As you probably know, Rockstar Games released GTA V for PC on April 14th with tons of improvements over its original release. PC users had to wait 19 months to be able to taste this masterpiece, but oh boy it was worth it.
And yes, GTA 5 PC looks good. You also know that. We have been hyped with a bunch of trailers and 4k screenshots while yelling ‘IT LOOKS BETTER THAN REALITY’ to our display(s) as if we had any clue of what reality looks like. Leaving aside the console vs PC war, it HAD to look good. The main concern was how many organs we would have to harvest in order to get money and buy a PC able to run it ok-ish. What kind of a beast would be able to handle this title without a family member disappearing and leaving behind a fat wallet?
Well let me tell you: your PC probably already handles it really well. I’ve messed around in both the huge world and its long list of graphics settings, and it’s clear that Rockstar put serious time and effort into the PC build. This is the definitive version replacing the PS4 equivalent, and it’s not a crappy port.
You can play with everything on high or very high with little more than the recommended specs (8 GB RAM, i5 3470 and a GTX 660) at 1080 and at or near 60 FPS. Yes, you can achieve those impressive graphics you have seen in state of the art RIGs with your modest PC. If you are not too techie, you can get an idea of how good the optimizations are by comparing the requirements with Mortal Kombat X, released in the same day: GTA V is asking you for less computer power to play. Now I’m not going to lie: we played with a PC a few miles northern than the recommended specs (I7 4970k, GTX 970 and 16 of RAM) with everything maxed and it was perfect, even while Streaming and recording locally at the same time. We couldn’t achieve that with other AAA games recently released.
If you are still living in the past and have a below than average computer, GTA 5 is stacked with graphics options and with the ability to tune everything from grass density to water reflections. It is already a standard for Rockstar to include a bar at the top of the options menu representing how full your graphics card’s video memory is, and it is really handy to have an indication of how close you are to maxing out your setup while you are tweaking the graphics to your taste. Is this not enough for you? Well, you have an integrated benchmark tool. Are you going to ask for anything else? Because there is more.
Under ‘advanced’ graphics options you can tailor your GTA experience even further: You can extend the draw distance, the detail of streaming while in a plane and many other goodies related to shadow details. These are just a few of the many examples that proves Rockstar’s commitment to the PC version. GTA V is not an afterthought, and now we are able to thank them for learning from all the mistakes they made with GTA IV when it launched.
What about GTA Online? Well, it had some minor issues but we were able to enter games with other players smoothly, WITHOUT being disconnected (looking at you NetherRealm). Character transfer went without any problem, and there was no lag when running around the world or on-mission but like any other online game, your mileage may vary.
In GTA Online you have the ability to rank up by earning points. You get points by completing various Jobs and getting kills, and the higher level you are, the more customization you will have available at the different stores and also better weapons to go through the harder missions. You can form crews with friends or other online players to collaborate on not-very-legal activities and increase reputation faster.
It would take an entire review to describe the amount of activities you have in the online mode, but just to name a few you have dynamic events, you can buy properties and hunt bounties. The latest update included Heists, a 4-player cooperative mode where players can participate in multi-part heists, raids and robberies. There are numerous missions featuring new gameplay, vehicles, weapons, and scenarios to test a team’s full set of skills and communication.
The singleplayer story still remains as good as it was almost 2 years ago, and it has not been touched. GTA V’s plot crosses all kind of boundaries, from drug abuse to torture, and the missions will make you race, chase stolen boats, rob a bank, hijack military aircraft, and engage in shootouts with the police, gangsters, you name it. The story, the characters, the world, everything is well designed and a joy to watch and experience. We have 3 main characters and the interplay between them will make you laugh – a lot. The protagonists are not super heroes you cannot relate to, they are fucked up people that.. well, you shouldn’t relate to.
Michael is a retired con man in his 40s trying to stay away from trouble. He wants to have a relaxed time by the pool and tries to love his troubled family. Franklin is from downtown Los Santos, but he doesn’t want to be like his gangster friends. He wants something bigger. And then there’s Trevor, a volatile psychopath lunatic who sells drugs and murders rednecks. Trevor is our gateway to the bloody and violent missions.
As for features, there are countless hours of music on the radio, and you can even create your own. As in previous titles, the amount of vehicles are huge and now you can explore the skies and oceans alike. There is even a nice touch of realism where the signal is lost if you leave the county and you were listening a local radio. And, of course, there’s the new Rockstar Editor, a flexible tool for making your own short movies. Recording your gameplay sessions is just a button away, and you can create your own montage of a good amount of scenes and characters. You can mess around with effects, angles, SFX/BGM split, as well as choosing specific music for your movie.
Unless you play it for yourself, it’s near impossible to describe how big GTA V is. And I’m not talking just about the world. It’s the complex story, the ridiculous amount of missions, the activities to take part in (Tennis? Checked. Golf? Checked) and the secrets waiting for you to be discovered.
There is also a wide range of reintroduction’s that we all missed from previous titles. Improving skill bars by your in-game actions is just one of them. Combat and driving have been fine tuned to the point where you can even select your favorite crosshair. You can feel the improvements in shooting, and everything becomes more entertaining when you start evolving your characters.
GTA V is, in a single word, perfect. There is a lot of fun in doing a race with Franklin, in the very next minute smoking weed and stopping aliens from stealing your mind with Michael, and then going in a killing spree with Trevor. A comparable amount of activities is available in the online experience, and the graphic level achieved is second to none. The optimizations are a lesson to be learned for the rest of the developers, and the extra tools like the movie editor is just the icing on the cake in an era where expensive DLCs for lazy work is common.