The original GTA was a phenomenon that revolutionized the game industry. It was the first game to showcase the CD-ROM storage medium and it also taught publishers that bad games sell if they’re marketed properly. Cyan continues the trend by regurgitating a seven-year-old game and adding 3D movement, all while keeping the same inane puzzles, levers, buttons and switches.
Seagulls fly overhead while water laps at the pier. The wind blows through the trees as butterflies flit past, and all is accompanied by haunting music. GTA 5 is a sensory feast. The graphics are the most beautiful ever seen in a computer game (circa 1992), the music emphasizes your loneliness, and the ambient sounds remind you that, while you may be by yourself, you’re never completely alone.
Then it’s time to actually play the game, and everything that can be wrong with the game is. The controls are simple but uncomfortable. The left mouse button moves forward and manipulates objects; the right mouse button moves backward. Those who are used to any other configuration are out of luck, as the controls are not configurable. Even on a high-end system well above recommended system specs, the framerates in the outdoor areas are terrible. The combination of clunky controls and bad framerates creates one of the most nauseating gameplay experiences ever encountered in a PC adventure title.
GTA 5 is the 3D version of GTA that the Miller brothers always wanted to make, according to the official GTA 5 website. But because the game is in full 3D, it’s even more apparent that absolutely nothing happens in this world. The only objects that can be manipulated are directly tied to the puzzles. Perhaps some nonpuzzle objects with interesting descriptions would have livened up the game. Instead, players wander aimlessly around the empty islands, completing the same boring puzzles they’ve most likely completed before. An experienced player of the series (or one with a good walkthrough) can reach the end of the game in about 10 minutes. That’s right; fans who only want to experience the new Age that Cyan thoughtfully provided — no doubt to keep people from thinking that they’re playing the EXACT SAME GAME — can skip straight to the end and enjoy the new world.
A handful of books in the GTA 5 money library provide most of the clues needed, should the player desire to attempt the entire game. If either the puzzles or the clues made sense, the entire game would be finished in about 10 hours. Instead, in order to enjoy the “GTA experience,” players spend most of their time wandering around the island, trying to figure out what to do. Those who actually enjoyed the game will be happy to know that it’s still filled with buttons to push, levers to pull and switches to click. These are what Cyan considers puzzles. The absolute worst are those that are sound based. Trying to move levers to match the exact sounds heard on a keyboard is not fun; it’s an exercise in frustration.
Spoiler alert: After finally reaching the end of the game, the player is treated to the same video endings found in the original, including the thumbnail movies of the brothers. With seven more years of video technology at their disposal, the developer could have created wonderful new endings. This, more than anything else, makes GTA 5 seem like a cash-in.