By Mina Summers:
· Enhanced graphics make for a more immersive experience.
· Killer combo of mouse controls and first-person viewpoint.
· In-game video capture and editing features.
· You need an extremely powerful rig and plenty of free memory to run it.
· Not enough exclusive content.
There were a lot of delays, but the PC version of GTA V is finally here, and it was well worth the wait!
Rockstar initially released their open-world crime epic on last-gen in 2013, then a re-mastered HD version came out on current-gen in 2014, making this the third version of the game. Now, if you are already playing on console, I’m not going to try and convince you that you should spend another £40 on another version of the same game. However, Rockstar have really pushed modern PC hardware to its limit, bringing in yet more visual improvements and have bought in a wave of new features exclusive to the PC version.
Just check the memory requirements and specifications first, this is a big game!
First of all, GTA V is nothing like Rockstar’s previous, disappointing effort. GTA IV was dark and drab, and the storyline was uninteresting to the point that I was unable to play it to the end. It was a fun world to muck around in with your mates, but after a while, players just lost interest, and the PC port did nothing much to get us playing again. This is why, this time around, Rockstar have taken a whole new approach.
The improvements over console are apparent from the moment you hit go (I say go, I really mean after a mind-numbingly long loading screen…). Me being me, I headed straight for the graphics settings to start messing around. GTA V has a suite of graphics options that would make a lot of other PC games blush. There is nothing left to desire here, with both extreme ends of the hardware scale being catered for. For the weaker PCs, bring down the settings for a modest but stable experience, or, for the stronger PCs, crank things up for that crisp, 4K goodness. Whatever your setup, there is a configuration waiting for you (within a certain degree of reason of course.
Jumping into the game, and you’ll see the amount of sweat and blood that has gone into this game. GTA V is absolutely breath-taking. This is Los Santos at its most stunning, and the console versions don’t really come close.
I won’t go too far into the storyline, because most have already seen or heard about it. But for those who are new, here are the basics.
It is a tale of three criminals: Michael, Franklin, and Trevor. Michael is a retired bank robber living a life of luxury with his family in witness protection. Franklin is a streetwise repo man who craves that life of luxury. As for Trevor... Well, he is an unhinged meth dealer with a seriously broken mental compass.
Three different characters. One interlinking storyline.
GTA Online is a game in itself, mixing GTA’s sandbox chaos with elements of MMORPGs. You can take part in elaborate, multi-mission bank heists with friends, or just crash around the open-world causing trouble. It’s a thrilling online playground with a compelling level progression system and hundreds of missions, including bicycle races, death matches, destruction derbies, and skydiving competitions.
Sounds great, right? Well, there have been some issues. For example, GTA Online on the PC can suffer from some minor and some serious lag problems. Just like any online game, GTA V Online's lag comes from being paired up with players who are far away or with poor connections. Most of my time was rather lag-free, however being in a car with someone who is lagging is not an entertaining experience. "We're just about to crash into that-- oh, never mind we're on the highway now." Doing missions like this makes certain players virtually useless as they teleport all over the place and neither player knows what's really happening.
However, the majority of the time, GTA Online on the PC works like a charm, and is an absolute blast if you get a few friends with headsets involved!
The real star of the PC version is the Rockstar Editor, an amazingly powerful tool that lets you record in-game footage, edit it, and upload it to YouTube. At any time during play you can start recording. But instead of recording video, it records an in-engine snapshot of your actions, letting you go in later and move the camera, add filters, and implement dozens of other tweaks and effects. Then, using an editing tool that’s like a stripped-back version of software like Adobe Premiere or Final Cut, you can string the footage together, add music and text, and then put it online.
Accompanying the editor is Director Mode, which lets you change the weather and time of day in a scene to create a specific mood, as well as selecting virtual actors from a massive list of non-player characters. This gives you total control over your scenes and, combined with the editor, allows you to make virtually any kind of film you can think of. You could create a gritty gangster drama, a horror, or a nature documentary. It transforms the game world into a giant film set, and creative players will be tinkering with it long after they’ve completed the game.
For those coming fresh to the experience, you’re about to play one of the best games ever made. It’s still very much the Grand Theft Auto you’ve known and loved since the series transitioned to 3D open worlds in GTA3, but it has been enhanced and improved to dizzying heights. At campaign level you’ll be playing as three distinctly different characters in an astonishingly detailed and accurate recreation of Los Angeles, engaging in missions that tips hats to the best in crime cinema. A GTA world has never been as populated with things to do, be that hurling yourself out of helicopters whilst riding an ATV, or seeking out bounty hunt targets for big cash rewards. Los Santos is a world full of amusement and excitement, although these days Rockstar’s satire is starting to wear a little thin and the jokes don’t always hit the right mark. Online, it’s the same experience, but all the other gangsters are real people.
If that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.