The latest update to GTA Online is the After Hours expansion, and I think it’s fair to say that is perhaps the greatest piece of extra content the game has received. Bold statement considering how much extra content Rockstar have added to this game.
The premise is simple. Buy a club and make it successful. It’s been the staple diet of GTA Online missions and expansions since day one. But what makes this one so special? It’s one simple ingredient. Personality. You see previous GTA extras, have offered things that are cold and sterile. Facilities, where you are left to run around an underground James Bond style headquarters that’s baron, bare and boring. or bunkers where you are left with a maze of tunnels in an underground storage facility that is there to store your ill-gotten gains. They all may be grand in scale but lack personality. They never really feel like they are yours.
All that has changed with the After Hours expansion. You buy a club and can decorate it out with all the lavish club land gadgets you can think of (if you can afford them). Then you have to do a few missions to set the club up and running all with the help of Gay Tony from GTA IV DLC fame. Once you have the club up and running, you suddenly feel like you own something in this crazy town of Los Santos. You want it to do well. You want it to succeed and earn you as much money as possible. It’s a real breath of fresh air and has been something that’s been missing from GTA Online since day one.
What makes this expansion even better an more personal than others is that it offers real-world DJs to DJ in your club. You start off with Solomun who becomes your resident DJ. Others become available when your club gets more successful and popular. And I have to say the soundtrack to your club life is banging. Not only that, but this new club you’ve just purchased has become your new hub, you can keep cars in the underground storage area, you can employ people to go and ‘obtain’ items that you can store here and then sell on. It almost makes everything else in GTA Online obsolete. I mean who needs an underground facility when you can have your own club?
If you feel that your club is losing popularity you can carry out some missions to help out. like posting posters around town or blowing up rivals equipment. And it’s all orchestrated by the enigmatic Gay Tony. You can even go and visit other player clubs to see what their set up is like. That is if you’re willing to pay the entrance price. Last night $100 to get into a club, also called Galaxy (you are limited to a set number of names) that was nowhere near as good as mine. It was safe to say my establishment was still the talk of the town.
Why does any of this matter? Well because I now want the greatest club on earth. I want it to earn big bucks, have smoke machines, dancers, lighting rigs that will melt a small power station. I WANT IT ALL. The trouble is, of course, all my cash has been spent on buying the club in the first place, and to do my club (called Galaxy) justice I need some money. So there is only one thing left to do. Get back on the grind. And that’s where the genius of this expansion comes into its own. It’s got me back into a game I never thought I would play again. I have ground enough out of GTA Online over the years and thought I was done. Clearly not. I’ve even considered purchasing Shark cards to help fund my clubbing empire. Rockstar, I love you and hate you in equal measure.
But I have yet to mention by far the greatest part of this new update. The dancing. As you walk around your club looking at all the NPCs that look like they are having the greatest time, you can press left on the D-pad and start dancing. What happens next is a surprise. I was expecting a line to appear across the screen, with different buttons scrolling across like every other rhythm action game. Instead, all I got was an X. All you have to do is tap X to the beat of the music and our character will start dancing. As you do a circle will fill up and your dancing will get more energetic. A few more controls can increase or decrease the intensity of your dance and a press of the R2 button will fling your hands in the air. It’s the simplest rhythm action game I have played but it’s also the greatest. No lie, I was just tapping X for about 45 minutes to the beat of the awesome soundtrack. It was the best of times and I’m not even being sarcastic. The soundtrack really does need to be heard and you’ll understand why, and according to reddit boards, I’m not the only one who has spent an unhealthy amount of time tapping a button.
All in all After Hours is a fantastic update, bringing something you feel like you can own. Something you care about so all the violence and killing actually gives you something rather than just for the sake of it. I just wish Rockstar would sort out some of the fundamental flaws with the main game so we can enjoy this behemoth even more.