REVIEW: Rockstar Games Achieves Next-Level Greatness With 'Grand Theft Auto V'

The highest budgeted, most creatively publicized game of the current console generation has raked in $1 billion dollars in just three days after release. Is that due to consumer habit? Or is the game just that damn good?

The hugely successful gaming franchise has spawned two different schools of thought within the gaming industry. You can take the Activision / Treyarch approach, and, annually churn out a brand spanking new cash cow right on time for the holiday season. Or, what seems to be the more rewarding approach, you can take a page out of Rockstar Games' playbook, develop your IP to new heights, and deliver the best game in the entire marketplace.

After the meteoric rise of the Grand Theft Auto series, due to the fourth installment redefining open-world, it has been awhile since the third person shooting and driving game has impacted gamers around the globe. Rockstar returns us to the Los Santos area, which was a great place to wreak havoc in during Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Expanding on the environment finds gamers playing as three anti-heroes in the biggest playground a sandbox game has ever provided. The scope of Los Santos is grandiose this time around. Players are treated to a huge landscape as they are able to travel into urban and rural areas, can explore the seas, play recreational sports and visit familiar Los Angeles landmarks like the Santa Monica Pier and the Chinese Theater.

As Michael, the retired bank robber whose ends is only the beginning; Franklin, the young hustler with ambitions of being an honest businessman; and Trevor, one of the craziest characters in the entire history of the series, you're tasked with completing multiple missions that tie these three together for an enjoyable single-player campaign. Their intertwining stories represent Rockstar Games (and Rockstar North) attempt at creating a more mature narrative for players who want more from their characters. But as game scribe Leigh Alexander notes in her incredible op-ed piece, Grand Theft Auto V "recites the same old gangland fantasies," instead of pushing the envelope as the critically acclaimed company has been known to do.

In addition to not establishing a definitive, rebellious anti-authoritarian female lead, Franklin, equally, gets the short end of the stick with a weakly developed story. As the company decided to create unique features and experiences, showing off their only minority character with little-to-no changes from the San Andreas motif they created stinks. As a whole, Franklin, Michael and Trevor don't have any interest in capturing turf or squabbling with gang members. Grand Theft Auto V does tread the line between safe execution and unique gameplay, but in the end, gamers are rewarded with countless hours of excitement, random occurrences (learned from the success of Red Dead Redemption), and a healthy online mode that is poised to make them another billion dollars.

For gamers on the fence about that whole "mature narrative" situation, don't let it fool you into thinking it is so serious. Sure, people may try to compare their life to Grand Theft Auto, but how many people you know can pull people out of their cars with reckless abandon? Rockstar Games' title is categorically very tongue-in-cheek and you'll find yourself in some sticky situations, but it's a video game! Don't expect Saints Row level type of parody. The game's unique transitioning system, where you can play as each individual, allows gamers to gain insight into (in single-player and online) a violently rich and satirical experience.

Another great addition to the title are the improved driving and special abilities. Borrowing from past hits like Max Payne and the aforementioned Red Dead Redemption, each character has a different ability. Franklin, with the improved driving, can slow down time while in motion, allowing for improved accuracy to avoid nasty collisions with oncoming traffic. Michael can also slow down time to make sure his shots are hitting all the right targets. Trevor, meanwhile, can do something similar, only he inflicts some unusually brutal retaliation on his opponents.

Add into the mix those loaded radio stations, the removal of those vigilante missions, and a good range of activities to take part in—when you're not causing ruckus—and you have Grand Theft Auto V.

Don't believe us?! You can watch the trailer for yourself below:

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Actor Jussie Smollett leaves Cook County jail following his release, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, in Chicago, IL.
AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski

Jussie Smollett Released On $100K Bail

Jussie Smollett was reportedly released from Chicago police custody on Thursday (Feb. 21), after posting $100,000 bail, CNN confirms.

Police and prosecutors held a press conference, in which they listed a series of evidence that would corroborate their claim that Smollett staged the homophobic and racist attack that occurred against him in Jan. 2019.

The prosecutors confirmed a chronology of the events leading up to and after the attack. They cited phone and credit card records from both Smollett and the Osundairo brothers who were reportedly paid $3,500 to act out the incident.

As previously reported, the Empire actor was arrested and taken into custody in Chicago earlier this morning on one count of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report. The police claimed the actor staged the attack because he was upset about his low salary.

"Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career," Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson said. "Why would anyone especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations? ... How can an individual who’s been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in the city in the face with these false claims?"

If convicted of the charge, Smollett could serve one to three years in prison.

