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Showing posts with label grand theft auto 5. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grand theft auto 5. Show all posts

Friday, April 17, 2015

Grand Theft Auto 5 Online: A ghost town now?

Who here has played Grand Theft Auto 5 Online on Xbox One lately?  Considering that I have already played through the storyline mode on the Xbox 360 version of GTA 5 I have decided to try and focus a bit more of my time in the online version of the Los Santos area.  My character is officially at level 14 as of today and will likely level up again in the near future as well.
Example of a ghost town.  Looks like a town, with nobody in it (maybe ghosts though, considering that some do have ghost stories).  Image source http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a6/Bodie_CA_-_ghost_town.jpg

Introducing Uncle Steve on GTA 5 Online
Here is a picture of my GTA Online character.  I named him Uncle Steve (was trying to be creative with names)
Anyways, while playing through the online mode, I have noticed that the streets Los Santo has been rather empty lately (besides npc characters).  At onetime, GTA Online has been quite lively with lots of people online, doing missions together, organizing races, doing pvp matches, etc.  Now days, it seems to look more like a ghost town.  There are npc characters you can interact with and some missions can be doable even on single player (though some missions can be considerably more difficult to do when playing alone as opposed to teaming up with people), though the online mode is definitely funner to do when other people are online too.  By the way, some missions and mini games are unplayable or nearly impossible to complete on single player mode (especially ones requiring 2 or more players).  I remember doing this one drug deal mission gone wrong mission where you had to go to a drug deal, though the people you had to meet turn hostile and you have to steal the drugs and destroy their vans (can't remember the name of the mission right off), but that missions was nearly impossible to do in single player (even on easy mode).  Not only do you have to take on an army of gang members but you also have to destroy vans too in that mission which pretty much suicide when one attempts the mission alone.

By the way, I am disappointed and suprised to see the empty map in GTA Online, especially now they are advertising the new GTA online heist missions that people can do on GTA online now.  Obviously you can't do a heist mission if there is nobody to team up with.  I hope Rockstar will fix those issues with GTA online, otherwise GTA 5 Online could very well be dead (much like how it was on GTA 4 was when GTA 5 came out) and you might be better off just sticking to the single player mode.  I don't have any pictures of the empty map yet, but if I see an empty map again, I will share it to show what I mean.  

Is anyone else having these issues with GTA Online?  By the way, I am not sure if this is issue is just affecting the Xbox One version or if it is affecting PS4 as well, but if you play GTA online you just might find yourself in a ghost town for now.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Commentary on the article: Cheshire, England: Schools Intend To Call The Police On Parents Who Let Kids Play Violent Video Games Pic

Here is a Big Brother is Watching you photo with Tony Blair (image source: flickr.com)
Picture of Halo 3, another video game that could be affected by the new rules

Here is an interesting and potientially controversial article I found on Inquisitr and at Infowars (http://www.infowars.com/schools-to-parents-if-you-let-your-kid-play-call-of-duty-well-call-the-cps-on-you/) worth talking about.  Apprently in England, some schools are adopting a new policy where if kids are allowed to play violent video games (such as Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto 4 / 5, Dogs of War, etc) or use social media like Facebook, schools can calls Child Protective services or even the police on their parents.  Here is the original letter posted on the info wars website:

(source: http://www.infowars.com/schools-to-parents-if-you-let-your-kid-play-call-of-duty-well-call-the-cps-on-you/)
My Commentary:

Who here have kids or even teenagers that play video games?  Talk about a Nanny State style system.  Can't you imagine this: you have a typical teenage son (say 16 or 17) and he plays Call of Duty Advanced War Fare with his buddies or maybe he does Halo Masterchief, Assassins Creed, or similar games (which I am sure many teenagers do) and should nosy school officials learn what games he is playing, they might call the cops on the parents.  Interestingly, the proposed rules would also prohibit kids from using Facebook (possibly twitter and myspace too) or apps like WhatsApp, apparently because they might encounter cyberpredators online (which is definitely an inherit risk people can take when online considering that you never know who you might meet online).  What do you all think of such policies?  Should schools or even the government be able to dictate what games kids or teens can play or wither or not if they can use social media like Facebook.  

Now, I have mixed issues when it comes to what kids can play and do.  Sure there are games that kids probably shouldn't be playing (especially games like Grand Theft Auto 5, where you pretty much control 3 different criminals in a huge open world environment that mimicks Southern California and gets into things like drugs, gangs, crime, murder, and similar elements that are likely to be offensive to some, especially kids and mothers).  On the flipside, you can get a grey area when it comes to video games and some people can handle violent video games better than others.  I remember when I was in high school, the Nintendo 64 and Sony Playstation were the style and I remember playing 007 Golden Eye on the 64 on many different occasions (even bought the 64 and golden eye back during my college years) which was very similar to Call of Duty in many ways, and definiely a predecessor game that probably helped inspire games like Halo and Call of Duty (especially the multiplayer modes).  Also, back then there used to be a flight similar arcade called The Otherside (which seems to have gone out of business since then) where people can pay $20/hour and play online games, such as World War 2 dogfight games, Duke Nukem, Quake, and similar games over a huge network.  So should teenagers (let alone parents) be punished by schools or even the government for what games they play on their game systems?  Also, would be restrictions just be aimed at MA 17 games or could they be expanded to T rated games too (such as the Sims 3 or say Mortal Kombat)?  

I found the Facebook restrictions interesting too.  By the way, according to Facebook, people have to be at least 13 or older to sign up for Facebook (though back when I was in high school, facebook and myspace did not exist and I did not sign up there till when I was going to Northwest University).  Sure there can be shady people on social media sites like Facebook, Myspace, etc such as trolls, cyberbullies, scammers, and even the occasional pedophile types.  Even I sometimes get random ladies online that I don't know trying to flirt with me on MSN Instant Messenger and Facebook too sometimes and I usually ignore them since I don't really know them and want to protect myself.  Last year I won't name names, but I met a random lady from Wyoming (she contacted me first).  She was apparently in her 30s, had 2 kids and no husband (apparently he died sometime ago) and she obviously seemed to be in a hurry to get into a relationship with me.  She wanted me to drive out to Cheyanne, Wyoming at least once or twice (which is definitely at least a 2 day away from the Seattle area) and even wanted me to call her, and even meet her at a state park in Montana once,  but obviously I did not know her personally and knew better than to rush into such a relationship (after all, I did know know what her intentions were).  Even if she was legit, I knew I wasn't ready to have kids of my own, which probably would have come with the relationship with her and obviously I would not be able to support them considering that I am only working part time and living on low income.  Luckily she unfriended me and moved on before things got out of hand.  Anyways, people like her do exist on Facebook and Myspace and people have to be careful when it  comes to meeting people online.  But at the same time, Facebook (and similar social media) can be used for more productive things too, such as connecting with friends, sharing photos they take, keeping in touch with people, etc.  Blogging sites, such as Blogger can be good to have too, as it can help kids develop their writing skills, which is pretty crucial to have, especially once they go off to college as writing quality papers do become a part of the daily routine in college and papers not living up to standards usually get Ds and Fs.  

