|Review by PJ Hruschak|
I’m not in the part of Grand Theft Auto V that focuses a lot on the game’s truly loose cannon, Trevor.
This is also about the time in the real world when Rockstar launched Grand Theft Auto Online.
Which means, of course, that my 1-to-1 ratio for game-time-to-percentage-completed is thrown way off.
C’est la vol grand.
It’s also within this five-hour chunk (fifteen to twenty hours of play) that you take to the skies with a few flying missions and unlock the ability to buy in-game properties.
THE TROUBLE WITH TREVOR
Trevor is an ass. You are not meant to like him or what he does. He’s just bad to the bone, bat guano crazy and doesn’t give two scoops about anyone but himself. Any you must play as him for a decent chunk of the game.
If you hear or read anywhere about people disliking the game for its forced violence, this is the character that pushes your face into the most violent – and, later, uncomfortable – portions of the game’s story.
Trevor’s special ability in the game is to perform bullet-time style shooting (where you can slow time for everyone else but your character still moves at relatively normal speed), which they call Rampage Mode. In fact, one of his first missions is to quickly shoot 25 people before they take you out. And you score better for head shots. You can also practice this not only by shooting but also by playing darts in a bar. Darts plays pretty well with a slowly nudging reticule that you can steady for a second to take aim. And opponents do not take it easy.
Later, you use Trevor to snipe guards and minions to destroy a competitor’s drug house. And, later, you plant bombs to take out an entire trailer park of less-than-friendlies, partaking in some grand arson.
Trevor can even meet up with his mom to collect a few bounties.
All of the early story segments with him involve some bloody murder and lot of swearing. Pretty all of his intentions are bad and he even abuses those who are close to him so, when he does finally find Michael and his family, it’s a bit surprising. Trevor actually decides to help Michael find his daughter and save her from an embarrassing TV audition. As you can imagine, things still get a bit messy – there’s also an awkward moment with a man dancing in his underwear while Trevor records it – but it ends with more laughs than blood.
The best part about Trevor is he unlocks the hangar which allows you to park planes (and, when you buy one, helicopters). It’s introduced with a flying mission that once again demonstrates how touchy vehicle controls are in the game. Even though they try to make flying easy.
Taking off is pretty much like driving a car with reverse (which I guess is nice since I believe prop planes do not have reverse) and forward being performed with shoulder buttons.
Once you get up to speed, pushing the left thumbstick gets you off the ground. From there it’s pretty easy to keep in a straight line but, if you try to perform any turns using the right thumbstick, be prepared to either end up back in the hangar, taking off again or, if not in a mission, getting revived at the hospital. Hitting anything in any way is pretty much the end of your flight. Instead, learn to love the rudders. Rain will also drag the plane down and wind will push it side to side. The good news here is that flying is easier in this game than it was in the previous GTA. As for landing, if you can manage to A) find the landing strip and B) get your plan lined up, you have a chance. Again, tap anything, even at a low speed on the ground, and it’s mission over. And then you have to park the plane as well.
But do take a lot of time to practice as, once you can get the hang of it, flying is damn fun. You might as well us the drug drop mission as a cheap reset since they don’t charge you hospital fees when you fail. (They’ve also built in an achievement to fly under 50 bridges in the game, which will seem impossible when you start noticing how low some of the bridges are in the game.) After you get through that, you’ll then be able to run money-making missions. They also unlock the ability to buy other properties in the game so you have the opportunity to earn some steady income.
The bummer about the properties is that the types are paired with the characters, and they don’t really tell you that in the map. And, you won’t know who can until you approach a build for sale with a character. So plan to waste time figuring that out (I suggest using online guides for that). The main indicator is the price and type of business. So, for example, Franklin can get the less expensive properties that are related to cars. Michael can get mostly the big-money properties and things that deal with entertainment. Trevor can only buy a few, usually properties that are also able to be bought by the other two.
One nice feature of Trevor is that they do let his personality take subtle control over you. If a car has a station that does not suit his tastes, he actually complains and changes it to something a lot more angry.
If you manage to have the characters meet up, they kick into story mode (no, the universe does not implode). I also let Michael visit the shrink since that’s where the current timeline began after the bloody prologue. There Michael admits that he actually enjoys criminal activities, which is a little weird since he was a bit more interesting as the retired and now reluctant thief. But you do partake in a bit of story-tree selection, periodically deciding how to interact with the shrink.
