The time has finally come. PC gamers everywhere may now rejoice, because after two long years, Grand Theft Auto V has descended from the heavens to grace our hard drives. Now we too may do our part in the great purging of innocent digital pedestrians, police officers, and hookers.
Developer: Rockstar North
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Release: September 17, 2013 (PS3 & Xbox360); November 18, 2014 (PS4 & Xbox One);
April 14, 2015 (PC)
Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC (Reviewed)
Grand Theft Auto V is a massive crime-based sandbox action game. The main campaign involves using each of three unique characters to complete various jobs including, but not limited to, bank robbery, assassinations, kidnapping, the titular grand theft auto, car towing, general blowing stuff up, and yoga. The majority of this game is high-octane, high-speed fun. Of course, being in large part a sandbox game, you get a great amount of freedom between jobs to cause whatever kind of mayhem you want, as well as the opportunity to play a variety of mini-games like tennis or complete side missions, like helping the paparazzi take pictures or taking flying lessons.
Aside from the main single-player campaign, there is an online mode in which you play as your very own custom character. Here you can play various co-operative or player vs. player jobs and missions, ranging from races to shootouts to co-op versions of the single-player’s side missions. You can also freely roam the game world just like you do in single-player, but with the added mayhem of up to 31 or so other players that are just as psychotic as you are. The grand-daddy of all the online play, however, is in the Heists. Heists are huge four-player jobs that come in multiple different missions. You and three of your friends split up into different jobs to steal vehicles, assassinate important targets, and do all sorts of other crazy stuff to set up for one big exciting mission, A-team style. Simply put, heists are amazing.
This game is absolutely huge, not just in world size, but in detail as well. There are so many little things that create more and more of those mind-blowing moments where you’re just left to wonder how they thought all of it up. There is a working stock market that you can take part in on your cell phone. There is an in-game television network with actual shows including ridiculous cartoons, soap operas, and reality shows. Some even speculate that there is a built-in socio-economic structure that influences how people such as police officers react depending on which of the three characters you’re currently playing as and where in the game’s city you are. Everywhere you turn, you just see more and more depth in the GTA V world.
The controls are phenomenal, even on the mouse and keyboard, which is fairly surprising, since driving cars has traditionally been a chore on that sort of set-up. I’ve even felt the keyboard controls to be better than gamepad controls when driving. The only real outstanding exception is the flying. The default controls for flying an airplane involve using the “WASD” for acceleration and turning and the number pad‘s 8, 4, 5, and 6 keys for rolling and ascending. It isn’t too difficult to get used to, but it’s definitely awkward.
The main story is unique, as it centers on three different protagonists, so sometimes you will switch from perspective to perspective, much like a Game of Thrones novel. Each character is involved in the central plot in his own way, but they also have their own respective side stories. For example, one character constantly has to bail out the friends that he knew growing up, while another character has to keep an eye on his little side business of smuggling drugs and guns. The central story largely focuses on the three doing various large-scale heists to score some big money and keep the feds off their butts.
The storytelling itself runs much like a movie does. All exposition comes in the form of dialogue or some events going on in the middle of a mission. Fortunately, there is no reliance on narration, and there is rarely any dull moments of one character telling you all about what’s going on.
Unfortunately, I cannot give a full description of the graphics, because my computer refuses to run GTA V on the highest settings. On the “normal” settings, though, the game looks really good. Some of the textures are somewhat bland, especially on the buildings, but that is largely excusable because of the sheer scope of the game world. Character models look good, but they are also simplified rather than super-realistic. Overall, the graphical style borders somewhere between realistic and cartoony. It looks really good, and there are certainly some nice scenic views to be seen, like an aerial view of the city skyline and the sunset over the amusement park pier. The animations fit the semi-cartoony theme as well. Many of the walking animations and reactions are exaggerated a tiny bit.
The audio quality in Grand Theft Auto V is astounding. The in-game radio that plays whenever you are in a car or some stores are populated with real-world music from nearly every major genre. Those songs are fun to flip through and create a nice opportunity to listen to music that you might not have even tried to listen to otherwise. Amazingly, the music doesn’t stop at real-world artists. All of the exciting moments in the game’s missions are accompanied by very exciting and very fitting soundtracks. Each of your most exciting shootouts and high-speed chases will be fueled by amazing music.
A special mention has to be made about the sound effects found in this game. There is a different sound effect for each type of terrain that you run or drive over, including pavement, dirt, sandy beach, and even brick. On top of that, the game will occasionally rain, and you can hear that oh so soothing sound of the rain pitter-pattering on the car’s rooftop as well as that unique splashing sound of cars driving through puddles.
As expected for a major AAA title, GTA V runs at a $60 dollar price tag (USD). Howlongtobeat.com claims that the main story alone takes about 30 hours and about 40 hours if you include all of the side missions. That, of course, does not take into consideration all of the crazy side shenanigans you are going to accomplish outside of any job or mission. Exploring the world of Los Santos is incredibly fun all on its own. On top of that, the online mode provides near-infinite entertainment alone. In the first week of its release, I have already clocked in 30 hours, and I still have a quite a ways to go in the main story. I don’t expect a sale in the near future, but there really is no need for one, as you are most assuredly going to get your $60 worth of entertainment from this title.
Grand Theft Auto V is quite likely the largest and most in-depth game to come out for the PC this year. The action is intense in ways that leave you breathless and adrenaline-infused, but there are plenty of moments that allow you to relax and play golf or even fricken watch TV. When it’s not insane car chases and firefights, GTA V is a very effective life simulator. The story is amazing and intense. The graphics are solid and provide some really cool scenes. The music and sound is absolutely fantastic. To top it all off, it is a really good port to the PC platform. The one big concern is that the game is huge, taking up over 60 GB worth of hard drive memory, which could be costly if you do not have the space on your computer. Other than that, there really is not a lot of room for complaints in Grand Theft Auto V.
+ Insanely fun gameplay
+ Fantastic soundtrack
+ Immersive story
+ Huge game world
– Hardware intensive
– Might take over your life