GTA V PC Review

It’s taken over a year, but Grand Theft Auto V has finally landed on PC.

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The arrival of GTA V on PC has been a long time coming. Since its original release on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 back in September 2013, the world’s a different place. Jay Leno’s tenure on The Tonight Show has come to an end. Scotland, the Grand Theft Auto series’ birthplace, has voted to remain part of the United Kingdom. We’ve even managed to land a probe onto a moving comet. Planet Earth and the human race have taken a step forward into their next age, so has GTA V managed to follow in its footsteps, or has it lagged behind, languishing in a corner as it rests upon past laurels?

Grand Theft Auto V is already getting long in the tooth. For the majority of gamers, Rockstar’s latest trip into the dark and corrupting criminality that festers beneath every city has made a name for itself even without this port. Every path has been tread and each warped yet accurate observation of the real world as we know it is no longer dripping with the shock or surprise factor they were sodden with as when GTA V first unfolded all those months ago.

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What GTA V on PC presents isn’t something necessarily new. No no, rather, the game pulls back the curtains on a director’s cut of what is widely regarded as  the last console generation’s final and most awe-inspiring hurrah.

Where this first becomes apparent is the visual delight, gesticulating with great fervor by presenting a gorgeously well realized vision of modern society as if seen reflected in a hall of mirrors. Far from being beholden to previous entries, GTA V on PC is a visual delight to take in. Whether your rig is a lowly laptop or tower of technology that devours more electricity in a week than most countries do in a month, it’s possible to make the game look as delightful as possible within your machine’s means.

Textures on higher or even the highest settings are so well defined that you’ll have a hard time believing that the paint on each building isn’t weathered by the same elements that weather your own home. Everything from detailed particle effects to dizzying draw distances can be found in GTA V‘s soothing embrace. They are, however, far from the most impressive visual boosts that have been ladled onto the gourmet feast for the eyes that GTA V lays before you. That comes from the lighting.

GTA V, grand theft auto

Grand Theft Auto V‘s lighting has always been a pleasure, from the Xbox 360/PS3 to the present PC client. The increase in resources available to the game brings Los Santos to life in a way no one could have foretold. Lens flares dart across the screen with enough beauty to give J.J. Abrams goosebumps. Reflections bounce from shining surfaces and off into the noon day sun. Heck, even on some of the lower settings, it’s almost possible to feel the heat on your brow when crossing the desert. At times it becomes so believable, sunblock is advised.

This beauty does come at a price though. Running the game at full pelt on any PC that isn’t likely to give birth to Skynet isn’t exactly easy. Making do is never a satisfying activity, but it’s one that almost every player of Rockstar’s latest PC outing has to take into account. Luckily, there’s a treasure trove of options available to tweak the experience. Unluckily however, it can sometimes be difficult to ascertain exactly which feature is hindering performance. This isn’t something bad necessarily. It can, however, be irritating when you just want to run the game on high without having to run down every option and tweak settings for an hour before the game can even begin.

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One addition that doesn’t make the headlines but changes the feel of GTA V‘s PC outing comes in the form of a heavy, cinematic depth of field. By softly dragging certain background elements out of focus, the game often takes on a more cinematic feel than one might expect. This isn’t just a game about drive-by shootings and the recipe for a good batch of methamphetamine, this is a narrative present against the backdrop of social satire and violence to the point of ridiculum.

The tale of GTA V follows four interlinked characters as they forge a path both in tandem and alone through the urban jungle nestled within the fictional state of San Andreas. Retired bankrobber Michael teams up with aspiring professional criminal Franklin and a familiar, unhinged acquaintance by the name of Trevor. Story-telling that captivates the mind is backed up by the haul of vehement voice-work of a quality that reinforces the game’s vivid presentation beautifully. More often than not you find that your nose drifts ever close to the screen in hopes that you ears will catch something extra.

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These three aforementioned fellows pull the story forward at a pace which never feels rushed, although at times can drag on a little more than you’d like. A satisfying conclusion does make up for this, but you never really want it to end. It is a delight to hear Trevor reminiscing about his morally questionable antics before slamming down some delightfully existential truths, following it all up by insulting Michael and screaming wild nonsense out of the window.

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