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March 16, 2018

Rabbids Rumble

In preparation for this review and the next, I revisited the four games I reviewed back in February 2015. My criticism of them still stand. I won’t come back on them, you can just go back to read those reviews instead. Speaking of, I think I strained my arm with the cow-tossing mini-game again. Peachy.

I remember loving these games so much, I spent an extra part listing my favorite and least favorite mini-games from each title (using the abbreviations RRR – Rayman Raving Rabbids -, RR – Raving Rabbids – and R – Rabbids – to keep things shorter). RRR1, RRR2 (for DS and Wii), RRR TV Party… and of course, those were only the beginning. These were followed by Rabbids Go Home, which marked the clear divide between the original trilogy of games and every one that followed. Rayman was no longer the victim of these invaders’ antics… Nah, the humans were the victims instead.

You could call it... an invasion.
After which the franchise grew bigger and bigger, with entries for home consoles and portable devices. “RR Travel In Time”, where they take their madness to various epochs of human History; “RR Alive and Kicking”, which makes full use of the Xbox Kinect; “Rabbids Land” on the Wii U; “The Interactive TV Show” discussed in last week’s review, along with the TV show; and “RR: The Big Plan”, a VR title because you just have to have bunnies literally come at you now. But it was released only for the Google Daydream, so meh. There’s a few games on iOS as well: “R Big Bang”, “R Heroes” and “R Crazy Rush”. Oh, and a cheap Facebook game that never let you have any chance of moving forward without paying real money. Because that's how Facebook games work. Then, last year we had the massive smash hit “Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle”, released for the Nintendo Switch, and which lovingly mocked every overused trope under the sun of the Mushroom Kingdom. Put that one in the list of crossovers that worked surprisingly well. It was like Ubisoft hosting a friendly roast for a franchise belonging to their adversary.

But of course, there’s also today’s game, Rabbids Rumble. This one was developed by Headstrong Games rather than Ubisoft, and was released on November 13th, 2012. It was released solely for the Nintendo 3DS, for a simple reason: This game makes full use of the portable console’s capabilities. You’ll notice that mini-game collections do that often. I even remember when I bought this one: January 2015, G-Anime, first convention I ever went to. Hey, what’s a convention if not a great place to buy used games? As a fan of the Rabbids, of course I jumped on the occasion to buy this one!

Just look at the box. Looks fun, doesn’t it? A bunch of Rabbids dressed in various silly disguises, ready for a brawl. And the back of the box says there’s over 100 Rabbids to collect in this game! 100 different battlers! And there are still mini-games, too! What’s not to love? Okay, enough time wasted: What’s the game like?

March 9, 2018

Rabbids Invasion: My Episode Suggestions

Okay...I’m not planning to make a full-on post about this. Rabbids Invasion has a LOT of episodes, so a Top 12 is almost impossible, and besides these episodes are too short to warrant that much text. Instead, here are some of my favorite episodes; feel free to check them out whenever you want. I’ll just say why I like these episodes.

Go here to read the Rabbids Invasion review.

“Rabbid, Are You There?” – The Rabbids set out to mimic a burglar breaking and entering into a house, and their antics prevent the burglar from succeeding in his task. Said antics also end up affecting the apartment above, in which a fake psychic is trying to scam people into giving him more money, pretending to speak to ghosts and spirits. Two plots that combine in a smart way!

This is entirely too much work for something that could
be solved in 5 seconds. Rabbids in a nutshell.
“Escalator Rabbid” – One bunny is trying to climb up a descending escalator, so he can reach the bunnies on the next floor and get some of their candy. He thinks up a dozen different ways to achieve this, yet keeps failing – while completely missing the fact that there’s an escalator going upwards only a few feet away! This one shows that the Rabbids are very stupid, but also bizarrely resourceful, even if the solutions they find are complex and ineffective, and the best solution, the obvious and easy one, is invisible to them.

“Omelet Party” – The “pilot”, in which Rabbids stumble upon a chicken coop, start racing using chicken as steads, then learn to provoke egg-laying from chickens and use them in an egg shootout… In other words, the absurd and silly stuff you’ve come to expect from these idiots.

