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‘GTA V’ triples the intensity

LOS ANGELES — I had such a fun weekend.

After seeing a movie, I went down to the beach to ride the roller coaster on the pier and go jet skiing in the ocean. Afterward, I got a haircut and bought a new suit, and then I returned home to unwind with some fresh juice and a yoga session in my backyard.

I live in Los Angeles, but I didn’t do any of that stuff there. It all happened while visiting Los Santos, the virtual seaside metropolis cunningly depicted in “Grand Theft Auto V.”

For the most part, it’s illegal business as usual in the latest edition of “Grand Theft Auto.” There are vehicles to swipe, schemes to plan and banks to rob.

Unlike previous installments in the wildly successful — and violent — M-rated series, “GTA V” centers not just on one but three criminal protagonists.

The three men and their adventures are ingeniously interwoven in both the narrative and gameplay of “GTA V,” which allows players to switch among them with the tap of a few buttons.

Besides the usual felonious shenanigans, there are leisurely diversions spread across Los Santos, including customizing rides, investing in the stock market and racing jet skis.

With an obsessive attention to detail, the city of Los Santos and its outlying areas feel more alive than any virtual world I’ve ever visited. Rockstar Games has masterfully crafted a stunning make-believe take on modern Southern California.

However, this Los Santos is not a perfect clone of L.A.

The urban areas don’t feel quite dense enough and the rendition of Beverly Hills is basically across the street from downtown.

Fortunately, any shortcomings with “GTA V” feel about as important as a random stranger crossing the street in Los Santos. Rockstar Games has created such a fascinating place. I think you’ll want to visit for more than a weekend.

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