Grand Theft Auto V is not only one of the biggest games on the Xbox 360, but it’s also one of the prettiest. Rockstar rightfully enlists every technical card it’s acquired in the past generation and put it on display here. You switch between characters miles apart with no load screens, transition seamlessly between cutscene and gameplay while enjoying the most detailed world they’ve ever built. You’ll see plenty of cues from Midnight Club to Max Payne 3 as they pulled out all the stops to make this the last big bang for these consoles. The game seems to run just under 30 frames per second at all times, but it’s so consistent that you’ll have little to complain about.
In a game largely about driving and shooting however, neither feel quite right in Grand Theft Auto V. Then again, they never really have in this series. Shooting has been reduced to a cycle of finding cover, locking on with the left trigger, then firing with the right. There’s very little skill or mechanic involved and you’ll have enough money after the first heist to buy all the weapons and ammo you could ever need, so weapon selection is less a tactical need than a personal preference. You can turn off the lock assist if you want, but then the shooting becomes a terrible thing as you’ll remember they also toned down your health from previous games as well. In another weird deed, despite the fact that your characters seem to match foot steps to the pavement in real space and seamlessly transition in and out of turns using Euphoria, your cars rarely feel like they’re connected to the ground, pivoting along a center point, rather than observing the laws of physics. Speaking of your character, it’s hilarious to jump into a wall from six inches away, then watch as they fall flat on their ass and spends five seconds getting back up as if they hit it at fifty miles per hour.
This game is also (thankfully!) easier than its predecessors, building the difficulty into a medals system with optional objectives instead where you complete missions in a set time, without dying, both or more. For all its one-off tasks, Rockstar has inserted a few crazy things (that I won’t spoil) that seem obviously inspired by wackier open world games. There are also some things overlooked, like the fact that none of your music can be carried outside the car, your radio station preferences can’t be saved in individual vehicles, anyway and you can’t enjoy individual songs as MP3 players don’t seem to exist. The music system, used to propel the most cutting-edge of Rockstar’s commentary also, again, seems the most anachronistic.