Is that a... Jesus analogy or something?
“Rabbid Test No 98005-C: The Blue Rabbid” – In my eyes, the BEST episode of the show. John and Gina, the scientists, watch over seven Rabbids in their test chamber, and decide to paint one blue. What follows is a lesson in prejudice as the Rabbids belittle the lone blue bunny, and then the second one that Gina also paints. She turns two more blue, with the unpainted ones now the minority that the blues start belittling. This leads to a battle between both groups. Eventually, Gina erases the paint off one side of a Rabbid, making him half-blue half-white, and this one reunites the Rabbids as friends again. Touching, smart, and deeper than you’d expect from such a show.

While John panics in the Rabbid body, the Rabbid...
starts acting like a bird.
“Being Rabbid, Parts 1, 2 and 3” – Yes, the laboratory episodes are some of the best, and we have a trilogy here. In trying to comprehend the Rabbids, John switches brains with one of his test subjects. The Rabbid in John’s body gets into the control room… When Gina arrives the next day, she sends John in the Rabbid body out to the junkyard near the lab, where the bunnies regroup. Since he speaks human, the Rabbids start treating John like a king, but he manages to return to the lab… only for the brain transfer, done by Gina, to go wrong and leave Gina into the Rabbid’s body now. When she is sent down into the junkyard accidentally, she meets Lapinibernatus, the smart prehistoric Rabbid, who creates a Rabbid-to-English wristwatch translator so that she can understand him. Finally, a smart person Lapinibernatus can talk with! Unfortunately, John arrives, rescues Gina (leaving Lapinibernatus behind), and sets everything right, restoring Gina to her real body. Phew! These episodes would probably be together as #2 on my list of favorite episodes. The third one, in particular, is very touching.

A perfect Rabbids Invasion movie would have Gina
look for Lapinibernatus to help learn more about the
Rabbid species, since he's smart like a scientist.

Examples include "Diet Rabbid", in which one Rabbid tries
to slim the others down with exercise so they can enter
their makeshift machine. Problem being, they made the
entrance was too small, and no amount of exercise could
make them slim enough to go inside.
“The Rabbid Games” – The Olympic Games, in alien bunny flavor and all the stupidity they display. The running gag of the “female” Rabbid trying to sing and being constantly interrupted is a highlight.

Many episodes from Season 2 in which the bunnies try to get to the Moon. These include “Diet Rabbid” (in which one puts the others on a diet to go into their space shuttle, even if the diet is ineffective because they forgot to make a wide entrance on their shuttle) and “Green Rabbid”, which has them building a pile of stuff like they do in Rabbids Go Home.

Rabbids know Elvis? ....Impressive.
“Rabbid Anthem” – The Rabbids make a singing talent show in the junkyard, to find the perfect one to sing their anthem before they send one of theirs to the Moon. However, there’s only one participant, who tries over and over with different disguises, and he sings horribly off-key… until he inhales helium and does an adorable Elvis impersonation. And then, sometime later, the helium wears off. That one has laughs, cuteness, and drama when it all goes south.

“Ring! Bwaaah!” – After multiple episodes speaking on flip-flops as if they were cell phones, a group of bunnies suddenly gets a real smartphone… and proceed to “discover” it in true Rabbid fashion.

So wait, the Rabbids are dreaming of conducting actual
experiments on humans? Holy crap.
“Queen of Rabbids” – The Rabbids steal a magic kit for kids out of a store… and Alice, who had it in her hands, follows them. She proceeds to astonish them at the junkyard with the various simple magic tricks she knows, and they start treating her almost like a queen.

“Rabbid Dreams” – Ending this list on an unsettling episode, where the scientists attempt to comprehend Rabbids by observing their dreams. Things… get weird from there. Seriously, don’t mess with dreams.

That’s it for the list. Enjoy, seek these episodes, discover the show. This Friday: Rabbids Rumble.

Rabbids Invasion

Well! This is probably the worst title card I've ever made!

