Grand Theft Auto 5 has broken world records since its release, it’s been the hot topic on Twitch.tv and Youtube, and has been making news almost daily. If you’ve been out of the loop at all you wouldn’t know that Rockstar has also accompanied the best-selling game with a persistent online world that is a big step in the right direction for them.
Grand Theft Auto Online is a fantastic idea with an unfortunate execution. There are social ranks that you can level up in as you play with your friends and random people, each rank gained unlocks certain weapons and mods, cars and activities. As you progress through the world of Grand Theft Auto Online you gain access to more and more content. You can choose to join a clan or a “crew” and get access to crew unique emblems, certain missions, and even a crew deathmatch or war where you are rival clans. These stats are pulled from how many times you are killed by a member of another crew or how much you kill someone from one.
The entire map is available to you and your crew but there is a progression system in place so players cannot buy the fastest car, best weapon, or best armors right off the get go. It’s a great system in place however there are flaws to it and those are very noticeable in the multiplayer.
There are two core ways to play GTA: Online that are offered at the moment; multiplayer matchmaking and free roam. The free roam consists of doing anything you want with your crew or your friends, or even random people that you join in on. The free roam is arguably the best fun especially when you do things like this, however you can only raid the military base or hold up a convenience store so many times. With the free roam it is a wrecking ground for anybody with a creative mind, you can do anything within the confines of the map that you can possibly think of, if you don’t get killed first. The biggest thing about the free roam is even though there is the illusion of unlimited possibilities, it is quite straight forward and even redundant. There are plenty of options available to the player as to what to do, however these are generally very widespread and pertain to a very select minority.
While out on the prowl on free roam you can choose to rob convenience stores to get some extra cash, do missions for NPC’s from the main storyline such as hi-jacking high profile cars and delivering them to be sold off, there are also player missions that are available as well. Players or friends can invite you to a mission via cellphone that you may pick up, the message briefs a quick and straightforward synopsis of the mission ahead and you can choose to accept. If you can get past the fact that the left side of your screen is spammed by messages from NPC’s and other players every 3 seconds you might be able to sink your teeth into the gameplay.
However the biggest wall I hit in the online free roam is the illusion of unlimited possibilities. I love driving around in a race car and stealing as much money as possible, but it gets boring quickly and it’s on to the next ordeal. You’re able to base jump from high locations, play some golf in the parks, you might even abide by the law and just cruise down the countryside. All of the options available in the free roam mode are extremely fun yet are only fun for so long, and don’t really speak to every single player. While I enjoy driving around with people and stirring up trouble, some enjoy playing a game of golf or tennis, but I’d reckon that not every single player wants to do either of those. Variety is the spice of life and just because there aren’t a million options to go through, that doesn’t make it boring. What really hit me was the chaos in grand theft auto online. You essentially have a game that advocates chaos and immortalizes immaturity, yet somehow people are expected to come together and complete missions together and co-operate with one another. It wasn’t often until I found myself trying to escape from the free roam to avoid being endlessly killed and rammed into by other cars or planes because someone thought it was fun.
Avoiding the multiplayer is easy, you can quickly jump into or host an online match between 1-16 people at a time. There are deathmatches available, races, missions and even base jumping competitions. What struck me as odd was the fact that when joining a team deathmatch, the maps are extremely small and end up being very crowded, Rockstar also must not have been thinking when making the spawn points because half my kills and deaths are from people spawning in front of or behind me. Players that are high level also get to use their higher level weapons in deathmathces, and it shouldn’t have to be said that running around with a combat pistol against those with a fully decked machine gun is slightly irritating. The worst part about the online deathmatches is the auto aim remains even though it is player vs player. Aiming with the irritatingly small reticle is difficult enough let alone trying to dodge at the same time, but it’s made a hell of a lot easier when your reticle instantly locks on somebodies forehead.
The races and missions are fun as well but no matter how much I play the online one thing always comes to mind that it could use; teamwork. I’m not talking running around holding hands with each other while we rob stores and getting on a VoIP program so we can communicate in hardcore fashion. There is a lack of any need to communicate or even co-operate in the online mode at all. The missions can be soloed and done alone, even if 4 other people are in the zone, and in a game that is built on chaos, it’s near impossible to get anybody to sit still instead of shooting everything.
Grand Theft Auto is a game about killing everything and driving over hookers to get your money back, I get it. But to expect something more out of a 16 player world in a game like that is just folly, and it was an unfortunate realization. The online was a big step for Rockstar, but I can’t see it being anything more than a giant arena to shoot everybody in and get in cop chases. While those things are extremely fun for a short while, I can’t find myself wanting to sit down for more than an hour to indulge in shenanigans without feeling like I want more from it.