By the way, while the new rules concerning violent video games and social media mainly affects England, I am sure it is only a matter of time before American schools take up similar laws and rules (after all, America and England are similar in many ways, even when it comes to politics and schools).  Also, this is not the first time schools have tried to impose their policies and rules to students even when they were not in school.  I rmember when I was in college at Northwest University, students were not supposed to drink alcholic beverages, even when off campus, so if students went to nearby bars and pubs, they ran the risk of someone noticing them and reporting it to school authorities (which probably could lead to susepensions or even expulsions in some circumstances).

1. In Virginia Beach, Virginia, a pair of 7th graders were expelled for the "crime" of doing airsofting in their own yards, not far from the rest stop.  I don't know what all lead up to the expulsions, but the kids were playing some airsoft in their own yard (which is somewhat similar to paintball, where you you shoot small airsoft pellets at targets or sometimes even each other which is pretty harmless, though they can leave bruises and welts much like in paintball) and a neighbor complained about it and somehow the school found out about it and expelled the kids apparently for "possession, handling and use of a firearm" (apparently airsoft guns are considered fire arms as far as the school was concerned and not allowed, even at home). Not sure if the students were able to overturn their expusions or not. By the way, if me and my brothers were in that district, we probably would have been expelled too considering that we used to do mock civil war battles with cap guns in our back yards, even went paintball and laser tagging on a few occasions too.

2. In another incident a student from Louisianna was arrested because he was using an app called, "Real Strike" to "shoot" fellow students. Real Strike is an augumented reality app for the Iphone that mimicks Call of Duty in Real life settings (much like how it is with Laser tag, where people can shoot harmless "lasers" at each other). Now while "shooting" fellow students was definitely inappropriate in my opinion, having the student arrested shows how far the zero tolerance policies can go.

       (above is Real Strike in Action, it is a similared game, where app users can "shoot" things in a simulated setting, though of course nobody really gets hurt).  By the way, the Windows Phone has a similar app where you can "shoot paintballs" at "targets" (you tap the screen, the phone vibrates and a virtual paintball splatters).

3. Perhaps a more disturbing story: Student getting expelled for refusing to wear an RFID tracking chip
In this story, a girl named Angela was expelled from school because her family wanted to opt out of the RFID program apparently for both religious (apparently she thought it was the prophecized Mark of the Beast from Revelation in the Bible) and privacy reasons.  It was apparently a chip embedded in student asb cards that can track student werabouts at all times (both on campus and off campus) and apparently kids had to check in with staff members to go over the RFID data.  Apparently it was also used to reduce truancy as well. Personally I have mixed feelings about the chips.  First off personally I doubt that the chip is the "mark of the beast".  From Christian standpoint, the mark of the beast system is not supposed to be implemented until when the end time events happen, probably around the mid point of the 7 year tribulation period (just before the great tribulation that is supposed to take place during the last 3 1/2 years before Christ's return) and will be imposed by the Antichrist himself (he is a prophecised world leader that will appear, probably in Europe or the Revived Roman empire as a charismatic leader that will impose a global dictatorship on the entire world and will eventually be indwelt by Satan himself, claim to be God and demand to be worshiped, which will also lead to the imposition of the mark of the beast system).  Most likely it will likely be some sort of microchip, tattoo, or similar implant that goes on the right hand or forehead and people won't be able to buy or sell without it, with the threat of death (probably by beheading) for people who refuse it (you can read the book of Revelation in the bible for everything you need to know about the antichrist, mark of the beast, etc).  Obviously people will want to avoid the mark of the beast at all costs (even if it means martyrdom) given the eternal ramifications for people who take it.  Anyways, last I checked, t he tribulation has not begun yet and the Antichrist is not on the scene yet, so I doubt that the RFID chip is the mark of the beast.  It could be a predecesor to it for all I know, but it is not the mark of the beast (at least not the present form).  As for privacy concerns, while the school officials may have good intentions for it, such as being able to tell where students are on campus (especially in the case of emergencies or fire drills) and even help find kids who go missing (which can be useful considering some kids do get kidnapped or lost at times), the technologies can definitely get intrusive too.  I can't imagine what it would be like going to a school or college where staff members can track your every move both on and off campus (for example, I wouldn't even think about going into a bar or pub the schools I went to tracked my every move).

I am sure this list goes on, but this article definitely shows how far schools can go when it comes to imposing their policies on students on and off campus and how more authoritarian schools are becoming.  Personally, I think big brother and zero tolerance policies is a dangerous mix when it comes to people's freedoms both in England and here in the US considering that many unsuspecting students and kids can easily find themselves caught in the ever expanding system, especially when there already does seem to be school to pipeline style system in place in many places across the country and taking a big brother approach to things could definitely lead to more people falling into that system, which would be terrible for society in my opinion.  Hopefully people will work on setting up checks and balances for school systems to ensure they do not get too much power over peoples' lives and reduce unnecessary suspensions or interactions with law enforcement agencies.   I will try to keep you updated on this story as I come across more.

What do you think.  Should schools be able to dictate what games kids can play or should it be left up to their parents?  Do you have teens that play games like Call of Duty or similar games?     Feel free to leave a comment below.  For fellow Americans, what would you do if schools inacted similar parties.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Elders React to Grand Theft Auto V (Geek Week)

Here is another interesting video I saw on Youtube yesterday.  Can't you imagine what it would like seeing parents and grandparents playing Grand Theft Auto 5, let alone watching a trailer for the game?  Check out these 2 videos below.  Warning: scenes from Grand Theft Auto 5 in the below videos may be offensive to some.

Video 1 - Elders reacting to trailer for GTA 5

Video 2 - Elders Playing GTA 5

My Commentary about the videos:

First off: seeing the elderly playing Grand Theft Auto 5 is impressive, never thought I would see the day.  I seriously doubt that my parents (especially my mother) would play Grand Theft Auto 5 if it was offered to them (especially considering that my mother doesn't like those games to say the least). Anyways, these 2 videos were definitely inteesting to watch.  In the first video, it looks like a group of eldely were watching a trailer for the game and some random gameplay videos of the game too (seems like it was the Xbox 360 era GTA 5) and in the second video, they actually get to play the game.  Interestingly, some of the participants were actually more enthusiastic about the game than others.   One common question I heard was: what is the objective of GTA 5 and I think at least in the main story mode is to complete the storyline and side missions, which pretty much tell the story of the game.  Other than that the game is a pretty open world with lots of things players can do.

Other interesting tidbits about the videos:
- I like the manic laugh sound effect that appears sometime.
- Apparently one elderly was an ex cop and he definitely has an interesting point that there are no known successful or decent criminals like the protaganists in GTA 5.
- There does seem to be the notion that Grand Theft Auto 5 (and previous entries in the series for that matter) can teach some people bad ideas, and while I am sure there are people that ideas from the game, there are plenty of teachable moments in the game and people (especially kids) should be taught that everything they see is purely fiction and should never be tried in real life.
- I also like watching the participants playing in the game.
- Remember: for your own good, anything you see in Grand Auto 5 and similar games are purely fiction and should never be imitated in real life and doing so can lead to serious consequences, long prison sentences or even death.

Bonus Content: Elderly React to Call of Duty (this video was pretty amusing to watch and I do have to admit that I am still a noob at Call of Duty too).

