During my second year at university, I discovered a top down racing game called Grand Theft Auto. I saw it at the store and having been a fan of driving games I decided to give it a go. I answered that first phone call and within just a few hours I was addicted. An open world filled with hidden items, missions, and a city that reacted to the actions you took. I remember photocopying the map that came with the game so that I could write the location of paint shops, shortcuts, hidden items, and rampages.
Then in 2001 the series went 3D. At a time when many series were attempting the 2D to 3D transition, and struggling with it, Rockstar made it look easy. The series transformed and on the Playstation 2 some of the greatest games in history were born. I still remember the euphoria of getting that 100th hidden package and unlocking the tank. The series and it’s sequels were compelling, morally challenging, and deeply awesome.
When Rowen was younger, I spent many late nights helping her get back to sleep or simply rocking her in her car seat. Babies like to wake up in the middle of the night and need comforting to fall back asleep. What to do when it’s 2am and you’re now fairly well awake hoping your daughter stays asleep in her car seat next to you? Why yes, play through Grand Theft Auto número 4! I completed a large portion of Niko’s amazing story that way. It’s pretty clear that the GTA series has been with me for a large part of my adult life.
Fast forward to this September and you can see why I’m excited about GTA V. With the fifth major release in a series that has spanned sixteen years you’d think it might start to get tired. Nothing could be further from the truth. The latest game is simply fantastic, a technical marvel that is a joy to play. Movies and video games have been blending more and more for years, but few games are able to approach the cinematic smoothness of GTA V while still remaining open world and giving the player a great sense of freedom.
I’ve been playing since release day and, while I’ve completed a bunch of missions so far, I don’t think I’ve even scratched the surface yet. This game is big…and I mean HUGE! Grand Theft Auto games have never been small, but this one takes “expansive game world” to a new level. Every time I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on the scope of the game, some new mechanic or mini-game opens up to remind me that I ain’t seen nothing yet.
I’m having a blast so far just exploring and enjoying the stories of the three main characters. What makes the game so engrossing to me is that almost every action you take is rewarding; missions, exploration, helping random citizens, or just cruising around the city listening to one of the radio stations. Every time I play I uncover some new little detail, and there are a lot of little details to discover.