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Monday, 07 October 2013 13:01

The Grand Autos of Grand Theft Auto V

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You may have missed this title, though you would be hard pressed to.  It is an entertainment franchise that with the recent release of its seventh major iteration (the fifth to be numbered) it has broken many dollar value records for earnings in the short time it has been available.  In the first three days Grand Theft Auto V was on sale, publisher Take Two Interactive and Developer RockStar Games have pocketed over a billion US dollars in sales.


Originally a Grand Theft Auto game was quite an unassuming car-jacking and heist deal, mature in content, but relatively simple in execution, with top-down viewed graphics and straight forward missions and rudimentary physics.

As sequels were rolled out by RockStar the game, as most do, became increasing sophisticated, and controversial, with the subject matter and game-play often being blamed for the continued fall of civilisation as we know it.

Fast forward a couple of decades and the world now has Grand Theft V, and here in Australia we are relieved to finally have a R18+ classification for video-games.  Hopefully games such as GTA V as well as the basic fact that the average age of a ‘gamer’ is now well into the 30’s, will finally break the stigma of games such as this being only the domain of children.

GTA V follows the tribulations of three main protagonists as they go about their rather unrepentant lives full of crime, self-centredness and visions of the dark side of Western urban living, all within the gigantic borders (this game is bigger than all previous GTA’s put together) of Los Santos, a hyper-realistic fictional satire version of California.

Thankfully, amongst all the rather depressing dialogue, planned heists and many other diversions there is plenty of fun to be had, particularly for car lovers.

More than any time previously vehicles are an important and well thought out part of the games design.  There are many missions that require driving skill; in fact one of the main characters (Franklin) has a special ability to help improve his survivability during the often frenetic and chaotic streets of Los Santos.

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Unlike a racing game, or a more story focused title, there are not too many cares to be had when cruising around town.  If the odd pedestrian or seventeen get rundown while you are changing the radio station, oh well, not a problem, so long as the cops are not within sight.  If they are, then it is time to try and lose them in an escalating violent cat and mouse chase.

You can drive everything in this game.  From push bikes to blimps there is an exceptionally wide variety of travel options beyond feet in GTA V.  For powered vehicles on the ground at your disposal are quad-bikes, a variety of motorbikes, dune-buggies, vans, monster trucks, cement mixers, eighteen-wheelers, motorhomes and many more besides autos that can simply be defined as ‘cars’.

Even here there are light front wheel drive vehicles, sports cars with working convertible roofs, muscle cars, SUV’s and many more depending on the neighbourhood and socio-economic situation of the map location at the time.  Though not realistic, each vehicle has recognisable handling characteristics that immediately mark it as distinct from other cars, it is an amazing achievement in a game that reeks of quality control and attention to detail.

This attention to detail carries over to the customisation of autos once driven into a chop-shop.  Here you can upgrade and alter Brakes, Bumpers, Engine, Exhaust, Fenders, Grille, Windows, Number plates, Skirts, Spoilers, Suspension and Transmission.

Armour can be added - important in those drive-by shooting missions, and bonnets can have scoops, horns modified and headlights upgraded to Xenon.  

There is such a choice in wheels that those prone to indecision will be here for some time.  There are even tyre choices that result in different coloured burn-out smoke, not to mention bullet-proof treads.

Of course the colour choices for paint are myriad.  Whilst there is no traditional colour-wheel to select from, there are options such as chrome, metals (such as brushed steel), matt and of course, just like in real life, you pay extra dollars for choosing metallic paints.

For those that like the individual touch to their ride, Grand Theft Auto V provides an extensive range of both cosmetic and in-game practical options to help get you immersed in the virtual GTA world - as murky as it may be – allowing many hours of behind the wheel action that is a complete blast.

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Mike Bantick

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Having failed to grow up Bantick continues to pursue his childish passions for creative writing, interactive entertainment and showing-off through adulthood. In 1994 Bantick began doing radio at Melbourne’s 102.7 3RRRFM, in 1997 transferring to become a core member of the technology show Byte Into It. In 2003 he wrote briefly for the The Age newspaper’s Green Guide, providing video game reviews. In 2004 Bantick wrote the news section of PC GameZone magazine. Since 2006 Bantick has provided gaming and tech lifestyle stories for iTWire.com, including interviews and opinion in the RadioactivIT section.

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