I feared it was overhyped
Written by MrBlobbyBut I was wrong. It genuinely exceeded my expectations, which were still pretty high.
First of all, set in Los Santos, the fictional GTA V equivalent of Los Angeles, itself set in the familiar name of San Andreas, i.e. California, the tone of the game takes on a much sunnier disposition than its predecessor. Now, my favourite GTA game for the longest time was GTA 3, moreso than its much-celebrated contemporaries Vice City and San Andreas, so i don't have any bias one way or another in this respect, but I felt GTA IV was tilted a bit more to seriousness and squalor than atmospheric darkness with black humour, but I feel Rockstar have hit the bullseye with the tone in this game. It's a light-hearted tongue-in-cheek romp that takes endless pot-shots at the culture of celebrity, vanity, fashion and tech prevalent in that part of the world, while also letting you get immersed in it, albeit as several different shades of psychopath.
The structure of the game is notably different from previous games, in that you control 3 different characters: Michael, a retired big-time criminal living the good life; Franklin, a young black man trying to better himself and avoid getting stuck in the perpetual cycle of drugs and poverty in the hood; and Trevor, a sociopathic redneck running his own meth empir.e These three characters' lives become intertwined as the story plays out, and you can't just go one and neglect the others. I think this mechanic provided some extra variety and allowed the story to progress a bit more naturally. It also added some tension to as you are able to more easily become attached to certain characters, which can provide some interesting situations, as it's obvious from the start that their motivations are not exactly in sync.
The missions themselves which develop the story are not a huge departure from previous games, but they do successfully avoid the chauffeuresque missions that can frequent these type of games to pad it out. The side missions are numerous and varied, and you could, as expected, spend dozens of hours trying to consume all the content it holds.
Actual gameplay is improved from its predecessor too I feel. The biggest difference I noticed is teh car-handling, which was underwhelming in four, which, while possibly realistic, the poor handling was just flat-out less fun than we were used to. The car-handling in GTAV, while not quite at the arcadey levels of Vice City, is much more responsive are quicker, and this is further helped by the higher amount of luxury cars as you'd expect with areas such as Hollywood Hills inspired Vinewood Hills.
The map is huge -- the biggest ever in a GTA game, bigger than San Andreas, GTA IV and Red Dead Redemption combined! You can really tell too. I always felt San Andreas got a bit too much redit for the size of its map, becasue it was mainly empty despite have 3 cities in it. The same can be said for the GTA V, but proportionally, it feels a lot less like a few medium-sized cities scattered far away from each other in a desert and more like a massive city that has added depth from small settlements a drive away.
The multiplayer, at least now, with Heists released and time to polish it off, is great fun and provides hours of entertainment. Owning your own place, car and guns gives a sense of ongoing intrigue that keeps you coming back. The addition of money doesn't give too much of a sense of grind, as it seems easy enough to acquire it to get most of your desires, although you will have to prioritise if you're playing casual.
I've played on the PC, which is one of the next-gen versions alongside the XBox One and Playstation 4 versions, and by all accounts, it is the definitive version. The graphics are sublime, especially when considering the expansive world and the sheer amount of loving detail that has been added. First-person view is added, which, personally, makes aiming a considerably more enjoyable affair, and also personally, for a more immersive game as you walk around. There are also extra multiplayer missions available that aren't on the previous generation, which are pretty good fun. I have a soft spot for the Hasta La Vista missions, where you get truckers to try and run over (non motor) cyclists.
My only critcisms are some bugs -- I had to reload where a game became impossible to progress, for example.
Overall, the game is great. Lots of laughs to be had, the vehicles are fun, the landscape and world is stunning, and there's lots of novelty to be had. I can't even cover it in this, and it's pretty long as far as I'm concerned.