The first thing that stands out about Rockstar’s creation is that it takes a loooong time to load. Not enough to discourage play but enough to raise an eyebrow or two. It’s understandable given the sheer size of the sandbox on offer but still it vexes.
Eventually the game decrees it is time to start and throws up a bank robbery right from the get go,perhaps as some sort of apology for your wait. Here the controls are learned while blowing stuff up, no boring tuition from Trevor and co. At first it all seems a bit much; changing characters, entering cover, running, answering phones seem needlessly fiddly but by the end of the section everything falls into place and it is a s natural as breathing.
These run and gun sections are lots of fun. After a few close calls and lesson learned sliding into cover then popping out to shoot your adversaries becomes second nature. The auto aim makes it quite simplistic but the sheer number of enemies compensates that nicely. Add to the fact that there always seems to be something to explode and you have a enjoyable action sequence.
The same can’t be said for the driving sections. The cars a very responsive and the back end is always threatening to drift away. The speed to is an issue, anything less than pedestrian is going to result in an accident. Fortunately though the (frequent) crashes cause no real damage to the vehicle. A few scratches, and at one stage a missing door, had no detriment to the autos handling.
Another problem with these sections is the other road users. You would think when they see someone hurtling along on two wheels at 100 mph that they would get out of the way but no they continue on their prescribed routes, normally resulting in a terrible convergence of metal, brake fluid and insults. Surprisingly this fails to alert the cops and this is a good thing because my one encounter with Los Santos’s finest resulted in a high speed pursuit that I only managed to shake by careering into a bollard, launching into the air, spiraling out of control and landing on some heretofore unseen train tracks then speeding away in the opposite direction. It would all have been very impressive if I had done it on purpose, I hadn’t.
In the first hour I also had the task of chasing down a hoodlum on a motor bike, when close enough I was advised to shoot this mofo. However the shoot-from-car-while-driving-at-uncontrollable-speed button was new to me and the second it took to read the on-screen instructions resulted in a spectacular crash and the bandit escaping.
One positive to be drawn is that the reload points are generous in their proximity to your failure.
After one hour: The story is already developing pleasingly and the promise of more gun fights will draw me back. However unless my driving skills radically improve I can’t envision much exploring and as GTA is a sandbox game that is a major failing.