GAME DEVELOPER Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto V (GTA 5) has some big boots to fill, but fill them it does.
There has not been a bad game in the GTA canon, and the fifth title in the series has been greatly anticipated and extensively hyped. We have been given to expect great things.
The game does deliver great things, but morally it is appalling. Within minutes of starting to play it, you will be doing the sorts of things that people who spend long stretches eating lots of porridge usually do. And you will probably be enjoying it.
We played an Xbox 360 version, which comes on two discs, one of which is a play disc and the other an 8GB install disc. Installing that takes less than 20 minutes, and before you know it you are waiting for the game to start.
It starts with a prologue and the first of the playable characters. You pick up as Michael who is engaged in a robbery. From there the game spins out and introduces two more playable characters, Franklin and Trevor, and pulls you deeper and deeper into their criminal world. Oh, you can also play as a dog, but when we switched to the canine he just did what dogs normally do and we didn't really want to watch that.
You can't get bored of GTA 5, and there seems to be no end to Los Santos. Roads stretch on for miles and always flick past gracefully. We called up a blimp and hovered above the city to get the best view, but you can also get a good idea of the landscape from the pier's ferris wheel, or just by driving around doing what people do. Moving around improves skills and stamina so make sure you have a run and swim when you can. Life can be preserved by picking up health packs, which you can find in various places, like your home base.
We explored for a long time. We swam, we drove, we cycled, we rode a rollercoaster. We visited a tennis court, a film set, a strip club. We had a haircut, got the car washed, took some shooting practice and shot a man on a boat while driving a car.
You can repossess a motorcycle, shoot some people, make it rain, and jetski to rescue your daughter from a porno boat... and that is all in the first hour. Cut scenes do not feel intrusive, and you are slowly walked into them as opposed to dropped straight in.
You can skip scenes, and you can even skip missions if they look too hard. But you don't play Rockstar games and avoid looking at the scenery. The frame rate of 30fps is always smooth, even when you are flying a plane or falling from the sky out of a blimp that you have forgotten how to pilot.
Looking at the map opens up your options, while going home saves your progress. Gun shops can be found by following the image of a gun, strip joints are identified by a shoe, and your home looks like a house. You can have a nap at home. We presume it would be a fitful one.