The Raving Rabbids. What else is there to say? You’re free to enjoy them, you’re free to despise them. Personally? I like them. They’re… I’m not sure how to explain it… A study on stupidity. They’re idiots, all of them. The rare few smart Rabbids would still be dumber than any American animated sitcom dad of your choice. Their utter lack of comprehension of human society leads them to screw up even the most basic of tasks, in completely unexpected and unpredictable ways. It takes a lot of creativity to ditch all logic and imagine how these creatures with failing knowledge of our customs, lacking in the IQ department, would approach each new discovery.

At least they're not the Minions.
Multiple games, a TV show, gag-per-page French comic books… the Rabbids have outgrown the Rayman series and took control of anything they could get their mitten-like hands on. A multi-media franchise. There's the games, of course, and I spent an entire month back in 2015 discussing no less than 4 Rabbid titles and the various mini-games they contain. And spoiler alert, two more Rabbid games will be reviewed this month. There’s a lot more to say about this franchise than you’d think.

I posted a quickie review of the French comic books here; at first, I was planning to add it to this review, but it would have made for a very long article. Go and look it up here.

Well, I can throw away my atlas now. It's become useless.
We can now start talking about the actual TV show, Rabbids Invasion. It was created by Ubisoft Motion Pictures and co-produced by Nickelodeon and Ubisoft Entertainment. Of note, while the Rabbids of the games are voiced by Yoann Perrier, those of Invasion are voiced by Damien Laquet, who does a mighty fine job in the art of lagomorph gibberish.

The intro sequence sets the tone: Hordes of Rabbids running around, dragging ropes, stringing up entire continents… zoom back and Planet Earth’s lands have been cut up and reshaped to form a giant Raving Rabbid. Well that’s a novel way of “taking over the world”…

No! Not the Statue of Liberty! I am fairly certain it doesn't
like getting tied up like this! ...Or maybe it does?

As for the series itself, you might think there isn’t much to say. You'd be mistaken. There is, indeed, more to be said about this silly little TV show about unintelligible alien bunnies than it seems at first glance.

The Raving Rabbids: The Comic Books

Alright! I will soon be discussing the Raving Rabbids’ TV show. However, first, let me dwell a bit on the Raving Rabbids comic books, published in France.The books were written by Thitaume and, up to Book 9, drawn by Pujol (because French and Belgian comic book writers/artists absolutely HAVE to have a one-word pen name, for some reason), and published by Les Deux Royaumes.There are English editions of the books available, though some gags have been changed.

I could see that front page as a jump scare in a FNAF-style
"Keep the bunnies away from you" Rabbids horror game.

That one time, the fourth wall resisted.
The books contain a lot of gags without any text (not counting the Rabbid language). Many, many, MANY pages actually play with meta-humor, and it’s not uncommon to see page spreads or punch lines about breaking the fourth wall. Or the comic squares. They take full advantage of the fact that this is a book, and multiple gags rely on that to work.

One book contains the best description for a Raving Rabbid that anyone could ever hope to write (I translated it for your benefit). Also note that it’s phrased as a game show question because that particular page had Rabbids watching the show and then copying it. “I am a part of the family of long-eared lagomorphs and only speak using terms such as ‘Bada’ or ‘Bwaaah’. Utterly dumb, I tend to imitate what I see in an absurd and unpredictable fashion. When an idea pops in my head, the consequences can be terrible. Who am I?”

Then the two Rabbids mimic the concept of a game show…

I know the answer to that one! It's "Badabwaaah", isn't it?

Perfect, isn’t it?

Another brilliant element of the comic book: Did you know Rabbids were genderless? I mean, they seem to default as an all-male species, mostly because they behave so often like rude, dumb boys. And yet, the books frequently feature Rabbids who choose their own gender, usually by mimicking the tertiary characteristics of the gender they desire to be: A wig of hair, eyelashes and fruits or sport balls placed strategically at the front of the shirt. The writers get quite a bit of mileage from these jokes, too. See this gag strip of a plastic surgeon Rabbid having to close his business because a fruit shop opened next door and the female Rabbids buy watermelons to replace their original fruits.

