Don’t tell the mass media, but GTA Online is a glimpse of the kinds of homicidal debauchery complete strangers will partake in when given absolute freedom (and minimal consequences).
Character creation in Rockstar Games’ new multiplayer forum is an interesting twist from the typical methods of elongating clefts and noses, workout regimen and cup sizes. Instead they have chosen the chemistry experience known as genealogy by creating a character based on the physical characteristics of ones parents, who draw their aesthetics from their parents. What results is kind of a crapshoot in where you fudge around with multiple combinations of grandparents in a sort of gene pool swing party to get a set of parents who don’t make you look like a complete freak. Unless you’re into that.
Base skills align with those in the single player campaign but are influenced by what your character does in a typical day. Sleep, activity level (both workout and couch time), legal and illegal tendencies and social interactions all impact how well you shoot, drive and run. By increasing the amount of hours spent each day working out, your base stamina and strength skills will increase, but your driving skill will decrease. Similarly a character who parties all night long is a a better gunman than one who spends their freetime with family and friends. Activity choices even impact the appearance of one’s character. Legal working characters wear suits while illegal skewed characters look ready for a drive-by. Its a slightly ambiguous, but original, take on the way sliders have worked in character creation.
Once you have your GTA Online character ready to go, you are dropped into the city of Los Santos. And when I say dropped in, I mean that quite literally. You spawn suspended about 25 feet in the air and plummet to the earth (taking no damage because that’d be silly). I was spawned initially behind the Vinewood sign, which provided a nice vista for me to overlook the city. About 20 seconds later, another player joined in the game and proceeded to kill the player standing under the next letter over.
I wondered how Rockstar was going to implement its passive online mode where a player can not be harmed by, or harm, other players. As I was thinking about how to turn this mode on, the aforementioned player proceeded to shoot me in the head. Guess I thought about it too long.
I was greeted with a cutscene explaining the option to protect players just wanting to roam about unbothered, it cost $100 to initiate and works precisely as advertised. I had to chuckle for a moment as I realized that Rockstar intentionally dropped you into a world, full well knowing that it was a free-for-all environment where players would most likely be killed by the first stranger they came across. So much for your fellow man.
Armed with the protection of passive mode, I took off for a quick stroll through downtown Los Santos. I quickly procured transportation in the form of a sportbike to move around and see what some of the other players were up to.
Driving around town I saw a couple players involved in a shootout in their cars as I made my way over to a 24/7 convenience store. There was supposedly a player inside so I just hung around outside to see what he was up to.
As fate would have it, this player was robbing the convenience store and he made a beeline for the first vehicle in the parking lot, which happened to be my bike. But rather than getting thrown off unceremoniously, he mounted the rear of the bike and immediately a 3-star wanted ranking flashed in the corner of the screen. Somehow, I had gone from innocent passerby to wheelman.
I sped off, LSPD searching for my smoke trail. My partner in crime rattled off a few shots behind to keep the squad cars at bay. I took our escape through the underground Los Santos tunnels and emerged in the river where we parted ways, never speaking just a bit of mutual respect for what had just occurred.
GTA Online is going to be spectacular.