Grand Theft Auto is fucking great. It just is. There I said it. It does something that no other franchise can do and does it well.
I’ve played every game since GTA 3 came out and enjoyed them all. GTA 4 didn’t quite live up to San Andreas’s standards, but it was still fun as hell. And I played the heck out of it. The two DLC story lines stepped out of the tried-and-true storytelling formula, which was refreshing.
Obviously, when GTA V was announced, I couldn’t wait to hand over my money, wait in a ridiculously long line, and then race home to play it until my body quivered with fatigue. And sure enough, it was incredible.
When it was released, I had been keeping my eye on GTA Online for a while. The prospect of a multiplayer edition Grand Theft Auto made me salivate. But I wasn’t sure that it would be more than a passing attraction.
But when GTA Online hit the net, bugs and hiccups aside, I loved it. I could finally do everything that I wanted to do in a Grand Theft Auto game, but now I could do it with my own character and gain stats and abilities while doing it. Plus, the ability to own property and hunt down other players gave me an enviable bulge.
Now, after finishing GTA V’s story mode, I’ve never gone back for that traditional second and third and fourth (…) playthrough. I didn’t go back to complete all of the side quests and find all of the collectibles. I didn’t bother to roam aimlessly as Michael, Franklin or Trevor. I didn’t need to. I finally had the GTA experience that I’ve always wanted. And I was loving every minute of it.
Granted, the wildlife is nonexistent, an exclusive to the main campaign that I sorely miss. And the missions are geared towards that online format and less about driving a narrative. It’s even more of a “go there, do this, get paid” format with minimal character interaction.
And these things are truly the major flaws of the experience. That said, going forward if the folks at Rockstar can find a meaningful way to marry the aspects of the single player campaign with the freedom, individuality, and mayhem of the online experience, they would create the ultimate Grand Theft Auto experience.