Grand Theft Auto V Review – PC/Steam

Not many games have the luxury of three separate releases, each with their own major ad campaigns and each with a significant amount of media coverage.  Since its launch in September of 2013 on last-gen consoles, followed by its current-gen release last November, to its PC release a few weeks ago, every gamer on the planet has either played Grand Theft Auto V or at least has heard about it…extensively.

After an excruciatingly long wait Rockstar Games has finally delivered their pièce de résistance.  GTA V has arrived on the PC and it is everything we had hoped for and quite possibly more than we ever dreamed possible.  Of course the biggest question that needs answering, especially for those impatient gamers who may have already played the game on last-gen, current-gen, or possibly even both generations of console is…

Is this new version worth a double (or triple) dip purchase?

It’s the same question I asked last November when the PS4 and XB1 versions released.  At that time the answer was an easy YES, and if your only experience with GTA V is still exclusive to last-gen consoles the answer is still a YES, but for gamers who did play the game on PS4 or XB1 your decision may not be as cut and dry.  But at least those who have played any previous version of the game will be able to import their online characters and progress into the PC.

Rather than review the game entirely from scratch I’ll simply link to our past coverage and then focus on what is new for the PC, which is probably the only reason you are here in the first place.   As far as content, the PC version includes all of the original content plus all of the new content that was added for the current-gen console release including new missions, challenges, vehicles, and weapons.  The PC version still works with the iFruit app, and I was able to sync up on my iPad and play with Chop the dog and do some car customization for my whip then have those car mods sent to the garage in the game.   There are also other fun diversions you can mess around with using iFruit to socialize and further flesh out this highly immersive game world.

GTA V is a technical marvel, and Rockstar Games has pushed the limits of available PC hardware while keeping the game surprisingly accessible and scalable to gamers who may not be ready to drop $500 on a video card.  Obviously, the more power you throw at the game the better it looks, with support for 60fps and 4K video support.  I’m almost embarrassed by how much I was raving about the 30fps on last year’s PS4 version, because once you play GTA V at 60fps you will never want to play it on anything less.   The smoothness overall look is a bit awkward at first – like the first time you saw The Hobbit movie in 48fps – but there is no denying the superior controls, especially when driving through rush hour traffic at 100+mph, that 60fps offers.

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With more than 25 separate configurable settings for texture quality, shaders, tessellation, anti-aliasing, etc. the graphics settings in the options menu can be intimidating, but the game shows you in real-time how each setting is affecting your available VRAM.  There is even a benchmark video that will show your FPS in a variety of night and day stress test scenarios, making it relatively easy to find a perfect blend of performance and quality for your specific gaming rig.

GTA V also got some perks in the soundtrack department with the addition of Lab FM, hosted by The Alchemist and Oh No, and featuring all sorts of great music from guest artists including Earl Sweatshirt, Freddie Gibbs, Little Dragon, Killer Mike, Sam Herring from Future Islands, and more.  And if you get tired of the game’s built-in soundtrack you can always create your own soundtrack using the PC-exclusive, Self Radio.

One of the most anticipated benefits of the PC version has to be the post-release customizations created by a very active mod community.  No aspect or element of this game is safe from the mod community, so feel free to tinker with the game or just enjoy everyone else’s efforts.  Just don’t try to take those mods into the online game.  The PC version of GTA Online supports up to 30 players (and two spectators) and includes all the original content released to date as well as the new Heists and Adversary modes.

As you progress through the story you will unlock a huge assortment of assets that can be used in the new Rockstar Editor, a powerful suite of creative tools you can use to capture, edit and share game footage from within Grand Theft Auto V and Grand Theft Auto Online. The Rockstar Editor’s Director Mode allows players the ability to stage their own scenes using prominent story characters, pedestrians, and even animals to bring their vision to life. Along with advanced camera manipulation and editing effects including fast and slow motion, and an array of camera filters, players can add their own music using songs from GTAV radio stations, or dynamically control the intensity of the game’s score. Completed videos can be uploaded directly from the Rockstar Editor to YouTube and the Rockstar Games Social Club for easy sharing.

Whether this is your first, second or third time through the game I can’t recommend the PC version of Grand Theft Auto V highly enough.   Rockstar pushed the limits of last-gen and current-gen consoles and it has done the same thing on the PC, while somehow managing to make the game accessible, fun and visually relevant to a vast assortment of PC configs.    GTA V remains one of the best open-world games in the history of gaming; certainly the best installment in the franchise, and a showcase title for any PC gaming rig you currently own or plan on building this year.

A must own PC title if there ever was one.

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