This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Grand Theft Auto Online.
I know it's against my usual principles to review the same game twice, but you know, GTA V and GTA Online are only the same game in the sense that having sex with one half of a conjoined twin is technically a threesome. I never played the online component of GTA V the first time around, largely because my internet was down and this was back in that strange Dark Age when you can play games without needing to be always online in case the game's publisher wants to stalk you.
Besides, between Dark Souls and Battlefield, I've been warming up to multiplayer lately, so I felt the time was right to indulge GTA Online for a week or so. And now at the end of that week, I would like to officially declare myself cooled right the fuck back down to multiplayer, like a birthday cake stripper mistakenly delivered to Siberia. See, in Dark Souls, you know where you stand with other players: if they're white, kill a boss with them; if they're red, go for the backstab before they've finished praising the sun. None of this nonsense where a mysterious car screeches to a halt nearby and you have to decide if you're going to continue queuing for the ATM or preemptively pull out your rocket launcher from your jockstrap.
Please refer to my first review of GTA V for details on the actual game aspect. It's still the same sandbox-y, drive-around-y, shooty affair, with the same user interface that's so cool and minimalist you'll be too impressed to care that it's shit-blisteringly awful at informing you that you've just been shot nine times and are now one scraped elbow away from your ragdoll cartwheeling into the sea.
The one new gameplay feature introduced for the PC and next-gen consoles' version in order to make more like a remastering than a port (and therefore worth blowing another seventy fucking bucks on) is a first-person mode, so if you're having trouble figuring out where the guy is shooting you from, see if you do any better with your field of vision reduced by about forty-five degrees and when half the screen is taken up by brickwork when you finally manage to persuade your character to take cover in a firefight. But wait! Apparently there's a special money bonus if you complete all of the heists entirely in first-person mode. That's right, peeps! It's the gameplay feature so great they have to bribe you to use it!
Incidentally, I only knew about the "glue camera to face" bonus because I read about it on the loading screen. There wasn't much else to do in the 60-70% of gameplay time spent waiting for the game to connect to a mission or for other players to join or for the game to cancel out in connecting to a mission because the host player dropped out. The number of times I had to reach for the iPad; might as well rename it Grand Theft Auto: Crossy Road.
But once it's all loaded, you're free to get stuck into some GTA classic shooting and driving action with the added fun of co-op gameplay, once you've watched the long unskippable cutscene introducing it of course and all the other ones, during and after, every single fucking time you take part in a mission whether you're initiating it yourself or joining a random game as a crew member, and you will be doing that a lot 'cos A) it's the best way to get enough money to buy an apartment that will let you initiate your own heist missions, and B) the alternative is to remain bumming around the overworld with all the other sputtercunts getting into the occasional impromptu rocket launcher quick-draw contest.
So, assuming you managed to get enough people to join your heist and assuming they didn't bugger off during the intro cutscene, next you have to decide who's doing what as the four members of the crew are usually split between different objectives. Often these objectives are completely unrelated and happen in different parts of the map. Doesn't that rather defeat the purpose of multiplayer gaming when half the team might as well be another server playing Counter-Strike for all you know?
Except of course that all of you fail if any of you die. So you can drive all the way to your objective. making sure to beat your partner in a footrace to the driving seat or that's another ten minutes of Crossy Road, and get most of the way through a grueling firefight before the game goes "Okay, that's great and all, but the pilot just accidentally clipped a wind turbine while picking his nose. So we're gonna make you start all over again." This is quite maddening, GTA Online! At least let us reassign the teams before we restart so that someone with opposable thumbs can fly the plane. "Well, you ever think maybe you didn't offer the pilot enough moral support, while you were pinned down by enemy fire seventeen miles away?"
It really does seem to be a setup specifically designed for making you hate random people, and it seems that a lot of the random people have realized that and decided they're going to own it. This is a game in dire need of a violent twat fumigation! I'd turned the voice chat on, immediately hear the word "nigger" and turn it off again.
And then there were my experiences joining random races. I got into those quite a bit because unlike missions, there was no chance of them abruptly restarting because a player on the other side of the world fell into the Sultan of Brunei's crocodile enclosure. But I would council caution against joining a random race on a player-designed course because every single time I did, it was some insane stunt challenge where you have to perfectly motorbike up a ramp and land on a carton of eggs floating in midair or something. Forty-five minutes I spent on one of those once because you can only rate a map once you finish it, and I'll be damned if the creator wasn't getting a thumbs-down jammed down his throat 'til I could play thumb-wars with his goolies!
The last straw that made me stop playing outright and spend the rest of the weekend crushing bricks in my fists was when I joined a bike race and the host, a much higher-leveled player, immediately closed the invites once I did so, and I quickly realized why. Your prior race performance is summarized to other players as "Won X, Lost Y", but annoyingly, coming first is the only thing that counts as a win regardless of how many players took part. I was reliably placing in the leading half of eight to sixteen-player races, but since I wasn't coming first, I might as well be driving around in circles blowing raspberries and wanking like a chimp for all the record would show. And Professor Dipshit here must have deduced that he could pad his stats with an easy win against this less experienced player. Well, I hope he felt cunning, in the brief moment before I quit the race in disgust!
See, this is what happens when you have score tables in online games! It is a lightning rod for all the twat-sanders who couldn't give a flake of dried jizz about gameplay and just want to cheat their way to the highest score because it makes their erection throb as it lays across their motorbike engine like a saveloy on a mailbox. (If they're male; otherwise it makes their clitoris wobble like a Jelly Tot on a Breville sandwich toaster.)
- Look into his eyes: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
- I don't care what they say I won't stay in a world without appropriate douche-muzzling facilities
- Now returning you to the great sandbox mode of life