ON THE INTERWEBS
Just to be clear, you need to own GTAV to play Grand Theft Auto Online (GTAO). I know, it seems counterintuitive but that how they are dealing with it. For now. The nice thing is that, after you do make a character and get online, your online character becomes part of the character select menu in the offline game. It’s a very smooth feature that gives the impression that the two exist in the same world. Yes, the city is the same but there are not other humans controlling characters in the offline version.
When you first go online, prepare for a little confusion. You are actually leaving GTAV (the offline game). So, when try to go online and the game asks for you to confirm that you are quitting GTAV, you do, indeed, want to quit GTAV. Technically you then entering GTAO.
You’ll then spend some time creating a character. They strangely decided to use a genetic tree instead of allowing you to make someone that looks exactly like you in the game. My guess is that this is to limit the character permutations. You do get to pick things like accessories and hair.
Once in GTAO, it launches a storyline that has Franklin’s friend picking you up at the airport and getting you work. I started to look at the vehicle options for the race and then… my world froze.
Yep, I had even waited a couple days after hearing how buggy the online mode was before trying. I watched a blurry world and my character stood in one place, jumping and punching as I commanded but otherwise unable to move. I did come back to GTAO a couple days later and was finally able to play.
The race was your standard GTA street race but this time there were other players online racing along with me. It actually ran very smoothly. I was able to cruise into third place, which I suspect was decent enough, because I was then instructed to head to my next mission.
There are only a few missions types within GTAO but you have to play through a few in order to get through the Tutorial. The Tutorial segments are basically single-player but the rest is essentially multiplayer. Unless you go into Passive mode where you cannot hurt or be hurt, the online game is essentially always multi-player.
One mission type I was able to try without the tutorial – whether by glitch or design, I’m still uncertain – was a team-based shootout deathmatch. You get placed with other players on one team and then, once the match begins, try to take out the opposing team. There are several options the host can choose from, including the gun type. Everyone gets the same gun to help keep things even. You can tell who has played these before because they immediately find the nice, well-hidden high spots. I mistakenly trying to be clever and headed for a vehicle, thinking I could run the over before getting shot in the face. In this instance, I was Marvin.
What is also nice about GTAO is that you can buy insurance for your vehicle so, if you leave it and end up across town, it will be marked on the Map so you can go back can get it. A well as one round of free insurance, you also get a free round of vehicle repairs and a few customization options.
Before you get to a garage for the first time, make certain you find a sweet ride you want to keep for a while. You’ll need to steal or buy the rest. Then after you enter the garage for the first time, make certain you make all your customizations then. As soon as you leave the garage, it’s all cash up front. After that, you can also use the iFruit app to customize your ride.
Oh, and plan to learn ATM locations since you’ll want to save as much of your hard-earned money as possible. It turns out that you can rob anyone online.
BTW: Rockstar games is giving all of us gamers who have played the online any time in October a lot of free in-game currency. $500,000 in two installments, to be precise. They state that it’s for everyone who has played “this month,” and it was posted in October.
LOOKIN’ MOSTLY GOOD SO FAR
GTAV is still looking and playing very well. All the cut scenes are generated using the in-game graphics so the transition from game to story is seamless. In fact, it can sometimes be a bit awkward since there’s no real indication that you’ve made the switch. A character might be doing something unsavory or simply in the middle of a high-speed chase when you take over their being. You have to wait a few seconds and allow them time to relinquish control to you.
Aside from the initial issue I had with GTO, it, too, is playing rather smoothly. The transitions between the offline and online modes are smooth and it really does feel like a single, continuous game.
To that effect, your characters will sometimes roam the town when you leave their bodies. Trevor is often drunk on a rooftop when I snap back to him. Michael chills at home watching TV, when not harassing people from a park bench. And Franklin appears to enjoy frequenting the strip clubs. But don’t count on it all the time. One time I left Trevor on a jet ski on the water and, when I came back the next day, he was still politely sitting on the jet ski in the same spot.
I know I’ve already mentioned this before but all the in-game text is still way, way too small. I’m having to get up and walk to my large-screen TV to read everything which is dern annoying considering a lot of the text is meant to help. It’s simply counterproductive. I hope they will perform a patch that will let you tweak display text. (Heck, they’ve already patched the game a few times any way). I mean for a billion bucks you think they’d let you customize the crap out of the display.
For the fifth and final installment of “Five hours with GTAV”, a round of golf, more story and what I hear may be the most disturbing moment in the game. We’ll see about that…