GTA: Online had a rocky start. This is my experience.I woke up on October 1st like it was Christmas morning. I pushed away my sheets and ran to my console, excited to run through Los Santos in Grand Theft Auto: Online with my friends. I had even skipped classes so I could enjoy my time, (maybe GTA is a worse influence on me then I thought) but to my sadness it was all for naught.
I had a feeling going in that GTA: Online would have a few kinks it would need to work out, but I had no idea of how much. A wall comprised of millions of digital gamers crashed headlong into Rockstar’s servers and there wasn’t much that could be done. I was one of the few people who seemed to make it to the character creator on their first attempt, but from there it only got worse.
GTA: Online sports one of the oddest and most difficult to use character creation systems I’ve ever experienced. Forget all you know about chin size and cheek depth and get yourself familiarized with genetics. In GTA: Online your characters appearance is based off how his or her grandparents and parents looked. This is an interesting approach, but one that ultimately fails. After nearly 30 minutes of tinkering, I had a female character that was as good as I thought I could get.
After my character was created, I experienced loading screens. And loading screens. And loading screens. This was about the extent of my Day 1 attempts with GTA: Online with the occasional tease of seeing my character walk up to a car and get in, never to be seen again. Days 2-4 were filled with a very real sadness as I inched closer and closer to exiting the purgatory that the GTA: Online tutorial had become. Each time I thought I was close, the game would disconnect or erase my character.
Then on Day 5 something changed. My game connected: I made it through the tutorial and I was thrown into a world that one of my Xbox Live friends was already in. I drove around Los Santos in near shock because I was finally in. I stopped to let a train cross and my friend was riding on top of it shooting his pistol.
After that point it was a blur of hijinks for the next few hours, and it was so good.
We stole cars and had our own two man demolition. We performed numerous botch job heists at the local liquor stores in Blaine County. We drove dirt bikes up Mount Chiliad and then went to Vespucci Beach and accrued a healthy wanted level. It was everything I had wanted GTA: Online to be and more.
Over the next few days I attempted to play online with only strangers. Without at least a friend or two from your friends list the game became lackluster. Everyone is so paranoid that a stranger walking/driving up to him or her is going to kill them for their money that people stay in packs of their online friends or wander the streets alone.
The player vs. player options don’t have much going for them either: both the deathmatch and racing game modes are average in every way. They are easy ways to make money if you win but everything about both game modes are completely lackluster.
If you go into GTA: Online with a bunch of friends with high hopes of doing nothing but tearing up Los Santos and Blaine County at your leisure, then you will have a Game of the Year experience. If you go in thinking you will have a similar experience by focusing on the Jobs and Missions that GTA: Online has to offer, then you will probably be disappointed.
GTA’s magic has always come from its randomness and this online mode is the perfect place to go wild and almost literally do whatever you want. The only problem is that if your friends list isn’t populated with people playing GTA: Online, then you will be hard pressed to find strangers willing to be the Thelma to your Louise.