Well, that is all for now.  What do you think of these videos.  By the way, are any of you elderly or in law enforcement?  What is your take on the series?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Introducing my new GTA Online Character: Uncle Steve

Well, I was finally able to get my Xbox Live account working with the help of my father.  Anyways, I have started a new game and career on GTA 5 Online.  Let me introduce you to my new character, which I dubbed: Uncle Steve (was trying to be creative with names and thought that name looked cool).
Did a "selfie" of my character
Interestingly, there was nobody else online last night so I pretty much had the GTA Online mode to myself and was able to explore the map and try out the online features.  It is also worth noting that this character will replace the character I had on the Xbox 360 version of the game (even if I wanted to resume that version of the game, I traded it in at gamestop and got the Xbox One version in its place).

Stay tuned for the latest updates.

Here are some other pictures I have taken so far:

Vinewood Hills
Siberian huskies at a dog park north of Los Santos.  Yes: sibes do exist in this version of the game and can often be found at parks like this one.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Officially started my second playthrough on Grand Theft Auto 5, this time on the Xbox One

The game is on.  I already beat the main story and even got 100% completion on Grand Theft Auto 5 for the Xbox 360 and after upgrading to the Xbox One, I traded in the 360 version at Gamestop and got the Xbox One version in its place.  Just got to the point where you play as Trevor for the first time, shortly after the Jewelry store heist mission.

Things I like about the Xbox One version so far:
- better graphics
- cell phones have a new look.  By the way, I like how Trevor's phone is cracked
- New dog breeds, many of which were not seen in the 360 version.  In addition to labs and rotweilers, there are also siberian huskies, golden retrievers, saint bernards, pugs, and poodles that you might encounter as well.  There is also at least one confirmed dog park that you can take Chop to as Franklin adding more interactivity between Franklin and Chop.  By the way, Chop can attack people on command (usually if you aim at someone), though be warned, sicing Chop on random people can net you wanted stars.
- New Peyote plants.  These are hidden all across the map and whenver you come across one, you can eat the plant and it turns your guy into an animal that you can control temporarily.  Kind of funny.
- New first person shooter mode.  If you get tired of playing 3rd person shooter mode, you can always switch to first person.  Personally, I like 3rd person more, but first person can be useful to use sometimes, especially during shoot outs.
- xbox one can record random video shots as you play the game, such as doing stunts in cars, shooting things with sniper rifles, as well as getting mauled by animals (one time Michael got wasted by a siberian husky once, which was pretty funny).

Other than those, it is pretty similar to the original game in many ways, and the story line is almost identical too.  By the way, I will be starting over in the GTA Online version too, creating a new character that I dubbed as "Uncle Steve" (was trying to be creative with names).

Will post more infor about the game as I get more experience with it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Interesting new addition to Grand Theft Auto 5 for the Xbox One - Peyote plants

In case if you don't know, I have traded in the Xbox 360 version of Grand Theft Auto 5 at Gamestop and got Xbox One version instead.  Sure I will have to start over in the game, but I think it is worth trying out the newer version of the game.  Xbox One version definitely has several changes, including better graphics, a new first person mode (much like how it is in games like Skyrim, where you can switch off between 3rd person and 1st person modes).   They also have new dog breeds in the game too (though Franklin's dog remains the same), including poodles, golden retrievers, pugs, saint bernards and even siberian huskies.  Aside from all of the changes, I have come across what is called, Peyote plants.  Much like the letter scraps and space ship parts, the peyote plants are scattered across all San Andreas and you have to explore to find them (though alternatively there are strategy guides online that list the map locations).
One Peyote plant turned Franklin into a coyote near Los Santos (though it can also turn you into other animals too such as a cougar).

In the middle of the great Sonora Desert (near Sandy Shores), another Peyote plant Turned Franklin into a siberian husky.  Had some fun playing as the husky as he treked across the desert and entered Sandy Shores, but he was a naughty husky (you can attack people as huskies, though it will also cause your wanted level to go up) and got put down by the cops in Sandy Shores.
The Peyote plant can be a fun new addition to the game (by the ways I don't remember seeing the peyote plants in the Xbox 360 version of GTA 5).  Whenever you eat them, your guy (such as Franklin) will have this wierd hallucination where he literally turns into a random animal that you can control and roam around the map, get into mischief, or even try to find hidden areas in the game.  The animal you turn into is randomized (even when eating the same plant more than once, which you can do by saving before eating the plant and reloading), so you never really know what you will control.  In my experience as Franklin, he has turned into a cougar near Los Santos (can't you imagine a wild cougar roaming the streets of Los Angeles in real life, an actual scenario from the "Los Angeles" in GTA 5 with the peyote plants).  I have also controlled a poodle, coyote (see picture above) and even a siberian husky once (huskies do exist in GTA 5 for Xbox one by the way, though I do not remember seeing them in the Xbox 360 version so they are new).  My favorites so far were controlling a siberian husky in the middle of the Sonora Desert (area near Sandy Shores), treking across the desert and even making it to Sandy shores, though he ended up getting "put down" by Sandy Shores police after getting into some mischief in town (such as attacking people, which you can do when controlling animals which does raise your wanted level, especially if you attack multiple people in the game).  The coyote was pretty fun to control too near Los Santos, though coyotes are weak (I though the husky had stronger attacks) and people try to kill coyotes in the game.  I also liked playing as a cougar in Los Santos, though he died after "jumping" into a pool (apparently animals can't swim in the game, so entering a pool kills your animal instantly).  The change lasts till either the animal dies or if you exit out of that mode by holding right on the dpad and when you change back sometimes you can be back at the location where the peyote plant was or other times, you can end up in a different place (such as where the animal plant dies).  Definitely a wierd and yet fun addition to the game.

By the way, there are some Youtube videos about Peyote plants.  Check them out here:

There are many videos like the one above.  For more peyote plant videos, look them up on Youtube.

Stay tuned for more updates on GTA 5, Xbox One.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Grand Theft Auto 5 for the Xbox 360 Review

On Friday, I traded in the Xbox 360 version of Grand Theft Auto 5 and got the Xbox One version in its' place.  Will post my experiences on the Xbox One version on a later post.

I remember almost a year ago, I purchased the Xbox 360 version of Grand Theft Auto 5 and beat the game back in November 2014 (even got the 100% completion rating).  This game was definitely a fun thrill ride for me.