Oh, and the Rabbids comic book have probably the riskiest joke I have ever seen in any media with kids as their target demographic. Although it’s cleverly hidden as a Rabbid-centric parody. One who knows the reference would instantly go “OH MY GOD, THEY ACTUALLY WENT THERE”. I refer to one of the paintings on this page. Explaining this joke would ruin it.

Oh, and I guess the main joke is funny too.

There were 10 books published in the series. The last one came out in stores not even a month ago, drawn by Thomas Priou instead of Pujol. Some of the later books have themes or ongoing storylines: Book 7 is about fashion, Book 8 has a Rabbid stealing panels off pages (that’s pretty Meta), and Book 9 follows a hypnotist who trades minds with a Rabbid and tries to turn them both back to normal. The comic also features recurring Rabbids with their own gags, whether it’s the Sherlock Holmes one, the cleaning bunny, the Waldo bunny who never finds a good place to hide…

That’s about all I need to say about the comics: Smarter than you’d think, a lot of interesting twists, a lot of media awareness as well. I encourage you to look up some of the pages, as there’s a surprising lot of adult jokes, and if that’s your sort of thing, you could enjoy reading through those.

March 5, 2018

Grand Theft Auto V (Part 6)

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6

Finally, this is the last part! Not much left to do here: Just some words about additional side-quests, and then my final thoughts.

I bought that bar two weeks ago, and I already have to save it
from a gang! Where's the police in this city?
For the second half of Part 5, I spoke at length about all the strangers and freaks you can help around the map, with each protagonist. This time around, I’m discussing every other hobby or pastime you can access, almost anytime, all over the map. If you’re looking for new stuff to do, you’re not going to be looking for very long. Unlike a proper 100% completion where everything absolutely has to be done, only a fraction of these have to be done to get full completion of the game. The hobbies and pastimes, as well as other noteworthy stuff on the map, can be accessed usually all the time.

This heliport is mine now!
Properties: There are many properties scattered around the map. These can be bought by the protagonists, although some are limited to one or two of the three (as an example, only Franklin can buy the taxicab company). Many properties will then pay back the protagonist that bought them, although not all of them are profitable. For the record, Trevor “buying” the Vanilla Unicorn (by killing the owner) counts, as he gets 5000$ per week every Monday afterwards. Other companies will require the player to fulfill some conditions, however (as an example, the LSPD auto impound costs 150,000$ and only pays 500$ when you impound a car, meaning that to make a profit, you must tow over 300 cars – not too profitable, is it?). On top of that, properties will sometimes get in trouble and give their buyer a mission to help them, and you have to complete some of those to get 100% completion (speaking of which, you need to buy 5 properties at least, split among the characters, for completion as well – and the Vanilla Unicorn doesn’t count since you get it from a story mission).

Combo breaker...?
-Ammu-Nation: You can buy and customize any gun in Ammu-Nation. Some stores also have a shooting range, in which you can train yourself at shooting with various weapons. In fact, those (and most things on this list) count towards completion.

-Garages all over the place, allowing you to customize your cars. You can also buy a few garages to park your favorite cars, or order some new cars through in-game websites. (Can I repeat how impressive it is that this game has a fully functional miniature Internet?)

-And of course, if you’re the fashionable kind, you have a lot of clothing stores all over the city: Two Binco, three Ponsonbys, four Suburbans and five Discount clothing stores. And hey, you’ve got millions, you can probably afford to buy everything they sell. Go on a clothing shopping spree! Make sure to buy Trevor a dress!

What's wrong? Can't a murderer be in touch with his
feminine side? Does the name "Norman Bates" ring any bells?

