(Quick foreword, this article is nothing to do with the connectivity issues plaguing the launch of the project, name one multiplayer game that had a smooth launch? exactly)
Thereís no denying that Grand Theft Auto V is an impressive game and that whilst some areas seem to have take a step back, such as the lack of interiors or the Minority Report style police which seems to place them suspiciously close by when you actually decide to take that car on a whim, itís been a huge improvement over the dose of gritty realism that GTA IV tried to force down our throats. However, with all of this being said there are things that have impressed me more than developer Rockstarís latest project, Grand Theft Auto: Online.
For those of you wondering, GTA:O †is essentially the same as the singleplayer mode of the blockbuster game, minus the story, with the key concept being to have a character or characters you level up, upgrade and customise as you play and complete missions with friends or strangers. Rockstar have pledged to add more and more content as the project goes on, such as bank heists and various other activities for players to indulge in. Sounds great on paper, no? Well considering how much fun, GTA IVís FREEROAM mode was (the rest was weak) and the improvements made upon that with Red Dead Redemptionís multiplayer, sign me up I thought! Though once I signed up I kinda wish I hadnítÖ
First off, Rockstar have given us lucky, plucky players an enormous landscape to play around in to our hearts content though once I got in there I found myself struggling to find anything to do. Races and deathmatches are all well and good for some people but if thatís not your bag (as is the case with me) then youíll find yourself ambling around looking for the player thatís least likely to kill you on sight. Traditionally with GTA games the most fun can be found in simply hunkering down somewhere with a shit tonne of super weapons and instigating your own horde mode against an endless torrent of hapless law enforcement, fun stuff!
With GTA: O however, the playerís character will start with a pistol and nothing else but with no weapon pickups dotted around the city, as was the case with IV, youíll find yourself almost forced to indulge in a few missions to pick up some cash as, believe it or not, robbing the same convenience store over and over again for little gain soon gets tiresome (surprise, surprise). Herein lies the problem, even if you do manage to harvest enough cash to get some gear youíll soon realise that in order to buy such gear you have to reach certain experience levels to purchase the weaponry. Obviously this is a tactic to have players invest long amounts of time in this world of six years in the making, fair enough. BUT in order to gain the experience to level up, yep, you guessed it, youíll have to play a fair few of the various races and deathmatches some players wish to avoid altogether.
As flawed as GTA IVís multiplayer was, such as weapon loss on death and the sniper shotguns the police seemed to equipped with, it was perfectly simple to set up a lobby for you and your cohorts to collect some big ass guns and run around without a care in the world, spreading your indiscriminate carnage like a virus. Red Dead Redemption went on to improve on this by having the player retain their weapons on death and throwing in some side missions for fun, GTA: O on the other hand forces the player to partake in something that they really may not want to.
I gather some of you will be saying ĎIf you donít like the MMO system of game play then donít playí this is an understandable point of view and also why I wonít be playing, at least until Rockstar greatly increase the amount of content and activities available. However, it was Rockstar themselves were the ones boasting about the GTA style of gameplay that we know and love except now itís with our friends and this is clearly not the case. We in the gaming world often get mad at companies for drip feeding us content and presently Rockstar are doing just that.
Admittedly there were times when during my experience when me and my friends would get passed the fact that there was little to do and get carried away in the moment of a furious car chase or failed robbery but we were always brought suddenly back to reality when weíd be able to see into a building but unable to go into it, crash straight into the gats of Fort Zancudo only to find theyíre now indestructible or were countered by an officer with a much, much better weapon than ourselves severely limiting any joy we could take from the experience.
I hope that over the coming months Rockstar can introduce the fun action packed experience we long for that Red Dead and GTA IV left us wanting but until that day I canít see myself getting anymore lost in that world than I can see myself in the Whitehouse (and Iím British). Kudos on the city and story guys but if I want to go on a criminal rampage with my friends armed to the teeth then I guess Iíll have to get my kicks elsewhere.