Finally got a new ps3. I've had gtav since launch and just started playing it. I'm sorry if these thoughts have been posted before but...
I love the presentation a lot. Like the mission when you're driving as Franklin in the SUV and suddenly Michael has a gun to your head? The transition was fantastic. Rockstar did a great job with the games aesthetic and sense of flow. It's very consistent and always stylish.
The game drives this further by making the world feel alive. In sandbox games, or games PERIOD, the npcs typically just stand there, and say random shit when you approach them. In GTAV, you go into Franklin's house and then you have his aunt watching tv on the couch, and you can join her like it ain't no thang. Or she'll be trying to do crunches. Other times, the house is empty. It feels like she has her own life with her own values. The house deco and the cutscene dialogue reinforce this. Rockstar have managed to make Los Santos feel like an actual place, which is rare for games. The reviews were not in any way hyperbolic about this. Sometimes it's limiting, like, I haven't seen anyone in Michael's house yet, but it helps that when you switch to him, he's dropping his wife off at a store for her to buy more useless shit, or he's off somewhere looking sad just as an excuse to get away from the house.
This makes me really attached to all of the characters so far. Even that chick Tonya who I've met only once. They managed to actually make me care about her and her crackhead husband in pretty much an instant. It helps that the characters don't disappear after a mission briefing or cutscene. For instance, after the Tonya tow truck mission, she goes off and talks to someone on the phone. She doesn't disappear, it doesn't end with a cutscene. Or when Franklin has to go to the hills to get the suv, and Simeon is still talking to the guy he's trying to sell that car even after the cutscene.
I have a tremendous tit boner when it comes to meticulous details in a game. It's why I love Shenmue so much. Game worlds should feel like an actual place where the characters have lives. Haven't been this impressed with a game world since Shenmue.
Come to GTAIV. Where is Roman when not on missions? You go to the apartment and where is he? Does he only exist in cutscenes and when you ask him to hang out? Apparently! What does he even like to do beyond staring at tits and gambling? I don't know. Compare to Michael's son. He has an actual identity: he likes weed, plays games, is a slacker, can't handle exercise, and is short sighted. I know all of this about him with barely any hours on the clock. I know more about this kid in five hours than I did the entire cast of GTAIV. But GTAIV isn't alone in this, it's a problem with games, period. Things like this make them feel so artificial and shallow. GTAV may not be as detailed as Shenmue - the characters don't have set schedules, for instance - but it's pretty much the next best thing. And for that...
Beyond the minutiae, I'm loving the game. The controls that plagued GTAIV are gone, and unlike that game, it is actually fun to play and has things to do. It is, in every way, a worthy sequel to San Andreas so far. Just getting out of Los Santos itself is a journey for me. All those hills and valleys, turns and treacherous cliffs.
Unless it starts to tank a ways into the game like IV, I think I'm going to like this. A lot. In terms of playtime I'd say the GTA franchise is my most played franchise, aside from Final Fantasy. It is really dear to my heart, and I'm so happy that we finally got s GTA game that lives up to the name again. Unfortunately, IV didn't for me. V looks to be something special.