I mean, Trevor owns this place now, I guess that makes
it easy to hang out here, watching the female charms.
-Have the three protagonists hang together from time to time. Have Franklin call either, or have Michael call Trevor (now that they’re getting along). They can call a few other characters as well, such as Jimmy de Santa or Lamar. Characters hanging out can go for a golf or tennis game, go to a bar... There’s the Vanilla Unicorn... You can even make them play darts in Sandy Shores! It’s actually required for completion. Not every guest will go everywhere, though; Trevor may be a sociopath, he still won’t bring the 20yo Jimmy de Santa to a bar, nor to the Vanilla Unicorn, as an example. The best part may be the chit-chat in the car before and after the activity, as it reveals plenty of info on the characters interacting, and sometimes we even get to hear some of their secrets! It’s fun.

-Racing! Your character can take part in various racing events, whether they’re street races, sea races, or squad races in Paleto Bay. Franklin’s ability to slow down time while driving is the best (if not the only) way to win any of these. These are all mandatory for game completion, by the way; not so much getting Gold on each race, but participating to the races.

It's like "Race Anything: The Video Game, Oh, And There's Crimes Too".

Here, Trevor is parachuting onto a boat.
With a perfect, pretty, adorable rainbow parachute.
-Parachute jumping. As a part of the full side-quest involving Dom the adrenaline junkie, there are 13 spots from which you can let yourself parachute down. Some places already have helicopters on standby (which you cannot steal, unfortunately), while there are other places you must reach by yourself (and sometimes it’s not simple – you might have to climb a mountain, or call the blimp and land it on top of a building). As for the jumps, there’s a few versions. Sometimes you just have to land in the designated area at the bottom, sometimes you have to land on a moving target. Usually, you have to follow the path downwards, passing through hoops on the way. Oh, and while that mission is given to Franklin, both Michael and Trevor can do these as well.

One of the few elements of classiness in GTA V is that
you can't Hindenburg the blimp.

Triathlons are pretty great. The third one, however, feels like
a fucking marathon of swimming, cycling and running.
Keep these fingers on your Run keys.
-You eventually unlock all matters of vehicles for your personal use. Cars, you can steal some or buy your own, there are also bikes, quads, everything on wheels all over the place. The blimp can always be called, but you can get more flying vehicles as soon as you buy the Heliport. And if you want to go underwater, you can also buy a submarine. In other words, you can visit the entirety of the underwater and sky areas. There are some secrets underwater, too!

-Oh, and if you prefer physical exercise, there’s a triathlon. When it comes to sports, Michael and Trevor can play on every of the seven tennis courts around the map, and there are also two areas in which Michael can practice yoga.

-You can replay any Carnage mission with Trevor. He’s also the only one with an access to the hunting grounds. If you bought some properties, Trevor can also participate in arms trafficking.

Then again, you don't need a hunting license to KILL A

-Each character can join the piloting school, located at the airport. Perfect your flight abilities!

-Last but not least, every single mission, whether it’s the story-important ones, the side-quests, the Strangers and Freaks, or any of the missions linked to any hobbies on the map, can be accessed again if you try to get a gold medal on it. Officially, you don’t need a gold medal on every mission, but it’s probably the last thing to do for those who want to achieve absolutely everything. The game will create a save space to remember where your character was, and will then load the past mission. My only issue with this mode is that the loading times are incredibly long, especially after the mission has been completed again.

Well, this might not be covering everything (as I am fairly certain that I’ve missed a few things), but it’s about as close as I can get. Time for my final thoughts!

Holy shit, I LOVE this game. At first I was afraid that it would not be my cup of tea, or that it would be too complex keyboard-wise (since I’m still a noob at using a full keyboard to play games). I don’t know why I was so fearful. I can see why this is hailed as one of the best video games of all time. It’s the best example I have ever seen of a wide-open sandbox, with a long and complex story that makes you want to play through it, with dozens and dozens of side-activities.

The first few hours astonished me.
Then again, coming from a Nintendo gamer...
It may just be that I’m not used to such high quality, but I found the graphics to be outstanding. Every character is different, every building is unique, every area is interesting – and most importantly, while the game might have run a little slower from time to time on my computer, very rarely did I end up in areas that were still rendering. It happened, two or three times, but never anything major. In fact, through most of the game, you can see an ensemble view of the city from certain points, and notice all the glorious detail. And of course, that’s not counting the fact that we have such a gigantic map to visit, with areas that you pretty much won’t ever go to unless you want to see everything. That’s not even getting into the hundreds and hundreds of cutscenes.

