X360A Review: Grand Theft Auto Online
Written Tuesday, October 08, 2013 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Granted, it wasn’t the smoothest of starts for Rockstar’s highly anticipated Grand Theft Auto Online, but thankfully a lot of those problems are now behind the hugely ambitious online multiplayer experience. Enough for us to finally sink our teeth into it to see whether it’s finally worth your time.
So, GTA Online, what is it, you could ask? Well, it’s a sprawling open-world Los Santos and Blaine County with a bit of everything for everyone. If you’re a deathmatch kind of guy, you can do that. If you like races, parachuting, playing golf, tennis, you can do all of that too. If you want to kick it with some friends and cause havoc, guess what, you can do that too, as well as partaking in loose story-based co-operative missions. Los Santos is most definitely your oyster.
In an open-world such as this, online griefing is rife though, but thanks to passive mode, where players can stop themselves becoming the victim of a random player attack, that isn’t too much of an issue, although it does seem like a bit of a cop out. Heck, you can even play in your own private world with friends should you so wish, but that kind of defeats the purpose a little. Part of the fun of the griefing is the randomness of it all… plus, you can’t beat dishing out a little griefing yourself. It feels like the game was made to promote a bit of that.
There’s more to just partaking in activities and causing mayhem though. Players can also buy their own cars (and insure them), garages and properties. The problem here is ultimately there is no real point to doing either. It’s a nice bit of eye-candy and allows you to store cars and have your own place, but they serve no real purpose in the world.
GTA Online’s Los Santos is definitely a case of smashing the little guy, thanks to the unlock system. If you’re a low rank, chances are you’re going to be severely up against it when facing off against the veterans of the world. Only those who put the serious amount of hours in will get the most advanced weaponry, and thus when it comes to a face-off on the mean streets, you’re going to come off second best nearly every time. Higher ranked players get access to bounties, new mission types like survival, the ability to call in assistance and more, thus furthering the divide between vets and newbies.
Los Santos can be a truly lonely world as well unless played with friends. There are times when all of our team of writers were faced with nothing but a desolate existence as they stood in Los Santos alone. Too weak for co-op story missions that can require up to 4 people, which when boiled down to their basics either exist of fetch this, kill these people or blow these things up – it actually makes you realise how important GTA’s story usually is! – and with deathmatches that don’t really capture the beauty of Grand Theft Auto, GTA Online is an experience best served with friends. Sure, you can say that about most multiplayer games, but I can jump into Battlefield or Call of Duty, for instance, and have insta-fun, alone or with friends. Trying to play tennis or golf with a friend is harder than it should be though! As is keeping the party together on occasions.
Like the single-player, GTA Online’s best moments come about as a result of experimentation and random shenanigans. The quality of the deathmatch mode isn’t enough to win you over for long, and playing through co-op missions can become tiresome. The best way to experience GTA Online is just to mess about with friends. That’s hardly the best ever selling point for an online mode, but GTA Online at the moment is a platform, a platform for Rockstar to fully flesh out over the coming months/years. The beauty of GTA Online is that there is something for everyone. How long it will keep you hooked though remains to be seen. There's one thing for certain however, and that's that GTA Online is only going to get better with time. It’s great as it is, but it just lacks that special something that results in GTA Online being a truly excellent multiplayer game.