about 5 years ago
It's official: I've now completed a GTA game, which is saying something considering how frustrating mid- to late-game missions got in past iterations. There are improvements in the way this game plays that are subtle enough to be barely individually identifiable, but add up to a significantly more modern version of a defined genre. Don't get me wrong, though, it's still janky in a lot of spots. I straight up fell through the world on the final mission and had to restart at a checkpoint. It checks all the boxes for technical achievement for a current-gen open-world experience: good visual fidelity (for the genre), responsive controls, and impressive voice acting. No complaints there.
It's a credit to RockStar that they made a story work in a (mostly) compelling manner while juggling three protagonists. Unfortunately, the story does peter out a bit as it goes on. The need to make a grandiose story involving so many characters they introduce naturally has to get a little up its own ass, I suppose, and it can't possibly feel as fully realized as something more limited in size and scope. The problem comes into play, though, when the most fun and interesting aspects of the game are the main story missions. So, being left a little unfulfilled by it ultimately is a detriment to an otherwise pretty incredible achievement.
At this point in the series's life, I have to question the benefit of the open-world nature and whether or not GTA would be better as a more linear experience. On the one hand, such a shift would allow for a more tightly-paced, focussed, story. On the other, you would inherently lose the feeling of a fully-realized world having been built, even if there's ultimately not much interesting stuff to do in it besides the core mission objectives. I am glad I am not a person tasked with trying to find that balance, that's for sure.
All things considered, if you are remotely interested in the series or the genre, it is something that should be played. That it's coming at the cusp of a generational shift in console hardware is fitting in that it feels like pretty much everything is squeezed out of the current machines.