a sensitive side.
Trevor and one of his sidekicks – Wade Hebert - go on a drive from Sandy Shores to Los Santos. At the start it’s lashing down with rain and there’s a quite spectacular thunder storm, but by the end, as they take a very picturesque drive through the mountains, the weather clears and daylight arrives. When they get to the hills above the city – they have a spectacular view.
On the way Wade Hebert, who’s isn’t really all there, wants Trevor to tell him a story to pass the time – and he does.
This is Trevor, of course, so it ends up a rant, rather than a story, and he did punch Wade a few times before the two jumped in the car together – for not doing what Trevor asked.
But it still seems like Trevor maybe does care a little – just a tiny bit maybe?
I’VE pimped my ride!
I never normally went in for all that stuff in previous GTA games.
But Michael’s black Audi was looking a little dull, so I decided to head for the garage and spruce it up a bit.
Now he’s the proud owner of a shiny midnight blue Audi complete with rear, discreet spoiler, scooped hood, smoked glass, and some skirting, along with sports brakes, transmission and a few other bits and pieces.
Now it drives like a dream with some decent power beneath the bonnet.
Unfortunately, when Michael gets home, his domestic life is not quite as smooth as his time on four wheels. To make matters worse, Trevor’s turned up.
Everyone steps around Trevor like he’s a land mine which the slightest vibration could set off.
He is, but fortunately this time they tread carefully.
There is however an amusing meeting of minds between Trevor and Michael’s wife Amanda’s new yoga guru. Never the twain shall meet as they say.
But Trevor does seem to care about Michael’s family – his kids that is. In fact, he seems more bothered about Michael’s daughter humiliating herself on GTA’s X Factor equivalent – Fame or Shame - than Michael does.
But at the conclusion of this sequence, which involves driving an articulated truck in a pursuit, you are left wondering what Trevor might have done to the host of the show, had Michael not been there.
Franklin, meanwhile, is getting into trouble again with his homies and the lot of them have to shoot their way out of a building.
The dialogue between them is hilarious at times. They seem to spend most of it casting aspersions about each other’s mothers.
Sometimes it feels like I’m in the middle of an episode of The Wire. I don’t understand half of what’s being said, but I get the gist, and it’s all very amusing.
WOW! Flying over Los Santos in a helicopter is great fun.
It’s from up there that you get to see from a bird’s eye view just how big the world those Rockstar boys have created is.
Not only that, but the skyscrapers really are huge – and you have to gain a lot of altitude to reach the top.
Trevor’s flying the helicopter, which is fairly easy to control once you get the hang of it.
He has to drop Michael on to the top of a building. Cue some rapelling down the side of the building action from Michael.
This mission is the first full demonstration of how the multiple-mission viewpoint system works.
Rather than just approaching the entire thing as one character, you can switch between them.
So while Michael is bogged down and under fire, you can help out by switching to Franklin and taking out some of the attackers with a sniper rifle.
Then it’s back to Michael as he tries to shoot down some helicopters trying to blast him and Trevor out of the sky.
Finally, it’s back to Trevor to fly them all to safety.
This kind of dynamic helps you appreciate the bigger picture, rather than just the narrow view of one person.
And, did I mention how much fun it is flying over Los Santos…?
I started day 10 on GTA V with a pleasant helicopter flight above Los Santos, towards the mountains in the north west, before dropping down to land near the coast.
Next up was a lesson on hunting for Trevor from one of his pals. It was pretty easy really, just stay downwind of the deer and shoot it with a sniper rifle. Don’t worry, no animals were harmed in the making of this sequence, and I’m against all that stuff normally, and pretty much everything else that goes on in the world of GTA for that matter.
It was a pretty pointless and unenjoyable exercise, and there are a few side missions in GTA that fit into this category. Some are just a lame excuse for a shoot-out with the cops, even if some do end up being quite good fun, and often pretty amusing with it.
But it’s the big missions that are where it’s at in GTA.
One of them has delivered me to the infamous torture sequence. This isn’t nice – fact. But you can’t really get out of it, so you just have to get it over and done with as quickly as possible. There is a bit of rather amusing black humour at the end though when Trevor insists the man he has just tortured wears his seatbelt. “Safety first” says Trevor. Mmm….perhaps he should have thought of that when he was using car battery jump leads not for their intended purpose.
Whether this entire sequence should be in the game is a matter of opinion. No-one plays GTA without expecting violence of course, but how much we are made to live with is up to the designers. Let me know if you think they went too far with this scene or any of the others you’ve experienced.
Trevor has just planned and executed his first heist – and it was a complete waste of time for him and all his partners in crime.
The mission structure in GTA means there are plenty of quick-fire tasks if you don’t have much time for gaming and just want a quick blast.
Or there are the big takedowns which take a bit of time to complete, especially if things go wrong. But even these are often split into bitesize portions.
First there is the preparation, which usually means collecting various items that are central to the task in hand – in this case a submarine. You don’t have to do the entire mission – you can just get these things and then carry out the main task when you have more time.
The mission itself, which I did have time for, involved sneaking around planting explosives on a container ship with Michael, with Franklin on sniper duty. You can switch between the two depending on what’s best at that moment.
One big bang later and I’m Trevor at the controls of aforementioned sub, grabbing a secret weapon from the ocean bed and taking it to be sold for $20million.
Unfortunately, Lester turns up then in a backless hospital gown (not pleasant) and ruins everything – and my dreams of splashing the cash in Los Santos go up in smoke.
Oh well, better luck next time.