Review: GTA Online
The ultimate open-world crime game that gets too distracted with its head in the clouds.
- Worth The Time?Certainly.
- Things LovedThe mind blowing amount of activities, the prospect of building yourself up, the ways in which you can make money, a fantastic social experience, still has all the brilliance that GTA V has, the world feels very organic and wide open to you, buying apartments and cars is great, a gigantic timesink, the rank progression is done very well, incorporates cool characters into its structure.
- Things HatedThe motherfucking cloud, the tutorial is absolute garbage, network instabilities, character creation is a joke, low ranked players will have a tough time at the start, takes way too long to make decent money, everything is ludicrously overpriced, random players might get on your nerves too much, lag does some strange things, your health within missions drops quicker than a Skrillex beat, the matchmaking takes a bit too long.
- RecommendationIf you have GTA V, play this. It's the most fun you will have in a long time.
- Name: GTA Online
- Genre: Crime Simulator
- Players: 1-16
- Multiplayer: Only
- Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC LOL No just kidding
- Developer: Rockstar North
- Publisher: Rockstar Games
- Price: It's on your GTA V disk
- Reviewed On: Xbox 360
There has never really been a great online crime game. There have been numerous attempts, but none of them have truly captured that essence of being a plain old career criminal that ticks all the boxes of being a truly engaging experience. Along comes GTA Online. We’ve decided to review it on its own considering it only released two weeks after GTA V did and its big enough to be judged on its own. I’m not going to explain the game’s mechanics and features because you can find it all already in our extensive GTA V review.
With all the greatness that GTA Online possesses, it starts off rather rocky. The character creation is one of the most perplexing systems I’ve ever seen. The way you customize your appearance is by picking who your mom, dad and grandparents are. I have no idea how Rockstar thought this was a good idea because it severely limits what you can do to make your character unique. You also get this sort of survey thing that asks you how much sleep you get or how much you party and that determines how full your skill meters will be. The whole thing doesn’t make much sense. It’s a sad affair because you’re going to spend a lot of time with that character if you decide to stick around and you won’t really have a character that you have carefully sculpted.
Another thing is the forced tutorial. If you eventually manage to get in, it throws you into this awkward race that you have to partake in. After you’ve done that you have to shoot some people to get drugs, go buy clothes, rob a store, get a car and then do a deathmatch. The whole process takes you about 40 minutes to finish and it feels more like a chore than an actual tutorial. Sure, it introduces you to a lot of the new mechanics on offer, but it’s done so sloppily that you just want to get it over with. Not to mention you have to complete it in order to join your friends. But it’s just a small hurdle to the otherwise great experience.
I feel like I have to comment on the network issues that has plagued the service since its launch, but this can be subject to change at any time because Rockstar are making great efforts to stabilize all the issues and resolve any discrepancies. It has seen in an increase in stability for me over time with issues getting less and less, so if you were holding off diving into the mode, then this is probably the best time to do it.
After completing the unreasonably long tutorial, the world is wide open to you. You can really do whatever you want. When you’re on a low rank you would do small jobs in order to build yourself up. The smallest thing you can do is rob a store and Rockstar have done a great job in making it as believable as possible. You can hold up a store by walking in, whipping out your piece and demanding the clerk to empty the cash register. While you’re waiting there for him to put all the money into a plastic bag you can literally scream through your headset for him to go faster and you can even shoot his merchandise to scare him even further.
After receiving your stolen money, you get a two star wanted level and have to escape the cops while making off with the loot. It feels like an authentic experience and the fun factor is always there. Even when I was rank 28 with thousands of dollars in my bank, I would still rob a store just for the excitement that it brings. Its an addicting experience.
But robbing stores is truly just the tip of the iceberg. GTA Online has so many things you can do that it can be quite overwhelming, but never really feels like it because of the amount of freedom you have. You can go the traditional route and just play deathmatches and races, but that’s boring compared to the other things you can do. You are your own man (or woman) and the world is your oyster. The main goals that you would have are making money and earning experience and the amount of ways you can do that is huge.
