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Grand Theft Auto V

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action
Developer: Rockstar Games
Release Date: April 14, 2015

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.


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PC Review - 'Grand Theft Auto V'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on April 28, 2015 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Set in the sprawling city of Los Santos and the surrounding area, Grand Theft Auto V delivers a world of unprecedented scale and detail bursting with life, from mountaintops to the depths of the ocean.

Buy Grand Theft Auto V

When Grand Theft Auto V came out on the last-generation consoles, you could tell that the game was pushing that aging hardware to the limit. A PC release was assumed to be in the cards, but it was difficult to look forward to it without remembering how poorly GTA4's PC version ran at launch. Even people with pretty stout hardware were at the mercy of that iteration's performance issues. That made it all the more surprising to find that the PC version of GTA5 is nearly flawless from a technical standpoint and can now be considered the definitive version of the game.

The gameplay in GTA5 hasn't changed terribly much from its earlier releases, so our coverage of the original versions still holds up word for word. The gameplay is still very similar to previous games in the series, with Rockstar's trademark take on Americana serving as a backdrop. Though you play as a trio of characters rather than a sole protagonist, GTA5 is the same expected mix of criminal elements and set pieces. As such, for the purposes of this review, it makes sense to cover what makes the PC version of the game different.

The first thing that immediately jumps out about the PC release is how many controls there are for tuning the graphics options. The expected options, such as anti-aliasing and texture resolution, are all present, but the game takes a deeper dive than most into letting you tweak everything from population variety to tessellation level. This suite of controls also comes with a bar at the top that measures how much VRAM the game expects you'll need versus how much your graphics card actually has, and it warns you if you exceed it. It's not 100% accurate, but in my testing, it was close enough to be useful.

With some tweaking, GTA5 can run on a pretty wide range of hardware. At the start of my review, I was running the game on an i5-2500k system with 8 GB of RAM and an nVidia GTX 660 Ti graphics card. On that particular setup, the game ran fairly well with settings at an overall mix of high, though driving could get a little choppy. During this part of the review, the weakest link was easily the CPU, as the game always ran all four cores at 90% or higher and got choppier once the cores were maxed.

Later in the review, I upgraded to an i7-4970k with 16 GB of RAM, keeping the same graphics card, and I was able to run the game on a mix of very high and ultra settings with few issues. I suspect that if you are running a lean system, you can probably get away with running the game on just about any gaming PC built in the last few years. The game seems quite CPU-hungry, and you're going to want at least 2 GB of VRAM as a minimum. GTA5 seems to make effective use of the hardware you have, and it's impressive how well the title can adapt if you tweak the settings.

One of the bigger new features that's also shared by the next-gen console releases is the inclusion of a first-person mode that can be used for essentially the entire game. This concept isn't completely new to the series; the PC version of GTA4 had a mod that allowed for the same. However, that mod had a slew of issues; aiming and movement were clunky, and cover was difficult to gauge.

I bring this up because these are all the same hurdles that had to be addressed in some manner for GTA5, and Rockstar has done a really good job. The game feels well suited to playing in first-person mode, and that's the viewpoint I used most of the time. The abundance of settings has bled into the ones that are available for the new vantage point. As just a few examples, you can toggle the effects that signify when you are wearing sunglasses or a helmet, you can control what happens when your character goes into ragdoll, and you can adjust the field of view.

It's important to note all of the little things that are part of the game while playing in first-person mode that you just wouldn't notice (or wouldn't make sense) when in the third-person. As mentioned earlier, putting on helmets or sunglasses noticeably change your vision, such as the latter tinting everything an appropriate color and protecting you from the glare of the sun. The new vantage point makes the game feel much more immersive, as you now look up at your surroundings rather than down at your character. It's also a hell of a lot more intense speeding your SUV through a police barricade while law enforcement gunfire shatters the vehicle's glass around you.

That's not to say that the developers have been completely effective in integrating the first-person mode into the game. There are times, such as when you jump over a fence, when your view cannot be rotated or suddenly snaps in a new direction. These only truly matter from a gameplay standpoint when you need to immediately start shooting and have to wrestle with the controls, but it feels a bit jarring nonetheless. The new viewpoint feels the most disjointed when you try to use cover, as blind fire is worthless, and it's difficult to gauge how well the cover will function. However, there is an option to make the game automatically switch back and forth to third-person view while using cover, which is a seamless way to get the best of both worlds.

The fancy graphics and new vantage points are nice, but they won't do much to change a person's opinion on the game. While GTA5 does have a very solid world and some incredibly set pieces, it also suffers from a few goofy missions, and there are times when traveling seems to take an inordinately large amount of time. If you've been waiting for the game to finally hit the PC, you are going to be in for a hell of a ride, but if you didn't care for the console versions, you won't find anything here to really change your mind.

The biggest stumbles that affect the game are related to the multiplayer component, GTA Online. In theory, this mode should be one of the title's biggest selling points, as multiplayer has long been a requested feature for the series. To its credit, the structure of GTA Online allows for everything from vehicle races to various forms of deathmatch. However, all of these modes suffer from latency issues that affect the gameplay in different ways. Races become a mess due to vehicle physics being mangled by the latency, and the hit detection for the shootouts in deathmatch or last team standing are fairly abysmal for the same reason.

These modes are mere appetizers for the missions and heists, which allow players to work together on larger missions and make a ton of money for their characters. However, even these are affected by jarring issues. The game lets you blast out invites to quickly fill slots for such lobbies, but it doesn't warn you about full lobbies before it yanks you out of your gameplay instance. Should you not want to wait in a queue, you could look at a two- to three-minute series of different load screens before you return to the gameplay. At first, I had suspected that it was due to normal launch day woes, but to date, the issues have yet to subside.

Once you are in a mission, it can be a hell of a lot of fun, and it's immensely more fun if the people you play with use voice chat. There are some heist moments that easily trump those in the single-player portion, and that's saying something given its love of creative violence. It's just that reaching them requires so many hurdles, both gameplay and technical, that it's all too easy to say, "Screw it," and return to the single-player game.

I am hopeful that given time, the multiplayer portion will become a better experience. Its status does little to detract from the single-player portion of the game, which is finally free from the shackles of console-based hardware. The title is a beauty to behold when it's cranked up all the way, and it'll likely run on a pretty wide range of hardware. The PC version may not have any new content, but it hits the platform in an extremely polished way. It won't change your mind about the game if you've already played it on another platform, but it certainly cements itself as a fantastic version of an entertaining game.

Score: 9.2/10

Reviewed on: Intel i7 4970k, 16 GB RAM, nVidia GTX 660 Ti

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