by Jacob Fitch

this game is for mature audiences only, If you are under the age of 17 please do not play this game…

As a single player game, GTA V is more than deserving of it’s masterpiece label, with three intricate main characters, and a world that revolves around their story, great gameplay, and a fair bit of customization of just about everything from your pink moped, to your tricked out diaper wearing player character. But how does that transfer over into a good experience with friends and strangers alike?

Your story begins at the L.S. airport getting picked up by a Lamar Davis, a man you met on lifeinvader and have trusted to fly you out of your hometown to the crime ridden streets of San Andreas, and right away Lamar makes an impression by sending you to go shoot up some goons and steal some drugs for his buddy. Right after this theft you’re able to go mingle with the rest of the mute psychopaths littered around the streets of Los Santos, and most importantly pick up some cash from more Lamar missions, like Races, Shootouts, and Deathmatches with other players around the world.

The gameplay is generally the same as single-player except for a few things you could do in single-player, like responding to npcs, playing tennis, etc. A big difference is all the extra content that RockStar have added since it’s launch nearly four years ago, endless amounts of vehicles, clothes, and new things to do, like starting a biker gang, starting a business, or buying new business and buying yachts. Some of the concerns I have are things to do with customization and some of the player base itself, sometimes when you put on certain clothing it might get rid of or add other layers with little to no explanation about why it does this, and a big chunk of players are hackers on the PC, PS3, and XBOX 360, but aside from that I feel as if the gameplay is rather good compared to rockstars older entries.

The controls are rather tight and fluid, but other times things just don’t quite match up with what you would expect from a triple AAA game, if you want a good idea of how the controls feel, then play Super Mario 64, sometimes your character will turn around but other times your character will walk to turn around, just like mario, and driving is really irritating a lot of the time, cars feel extremely heavy, and spin out too easily, a lot of cars in the game also don’t use blinkers so it’s really hard to tell when an AI is randomly going to smash into your vehicle or others for no discernible reason, bikes and players also don’t mix that well with each other, you can smash into a plastic fence, and your speeding metal deathtrap of a bike will fling you off instead of breaking it, and other times you can barely touch a piece of terrain and fly off your bike like a catapult, so the physics are a little worked on almost everything, but I have to compliment flying on it’s handling, and it’s controls, well at least the keyboard controls are good and so it the gamepad controls, but controlling any vehicle with the mouse is hell on earth.

The menus in the game look good but are rather clunky and laggy. You can tell they were designed for gamepad and didn’t get much touching up for the PC, and console re-releases. Some of the sub-menus are definitely confusing, like why do I have to be in single player first before I can create a private lobby, and you can not do that from the online tab in the menu while in a public lobby which is strange, because you can still go to other open lobbies while you are already in one.

The servers in GTA Online, I have to say, are literally the worst servers I’ve ever used. Laggy, Crashing, Unstable, and Bad are all words used to describe Rockstars backwards way of hosting a server. Valve, one of the most popular video game developers and publishers, uses a form of dedicated server hosted by them and their partners. Rockstar on the other hand uses a system I’ve never heard of before which has separate servers for all the different assets on GTA Online, there’s a server for the texts you receive in game, a server for players, and a server for various other things. While this may save Rockstar pennies, It’s cost me hours of time spent troubleshooting, connecting to various servers and proceeding to be kicked for seemingly no reason from lobbies I should easily be able to stay in.

In the end, despite all of the good things GTA Online has going for it, I wouldn’t recommend it to the casual gamer, solely on the fact that the servers are so bad. I actually couldn’t play in a lobby of two (Including Me) because of the level of lag, as well as the fact that the sort of anarchy gameplay GTA carries with it’s name doesn’t really mold that well into a multiplayer setting, as too often you’ll find yourself being harassed by players for things you’ve worked hours for in game, like supply drops for your “Farms” and all of your merchandise can be easily removed by just one player with better gear than you, or a cheater (More often than you think). I believe after looking past all of that there is a good game deep in there, but it’s clouded by all these glaring issues, plus it’s really fun when it is working. GTA Online is definitely better with friends, not strangers. At the end of the day, do I think GTA Online stands on it’s own? Hell Yes! It has so much content to explore, and so many things to do, it’s just blocked by those issues, if they were fixed I would not hesitate to give this game a 9/10. Maybe try dedicated servers, and better player protection.