Grand Theft Auto 5 diary: Franklin's day off

We're waiting for the release of Grand Theft Auto Online before doing a formal review of Rockstar's latest game. Until then, our Steve Watts will be offering insights into some memorable moments from the single player adventure.

After a long week of heists, casual torture, and making new BFFs, I thought it was high time to see some of the entertainment that Los Santos had to offer. It's a great big city, after all, and Franklin deserves to take advantage it.

I searched my map for something to do, and almost instantly settled on a triathlon. Franklin seems like a pretty fit guy, so I thought it wouldn't be a problem. I hopped in my ride and drove to the venue, with a starting line just off the beach. The trip wasn't too long compared to mission trips. I've noticed that the journey between mission starts can last quite a while, and the radio is often my only companion. This echoes the captive audience strategy that actual radio has utilized for so many years.

I reached the start and discovered, well, triathlons are pretty much extended endurance rounds. Tapping a button to regulate speed and sprint is fine for short distances in missions, but when three events back-to-back use the same mechanic, it gets pretty tiring. Maybe that's the point, but having some variation to control between the swimming, biking, and running events might have been nice. I came in first handily, but I think it was going easy on me for the first try. I crashed my bike half-way through the second leg, and still managed to surpass the competition without too much difficulty.

I thought, maybe a more subdued sport would be nice, and so it was off to the golf course. The entrance fee was larger, but golf is a much more fleshed-out way to waste a few minutes. Instead of a simple tap mechanic, it uses a simple swing meter like the kind we've seen in golf games dating back years. The courses are well-designed and it's actually kind of relaxing that you can walk or ride a cart to your ball. It slows down the pace, but isn't that the point? I do wish I had a better idea of where I was pointing, since sometimes the auto-positioning would steer me wrong. I won't reveal my embarrassing debut score, but suffice to say I had gone above par in the double digits. I blame water hazards for getting in the way of my ball.

But what's a day off without some relaxation? Yoga seemed like a good diversion. Unlike the other two games, this one had actually found a pretty novel way to iterate on its concept. The combination of manipulating the sticks for movement and the shoulder buttons for breathing made it a tougher but not overtaxing mini-game. It actually manages to approximate the movements, at least inasmuch as that can be done using a control pad. I'm sure the added flexibility will help in that next triathlon.

After that, it was off to catch a movie. I stepped into the theater sight-unseen, not sure what to expect, and was barraged with the random black-and-white imagery of a foreign film. I stuck around a little longer than the gag needed to sink in, just to see if it was going to end anytime soon. After a while I just stopped caring and headed out.

Obviously, there's much more to see and do in Los Santos, but by this point it was well into the night. I headed home, hung out with Chop for a while, and looked out over the city. There's still a lot more to explore.

This diary is based on retail PS3 code provided by the publisher. Grand Theft Auto V is now available at retail for PS3 and Xbox 360. It's also available digitally on PlayStation Network for $59.99. The game is rated M.