Review: Grand Theft Auto Online - A Flawed But Promising Experience
Grand Theft Auto Online
Review copy provided by the publisher
As you may already know, our team at DualShockers has been (for the most part) obsessively playing Grand Theft Auto Online, the online mode released about a week after the fifth installment of the GTA series hit store shelves. And in order to give our readers a fair opinion of how this online mode stacks up, we decided to have not one but four writers review the game. Below each staff member’s assessment will be their own personal review score out of ten, with the final score being an average of everyone’s individual score.
Al Zamora, Editor and DSTV Host: GTA Online – The Real GTA For Me
Once I heard that Rockstar had finished fixing the online portion of GTA V I quickly ran to my local store to grab it. Yes, I did not get it Day One. The reason was that my interest in the story was just not there–I even tried to play the story a bit and it just didn’t lure me in as much as the call of being an online delinquent in my own sandbox, with me at the helm. That is the beauty of GTA Online–it is all about you, not Michael or Niko or anyone else. You’re the star! GTA Online is a great deal of fun wrapped in a complex eco-system of douchebag players, crazy missions and shiny cars. What else could you ask for?
GTA Online has many positives, especially if you play with a crew or friends since this is where the game shines. You will want to show off your newly stolen car or your new bachelor pad complete with working shower and television, or perhaps get into some mischief by robbing liquor stores and running form the cops. But all of this is made more enjoyable by the crazy banter of your buddies.
There are times that you will find yourself immersed in the world and battling other crews in parking garages, while evading police choppers and gaining levels at the same time. The online gives you a lot of flexibility in what style of play you want to delve into, such as survival missions, bike and car races, parachuting off tall things, stealing cars and killing gang members.
The online has some draw backs, however, and some of those are due to the community as well as the overall design of the game. To name a few: the cops are ridiculously good at finding you, during races traffic will inevitably wipe you out, other players will grief you and be jerks, money can be hard to come by if you waste too much time and running missions can be a pain since finding other random players never works well. Some of these things can be minimized by playing with friends you know or steering clear of players you don’t want to associate with.
Of course GTA Online can have its connectivity issues here and there and at times you may find yourself driving while the road disappears beneath you. However, these occurrences were few and far between for me. The fun that can be had in making my character into an organized crime lord, complete with boat and plane options, is exactly what I am looking for. The beauty of this portion of the game is that it is ever changing and Rockstar can continue to balance and add new portions in order to keep things interesting. One major concern I do have is the dreaded micro transaction and how that may affect the game further down the line.
In the end, GTA Online is like real life–if someone is barreling down on you in a speeding car get out of the way because they are probably wishing you ill will. Use your head, don’t talk to strangers and you may just end up alive.
Score: 9 out of 10
Masoud House, Features Editor: A GTA Online Noob Still Waiting To Be Wowed
I know I’m in the minority when I say that, yeah, I’ve only spent a few hours in Grand Theft Auto Online. I’m a criminal noob (or newb, whatever your preference). I’m an amateur rogue. I’m a swindler who hasn’t really swindled a thing.
No, I don’t live in a remote, barren region of the world: I just haven’t had that much time. Between my writing and editing duties here on DualShockers, and reviewing a slew of other great games, (BEYOND: Two Souls, F1 2013, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst and now Guided Fate Paradox), I simply haven’t had much time to rob, loot and murder in Rockstar’s large and bustling virtual Los Santos.
Have I wanted to really dive into the game more? Sure. But here’s the thing: I had so much anticipation for what the game would offer as a multiplayer experience that when I finally got my hands on it, I didn’t really feel very satisfied. Yet.
Don’t get me wrong. I spent one night doing the introduction portion, and another doing a string of events with friends for a few hours. There was nothing like running around a neighborhood in an every-man-for-themselves deathmatch mode, or taking on a little Ace Combat-like action in an aerial deathmatch mode. But then I was highly disappointed and frustrated in other modes, where little things can mar the experience.
Racing boats, for example, lost its shine when I was neck and neck with my peers, and then because I was a foot outside of the checkpoint circle (unreachable with seven people all vying for the same meter of space), my place wasn’t registered, and I had to hang back, bring my boat around, and go through the checkpoint while everyone else finished the race. Helicopters really didn’t tickle my fancy, either. Trying to shoot an enemy driver while in a car was also far too much of a chore than I liked.
Then there’s the fact that all those hours of play, the three levels or so I rose, and the twenty or thirty thousand dollars I earned, all of it was lost. Yes, I’m one of those victims who was forcibly booted out of a session by the game, and then found that the game failed to save to the Grand Theft Auto Online cloud server. Anyone who’s played an RPG and had the unfortunate experience of having their save file deleted knows how I feel about that.
Was it a big deal? No, not really. But it was progress saved, and I’m tired of being the only guy in my crew still at level three. And with my little time available on the game so far (and now severe paranoia of losing progress), I don’t know how far I’ll get anytime soon. Perhaps when we finally get our stimulus package, and perhaps when we finally get heists to enjoy, I’ll be able to feel a little more enthusiastic about the game. After all, randomly starting havoc with strangers is a load of fun. But for now, I can’t say that I’m entirely in love with Grand Theft Auto Online just yet.
Score: 7 out of 10
Tyler Christensen, Staff Writer: GTA Online is Exactly What I Wanted
GTA Online has definitely improved since its introduction in Grand Theft Auto IV. Even back then, the concept was awesome. As a fan of free roam and open world games, as well as a huge fan of the Grand Theft Auto series (been playing them since it was in top-down view), the ability to play do all of the things that you can in Grand Theft Auto with a friend is what makes the online for GTA V so fun.
Creating your own character (possibly even based off of your own appearance) and being able to put them into a giant open world where you can collect cars, money, clothes, apartments, weapons–the works–and have your buddies right there by your side causing as much mayhem as possible is truly a great breather from other games that I would be playing online.
I have had brief love affairs with the online portions of GTA IV and Red Dead Redemption when they both launched years ago. I remember getting on with friends having a blast for about two weeks and never going back. I would enjoy the giant living world only to realize there isn’t much more to do than trying to get 5 Star Wanted Level. After completing the superb single-player campaign and seeing how alive Los Santos was, I was more than willing to visit those mean streets again with my crew and cause some mayhem.
Score: 10 out of 10
The most impressive aspects of the GTA V single-player was the set-up and execution of heists. I was let down to see them not appear in the online portion. The pre-planning phase where everyone is tasked with getting the materials they need for heist gives the players an excuse to scour the open world like garbage trucks or masks and would be killer. Giving your crew something to work towards aside from just running other players over gives you a sense of purpose.
The competitive game modes themselves leave a lot to be desired. Deathmatches are hindered by the auto-snap targeting and poor respawning. Impromptu races and waved based survival modes are fun but we’ve seen these modes done better in other games. Modes like Top Fun, where one team use fighter jets to hunt down the opposition in sports cars made is what I want to see more of. A standard 8 on 8 deathmatch is not the reason I’m playing GTA Online.
What I do love is riding around in my suped-out motorcycle armed with a shotgun killing folks foolish enough to be in my way. There’s a “create your own fun” vibe when you play online which works well when you’re dicking around with your buddies. GTA Online has a lot of fantastic ideas that are gated behind really awful interface choices. Inviting your friends to matches is a nightmare. Bigger groups of friends will have a hard time trying to get together and finding something to do.
There’s a ton of potential, though, and I look forward to seeing what sort of changes and updates happen in the immediate future.
Score: 7 out of 10
So there you have it, our take on Grand Theft Auto Online. You can also check out Staff Writer Ryan Meitzler’s excellent review of Grand Theft Auto V‘s single player here.