Overview of GTA 5:

This game is the official sequel to Grand Theft Auto 4 and takes place in San Andreas / Los Santos.  Just as GTA 4 makes you feel like you are in a virtual version of New York City, GTA 5 will make you feel like you are in Los Angeles and Southern California.  The map is pretty big stretching all of the way from the city of Los Santos in the South and of the island to the smaller coastal city of Paleto Bay at the north end.  Lots of terrain changes too, as you have city, coastlands, mountains, farm lands, and even a good sized desert to trek through in the game.  Like GTA San Andreas, airplanes and helicopters are back too (besides helicopters in Grand Theft Auto 4, planes were largely absent in that game).  Unique to the Grand Theft Auto 5, you will be playing as 3 protaganists that you can switch off using the d-pad on the controller: 1. Michael Santos - family man with a criminal past that seems to be living a seemingly normal life, at leas till the events of Grand Theft Auto 5.  2. Franklin - he is an African American man who lives in the heart of Los Santos and was a former grove street gang member and repo man looking to move off the streets and live am more fulfilling lifestyle.  3. Trevor Phillips - a psychopathic kind of guy with a short temper..  The game follows the trio as they live out their lives, get back into the life of crime (what is a GTA game without crime after all?), and eventually go up against corrupt government officials.  Several unique features GTA 5 offers includes:

- Single Player mode and online mode
- Heist missions.  Heists are fun and yet challenging too.  Throughout the course of the game, the players have to peform various heists and they usually come with their own unique planning, set up, challenges, difficulties and rewards.  Besides the bank robbery mission that takes place in the game's prologue, the game's first real heist takes place relatively early on in the game.
- Working with 3 protaganists instead of 1.  This seems to be the first time since 2D era gta games where you control more than one protaganists.  By the way, one of the 3 can be killed off at the end of the game, depending on what you do for the final mission of the game
- 3 possible endings.
- Some choose your own adventure elements (such as choosing how to perform heists, how the game ends, how some side missions end, etc).
- Open world adventure, aside from storyline missions, side missions, etc, you are on a huge island Los Santos on the South End, Paleto Bay on the north end.  In addition, there are many roads and highways to explore, my favorite is probably the Great Coast highway that goes up the west coast, much like highways 1 and later highway 101 (North of the Eureka area, onwards to Oregon and Washington) do in real life.  Like GTA Andreas, the island also features a vast country site, farm land, mountains (with the biggest one being Mount Chillad), and even a large desert area to explore too.  Lots of collectable items to collect too, including hidden packages, UFO spaceship parts, letter scraps (there is a murder mystery you can solve in the game by getting all of the letter scrap), along with stunt jumps, under the bridge locations (there are achievements you can get by going under under bridges) as well as knife flight locations.
- There is a military base you can check out too (at your own risk, since going onto the base will increase your guy's wanted level), called Fort Zancudo
- There are several paranormal elements in the game too, including UFOs (though most won't appear till you have gotten 100% completion and you have to know where and how to find them), at least one sasquatch roaming the woods and even a real ghost you can find when exploring Mount Gordo on the north east side of the island
- GTA Online mode: if you thought that story mode was too short, that only covers 1/2 of the game.  You can also access GTA Online (assuming you have an Xbox Live account) and do more missions, competitions, and it even has its own storyline you are following.

Here is what I liked about GTA 5:
- Tons of things you can do.  Besides the missions and all, you can explore the land, play golf, rob gas stations, go on rampages, participate in races (including a triatholon events), play online, browse the net, do activities with fellow NPC's, go on a Vinewood tour (basically GTA 5's version of Hollywood), watch movies, play tennis, visit a movie studio, spot a ghost (yes there is at least one confirmed scary ghost in the game that you may come across if you know where to look or when to look, see http://rjvideogamer.blogspot.com/2014/10/halloweenish-moments-in-grand-theft.html for more info), drive on freeways, swim in the ocean and much more.  Plus by being able to switch between characters, there is much more you can do if you get bored playing as the same character every time (for example, if you get tired playing as Fraklin, you can always switch to either Michael or Trevor assuming they are available).
- Stunning graphics.  You definitely feel like you are in Southern California.
- More variety in missions.  I remember in Grand Theft Auto 4, Nikko was often an errands boy and doing other peoples' dirty work (like the many assassinations you have to do in GTA 4 where you have to chase a target down and shoot him/her).  Sure you might get a few errands boy style missions (especially some of the "Strangers and Freaks" missions), but you also get other kinds of missions too, including: performing heists, being a repo man (as Franklin at the beginning of the game), going on races, running an arms business as Trevor (where you drive a dune buggy or fly a stunt plane delivering weapons to customers for cash as well as taking out competition), and many others.  My favorite was as Michael where you can join a cult (the Epsilon Program) and take part in the missions they give you and possibly earn $2,000,000 in the end (depending on how you play the final epsilon mission).  There are so many different kinds of missions you can do, so it would be difficult to list them all, but I won't spoil the game for you.
- Some characters from previous GTA games make appearances too.  Perhaps the most notable one is Packie McReary from GTA 5 and he does prove to be extremely valuable for heist missions.  Even Nikko makes a cameo appearance on a Life Invader page (GTA's version of myspace).
- I also like how you can switch between 3 different players.  Besides the bank heist in the game's prologue, you start with one character (Franklin) and as you play through the storyline missions, you can also unlock Michael (he appears rather early in the game, about 4 missions in) and later Trevor (he appears after the jewlery store heist).  You can switch off between the 3 characters, have the characters hang out, and some missions do require the trio working together too.  It can be amusing when switching between characters too as you never really know what the other character is doing when you switch.  Michael can be hanging out with his family (being a family man himself), stuck in traffic on one of the several freeways in the game, or even going on a stroll in Los Santos.  Franklin can be hanging out at his safehouse (moreso after he unlocks his second safehouse which comes available as the game progresses), hanging out at the vanilla unicorn strip club, going on a drive somewhere, or even interacting with Chop (his rottwieller dog).  Perhaps the most random is Trevor.  When switching to Trevor, you never really know what he is up to as he could be hanging out at one of the airfields he owns (like the one he uses for the 2 arms delivery side missions you can do), hanging out at his trailer in Sandy Shores, get into fights with random NPCs (like scenes where he seems to throw someone off a bridge), or rarely getting pursued by cops (when that happens, you will have a 2 star wanted rating to evade).
- Long an interesting storyline too
- Online mode extends the gameply significantly too since story mode can get dull after a while (especially after beating the story mode portion of the game) and run out of things to do.
- I also like the new structure the game offers when it comes to failed missions.  In GTA 4, if you fail a mission, you usually have to start over from the beginning, buy more armor and ammo if needed,  and if you get busted during a mission, you lose the weapons you have which means you have to buy more.  In GTA 5, whenever you fail a mission (such as getting killed or busted), the screen will say mission failed and you automatically get options to retry a mission, restart a mission, quit a mission (which means that you will have to start over and if you were killed, end up at a nearby hospital, or if you were arrested: lose all of the ammo you have), or sometimes (though not always), skip a mission (can be useful if you are struggling on a particular mission).  Obviously hard core gamers will probably not like the new structure (though they can opt to start missions over if they want as well as resist the temptation to skip a mission), but I do like the new structure (especially when it comes to the harder and more frustrating missions).
- You can also win medals from missions from completing extra requirements (by completing missions you automatically get a bronze medal, but you can also go for silver and gold medals too by meeting extra requirements, such as completing a mission within a certain time frame, not getting scratches on your car, doing head shots, etc).  By the way, you can replay missions if you want a better score.
- If you get busted by cops, they don't confiscate your weapons like they do in previous games.  Instead, they confiscate the ammo you have.  While you still have to buy ammo, you don't have to rebuy the weapons.

