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Has there ever been a game as highly anticipated as GTA V? Midnight launches around the world, social media domination and unprecedented sales arose even with the current generation consoles nearing the end. Perhaps this is the ultimate goodbye to the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, and if so it is a fitting finale. Grand Theft Auto isn’t simply another open world game with guns, cars and mayhem; it is a way of life.

Rockstar are known for giving players the opportunity to wreak havoc on cities loosely based on popular American locales. Los Santos, a poke at Los Angeles, and the surrounding regions aren’t just levels in a game, but environments that live on whether the player is there or not. From skyscrapers to jungles to deserts to oceans and much more, few will be disappointed by the sheer scope and detail of the map. With graphics that defy ageing hardware and a soundtrack that belongs in Hollywood, GTA has lifted a gear. So where do we begin?

For the first time, Rockstar have introduced three protagonists; Michael, an ex thief living out his life and struggling with family (think Tony Soprano), Franklin, a young gangbanger who’s looking for a way to move up in the crime world, and Trevor, a man so psychotic that you’ll laugh and tremble at his antics (perhaps the greatest GTA character ever created). At the beginning the three are dealing with personal issues and trying to keep ahead, but soon enough they find a way into each others lives and become embroiled in heists, government dealings and strange scenarios that must be seen to be believed. The dialogue is a step up for Rockstar, with the humour enough to make a user laugh out loud and the interplay between main characters being full of cursing and references. In terms of gameplay, you’ll torture, shoot, smash, fly and drive through chaos, and the great part is that the choices are made entirely by the player. With over 70 story missions and hundreds of side missions, this will not be something completed within a weekend. There is just so much to do.

Fans of the series look at certain aspects immediately; controls for shooting and driving, character customisation, amount of terrain to explore and improved methods of destruction. Yes; everything mentioned has either gone up a notch or been completely revamped to feel seamless and fun. Controls are the best GTA has boasted; targeting is easy, driving feels as good as a game based on racing, the open world is the biggest you’ll find and destroying things is extremely varied (grab a jerry can full of petrol, pour some over a car and walk away creating a trail, shoot the trail from a distance and watch the fire slowly move towards the car, blowing it apart on contact). The only way to test the game’s limits is to attempt the impossible, and from experience it appears the attempted action is always possible.

To say much more about the storyline, locations or characters would spoil the fun for the player, as discovery is the drawcard. In less than a week the online mode will be available, allowing users to interact with other users from anywhere in the world. How this works is the question on everyone’s mind, but for now we are blessed with a title that will most likely be awarded Game of the Year. The only rival so far is The Last of Us, and if the decision is based on length, scale, capability and fan obsession, GTA will wear the crown of best achievement for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

Review by Chris Sutton

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