Being made available through an update shortly after release, Grand Theft Auto Online allows you to create your own character and roam the city of Los Santos with a group of friends. Rockstar has been steadily updating GTA Online, but the damage may have already been done with wide reports of missing characters, money, property and cars even after a couple of fixes. While Rockstar won’t be able to replace lost characters and/or lost properties, anyone who has played GTA Online in October will be receiving two deposits of $250,000 at some point in time. Considering everything is locked out depending on your level, the additional influx of money shouldn’t be game breaking. Don’t forget to deposit your money at an ATM or using your phone, as you will drop some of your funds upon death.
Fresh off the boat, or in this case, a plane, you start your new life doing trivial missions, such as stealing cars for Simeon and holding up local mom and pop convenient stores. Early on, none of these missions should increase your Wanted level above two stars, unless you purposely do something stupid, such as shoot at police cars or kill a handful of pedestrians.
Free roaming around the city, you may find set locations allowing you start a wide variety of impromptu races or Deathmatch events. Beware, other players roam the city at the same time, and more than likely than not, you will encounter a few jerks that will kill you over and over again just for the hell of it. The narrative may be lacking around your silent character, but you will get to interact with characters from the single-player across the entirety of Los Santos, including Lamar, Lester and my favorite Trevor.
Leveling up opens up additional, more elaborate missions that are locked out when you take your first steps in Los Santos. The instanced missions in GTA Online truly shine, as you race down the coast, hop into fighter jets or parachute out of a plane. One of my favorites involved two competing teams fighting over a single piece of intel with the goal to be the first team to bring it to a set location. The mixture of both teams trying to kill each other and the heavily armored police trying to kill everyone turned a once quiet street into chaotic fun. If you have trouble with another player, a quick call to Lester can put a bounty on the player’s head, marking them red on the mini-map to another players. You’ll notice that while venturing across Los Santos, it doesn’t look as impressive as it does offline, with a noticeable increase in texture pop-in and much less AI controlled cars and pedestrians roaming the streets.
Enabling passive mode supposedly allows you to freely move about Los Santos without fearing of being shot, but at the same time you will be unable to shoot anyone else. I’ve found it quite useless as you can still be run over with relative ease. I’ve also been shot while driving a car and passive mode turned on, so it appears to only work while walking. Sometimes you may be booted out of the game and receive a message that mentions it was by other players, even if you didn’t do anything wrong. When quitting a mission, I’ve had someone camping my body until I was loaded into the game. I fail to see the enjoyment in camping other players, but I did get my revenge after stealing a garbage truck and going on a killing spree against everyone in the city.Note: Grand Theft Auto Online was reviewed on PlayStation 3. A physical copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.