Parent's Guide: Grand Theft Auto V - Age rating, mature content and difficulty

Parents Guide Grand Theft Auto V Age rating mature content and difficulty
21st September, 2016 By Ian Morris
Game Info // Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V Boxart
Publisher: Rockstar
Developer: Rockstar
Players: 1
Online Multiplayer: 1 - 16
Available On: Xbox 360
Genre: Third Person Shooter
Everybody Plays Ability Level
Reading Required
Content Rating
Violence and Gore: Extreme
Bad Language: Strong or explicit
Sexual Content: Strong references and/or nudity

What is Grand Theft Auto V?

A series that mostly needs no introduction, Grand Theft Auto V is an open world crime game, that follows the story of three very different criminals, each with their own struggles and goals. Throughout the game, you'll play as either the wealthy Michael De Santa, who's trying to find a new life on the straight and narrow; gangsta Franklin Clinton, who's hungry to get to the top; or Trevor Philips, who's a complete psychopath on a law breaking crime spree.

How do you play Grand Theft Auto V?

Set in an open world named Los Santos - an environment that's based around Los Angeles - GTA V lets the player go pretty much anywhere they want to. You can travel by foot, bike, car, helicopter or plane, with nigh on 70 story missions to play through, and numerous side activities you can do to pass the time. 

As this is a game about criminals, many of the main missions involve pulling off some sort of crime, from robbing a store to pulling off a spectacular heist. There are kidnappings, bank robberies, jewellery heists, and countless vengeance missions, where you simply have to go somewhere and kill someone.

Outside of the main missions, there's a huge amount of stuff to do. You can take part in street races, get a haircut, drive a pick up truck as a job on the side, learn to fly, go parachuting, play tennis, golf or darts, and even compete in a triathlon.

How easy is Grand Theft Auto V to pick up and play?

In terms of accessibility, Grand Theft Auto V is aimed at experienced players. As a third person shooter, proficiency in dual analogue controls (left stick moves, right stick shoots) is a must, while GTA also has more challenging sections than most shooters. Having to perform a drive by shooting, where you need to move the car with one stick, and aim your gun with the other is trickier than it sounds. 

While there are tutorials to introduce you to new concepts, they mostly pop up in the top left hand corner of the screen, where they can sometimes be missed. Many of the missions involve chasing after someone, either on foot or in a vehicle, and while their location will be marked on a map in the bottom corner of the screen, there's nothing else on screen to tell you where they are - no trail to follow, no arrows giving you pointers - so keeping an eye on the map, and matching it to what you see on screen can be challenging. Luckily, there are regular checkpoints mid mission, so should you come a cropper, you won't lose too much progress.

GTA V also has a few other unusual features to make the game that much more challenging. For example, if you run too much, you'll start to lose health - and no matter how you lose your health, you'll only ever get half of your health bar back if you can avoid damage. There's also nothing in the way of an adjustable difficulty level, meaning if you can't do any of the game's missions, you'll have to simply stick with it until you're good enough to carry on.

Mature Content

In terms of mature content, Grand Theft Auto V is packs in adult material from the very beginning. This is a game aimed squarely at adults, and as such, it tries to be as extreme, and at times shocking as it can be. Bad language and swearing comes thick and fast, with f**k, c**t and motherf**ker being heard almost every other word at times, along with racial slurs like n**ger.

GTA V also features plenty of sexual content. Players can visit strip clubs, where topless dancers gyrate against poles. You can ask the strippers for a private lap dance, at which point they'll take you a private booth, and the game's perspective switches to a first person "through the eyes" view, where you can hold a trigger to put your hand on the dancer and "feel". Feel her enough, and she'll invite you back to her house, where it's implied you have intercourse - although you don't see anything, you'll hear plenty of sexual moaning. The game also features prostitutes, who you can pay for sexual services - both oral and intercourse. While again, you don't directly see the sex, you do see characters engaging in sexual actions, just with a handily placed steering wheel or dashboard providing cover. One mission sees you trying to get a paparazzi shot of "America's sweetheart", who you'll find "taking it up the backdoor" outside. The game also feature several scenes where a man's penis is exposed.

Violence, meanwhile, is gratuitous throughout. Enemies leave behind red stains of blood when shot, you can use a wide variety of weapons, from bats to pistols and rocket launchers, and there are a few instances of dismemberment. One scene sees a character kill a man by repeatedly stamping on his head, before peeling a piece of brain off the bottom of his boot.

Another disturbing scene sees you torture a man for information. In this scene, you have to choose a weapon, and then use it to torture your subject until he gives you the information you're looking for. The scene is fully interactive - you'll have to hold the trigger to grip a tooth with some pliers, then wiggle the stick to pull it out as the man does his best to beg off and screams in agony; pour water over a rag that covers his face to waterboard him; attach a car battery using the left and right triggers to shock and burn him; and smash his kneecap by swinging a giant wrench, leaving him in tears. It's extreme and bloodcurdling to say the least, and GTA V regularly sets out to shock.

There's also drug use (you can smoke marijuana), and a hunting mode, which sees you shooting animals, with greater rewards earnt for head, neck or heart shots. While the game does feature civilians that can be killed if you choose to do so (or if you simply aren't looking where you're driving), you won't have to kill them to progress, and are in fact punished for doing so (as the police will come after you).

Age Ratings

We Say
Violence and Gore:
Bad Language:
Strong or explicit
Sexual Content:
Strong references and/or nudity
Substantial Mature Content

Format Reviewed: Xbox 360

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