When it comes to open-world crime games, there’s no bigger Titan in the industry than the GTA series and their latest release, Grand Theft Auto V. I say ‘latest release’ since this was the last GTA game that Rockstar created but it’s actually been eight years since this game first hit the shelves and it’s popularity only seems to increase each year.
Grand Theft Auto V’s big update for next-gen consoles is just around the corner but, for newcomers that have never played Grand Theft Auto V before, it remains a mystery how one game can still have such a dedicated fan base that continues to grow and expand across different nations and languages.
I mean, this game was released all the way back in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 era, two consoles that are now considered retro by modern standards and it’s incredible that this game is still heavily updated with new features being added to the online component that keeps people coming back for more.
And, now that it’s made a glorious return to Xbox Game Pass, there’s never been a better time to play all of it for yourself and experience the hype that has kept the franchise alive for so many years. Starting with just the single-player campaign and open-world, let’s take at whether or not Grand Theft Auto V is still good in 2021?
GRAND THEFT AUTO V
So, What’s It All About?
Grand Theft Auto V’s single-player tells the story through the eyes of three main protagonists that are all playable characters. Michael is a former bank robber and raging alcoholic living in retirement under a pseudo witness protection program with his family, living comfortably in the city of Los Santos. A city you’ll recognize immediately if you’ve ever played Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
It’s been 9 years since his last job and it seems like all is well except for the everyday problems like his own mental health, failing marriage, and dysfunctional family. That suburban bliss gets interrupted when an aspiring young hustler named Franklin breaks into his home to repossess his son’s vehicle.
Seeing the potential that Franklin has, Michael decides to take him under his wing and impart some criminal wisdom, until his former associate, Trevor, discovers that Michael is still alive and makes his way to Los Santos to reunite with the friend he thought died on that last job 9 years ago.
Each character has their own set of missions to play through as well as many that involve the entire trio. Once you’ve progressed far enough in the story to get introduced to all three of them, you’ll be able to swap between each character at any time during free roam and missions except for the moments where you’ll be required to play certain parts of the mission with a specific character.
Then, What’s Good About It?
No matter which character you play the most, the story of GTA V is intriguing and does a decent job connecting the three characters together in an entertaining way. They each have their own unique backstories and subplots through the ‘strangers and freaks’ side activities that are scattered throughout the map.
The characters are brilliantly fleshed out with each of them having complex personalities to explore. Their relationships with family and friends, and their desperate struggle to thrive in the criminal underworld justifiably drives a lot of his actions. You sometimes question whether or not anybody’s actions or intentions are actually good and the choice to either cheer for the trio or not is up to you.
All the character development is further emphasized by the individual stats, such as driving and shooting, that can only be improved by playing as each character. It won’t be long before you find your favorite but that won’t take anything away from the overall experience.
The Grand Theft Auto series pioneered the open-world genre and it feels like all that collective experience came into creating this new updated version of the San Andreas state. The entire map, especially the city of Los Santos feels like a living breathing city with a population of believable NPCs and an abundance of mundane activities to take part in like tennis and even yoga.
And, What’s Bad About It?
Despite all the strengths that Grand Theft Auto V has with its characters and intriguing plot lines, this game has a serious problem when it comes to pacing. There were so many missions that felt so unnecessary and out of place, almost like they were there to serve as filler and pad out the run time when the open-world did a good enough job of that already.
It spills over into the cutscenes that can often feel long-winded and stretched out to unnecessary lengths to the point where I felt like I was watching a series on Netflix instead of playing a game, except I got to drive the characters from location to location while they stumble over lengthy dialogue.
I was honestly at my most bored during these missions and it felt like a slog trying to navigate through them and get to the really fun stuff. Safe to say, If Grand Theft Auto V’s success was riding purely on the strength of its single-player experience, we all would’ve stopped playing it a long time ago.
That’s the one upside to it. You can easily shoot from mission to mission with barely any fuss and make this game as linear as possible and it’s up to you how you want to take in the experience. It’s a decent experience but people definitely aren’t playing this game in 2021 for the single-player.
— Stevius Maximus (@SteviusM) July 16, 2021
Should I Play It?
If you’re looking for a fun single-player story to get through and move on, then you can’t go wrong with Grand Theft Auto V, especially since it’s available right now on Xbox Game Pass and, if you’ve already got your Ultimate subscription, won’t hassle you for the experience.
Did you enjoy Grand Theft Auto V’s single-player campaign? What do you think of the world and the characters within? Let me know in the comments section below.