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Apr 21, 2015

Grand Theft Auto V (PC) Review

Lights Off
5 Incredible
Retails for: $59.99
We Recommend: $59.99
  • Developer: Rockstar North
  • Publisher: Rockstar Games
  • Genre: Action, Adventure
  • Released: Apr 14, 2015
  • Platform: Windows
  • Reviewed: Windows

We’re only a few months removed from our review of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One review of Grand Theft Auto V. It seems strange to wonder how the PC version could be any better. But it should come as a little surprise that it does even surpass current-gen systems. It is the definitive experience to have on any system.

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This is the same game, there’s no bones about it. Sure, there are improvements and additions, but not much has changed with Grand Theft Auto V. The recent Online Heists that came to PS3/PS4/X360/XB1 are automatically included on PC. So, as far as content is concerned, there is parity between all the systems – even if they don’t connect to each other.

If you’re coming to Grand Theft Auto V for the first time, you play as three characters as opposed to the usual one. This gameplay dynamic allows for switching between multiple characters to gain insight on their lives when you’re not controlling them. Each character, Michael, Trevor, and Franklin are not good people. They have redeeming qualities, but nothing ever good enough to bring them from the edge they’ve gone over. It’s an interesting, twisting tale that goes in many directions. The world of Los Santos is a renamed Los Angeles with some liberties taken place to feel fresh and new as you uncover the map as you traverse the dense world that has been created.

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There are some new additions exclusive to the PC version, such as two new radio stations. The Lab and Self Radio. The Lab being a hip-hop radio station, and Self Radio being a station where it is populated by MP3’s you drop into a folder for it to read from. It seems like a no brainer, but a fully custom radio station is the kind of thing you’d expect, and is very welcome.

The Rockstar Editor is a very useful tool, essentially is a stripped down version of Adobe Premiere. You can manually or automatically record gameplay moments. Then by launching the editor, create a new project to splice together clips, and then export them. You can even sit in the Director’s Chair and create a scene of your choosing by selecting characters unlocked through playing the game’s story missions. From there, you can add text, transitions, music tracks, and otherwise create machinima-type videos to showcase your artistic side. This is a fully featured suite of tools within GTA V, and doesn’t cut any corners on its quality.

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The visual fidelity is further enhanced on PC; able to support 4K resolutions, 60 frames per second, scalable options to suit old and new PCs. Grand Theft Auto V lets you customize nearly everything: FXAA, MSAA, Vsync, Population Density, Population Variety, Distance Scaling, Texture Quality, Shader Quality, Shadow Quality, Reflection Quality, Reflection MSAA, Water Quality, Particle Quality, Grass Quality, Soft Shadows, Post FX, Anistropic Filtering, Ambient Occlusion, and Tessellation. Even if you don’t know what everything is or does, GTA V automatically sets your settings appropriately. Some Advanced Graphics options exist, but will incur significant performance hits, such as turning on Long Shadows, High Resolution Shadows, and/or High Detail While Flying.

Once you’ve set your options, you can run the game’s Benchmarking Tool to have it run through various scenarios with an in-game framerate counter, to see what conditions cause the framerate to dip, if at all. There is a bit of a bug, that if you try to use the benchmarking tool before you play Franklin’s first mission after gaining control, it will not run through the benchmark properly. Another thing to note, unlike other benchmarks, the one for Grand Theft Auto V will not give you a summary or a run-down of each test, so it will be up to you to manage.

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Grand Theft Auto V naturally supports gamepads, including Xbox One and PlayStation 4 gamepads, without any additional software. Oddly, the in-game menus, controller map layouts all use the Xbox format. So despite its support, it’s unfortunate the graphic displays of button icons may not be representative of what you’re using. A great feature in this version, is that you can switch between gamepad and mouse & keyboard at will. There’s no need to enter menus to enable or disable peripherals in order to use them. So if you prefer to run and gun in first-person with mouse & keyboard, but drive with a gamepad in third-person, you can do that with extreme ease.

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My PC Specs:
– Microsoft Windows 8.1
– Intel Core i7 3770k @ 3.9Ghz (Turbo)
– 8GB (2x4GB) Kingston HyperX blu DDR3 RAM
– NVIDIA GTX 780 Classified

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The story contained within Grand Theft Auto V may be rough around the edges, but it does great things with three protagonists. The online modes are an absolute riot, with or without friends. And the inclusion of Online Heists make for the ultimate criminal co-op experience. With such great performance of a game that originally came out in 2013 on last-gen hardware, Grand Theft Auto V shows no signs of aging or slowing down. Grand Theft Auto V is still a masterpiece, and it is the purest form of excellence in performance, quality, and 60fps.

A Steam code was provided by Rockstar Games for review purposes