GTA V for PS4 is pretty fun

I bought Grand Theft Auto V for PS4 before release day, but haven’t really played it much until Thanksgiving weekend. I have all the previous GTA games on Steam and have played bits of them, but never really got into them. I liked the look of GTA IV, but didn’t enjoy beating up shopkeepers, so gave that one up. The driving in GTA San Andreas and Vice City was super annoying, with cops following at the slightest infraction. So while I was a fan of the concepts of the games, I never enjoyed them much. GTA V seems like fun, though, so I’m enjoying playing it.

GTA V on PS4 looks really great. They’ve condensed Los Angeles County into a sprawling, yet manageable Los Santos. That the port is just south of the airport, skipping the South Bay, is a little disappointing, but it looks like they transplanted the Strand of Hermosa and Manhattan Beaches to just south of the Santa Monica area. So driving around Los Santos is a real treat for those of use familiar with LA. For others, they did such a good job that you can feel that you’ve had a bit of the LA experience through the game (but come visit LA anyway, because they need your tourist dollars).

When I comment about what you’ll see when driving around Los Santos, it is because you’ll be doing a lot of driving. Seriously, too much. But at least the driving is pretty good in this game. Traffic is terrible, which is correct for the region, and all the stoplights are red, which matches my commute most days. In fact, they other drivers are pretty stupid, and often make left turns from the right lane and vice versa, thus really messing up traffic. If I waited for traffic, I’d never get anything done, so I mostly split the lanes, drive on the wrong side of the road (or the sidewalk), and in generally disobey traffic laws to get where I’m going. Luckily the cops and other drivers are very forgiving. The other drivers, in fact, have terrific reaction times, so almost never run into me. The same can’t be said of me – I hit lots of cars, posts, fire hydrants, and a few pedestrians. Luckily, NPCs in the game are pretty tough, so they tend to get up and curse you out, so no harm done.

So getting around kinda stinks in the game, compared to games like Saints Row 4 where you could call for a car anywhere and even a jump jet. In GTA V, I have a blimp (pre-order bonus?), but it is placed in just a few far away spots when I call for it, so I still have to drive to get there. I did have fun in my blimp, until I went over the military base north of town and got shot out of the sky. A better way to travel is by cab, but they’re not always good at getting to you, especially if traffic is lousy. I’d say they show up in a timely way about 50% of the time. When in the cab, you can pay extra to just skip the drive and arrive at your destination, so that’s handy.

The game doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is a nice change from GTA IV. Sure, there’s lots of killing, but the banter and attitudes of the companions make it not seem so dire. The dialog, particularly when playing Franklin, has more “N words” in it than I’ve ever heard in my entire life. I hope that’s not really the way people talk and that it is just exaggerated for the game. There are some very funny bits in the game and the scenery, so I’m very impressed with the effort Rockstar put into making this vast game.

Since I’m still reasonably early in the game, perhaps the travel problems will get better, but overall, I’m enjoying it. More than Destiny? Well, yes, because I feel like I’m making progress and having a minor impact on the game world (the stories on the radio news say I am 8-). The shooting mechanics are way behind Destiny’s, but they work well enough. And there is a plot, which is a nice change. I still like the fun and gameplay and banter of Saints Row III and IV better, but the amazing city of Los Santos is not to be missed.

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