Copyright Adam Schlosser

Copyright 2005 Adam Schlosser

Posted by Pip

F231- Is It Candy

Good things come from secret caves! Like old men that give you swords or tablets from heroes past. Man, the only thing better than a secret cave is a secret cave behind a waterfall.

Quick Critique: Grand Theft Auto 5

Grand Theft Auto now evokes the feeling of a GTA knock-off rather than a real GTA game. 5 opens up with multiple tailing missions, quickly followed up by an instant fail stealth sequence, and it only gets less interesting and novel from there. The UI is a mess, constantly vomiting messages at you. The text is too small and splattered all across the screen so you have to search for what you're looking for or you miss important information. Key instructions show up in the same place as the subtitles and they're the same color and font. Missions your character can't participate in still show up on your map, so you'll drive all the way out to one, only to see that you need a different character, switch to that character, and find out he's on the other side of the map so you have to drive all the way out to the mission a second time. Characters have an awful ramp-up before they move, they have a terrible turn radius, they're slow, and they have no maneuverability. GTA5 just isn't a game that's well put-together or fun to play. There's no sense of character growth either. The game frequently pops up UI messages about improving your stats but absolutely none of it is perceivable. I didn't feel like my health or driving or running or stealth or aiming were improving at all even though I was getting level up messages. Even doing something as small as buying new clothes for your characters doesn't matter since the game constantly changes your outfits before and after missions. I bought suits for all of them, but I'd have to keep returning to the safe house to change if I wanted to wear their nice duds, so I quickly gave up on that.
The controls are a mess and actively detract from the enjoyment of being in the game. In almost every 3D game since the PS2, pushing the stick forward a little makes you walk, pushing it all the way forward makes you run, and then you hold a button and push the stick to sprint. That's a system that works really well. But not for GTA. In GTA, no matter how far you push the stick, your character just walks around, you have to hold a button and use the stick to run, and you have to button mash and hold the stick to sprint, which is a system that does not work well, especially when you already have a stamina meter that limits how long you can sprint instead of your sprint being limited by how long it takes the player's fingers to get tired/the player to get bored. It uses random directional presses to interact with the environment instead of having an generic "action" button, so instead of knowing that you press O to interact with an object, the game has to pop up a UI message reminding you that you press Right on the D-pad to interact with that specific object. Buttons also occasionally just stop working. I'm not sure if certain actions aren't available during certain frames of animations, but I'd frequently press buttons only to have the character do nothing. You can be standing next to a car door and be unable to open it or try to run but be stuck in the turning/ramp up to move animation, and since it's GTA, somebody is probably trying to murder you while this is happening. I had one area where I had to call somebody on the phone but the button wasn't working, I thought I forgotten which button opened the phone (I was right the first time, the game just wasn't responding), so I started pressing every button on the controller to try to open the phone, only for my character to warp from the road to the sidewalk and punch a pedestrian in the back of the head, only for every NPC on the block to suddenly turn on me and murder the ever-loving crap out of me for attacking their gang member. I don't really blame them, but I was just trying to open my phone. The cars aren't any better and like from GTA4, they control like garbage. They're slow and they spin out if you look at them wrong. You also have to readjust the radio every time you get in a car, even if you're getting back into a car you've already been in and the game forced you to exit in a scripted moment. You need to press or hold four different buttons to fire while driving. And the handbrake is mapped to R1 for some reason.
Even if you could ignore how poor the player experience is, the story and missions aren't interesting enough to drive you forward. You'll fail missions for seemingly arbitrary reasons. In one mission, I tried to kill a guy by blowing up a gas can next to him, only to fail and have to do the whole shoot-out over again because it turned out that the gas can was a story item, but the gas can is only used to blow up the house that I blew up when I shot it, but nooo, it had to be done in a cinematic. The story is terrible and there isn't a single likable character out of the lot, from the three main characters to all of the non-playable characters. They're all dirtbags and not in the likable sense. Tommy from Vice City was a dirtbag, but he had redeeming qualities. Niko from GTA4 was a dirtbag, but he was trying to turn his life around. Everybody in GTA5 is just a loser. There's a scene early on where Michael's family abandons him and I think the game was trying to play it as an emotional moment, but I was happy because it meant I didn't have to listen to or deal with any of those idiots again. The writing is godawful. The GTA way is that when in doubt, curse or make a dick joke. Man, even the radio stations are bad.
GTA just isn't fun anymore. Saints Row is miles ahead of where GTA is now. I desperately held back on comparing this to Saints Row 3 or 4 every step of the way, because the whole write-up would have just been extolling the many ways Saints Row is vastly better than GTA now. GTA went from being such a flagship franchise for the Playstation 2 and it felt important when a new game came out, but now it just feels like an also-ran that can't even keep up with the games that copy its formula. I got to a point where I couldn't progress in the game and called it quits. Not because it was too difficult or anything, but because there's a half an hour long section where you have to go to flight school (despite having already flown planes and helicopters multiple times up to this point) and I couldn't complete a helicopter obstacle course fast enough. I could have given it some more tries but I obviously wasn't enjoying playing the game to start with, so that was it. That's enough to completely block you from progressing in the story. A timed helicopter obstacle course that has nothing to actually do with the game's story. Helicopters in video games are just about never fun. They should probably never be in video games, much less in mandatory story missions. The only fun thing you ever do with helicopters in video games is shoot them with rocket launchers. I went to try out the multiplayer mode but because I'm not about to fork over $10 a month for the honor of playing it, I'm locked out of that chunk of the game I already paid for. Screw helicopters and screw GTA5.