Review: Grand Theft Auto V (PC)

Back in September 2013, Rockstar North released the latest game in the Grand Theft Auto series on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, Grand Theft Auto V (5) and was an astounding success, making over $1 billion dollars in 3 days alone, making it the fastest selling video game of all time and outselling the entire music industry’s monthly revenue of that September. Later, in June of 2014, it was announced that the game was being ported and generally upgraded to the next-gen consoles, the Xbox One and Playstation 4, as well as the PC in November of same year. However, the PC port of the game was delayed until January of 2015 and the next-gen versions launched to yet another great reception from reviewers and fans alike. Just 2 weeks before the PC port was meant to launch, Rockstar then delayed the game once again to the end of March when they finally revealed the official release date to be April 12th, a whole 6 months after the next-gen releases.

So, is the PC port of Grand Theft Auto V up to snuff with the next-gen versions? Many before the release of the game to PC thought not due to the well-known unsatisfactory port of Grand Theft Auto IV (4) to the PC back in 2010 which was riddled with performance issues, online server crashes with the Rockstar Social Club and general problems with the port overall which left a bad taste in PC gamers’ faith in Rockstar and their ability to deliver a good port to the PC. However, I am here to tell you otherwise as the PC port for Grand Theft Auto V is near perfect and is far from the disappointments that GTA IV’s port delivered back in 2010.

As many of you know, Grand Theft Auto primarily revolves around driving to objectives and shooting people, animals and sometimes just inanimate objects, both of which are incredibly satisfying to do in Grand Theft Auto V and this is especially true in the PC port. The gunplay is both simple enough to use that even someone who has never played a video game before could easily pick up on how to use it but is, at the same time, a bit awkward to use (deliberately so) in order to not make it so easy for the player that they can mass murder a gang of thugs with ease, adding that small edge of difficulty to the gunplay which makes it that much more enjoyable. The driving can be compared to the driving of an arcade racing game where you can turn corners almost on a dime which is far better suited in action game where you need that speed and manoeuvrability such as the GTA series. Compare GTA V’s driving system to GTA IV’s which, whilst it did feel very realistic to drive about, was a pain to use when trying to get away from the police due to the fact that every time you tried to turn a corner with even a little bit of speed, you’d spin out and be stuck like a sitting duck trying to manoeuver yourself back onto the road whilst getting shot at by the police, which wasn’t particularly fun to deal with. The first person mode from the next-gen versions also returns to the PC version, giving players a brand new way (and perspective) to play the game.

The game's gunplay in action.
The game’s gunplay in action.

Grand Theft Auto V is quite honestly one of the most beautiful games on the market currently and the PC port only adds to that beauty in many ways, thanks to its wide array of graphical options. The view distance of the game on the PC port is unparalleled by the console versions of the game as you can pretty much see from one end of Los Santos (the series’ version of Los Angeles) to the other and trust me when I say that that is a long distance. The PC port also allows for the use of many different forms of Anti-aliasing, something which the console versions of the game lacked and made it so that I eventually had to play the game on a smaller screen in order to make things look less jagged. Other options that have been added into the PC port exclusively would be longer shadows, increased traffic and population options, 4K resolution, an unlocked frame rate, allowing for 60 and even 120 FPS gameplay (which makes one hell of a gameplay difference, by the way) and much more!

The game’s soundtrack is great as always with songs like Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way”, Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” returning from the next-gen versions and Queen’s “Radio Ga Ga” and Rihanna’s “Only Girl In The World” returning from the original versions of the game. A ‘Self Radio’ feature has returned from the GTA IV port (one of the few good things about it) into the PC port of V to allow players to play their own music in-game. With this feature, the player can choose whether they want their songs to be played on the station like a real radio station (with advertisements and the stations bumpers being played in-between each few songs) or just have their songs being played one after the other with no interruptions. The game’s own soundtrack for when you have the radio off is still as atmospheric with whatever situation you’re in as it was in the last two versions: Whether your running from the police, heading to a drug deal to steal the package for yourself then sell it off or if your just on a mass murdering rampage.

One of the game's protagonists, Franklin, overlooking the stunning city of Los Santos,
One of the game’s protagonists, Franklin, overlooking the stunning city of Los Santos. I can literally see my house from here.

The use of the keyboard and mouse both make it easier and more difficult depending on their usage. When using the mouse to aim one of your many guns in the game, you’ll immediately notice how much more precise it is to use compared to the stick of a gamepad. However, the use of the keyboard is far less accurate to use compared to the controller when it comes to driving as the stick can make the car turn to a certain point before its maximum turning point whereas a key on a keyboard can’t do that: It’s either 0% or 100% on a key. Luckily though, the game does offer seamless switching between input devices so, if you wish to drive with a controller but shoot with a keyboard and mouse, you can do that with no interruptions in the game.

Sadly, not all is perfect with the PC port of GTA V. As expected, there’s been a few technical hitches with the game’s launch to PC. For example, Windows Users with characters in their account names other than letters and numbers will find that whenever they try to install the game, they get an error or the game just hangs whilst trying to install. Well, the only (current) solution is that users will have to create a new account with a name that include only letters and numbers and make that account the administrator of your computer. Which means if you can’t wait for a fix for this quite bad glitch in the system, then you’re going to have to make a new account and reinstall the game again…Did I mention that the game is a whopping 60 GBs to download, install and unpack by the way? Enjoy sitting for about 2 hours at least if you want to play the game right now and you’re one of the unfortunate people to have this issue. Other problems include the game automatically defaulting to integrated graphics cards for people on laptops or who just have integrated cards in some cases, performance issues caused V-Sync and just the game refusing to download/install for some people.

So, GTA V for the PC: Was it worth the 19 month wait? Most definitely, yes. This version of the game is the definitive ultimate version of this game and I’m sure as hell glad they didn’t decide to just release the port anyway in January or even November along the with Next-gen launches, cause there’s a very high chance that I would have been saying the port was worse than the GTA IV one if they hadn’t done so. Every aspect of this game mixes so well with each other and everything that was added in the PC port for this just makes this game just that much better. But for now, let’s just see in the coming months what the modding community will add to this spectacular game.

Grand Theft Auto V is available right now on Windows for £39.99.

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