What, the universe never renders when you're on your way
to someplace? It happened to me again this morning.
Or maybe it was fog, I don't know.

You could make many epic albums with all the tracks
in this game.
On the side of music, I’ve got nothing to say either: GTA has made a reputation for itself on that aspect, making multiple radio stations available for players in their freshly-stolen cars, and each station has its selection of tracks – so you can go with what’s playing, or change the channel to your favorite. I’m partial to the Rock and Pop channels, mostly because the first one has classic ‘80s rock (give me some Queen and Yes, baby!) and the second one has many good pop songs of the early Tens. They even had Mike Posner’s Cooler Than Me. I’m fully expecting GTA VI to have the Pill in Ibiza song. Though, there are so many channels to choose from, after some time you will find one that you constantly tune on to as you drive around the map. So, when it comes to music, there’s definitely more than enough for you to enjoy.

Of all the things in the game, piloting planes is what
took me the most time to get right. And even today,
I rival Launchpad McQuack in how often I crash.
The gameplay is pretty great. Everything works perfectly, the glitches are rare (I haven’t run into any, as far as I know). With a map so large and so many ways to move around, you’d expect some things to be wonky. And yet, everything’ s good! Obviously, some things need some time getting used to, which is probably why the piloting classes for aircrafts is so easily accessible. Unlike other GTA or other wide-open sandbox games, you’re not limited whatsoever; as soon as you start playing, you have access to the full map. Though, obviously, more options open as you play through the story.

Yes, that yoga mission advanced the plot, but ultimately it
was only used to explain the mechanics of the yoga
classes available on Michael's map.
Speaking of the story missions, I noticed something similar to Chinatown Wars in that many missions introduced a new gameplay element that you could then have a greater access to later. The first mission was a heist, the second mission was a drive around town (and how to escape the cops). Later missions place you at the commands of an aircraft, others give you special weapons, yet some others have special requirements… Really, most missions pave the way to things you can later do on your own. The one sad thing is that not every usable element in the Story Mode can be obtained again, like the machine that scans the town and brings out each person’s criminal record. Also note that, while we do gain access to most things on the map as the Story Mode goes, some things still remain difficult to find. As far as I know, there isn’t a way to annotate the in-game map so that you can easily find some particular places that aren’t otherwise needed for any mission or side-quest. Need a helicopter? One spawns on the hospital roof. Need to find the hospital? Get yourself killed, that’s your best option!

The Liberty City National website and the BAWSAQ
(not making that up) are the best ways to make money.
Triple your cash!
As a final gameplay issue tying into the Story Mode and its greater themes… Money. Yes, making money is difficult in this game. Most story missions don’t give out any money, so you’re forced to complete some side-quests to get any. Even then, it’s not like you’ll make much. You also quickly come to realize just how expensive everything is. If you want your pimped-out dream car, it’s gonna be a few tens of thousands. And that’s saying nothing of most guns at Ammu-Nation and their customization options. Thankfully, you can steal most cars without any problem, and the Story Mode will hand out enough weapons that you might almost never have to buy any for yourself anyway. It just sucks whenever you get scammed out of payment by any of the bosses you have in the game. (Which is why it’s also important to learn how to invest in the game’s stock market – that’s where you’ll make most of your money.) Even the heists, which are supposed to pay off, are ultimately deceptive. Yes, you make a decent amount of cash from two or three of those, but at least two end with the stolen goods given back or taken by someone else… Not to mention that you can’t re-earn that money by re-playing the heist mission. (In fact, having the option to heist again any place you’ve robbed would have been amazing in post-game. Unfortunately, that’s not an option, though the Online Mode compensates for that. If you don't mind the griefing, that is...)

