Grand Theft Auto Online Review
Run wild with your friends in Los Santos.
Grand Theft Auto V was so huge that Rockstar Games decided to break out the multiplayer portion of the game into its own separate entity, called Grand Theft Auto Online, and release it two weeks after the single player game hit stores. Money wasn’t their motive, as GTA Online is a free download for anyone who owns GTA V, but the delay is starting to make it look more and more like Rockstar knew GTA Online wouldn’t be ready in time. In fact, it wasn’t ready in time, even for its October 1st release day. Despite its troubles and tardiness does GTA Online live up to the hype? Let’s jack ourselves a new ride and take it for a spin.
Players who want to ride solo can will be able to enter a closed session of GTA Online, which will still require an internet connection, and can perform many of the game’s missions by themselves but the real action lies in playing with friends and strangers so we’re going to stick most of this review under the Multiplayer section.
Grand Theft Auto Online features the same core gameplay mechanics you’ll find in Grand Theft Auto V so, in this review, I’m going to focus on the things that make GTA Online unique. If you want to know more about the fundamentals you can read my full review of GTA V first.
GTA Online starts off with the creation of your online character. Characters can be male or female and your appearance is mainly governed by choosing the way your parents and grandparents look. It’s a unique idea but in the end I would rather have a system where I can choose my own features directly. From there you’ll jump into Los Santos and be greeted by none other than Lamar Davis, my personal favorite character from the single player campaign, and will be run through a few tutorial missions.
Though there isn’t much of an overall story to GTA Online you will be accepting missions from many familiar characters like Trevor, Lester, Martin, and Simeon. Many of these missions also feature fully voice cut scenes with performances by the original actors and this helps to give you a sense of purpose that was missing from GTA VI’s multiplayer modes. You won’t actually have an end goal, but the main focus is accumulating cash and advancing your character’s level.
Money and RP, what the game calls experience, can be earned in a ton of different ways. For those that prefer structured missions, the game’s characters will text you with jobs. For those who enjoy a more adversarial approach, there are many deathmatch, team deathmatch, and vehicle deathmatch missions to choose from. If you’re like me, you’ll spend hours competing in races across a number of different car classes and players who like co-op will have a great time with the survival missions as well as the aforementioned, structured jobs.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Grand Theft Auto game without a little open-world mayhem. The whole map from the single player game is open for you to explore in sessions for up to sixteen people. If you want to work together with the players in your session, you can do so using the built in system and send job invites directly to their phones. If you want to go on the offensive, you can take out other players and steal their cash if they were too slow to deposit it in the bank. When you’re ready to settle down you can purchase a garage or apartment with an attached garage and begin collecting cars.
As fun as GTA Online is, it launched with a number of significant technical issues. For the first few days even getting connected to a game session was unreliable and when you did there was an outstanding chance you were going to lose your progress, cash, or entire character. Rockstar have since dealt with some of these issues by releasing a couple of patches but it is clear that they weren’t ready to release this product. Even almost two weeks later we still have frequent occurrences of being booted from friends games, and ending up in a session with random people, upon completing a job.
Despite the problems encountered while playing it, GTA Online is a ton of fun. Anything you could want to do in Grand Theft Auto V you can now do with friends and that makes this game a perfect place to lose yourself for hours at a time.
Grand Theft Auto Online wasn’t ready for prime time but it was pushed out the door anyway and this can’t be ignored. However, Rockstar continue to support it and are doing a very good job of keeping the community updated on their progress. Despite the technical issues I ran into, I’ve still spent twice as much time in GTA Online as I did completing the GTA V campaign. Underneath the headaches lies one of the best multiplayer games ever created so, for those of you who were having problems early on, I urge you to hang in there and see what it has to offer.