Drawbacks of GTA 5
- Obviously being at typical Grand Theft Auto game, Grand Theft Auto 5 will likely be offensive to some.  I am a 32 year adult, and I can handle it, but I am sure that the same cannot be said for everyone.  The game does have some dark elements to it too.  Some examples includes: Franklin performing home invasion robberies (like the one he does at Michael's house early in the game where he has to "steal" a car in the garage), Michael's family issues (as well as dark past), issues with Trevor and is he is probably the most violent out of the bunch and does not hesitate to commit murder, (especially when he is in a rage mode, which does happen on more than one occasion during the course of the game) get into fights, and commit other crimes.  Plenty of other potientialy offensive stuff too, including being able to use alcohol (players can get drunk or even pass out), use drugs (such as smoking a bong in a safehouse, going on acid trips, and even huffing gas and blacking out), kidnap hitch hikers and deliver them to a cannibalistic cult (aka Trevor taking passengers to the Altruist cult near Mount Chillad), racial slurs, getting mauled by cougars, getting attacked by sharks and many others.  Definitely the type of game that mothers will hate (from personal experience) and may make you look over your shoulder sometimes.  Even in the online mode, people don't always play nice, they can troll, accuse you of being a "bad sport", and rarely, try to kick you from the game, even if you have done nothing to me wrong (almost happened to me once when I first started playing on the online mode, I guess somebody didn't like newbies).
- Replay value is kind of limited.  There are some missions and side missions where you will probably want to do again and see how they might end differently (for example: in the merrywetther heist mission where you can choose between using a submarine for the mission or infiltrating a freighter ship at port).  Also, there are 3 possible endings for the game too.  However, eventually you probably will run out of things to do (moreso after 100% completion) and then the game can get real dull,  Luckily the online mode can extend the gameplay significantly.
- Getting wasted (killed) in the game can be painful moneywise.  Unless if you are an expert at not dying in games like GTA 5, you probably will get wasted (i.e., falling of buildings, getting shot, getting attacked by animals like cougars, dogs and sharks, car accidents, etc) on various occasions and when that happens, you will respawn at a nearby hospital or clinic (like the one at Sandy Shores) and they love to charge you lots of ingame money each time.  At first they don't charge you very much, but as your money accumulates in the game (especially $100,000 or more), the fee goes up significantly, capping at $5000 each time you get wasted.  Obviously if you die alot in the game, that can get real expensive fast.   Saving the game often can be useful here (especially if you are in a situation where death can come very easily, like attempting the "under the bridge" side mission).  Also, when you fail a mission, I always try to resist the temptation to "quit" the mission, especially if my guy gets wasted or busted during a mission.  Also, if you decide to go on a rampage in the game, you will probably want to save first and reload later to avoid losing too much money or getting your weapon ammo conficated if you get busted.
- When playing online, watch out for trolls.  Some people online can be jerks and sometimes will try to kill your player, talks smack, etc.  There are also occasions where people will try to kick you from the game even if you have done nothing wrong (and I have seen stories online about people getting kicked for no reason).  I have only encountered a kicking attempt once (ironically, I was just starting out on the online mode when it happened, not sure why other than the fact I was a typical newbie at the time), but it seems to have tapered off (possibly because people are migrating over to the Xbox One and PS4 versions of GTA 5).  Also, people can place bounties on your characters too.
- Switching off between characters will definitely take getting used to for some.
Well, that is all for now.  Despite the set backs, GTA 5 for Xbox 360 definitely makes a very good final installment for the Xbox 360 era GTA series.  By the way, Rockstar has already released GTA 5 for both Xbox One and PS4, so you may want to opt for that version instead.

Official grade for the game: A

Want to get your own copy of GTA 5?  You can buy them on Amazon.com by clicking on the links below

Important disclaimer about Grand Theft Auto 5: this game is rated M for mature and is not advised for people under 17 or people that are easily offended by violent video games (considering that this game will likely be offensive to some).  Also, for your own good, anything you see on Grand Theft Auto 5 (and any other game in the series for that matter) should never be recreated in real life.  Like all GTA games, grand theft auto 5 does seem to glorify crime in many ways (even in comical ways too), such as rampages, heist missions, stealing cars, drugs, and just about any other thing you can't normally get away with in real life. Obviously getting ideas and recreating things you see in GTA 5 may lead to serious consequences, including trouble with the law, lengthy prison sentences, or even death.  Never try anything you see in Grand Theft Auto 5 at home.  Being a fellow gamer, I take no responsibility for making poor choices as a result of playing GTA 5 (i.e., stealing cars, committing other crimes, murder, etc).

Similar Games:

- Grand Theft Auto San Andreas (also features Los Santos, regular Xbox era)
- Grand Theft Auto 4 (in that game, you play in Liberty City, which is basically a virtual version of New York CIty).  By the way, GTA 5 assumes you have played through Grand Theft Auto 4, so if you haven't played through that game, feel free to check it out.
- Red Dead Redemption (wild west style game that has some GTA style elements).  By the way, there is an easter egg in GTA Online that lets you make a character that has John Marston as one of his/her parents.

Gamer to Gamer tips:
1. Money.  If you are a typical newbie looking for ideas on how to earn money in the game, there are several ways you can do so, including:
- Killing pedestrians (often times they do drop cash when killed), though killing people is risky since it will cause your wanted level to go up and cops will try to arrest or (more likely kill you) when that happens.
- Robbing stores: you can hold up stores in the game and earn cash that way, though like killing people, it will almost always cause your wanted level to go up and so you have to deal with cops as a result
- Buying properties.  As you progress throughout the game, you will be able to buy various properties (such as the Mckenzie air field, scrap yard, downtown cab company, etc) and they do generate income for your characters during the course of the game. As Trevor, you will be able to acquire this airstrip near Grapeseed where you can do side missions where you can deliver weapons via buggy or plane as well as taking out rivals and get paid that way too.  Some properties earn you more than others
- Driving a taxi cab.  Like in other GTA games, you can opt to drive a taxi cab and pick people up and drop them off at various locations for easy cash.
- Heists.  If you do heists properly, you can score lots of extra money (especially the final heist in the game, which can yield up to $30,000,000 for each character).  Poorly setting up for heists (such as choosing helpers that are not qualified for the job) can cause you to lose money though.
-  Buying the scrap yard.  This property can also yield good money as you get $150 per ingame week for every car you destroy in the game (or $1500 for every 10 cars you destroy).
- Diving in the ocean and finding hidden packages.  These often yield money.  Warning: sharks do lurk in the ocean (you will know when one is nearby because they will appear as red dots on your in game map and radar) and will try to eat you.  What happens is: if you dive in the ocean, and a shark is closeby, it will swim around you for a little while back and fourth like a typical fish, but after a while, a cut scene will occur showing the shark eating your character (much like Jaws) with one hit kills.

2. Dealing with cops
- Hiding can be useful for getting away from cops, but not always (sometimes they can find you and you and try to shoot you or arrest you when they do).
- Between getting killed or busted by a cop in the game, I'd rather get wasted by them.  I they bust you, they will confiscate your ammo and you will have to go to the nearest ammunation to buy more ammo.  If you get wasted, you keep your weapons and ammo, though it will cost you money each time though.
-  The higher your wanted rating is, the more aggresssive cops become.  Also, shooting officers will automatically result in a 3 star wanted rating.
- Restricted areas (like Fort Zancudo): enter them at your own risk.  Usually trespassing at restricted areas will result in your wanted level going up and will probably inevitably end with your character getting wasted (or busted).  At Fort Zancudo, for example, trespassing on base will result in a 4 star wanted level and tanks and military personnel going after you.  If you really want to explore restricted areas, you might want to consider activating invincibility cheats.
3. Skipping and retrying missions:
- Only use skip as a last resort.  If you find a mission too difficult, you can usually skip after several tries (though not every mission has a skip option).  Some missions will probably take several tries.
- I don't recommend quitting a mission unless if you have to since then you will have to start the mission over.  If you die during a mission and quit, you will be taken to the nearest hospital by he way.  Get busted and quit, you will be taken to the nearest police station and stripped of ammo.