I should also mention the big controversy around GTA V last year, when Take-Two Interactive tried to force players to pay so they could mod the game using the modding tool OpenIV. Even though modding was only possible in the Single-player campaign already, and the staff at Rockstar Games was cool with mods. The resulting fan outrage was huge, and this game (and a few others affected by that decision) were massively downvoted. GTA V's overall score decreased heavily. Take-Two eventually conceded and cancelled their project, making OpenIV modding free again, but the game’s overall score had not entirely recovered. I mean, I am not a modder, but I get why many gamers like modding PC games, and it sucks that a company would try to take that away just to make more money. Just goes to ashow how much the modding community loves to have this freedom of creating and changing up a game however they like, and why they aren't a force to be messed with.

Also a tiny issue in the game, you don’t know the gold requirements for a mission until after it’s been beaten once, so unless you keep a game manual handy, you will need to replay missions – and you.ll then have to endure the long loading times as a result.

Splitting the game between three characters was a genius
move. Not everything's perfect about the idea, but Rockstar
Games came damn close to perfection.
Okay, on to the story. What’s good about it, what isn’t. This might be long. First, having three protagonists meant having just as many points of view to see the game from. It means having a much more dynamic game as you’re free to switch at will between the main three characters (once they’re available, since Trevor is playable only a little later into the plot). Much of the interest in the game comes from the interactions between these three characters – and, of course, their interactions with every secondary character in the story. This usually leads to a lot of great exchanges and discussions. However, it's not all positive. Much of the second half of the plot involves Michael and Trevor arguing loudly, stemming from Michael’s decision to fake his death ten years prior, and it gets grating and annoying after a while (even Franklin gets fed up of it).

P.S. No matter how amazing Trevor Philips is during the Story Mode, let's never forget that he's a mass murderer, a rapist, a drug and weapons dealer. Oh, and he robs banks too, I guess. He's technically worse than the actual villains of the game. I mean, yes, he is awesome and helps rid San Ansdreas of multiple major assholes. But he's still a horrible person. Let's never forget that. Maybe that's why he's so enjoyable, in a twisted kind of way.

Maybe it's because he has the best missions and
side-quests? I mean, Michael and Franklin are also horrible
people when you think about it, but I guess they don't
seem as bad when the thirs protagonist is Trevor Philips.

So... them Ballas guys are pretty traitorous, aren't they?
We gonna kill them all anyway.
Obviously, since this is a Grand Theft Auto game, a lot of murder goes on, a lot of shooting mostly, but you are free to harm just about anyone in any way, and the missions frequently rely on shooting and killing all the enemies on the way to an objective. That goes with the universe, obviously, but I can say I, as a result, much preferred missions in which you could avoid killing people. It’s a nice change of pace. The shootouts between the protagonists and large groups of attackers are fun too, but they're so common they eventually lose their edge, once again making other missions much more interesting, whether it's the ones about sniping from afar or the ones where you must kill as few as possible.

Chose the subtle way? You can't ever go back to play
the obvious way. Make a new save file.
I, of course, love the various ways you can go in completing missions, much like I love the various ways in which you can fail a mission (as some failure messages can be funny). I also love the missions in which you can “win” in different ways. The preparations for every heist take the cake since they are very different missions based on how you choose to approach each score. GTA V is one of those games that you need to play through multiple times in order to see everything, as you sadly can’t go back on your choices once you’ve picked which missions to do in preparation of a heist. (I think you also can’t go back once you picked which finale to do – kill Michael, kill Trevor, or save both. Unfortunately, the first two make 100% completion a lot harder to achieve.)

Michael is such a happier man by the end of the game...
You almost frget that he killed thousands of people, just
like Trevor and Franklin.
Outside of the dilemma around Michael and Trevor, we do have a very large storyline, with a lot of characters involved. There are many villains in this game, and multiple twists and turns in the plot. On one hand it's interesting and complex, on the other hand it gets messy and tough to follow as so many plot threads happen at any moment. It’s also good in that the game is programmed with plenty of scenes for when we go from a character to another. I particularly love to see Michael’s situation go from okay to bad, then worse as the story goes, then progressively better, and by the end of the game he’s hanging out with his family, coming back from a bicycle ride with his son, getting up from bed with his wife still by his side… And meanwhile, Trevor’s situation also improves from selling meth and guns to owning a strip club, but he’s still regularly seen waking up drunk in his underwear, or on the beach surrounded by corpses, or randomly tying up people to wooden dock poles.

