The wait is over: about 1 and a half years after it was launched for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V) has finally been released for the PC. And Rockstar — the developer for GTA V — has made the game as stunningly beautiful as possible.
GTA V comes with the base game, of course, but it also includes Grand Theft Auto Online, which is the multi-player counterpart of the game. Both single-player and multi-player modes are set in the same city, though save data are stored separately.
The first impression I had of the game was overwhelming.
I started in single-player mode, where, after a brief introduction, I was thrown right into Los Santos (where the game is set). After some side missions, I was able to explore everything freely on my own while cruising in my story character’s vehicle. What I found was that the game is a really well made one, containing beautiful graphics coupled with a beautiful environment.
Mind you, I was only playing with middle-high graphic settings, so anyone running the full graphics of GTA V with a great PC setup would be blown away. The scenery that I came across looked almost real, in my opinion.
Life in Los Santos
Los Santos was designed based on the city of Los Angeles, and the game features tons and tons of activities besides the regular shooting and carjacking that goes on in GTA. Getting bored of driving? Ride a bicycle instead. Enough of the city? Explore the wilderness. Tired of swimming? Use a mini-submarine instead. Lazy to track down a mountain? Parachute down instead.
There is always something to do in GTA V, and besides driving, it’s also fun just walking around. You get to see animals such as cats and dogs roaming the city, and deer, boars and so much more in the wilderness (this feature is not available for GTA Online). All of this makes the game feel so alive.
Though the characters in GTA V have pre-set cars and homes, GTA Online allows you to make your own character and live however you want to. I spent most of my time playing GTA Online, as I prefer to have a personalised character and lifestyle.
GTA Online also features minor RPG elements that let your character level up as you carry out jobs and missions. Your character — as well as the main characters in GTA V — has a set of skills that includes driving, flying, diving, stamina, strength and shooting. All skills can be improved as characters carry out activities related to those skills.
Both modes also allow you to modify your car to suit your tastes. The car modification feature in GTA V is very detailed, allowing you modify almost everything. You can buy your own property and home, too, though this feature is rather simple and doesn’t allow for much customisation in terms of decoration or furniture arrangement.
On top of the features discussed above, there are many other minor details that make GTA V more realistic than its predecessors. The in-game Internet browser, for example, seems to actually function, at least for me. I tried accessing Google to see if it works, but sadly, it will only allow you to browse in-game websites.
One feature that stands out is the light indicator on your character’s earpiece, which lights up when your character is speaking via the in-game voice chat. Of course, your character must first be equipped with a earpiece in order for you to experience this. I would also like to highlight that GTA V allows you to take a selfie with your in-game phone camera.
Do note that GTA V is rated M (17+) under the ESRB rating, as there is content (nudity and sexual elements) that may not be suitable for those who are underaged.
Explosions, Sounds, and Music
GTA V’s explosions and sounds — like its graphics — are quite realistic. When an explosion takes place far away, for example, you’ll hear it happening with an echo effect, signalling its distance from your current position. Gun-firing sounds are alright, but there is no distinction within the same weapon category.
Interestingly, GTA V’s radio feature stands out: it almost seems as though you are listening to actual radio stations. There are even times when familiar songs are heard, as GTA V features a number of songs composed and sung by various artists.
The GTA V story is not a very long one, but replayability of GTA Online is rather high. There is literally no level cap on GTA Online; that said, higher levels don’t bring much benefits. Many of its missions are carried out with other players, which makes it a fun experience if you’re going into them alone, since you will be grouped with public players. If you have a few friends that are going to play with you, however, it is going to be one hell of a ride in Los Santos.
In short, GTA V gave me one of the best experiences I’ve had in my many years of video gaming. Whether you are a long-time fan of GTA or someone new to the series, GTA V is the game for you as long as you enjoy explosions, shooting, cars, and guns.