4. 100% perks:
- when you have beaten the main storyline missions, the game is not yet over.  I recommend getting 100% at least once.  Plenty of perks for 100% completion too.  By the way, if you want to see the hidden UFOs in the game, most won't appear till after you have gotten 100% completion.

(more tips will be added over time).

That is all for now?  How was your experience with Grand Theft Auto 5?  Do you have a different take on the game?  Feel free to leave your comments below.

Note: I got the Xbox One version of GTA 5 recently, so I will share my thoughts on that version on a later post.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Halloweenish Moments in Grand Theft Auto 5 part one.

You know I have recently beaten the game on Grand Theft Auto 5 and even got to the 100% completion mark.  This month is October and as you know, Halloween is just a few weeks away and Grand Theft Auto 5 has several Halloweenish moments.

Spoiler alert: this post assumes you have played through GTA 5.  If you haven't played through the game and want to be suprised, feel free to skip this post.  Alternatively, why not grab yourself a copy of GTA 5 via Amazon.  

Moving on,here are 3 Halloweenish moments in the game (this post is too big to do in one setting, so I will have to break it up into several posts):

1. Do some ghost hunting at Mount Gordo
Mount Gordo

Yes, ghosts do exist in Grand Theft Auto 5.  In fact, if you are venturing out to Mount Gordo late at night you might encouter this ghost.  Presumably it is the ghost of Lenora Johnson, who was murdered prior to the events of the game.  The Mount Gordo summit is hidden off to the side of the freeway connecting Los Santos with Paleto Bay just north of the Sandy Shores area (if you get to the Paleto Bay area going north, you have gone too far).  Once you get to Mount Gordo, you can either hike, ride a bike, or use a motorcycle to get to the summit.  The ghost will appear in a specific spot along the mountain, so you will have to scout it out.

Few notes about the ghot of Mount Gordo:
- There is a specific point at the top of Mount Gordo where you can encounter the ghost you will have to some exploring at the top.
- The ghost only appears at a certain time in the game (I think it is 23:00-0:00, or 11:00 pm to 12:00pm).  The ghost disappears afterwards.  If you get there too early or too late you will have to wait till the same time  the next night (btw, you can camp out there if you want if you are the patient type).
- The ghost basically just hovers over the rock.
- You can't shoot the ghost (bullets will go right through her)
- For a closer look at the ghost, I recommend getting a sniper rifle in the game.  You can get a closeup view of her with a sniper rifle
- The ghost will disappear if you try to get too close to her.  Interestingly if you back away, she will reappear again.
- Also, if you get to the rock she hovers around, you can actually see blood on it.
It's pretty creepy if you ask me.  By the way, it seems to be a residual type haunt as it doesn't seem to notice you and just does the same thing each night.
- You can also get a view of the lighthouse below in the distance from where she is.  Presumably she fell to her death from the top of the mountain.

Tips and warnings about this ghost:
- The ghost appears at a specific time (from 23:00-0:00 game time).  She disappears afterwards.  So you do have to time your visit to the mountain perfectly.  Alternatively, you can always camp out in the vincinity.  The fastest way to the top is via motorcycle.  If you go on foot, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get to the top.
- Watch out for cougars, especially if you go there on foot.  Just like hot it is in the game, Red Dead Redemption, cougars do exist in the game and will attack you if you are on foot (if you are on motorcycle, they will just run away).  Usually you will hear a growl followed by seeing a red dot on the radar and that will indicate a cougar nearby and closing in on you.  I recommend taking handy gun with you with plenty of ammo if you venture out to mount gordo for your protection.  Even a good pistol can take out cougars pretty quickly if they get too close.
- For a closeup view of the ghost, you will need a sniper rifle.  You can't get too close to her, otherwise she disappears.

Here is a video about the ghost:


Part 2: UFO's
Here is a picture of a ufo I took at the top of Mount Chillad (note that it only appears late on a stormy night there and after you have gotten 100% completion of the game)
Mount Chiliad

Yes, aliens do seem to exist in Grand Theft Auto 5.  Some ufos and aliens can be found before the 100% completion of the game, such as the sunken one near Paleto Bay as well as what looks like the remaints of an alien hidden beneath the ice near North Yankton at the beginning of the game (can be easy to miss).

After you have gotten 100% completion (these ufos will not appear till after you have gotten 100% completion), more ufos can be found, including:
1. UFO easter egg on top of Mount Chillad (appears after 3:00 on a stormy night).

After 100% completion of the game, if you venture to the top of Mount Chillad late on a stormy night, you might encounter a ufo there (close to the top of the gondala).  By the way, there is a cheat code that makes it so you can change the weather if you want it to be stormy sooner
Mount Chiliad
(see http://www.gamefaqs.com/xbox360/634491-grand-theft-auto-v/cheats if you have the Xbox 360 version or http://www.gamefaqs.com/ps3/634490-grand-theft-auto-v/cheats for the PS3  version).
The Mount Chillad Ufo is probably the easiest one to spot if you know where to look and when to look.  To spot this ufo (after the 100% completion), make sure it is stormy out (if it is a clear night, the ufo will not appear) and night time (preferrably after 1am) and take the tram from the tram station near Paleto Bay to the  top of the Mountain.  Assuing it is still stormy, around 3am, a ufo should appear.  By the way, there are cheats you can use to change the weather, so if it is sunny out for example, you can use cheat codes to make it so it becomes stormy.  Note: the weather can change during the course of a day in the game (such as going from rain to clear) so you will want to wait till at least 2 hours before 3am before entering the cheats to ensure that it is still stormy by 3am.  If you change it  too early it might change and you will miss out.

2 warnings and other info about this ufo spot:
- cougars do roam on Mount Chillad and will try to attack you when on foot, so watch out for them, especially if you decide to hike down the mountain.  Carrying a gun is a must for defending yourself against cougars.
- You can parachute off the mountain if you want, though you can also bike, hike or take the tram back down.  If you hike watch out for cougars.
- It might work if it is raining out, though I haven't tried that approach myself so I don't know if it works that way.
- Unlike the UFOs over Zancudo Air Force Base and Sandy Shores, it doesn't turn hostile if you get close to it.  Instead it vanishes (much like how it is with the ghost on top of Mount Gordo).
- The easiest way to make it stormy is to use cheat codes to change the weather (otherwise you could be waiting for a while before it gets stormy).  Also make sure you time it correctly (say anytime after 1am).  If you do it too early, the weather might change on you.
- The Mount Chillad UFO seems to be a part of a larger mystery.  If you get off the tram there is a picture that looks like the inside of the mountain and a ufo that appears on the top.  There are rumors surrounding Mount Chillad I have seen online, such as elevators into the mountain (though apparently they don't work) at Fort Zacudo and the tram station seems to have what looks like panels that could open and lead inside the mountain but I don't know how to open them.   It is possible that Rockstar will add some DLC that expands on the mystery some day, though it is not clear if or when they will make the expansion (they might also make the changes when the Xbox One and Playstation 4 versions come out).  I will try to keep you updated if I hear anything.