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'Boomerang' Episode 3 Recap: Stand In Your Power

As the aptly-named episode of BET’s Boomerang kicks off, Bryson is in a deep sleep when his sexual fantasy of Simone riding him like an Amtrak is abruptly cut short after she pulls out a strap-on (um, y’all are grown). Let’s just say, she’s not a football player but she rams. Despite his obvious initial thought, this isn’t a conflict of sexual identity. It’s that feeling of loss of power whenever he’s around the two most important women in his life: Simone and his mother Jacqueline who (FUN FACT) was played by the Queen, Robin Givens in the series’ 1992 film inspiration. First of her name. Mother of no BS. Protector of her pockets. Goddess of You Got the Wrong One. We stan.

While diving deeper into his familial issues, we realize that Jacqueline wasn’t just a ball-buster to Marcus back in the day. A therapy breakthrough reveals that mommy dearest isn’t too affectionate to young Bryson either.  Although she did pull her strings to land Bryson a solid role at the Graham agency, she didn’t make family a priority and that kind of thing sticks with you, ya know? Don’t feel too bad for Bryson just yet because at this point, he will no longer be a “yes, man,” no matter how bomb Simone always looks in her bob.

Just as Bryson decides to boss up, he unexpectedly runs into Simone back at the office who is helping herself to some supplies for her "home office." In a sudden “I can make moves, too” moment, Bryson shares with Simone that her idea (that he’s been persistently pitching)  has finally been greenlit and naturally, sis is annoyed. Marketing an avant-garde black film, such as the project in the episode, “Woke,” has always been a passion of hers.

Within two seconds into listening to his “plan of strategy” to market the movie, it’s obvious that Bryson can’t possibly be Big Bad Bry for too long without asking for Simone’s help. And Simone knows that. At this point, he’s still strong enough to not ask Simone for it but the Hustle Hungry protege takes it upon herself to force it anyway. It’s simple to her. Bryson needs black talent to promote the film and Simone has just the client- Tia. Granted, homegirl can’t sing a note to save her life, but Simone has some tricks and this is way too big of an opportunity to pass up.

Once again at the board meeting, a clearly annoyed Victoria is still over Bryson for previously messing up by being a sucker for love, but she hasn’t lost faith just yet. He still has a shot to prove himself. At an afternoon meeting at their swanky loft, the twin directors of “Woke” try to explain the direction they want for their movie. Although poor Bryson is lost (mainly because their responses barely answer his questions) he hasn’t reached a place of uncertainty to where he feels as if he has to agree with all of Simone’s suggestions. He’s holding it down as Boss Man Bry and he proves that when he reaches the studio. Simone has Tia record two different versions of the track, confident that Bryson would like hers better.

After listening to both, unbeknownst of who is responsible for which, Bryson chooses Tia’s track. He almost even backtracks when he finds out that wasn’t Simone’s vision, but he decides to man up instead and stand his ground, instead.  Yes, he said what he said. Operation Stand in Your Power is in full effect. Simone’s grip on Bryson’s heart slowly slipping. Maybe now she’ll retire from the Rams. *wink, wink*

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Meek Mill, 2 Chainz, And More To Appear On LeBron James' 'The Shop'

HBO Sports' The Shop starring LeBron James and Maverick Carter is coming back this Mar. 2019. Season two of the series will feature appearances from Meek Mill, 2 Chainz, and more.

James will also be joined by Jamie Foxx, Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown, New Orleans Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis and stand-up comedian Jerrod Carmichael.

Ahead of the air date, LeBron shared a clip of his chat with 2 Chainz on Instagram. "Can’t wait for y’all to hear the continues evolution of his profound skills from his mind to the booth to the records itself. Proud of you homie and the people will be as well when this hits," he wrote in the caption on Instagram.

The show initially premiered in Aug. 2018. It created quite the buzz on social media due to its unfiltered conversations surrounding race, politics and sports. The show's episode with Drake went viral after the OVO artist commented on his beef with Kanye West and Pusha-T.

The 2019 season premiere is filmed in Charlotte, NC, home of the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend. The first episode of The Shop will air on HBO on Friday, Mar. 1, at 10:30pm ET.


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Had to pleasure of working on my first music project from start to finish with my guy @2chainz “Rap or Go To The League” coming to y’all 3/1. Can’t wait for y’all to hear the continues evolution of his profound skills from his mind to the booth to the records itself. Proud of you homie and the people will be as well when this hits! 🙏🏾✊🏾💪🏾 #ARBron #RaporGoToTheLeague🤷🏾‍♂️

A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on Feb 19, 2019 at 9:13am PST

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