I am a bit sad that so many missions feel like filler. Like I said, many of them are meant to show the player some of the things they can access in-game. Still, they have to be included in the story, which is an attempt at justifying their existence, but you can’t shake off the “filler” feel of these missions.

I might also add that the game actually feels rather easy. Eventually, with the money you make, you have enough to carry around a full arsenal of weapons of all kinds. You can easily restart at key points of any major mission, which helps greatly, but as a result death is a slap on the wrist during Story Mode events. You can get into any shooting and come out unharmed, if you've got enough bullets. Once you've got the controls down, the game isn't too difficult. As long as

As a final point, I should probably point out something that bugs me about the game, though it’s fully understandable: The world depicted is a dump. GTA V tries to be South Park in tone, but doesn’t have the wit to back it up, mostly because every critique of society is presented in bits and pieces scattered around the game, heard on the radio or seen on the very crappy TV. Outside of the main story, we’re surrounded by satire of American society, but we rarely have time to see much of it and the commentary, as a result, feels empty. Everything is mocked relentlessly:
-Social media (LifeInvader, Bleeter);
-Politics (Reps are warmongering assholes, while Dems are sanctimonious);
-Paparazzi (Hi again, Beverly);
-Racism, and anti-immigration jerks in general;
-Hillbillies (From the implied inbred O’Neil brothers to the various redneck morons in Trevor’s town);
-Cults (Children of the Mountain, Altruists, and biggest of all, the Epsilon Program);
-Millenials (constantly mocked as useless shits who sit around and play games all day while dreaming of fame);
-Baby boomers (who complain about millennials despite being the cause of millennials being how they are now);
-Reality TV (Fame or Shame, which does get a lot of screen time, though it opens its own set of topics that are mocked as well);
-Psychiatrists (Isiah Friedlander, who turned out to be a scammer);
-Feminists (Franklin’s aunt and every other feminist in the game is busier spouting ‘strong female’ rhetoric and doing exercises wth words like "vagina" and "estrogen" in the names, than actually advancing the cause of women in society);
-Conspiracy theorists (who can be both idiots and geniuses, but only the idiots will focus on them);
-Marijuana smokers (Unreliable, too busy getting high to be trusted);
-Adrenaline junkies (Dom, who kills himself on his last attempt at an adrenaline high);
-Celebrities (their opinions matter way too much in society, also we’re too lenient on them when they’re actually doing bad things, just because they’re famous);
-Crazy fans (they’re just fucking insane);
-And oh so much more.
That’s not even a complete list. Each of these topics could be a full episode in any satirical TV show. Here, each topic gets a few missions at best; sometimes, there are no missions and the topic is kept to tidbits heard here and there. By punching at everything, the writers don’t do much damage to anything. I mean, kudos for making a game that allows such a humongous selection of topics to be discussed and mocked, but none of them really stand out unless they’re directly related to the main story (crime bosses and backwards beliefs get their share of the mockery when shown through the villainous gangs of the plot, after all). In the end, I can say GTA V succeeds in bringing many good points about the “life of crime” and how it’s not as great as it seems to be, but poorly addresses just about everything else.

I mean, Planned All Along was always a blog made to review the story of a game, it makes sense that I’d end on that. But yeah. This closes my review of GTA V. Great game! Mostly good story, excellent gameplay, outstanding graphics and music, loads of things to do... Go play it, absolutely! And if you feel like trying it, there's of course GTA Online, which I didn't discuss (this review is already long enough, goddammit!) but if you feel like you're up for it, give it a go.

As for me, I would gladly take a break after this six-part review, but…. Unfortunately, I try to have something published every Friday. (And when I fail, it’s usually because I am working on something so big, I need an extra week, as what happened before this review was posted.) Thankfully, I have three short reviews lined up. Pretty much a themed month!