2. UFO over Sandy Shores

If you are flying high above the Sandy Shores area after you have gotten the 100% completion, you may encounter this ufo hovering over the hippy camp (the one that has the green landscape with ufo enthusiasts. This one can actually be tricky to find and easy to miss if you don't know where to look, though not nearly as tricky to find as the one at Fort Zancudo is in my opinion.  Here is how you can see  the ufo:
- I recommend using Trevor for this one and be sure to purchase the Mckenzie Airfield if you haven't done so already (it is the one in Sandy Shores).  Also, I recommend using a helicopter for this one.  If you do not know how to fly a helicopter in the game, you might want to consider doing the flight school missions at Los Santos Airport (ideally you should have done flight school during the Merryweather Heist preparation events, and I think it is required for 100% completion).
- As Trevor (or whoever you want flying), get in a helicopter and fly it as high as you can over where the hippy camp is and eventually you should see a UFO decending from the sky.  Note that the appear appears right around the hippy camp and nowhere else around sandy shores.
- You can get a picture of the UFO using the ingame phone, though it can be tricky to fly and take pictures at the same time.
- It might be possible to land on the ufo or parachute onto it (I have seen videos of people doing this), but it is very risky doings so.

Quick warning about this ufo:
- It becomes hostile if you get too close. If you get too close to it, it shoots this invisible beam (you will hear a wierd noise, don't know how else to describe it) that renders your plane inoperable, which means you have to parachute a long way down from the sky.
- Also, if you are using a parachute and get too close to the UFO, it will "shoot" the parachute as well, sending your character falling down to his death.
- Sometimes jumping out of a plane or helicopter can get you a wanted level.
- The ufo might not appear right away when flying around the hippy camp.  If you do not see it yet, you can fly around and keep trying to gain altitude and eventually you should be able to see it.

Ufo 3: Fort Zancudo

San Andreas
Picture of the Fort Zancudo UFO
 Update: I was able to get a glimpse of this one last night. If but if you fly high over the Ford Zancudo Air Force base in the game (again assuming you have 100% completion), you might be able to a ufo flying over the base.  Of the 3 UFOs that appear after 100% completion, this one is probably the hardest one to spot in my opinion and perhaps the most risky one to find too considering that you are flying over one of the game's restricted areas.  To see the UFO, you have to be flying high above the airforce base and if you are patient and know where to look, you should eventually see a UFO flying around.  Unlike the other 2 UFOs, it has a military style look, materializes in front of you (unlike the one at Sandy Shores where it decends from the sky) alost like it has a cloaking device, and looks like it is missing parts of its sphere.   Apparrently you can shoot at the UFO if you have a Lazer or military helicopter, though you can't seem to do real damage to it.  By the way, good luck getting a lazer or combat helicopter, since not easy to acquire as you have to sneak on to the base (which gives you an instant 4 start wanted level), fight your way to the helicopter (and yes military personnel do have tanks that will come after you) and manage to take off without getting shot down.  I recommend using the invincibility cheat (makes you invincible for 5 ingame minutes) if you are struggling to get to the helicopter (the only real hard part then is trying to avoid getting shot down).  Alternatively, you can fly a helicopter over to Ford Zancudo from either Los Santos as Franklin or Mckenzie Airfield as Trevor)
Interestingly, like the ufo in Sandy Shores, it looks like it gets hostile if you get too close and will try to shoot you down.  By the way, the Fort Zancudo ufo seems to be a reference to rumors about ufos being seen over real life military bases (such as Area 51, for example) and seems to pay tribute to a similar military base in GTA San Andreas.  I've never seen a ufo in real life and don't really know if ufos really appear over military bases, but I have seen shows on it, including a special on Travel Channel about Rachel, Nevada and Area 51 that talks about that kind of phenomenon.  Though I have never been to that part of Nevada so I wouldn't know if there is any truth to the claims about the place.

Quick warnings about the Fort Zancudo UFO:
- As with real life military bases, trespassing is forbidden at Fort Zancudo.  If you try to set foot on the base there, you will get an instant 4 star wanted level, which can essentially be a death sentence for your character unless if you are good at eluding police and military personel on a 4 star wanted level in the game (which is definitely intense).  Also, you have tanks on the base hunting you down too, which can kill you in one hit it shoots you.  If you fly over Fort Zancudo, unless if you are high enough, you can get shot down.  For the Fort Zancudo UFO, you will have to be flying over the base as high as you can and you should not have to worry about getting shot down, which can happen if you if you fly too low.  This should not be a problem if you are flying from Sandy Shores or Los Santos air port as you have plenty of time to gain altitude on the way.
-  Like the UFO in Sandy Shores, the Fort Zancudo UFO does get hostile if you get too close and will try to "shoot" you down, which can be dangerous for the player over the military base.
- This one can take several tries to find since it is not as easy to find as the other 2 are.
Part 3: Aliens and Alien Abductions

 You know, just thinking about UFOs, Aliens also seem to exist in the game too.  In the video above, there is a side mission Michael can take where there is some politician trying to legalize medical cocaine (seems to be a parody of real life medical marijuana) and when Michael takes a free sample of the drug, he has this hallucination where there a horde of aliens appearing and closing in on him and he has to shoot them with a mini-gun. It was a pretty wierd mission in my opinion.  Also they try to abduct Michael and if they succeed, Michael dies so you have to avoid getting abducted by them.  By the way, this is not the only time Michael can encounter aliens.  There is a more disturbing encounter during another mission (I think it is the "Did someone say Yoga?" Mission (it is the one where Michael temporarily breaks up with Amanda till towards the end of the storyline missions) where after doing Yoga and Amanda threatens to leave Michael for some Yoga dude, Michael encounters Jimmy.  He has Michael take Jimmy to get drugs (yes drugs do exist in GTA 5 and your characters can use them with funny effects) from a friend and tricks Michael into sampling the drugs (even while driving I might add) and it sends Michael into an instant hallucination trip where he gets abducted by aliens (they look like the aliens from "Aliens vs Predator" in my opinion) and sent back to earth.  There also appear to be aliens roaming the streets of Vinewood (GTA's version of Hollywood) as well as the Vinewood Studio (which is based on the Hollywood Studios in Los Angeles). Definitely a halloweenish moment.  It is probably the best paranormal events that take place in the game too.

By the way, here is a video I found on Youtube about some player causing a UFO to crash and get attacked by aliens.  Pretty funny (not sure how the easter egg works though as I haven't seen it yet).

Well that is all for now. Will add more Halloweenish moments at a later post.  Other Halloweenish moments I know of which I will try to expand more on as time allows includes:
- Killer clowns with Trevor.  It is pretty similar to Michael's hallucination of aliens, but involves clowns.
- Solve 2 murder mysteries
- Watch out for...Jaws (yes, man eating sharks do exist in GTA 5)!
- Joining cults (such as the Epsilon cult as Michael)
- Altruist Cult (basically cannibals in GTA 5)
- Trevor Philips as a psychopath.
-  Cougars!
-  Vandalism and costume dressing
- Ghost dog (there is a dog that appears in one of the "Strangers and Freaks" mission that only Franklin can see and seems to warn of impending danger for his "master"?
- Ghost of Trevor Phillip's mother (aka the Mrs Phillips Strangers and Freaks Mission)?
- Does bigfoot roam the Mount Chillad wilderness (also known as the "Last one" Strangers and Freaks mission).

