Grand Theft Auto Online: Work in Progress

Author: Max Linskey

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After a server crash left gamers waiting, Grand Theft Auto Online is up and “running”, and after two days of play, it is apparent that there’s work still to be done.

Grand Theft Auto V is an excellent game, regardless of this online capability, but being the first time Rockstar has ever done anything like this, it sets itself up to be discussed. It brings the sociopathic chaos of shooting, driving and screwing around to the public, and lets players do so with company. Want to go for a joyride with some friends and shoot random people? Go for it. Be ready for a slew of aggressive cops, and a small selection of vehicles however, among other problems.

To start, GTA Online gives a completely new way to customize a character without all the nose pulling and forehead flattening. Instead of playing Mr. Potato Head with the character, instead players choose their grandparents on each their mother and father’s side, then get to decide how much each of them reflect on their parents and ultimately on themselves. Then, players choose what it is the character does in their free time, shaping them further as a member of the Los Santos community and not just a stranger plopped into the fray. The choices also create the initial look of a player’s character. This is all great, but the player will have to get used to this look for a while, since money is scarce (unless you buy a shark card, which will be discussed later).

 

Jobs and missions will earn money for the player, but loading times are incredibly long, and lag is a big issue. Once in, the games are fun, but tweaking on rules and playability are a necessity for players to remain happy. For example, playing a race with a friend is a nightmare if there is a wreck or a checkpoint is missed, causing a respawn load time that effectively ruins a chance at redemption. Also, failure to come withing 30 sec. of an opponents finish time means a gain of neither money nor experience, which is frustrating to beginner drivers or victims of unfortunate circumstance (i.e. traffic).

 

Vehicles also behave differently (and more realistically) in the online world than they do in GTA V story mode. Instead of being able to steal any car on the street, most cars (i.e. the nicer, more expensive ones) are equipped with trackers, making it impossible for players to claim one as their own. Rising through the ranks eventually comes with rewards that include access to better vehicles, but starting new only give access to a few of the acceptable cars. Even with a shark card, which is a real money purchasable item (micro-transaction), all that is received is the funds. The nicer cars are still reserved for those at higher levels, making it impossible to cheat the system. Having the cushion of that large sum of money does help, however, when it cost’s $1000 (or less if that amount is not attained) to respawn.

 

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The results of a friend’s escape from the police

Roaming around Los Santos in GTA Online is enjoyable at some points, and other times players are killing each other, seemingly for sport and the measly $100 dropped. Protection is offered through the options menu, but this does not stop vehicular destruction. A solution could be private games as in every other online capable game, meaning that just the hosts’ friends and invited guests can join the game and play missions, joyride, etc. without the threat of a random killing turned 1 on 1 grudge match occurring. Another problem is when a player takes another player’s vehicle. There is insurance to soften the blow when a car is ultimately destroyed by another player, but the initial frustration and process to retrieve the vehicle is the flip side.

 

With the right amount of changes to the online portion of the newest addition to Rockstar’s hit series Grand Theft Auto, the environment will be an exceptional one. With the supposed Vice City expansion however, Rockstar better step up their game on fixing the load times and terrain glitches before they increase the size of the already chaotic Los Santos. Although littered with minor play issues and loading problems, Rockstar should be able to clean up its latest masterpiece and give gamers a polished version of Grand Theft Auto Online, making it well worth the wait.