First off, there are missions. There are characters in GTA Online that provide you with a variety of missions. There are some new characters and quite a few from the main game. People like Lamar, Lester, Ron and Simeon. Each of them message you details of specific jobs that they want you to do and each of them have a different variety. For instance, Lamar would offer gang and drug orientated missions and Simeon would have you repossess cars. They are all exciting in their own way and you can even do them on your own if you’re the lone wolf type.
Then there are the traditional deathmatches and races available that all work exactly how you expect them to and are great fun. Then you get variety matches that adds a little something extra to the mix. These are modes that are much like traditional multiplayer modes such as capture the flag, king of the hill and so on, but with added GTA flavour. For example, you can play a team based game where players have to retrieve some weed from a bunch of hippies. No two modes are the same and they each provide their own little twist. There are also various other modes such as survival and vehicle deathmatch.
Then you get all the miscellaneous things you can do that also appear in the main game. Things such as skydiving, the shooting range, tennis, golf, darts and a new arm wrestling mode. You can do these activities with other players and its the most fun when you have a single friend with you and the two of you just screw around, playing a set of tennis and swearing at each other at arm wrestling. There are already over 700 different activities available and Rockstar have promised to keep adding new ones as time goes on.
I said earlier that the world is your oyster and it truly is. GTA Online is basically a criminal MMO if you look at it at a certain perspective. You are a criminal and you do morally questionable things with only one objective: money. In order to get money, you have to do some pretty daring stuff like rob armoured trucks, sell cars for parts, holding up stores, taking out gangs, steal drugs and work for shifty characters. All in the name of the almighty dollar. This brings me to the mode’s economy.
You earn money relatively slowly and everything in the mode is ludicrously expensive. Much more than in the singleplayer. For instance, a silencer for your pistol would set you back $12 000. That’s insane. And for the little amount of money you make, also a little unfair. But it does get easier to rake in the dough. The rank system comes into play here.
With each new rank you reach, new things start to happen. You might unlock a new mission type or you might simply be able to start robbing armoured trucks. Each rank brings a new way for you to make money. It’s extremely noticeable how your earnings go up once you reach a higher rank. When I was about rank 10, a sum of about $10 000 was a fortune to me. But by the time I reached rank 25, that much is chump change. It feels like a natural progression and one that would keep you entertained for the duration of your playtime.
It also feels worth it to earn your money. You appreciate the hell out of that car spoiler when you know you had to rob about five stores in order to afford it. But possibly the best use of your hard earned cash lies in the apartments and garages. When you finally save up enough money to buy your own cozy loft, you really do feel like you’re living a second life in this world. You pop into your apartment and you can watch a little TV, lie on your bed, take a shower, have a drink and maybe invite a friend over to hang out with you. It’s basically Second Life with guns and hookers.
Your garage is a symbol of pride. When you walk inside and see your kitted out rides in all their splendour, you feel this sense of accomplishment. But you always want more. That’s what makes this mode so addictive. You want to get more and more money and ranks so that you can really live a luxury life inside this wide open world.
Playing with friends is even more enjoyable than when you play alone. The lot of you can go rob a bunch of stores, cruise on the highway or partake in all the activities available. Messing around is still great fun as well. I’ve spent hours with a friend just exploring the world and doing a bunch of random stuff without much of an objective behind it. And there are lots of laughs, of course, when things get weird and make for extremely comedic events. Its pretty much the ultimate social experience.
GTA Online is a close as we have ever been to a life simulator with added criminal elements within it. And it couldn’t be more addictive. As I’m sitting here, I just want to go back into the world and earn money, upgrade my cars and save up for that luxury condo. I would even go so far as to say I’m enjoying GTA Online more than the actual main game. It truly is an experience on its own.
I could write forever about all the different things you can do and the amount of fun you will have doing them, but I think its best if you just go experience it for yourself. With every console gamer from here to the North Pole having the game already, you don’t really have an excuse not to give it a go. Unless you don’t have internet of course.
Rest assured, you will have a mountain of a time.