Stay tuned for more.

Disclaimer about GTA 5: the game is rated "M" for mature and is definitely not for everyone content wise.  Content includes: violence, criminal acts (btw, don't even think about trying anything you see in this game at home for obvious reasons unless of course if you are trying to get arrested or end up in jail for a long time, or even wind up on death row in some case), drug use and references, dark moments, and similar things associated with the GTA franchise.  If you are the type that is easily offended by video game violence and similar types of content, then Grand Theft Auto 5 is probably not for you.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Just got Grand Theft Auto 5 just a few days ago

Hey everyone, it's been a while since I have posted last, in part due to the job I was going for at Microsoft where I would have been working as a Bing HRS judge.  Despite my best efforts to pass the qualification tests, I fell short and so it looks like I won't be getting that job afterall (by the way, it was definitely tougher than it looks too since you have to be spot on your judgegments at least 80% of the time which can be easier said than done for most as you never really know if you got a judgment right till after you submitted a judgement).  Anyways, I do have some good news: I got Grand Theft Auto 5 (even beat GTA 4 a few weeks ago) which I purchased at Fred Meyer. By the way, here is a trailer for the game in case if you are curious.

Grand Theft Auto 5 (story mode) first impressions

I have been able to play the game several  times since I got it and here are my first impressions of the game.  Note that this is not my official review of the game (I will do that at another time probably when I am about to beat the game, whenever that is).  The game has 2 different modes of gameplay: story mode and online mode (aka GTA 5 Online) each with their own unique story lines and feels.  The game starts off in some foreign country (Russia?) where your character (Trevor?) is a part of a bank heist mission where your character is a part of a bank robbery scheme and he has to help secure hostages, take money and evade police.  I won't spoil  the whole prologue, but that is basically how it works in a nutshell.  Eventually the prologue ends and shifts over to Los Santos where you assume the role of an African American named Franklin and the real story begins.  I've done several missions already, including:
- A mission where you have to scope out a neighborhood (presumably for drugs) only to be attacked by a street gang and a shootout takes place and eventually leads to a scene where you have to chase a biker in a van (similar to many of the missions in GTA 4 where Niko has to chase down his targets in order to take them out).  Interestingly you can choose to skip the mission if you are struggling (which is nice as you don't have to keep repeating the mission if you are having trouble beating the mission).
- There was also a side mission where you have to help a random woman tow (which is definitely a first in  thee series as I haven't seen similar missions involving a Tow truck in earlier installments of the GTA franchise) a car from the street to an impound lot.
-  There is also a mission where you have to chase down a target with the help of a rottweiler (yes there are dogs in the game unlike the previous entries) at a train yard facility. Btw the dog can run off and get frisky with other dogs (which was kind of funny and yet twisted in my opinion).

Outside of missions, there is definitely a huge world to explore and plenty of things to do in Los Santos and San Andreas.  BTW this game will definitely remind you of GTA San Andreas in many ways which is definitely a change after hanging out in Liberty City throughout the GTA 4 era games.  Also just as Liberty City is alot like New York City in GTA 4, Los Santos is definitely alot like the Los Angeles area in California and will definitely make you feel like you are in Southern California.  By the way, interestingly your guy can smoke and drink alcohol too, which is kind of funny (btw, if you drink too much your guy passes out).  And if he smokes often he starts getting voices in his head.

Things I like so far:
+ Huge world
+ Great acting and clip scenes (much like how it is in GTA 4)
+ New mission varieties (especially the tow truck mission as the one involving the rottwiler)
+ Definitely a change of pace from GTA 4
+ During many missions, there do seem to be checkpoints where if you fail or die you can go back to the checkpoint as opposed to having to start all over in the mission.  This is definitely nice since I know in earlier installments in the series, you didn't really have this feature and if you failed at any point in the mission you had to start over from the beginning of the mission in most cases.  Also some missions do seem to have an option where you can skip them if you fail too many times (which can take out the frustration you might have on some of the tougher missions).  I am not sure if you can skip every mission that way but at least some of the missions do
+ At least 3 or 4 playable characters (though you start off with one at the beginning).  Not sure when the other ones open up

- Not sure if you can use taxis like you could in GTA 4.  Having cars is nice, but I liked the fast travel feature (especially if you are lazy or want to hurry and get to another part of the map).
- Your character (at least Fanklin) has a girlfriend at the start of the game so I am not sure if you can get girlfriends in the game like you can in GTA 4 or San Andreas, though you do get an email early in the game that implies that Franklin's initial girlfriend wants to break up with him (he gets one of those "dear John" letters where his initial girlfriend claims that she just wants to be friends and is not interested in continuing her relationship with him)., so he might be able to get girlfriends in the game.  Note: I haven't unlocked the

Online mode at a first glance:

Here is what I like so far:
1) Huge world to explore and do
2) The online mode does seem to have its own storyline that you can follow.  When I started out I created a character named after John Waynum (the screen name me and my brothers share on Xbox live).  I wanted to make John Martson his father (there is an easter egg in some versions where you can do that), though the version of the game I have doesn't seem to have  that feature.
3) Lots of things to do online.  You can do races, earn money do bounty hunter missions, fly jets (at least I saw a youtube video of someone flying a jet last night on GTA Online).

Cons so far:

1. Good Sport and Bad sport system.  There seems to be a new system on GTA Online where our actions can determine whether you are a good sport or bad sport.  I guess if you are a good sport, you reap the benefits of being a good sport.  Not sure what can make you a bad sport though apparently shooting other peoples' cars and failing jobs can land you in that category.

2. Kicking system.  On GTA 5 online, you can see other players' names and if you want to you can choose to "kick" or "report" the player.  While it might be a good way to prevent abuse of the system, sadly there are troll types (people who like to make life miserable for others online) that are ever present in GTA online that like to abuse it and sadly even innocent players can find themselves kicked from  the game or (worse flagged).  It seems to happen randomly as you can do a mission, accept jobs, take part in a race, etc and some jerk decides to kick you out of the game.  I remember on my first time playing online, I was just starting out and trying to familiarize myself with the controls and even did 2 missions when I got a message saying that someone voted to kick me.  No explanation why and I know I wasn't doing anything wrong either.  Hopefully kicking doesn't become problem for players (especially newbies), but that did seem to be evident when played the online mode.  If I were Rockstar I would make it harder for people to kick people (such as forcing them to state a reason why they want players kicked and make it easier for people to defend themselves when accused) off the servers (or at least if people want a private server to play on, encourage them to use private servers), otherwise that can be a huge issue that plagues the online mode.

Here is video for example of one of the players doing a mission where he had to get something from a gun store only to get kicked from the game (looks like someone didn't want him to beat the mission):

Other than those 2 things the Online mode seems pretty impressive so far.

Note that this is not my official review of the games as I will probably get a better impression as time goes on, but those are my thoughts so far.

Note that there doesn't seem to be a version of the game for xbox one yet, so you would need a PS3 or Xbox 360 to play it.

Interesting in getting GTA 5?  You can get them through Amazon or similar retailers: