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Review

Grand Theft Auto Online Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed: October 11, 2013
    Aaron Sampson on Google+

    Rough and semi-ready.

    She came from far away, flying in to Los Santos International late one night. It wasn't what she was running away from that mattered anymore. The past was past. It was the opportunities in her future she cared about. As her plane flew over, she looked out at the city, thinking of the possibilities that awaited her there.

    Grand Theft Auto Online is full of possibilities. My character has engaged in some run-of-the-mill criminal activities, holding up stores and getting into shootouts. But this isn't what excites her about Los Santos. No, what she loves are the opportunities to race helicopters over the mansions in the Vinewood Hills, to get into tank battles near the forests of Great Chaparral, to dogfight in fighter planes over Fort Zancudo. For a while, she fell in with a mysterious criminal wearing a pig mask, and they committed crimes together and played golf and tennis together like a modern-day, fitness-oriented Bonnie and Clyde.

    Glory days.

    The sheer variety of things to do with and against other players in Grand Theft Auto Online's open world is its greatest asset. No individual element measures up to more focused games. As a multiplayer racing game, it's no Forza or Burnout. As an online shooter, it's not as exciting as the multiplayer in The Last of Us. Its sports offerings aren't going to compete with Tiger Woods or Top Spin. But none of those games let you do more than a fraction of the things GTA Online lets you do, and GTA Online does the things it does well enough for them to be really enjoyable. When you're hopping along from one exciting activity to the next, GTA Online is exhilarating.

    I've found myself more invested in the stylish, enigmatic character I created than I ever was in Michael or Franklin or Trevor.

    Unfortunately, sometimes the world behaves in ways that put a stop to your fun. GTA Online's stability has improved considerably since it first launched, but in that time, many players have lost characters and properties they've purchased, which is no minor setback. Low-level characters don't have access to most of GTA Online's best content. Early on, your mission options are dominated by bland last team standing deathmatches. GTA Online doesn't put its best foot forward right away, which is unfortunate even for new players, but it's doubly unfortunate to have to rise through the ranks a second time. Losing property is also a tremendous setback, given that it takes a lot of time to earn enough cash for the nicer homes in the game.

    Then there are a host of smaller but still significant issues. Matches sometimes fail to start, leaving you stranded in lobbies. Races sometimes hitch up, and competitors sometimes warp around the environment. You might be cruising along minding your own business only to get a message informing you that you've been kicked from the game by other players, and when you return, even though you didn't do anything wrong, you're warned that if you keep behaving like this, you'll be designated a bad sport and be forced to play with all the other jerks.

    Don't question the idea of a two-bit criminal being given access to a fighter jet. Just go with it.

    Rockstar is giving everyone who has played GTA Online up to this point half a million in online cash, a nice gesture, but there's no replacing lost characters you might have grown attached to. GTA Online doesn't attempt to create a tightly woven narrative around your character's exploits. Instead, it provides a very loose-fitting structure in which your silent character occasionally comes into contact with the likes of Lester, Trevor and other characters from the single-player game. As my imagination has filled in the gaps, I've found myself more invested in the stylish, enigmatic character I created than I ever was in Michael or Franklin or Trevor.

    As other players approach you, you might feel a knot of anticipation in your stomach as you wonder if they'll ignore you and go about their business, or risk their lives in an attempt to kill you and take some of the cash you're carrying.

    The world is identical to that of the single-player game, but with all the outlandish activities you constantly get up to, it feels pleasantly disconnected from the Los Santos of GTAV. This is a Grand Theft Auto fever dream in which no narrative justification is needed before you're parachuting off of a skyscraper or hopping into a jet to pursue opposing players speeding down the freeway in sports cars. GTA Online largely does away with story to make room for gleeful chaos.

    At least, the chaos is usually gleeful. Sometimes other players in the open world can go out of their way to be jerks and keep attacking you, but you can enable passive mode for a paltry $100 which makes it so that you can't shoot or be shot, and the fact that activities are instanced means that you won't find your golf game interrupted by joyriders mowing you down in a sports car. When you're not doing an activity, there's typically an exciting element of danger as you traverse the open world. As other players approach you, you might feel a knot of anticipation in your stomach as you wonder if they'll ignore you and go about their business, or risk their lives in an attempt to kill you and take some of the cash you're carrying. Smart players bank their cash frequently to avoid significant losses, and although the game advises you to go to the nearest ATM, you can actually do this quickly from anywhere just by using the internet on your phone, which almost makes the entire distinction between cash and money in the bank pointless.

    Someday, this could all be yours.

    You can interact with other players indirectly, too, calling Lester and kicking in cash to put bounties on other players, which marks them as red blips on the map. (It's exciting and scary to be on the other end of that situation, too, getting the message that another player has put a few grand on your head and knowing you're about to be hunted by every lowlife in town.) Events occur periodically in the world, too, that foster competition between players. Sometimes a particular vehicle that car dealer and legitimate businessman Simeon wants becomes marked on the map for all players, and whoever gets it back to the dealership first reaps the rewards. And often, the mayhem that other players are generating on their own contributes a surreal sense of life to Los Santos. You might see a huge police chase go speeding past you, or happen upon someone just cruising down the street in an propeller plane for no apparent reason.

    For me, though, it's the structured activities that will keep me coming back to Grand Theft Auto Online. It's missions like Roadgame, in which you race other players up the beautiful coastal highway to collect some coke, then go on a winding car chase through the hills to deliver it first. It's the opportunity to race planes through the skyscrapers of downtown as the sunset paints the sky gorgeous shades of orange and purple. Even though homes in the game are essentially just places to take in picturesque views of the city and spectate other players in "news broadcasts" on TV, I've got my eye on a particular highrise luxury apartment. I actually want my character to succeed, to make something of herself here and rise above the brutal streets of Los Santos.

    Los Santos doesn't look as sharp or lively online as off. Texture pop-in is much more noticeable, and there's less traffic on the roads. But it's still a diverse and gorgeous setting, and in GTA Online, it gives you more fun stuff to do with other players than any other open world action game. The unpredictable human element is both an asset and a liability, and the technical problems that have plagued it are far too significant to be ignored. But when it clicks, as it often does, there's nothing quite like GTA Online.

    The Good
    Wonderful variety of missions and activities
    Gorgeous, diverse world serves as a backdrop to your adventures
    Plenty of opportunity to have memorable adventures with friends
    The Bad
    Plagued with bugs and performance problems
    Most of the early content is bland
    7
    Good
    About GameSpot's Reviews
    Other Platform Reviews for Grand Theft Auto V

    About the Author

    Carolyn has been a huge fan of the Grand Theft Auto games ever since she hit the streets of Liberty City in GTA III. She is definitely not currently wanted by police in 17 states.

    Discussion

    751 comments
    4everdeadpanda
    4everdeadpanda

    Huh didn't know there was this review of the online. Why did it go down a score?

    billyriz
    billyriz

    will you review it again soon? maybe when heists come out?

    aftermathsample
    aftermathsample

    Most of this bugs have been fixed now as of 1.08patch. 

    mike9090-us
    mike9090-us

    The beginning of this game is very fun, a bunch of robbers. So far being 4% done with the game and taking (about) a month to install onto my system, it is a good game. The only reason why I get the GTA games are for the graphics and to see new things but it doesn't seem to always work that way in my vision. Every GTA game seems to be the same and pretty sure Grandpa would say the same thing. Forgive me if I am wrong but try and ask 3 grandpas and give me the ratio. When I get to the middle I let you know what I think so far. 

    Necrotron
    Necrotron

    GTA Online is frustrating if what you want out of it is the co-op PvE content and not the PvP.  You can't do any open world missions if you've set passive mode (since you can't shoot), and if someone manages to set a bounty on you during any moment you don't have passive mode set (e.g. just exiting a mission, just logging in, etc.), your only options are to either commit suicide or hang out in your garage for 15 minutes doing nothing.  Or you can just play on a private server or only with friends, but part of the allure of the online aspect is always having someone to play with.

    I just wish there were more viable PvE options, but that's not really how it was designed.

    speedycerv1
    speedycerv1

    Glad she gave it a separate score unlike IGN who in closing said it was good not great, but didn't have the guts to put a 7/10. I personally think it's a 6 since it doesn't seem like there is a story or plot for my randomly created character. Also voices would be nice.

    elburnso
    elburnso

    GTA Online is definitely a lot more fun than it was the first week R* rolled it out, but that was to be expected. Only thing I wish they'd change is give Players some RP for failed missions; that way at least you'd feel like you get something for your efforts, even if it's just half or a quarter of the RP you'd get from successfully completing the mission.

    theslovakian38
    theslovakian38

    still waiting for that quarter million. anyone else? or is it just me?

    SKaREO
    SKaREO

    GTA Online isn't even complete yet, it's still a work in progress. How can you review a work in progress? Seriously, you call this journalism? Pathetic.

    Gravity_Slave
    Gravity_Slave

    Oddly enough and despite being an open world, there's just not much to do with an online GTA game.  It gets old real quick.  

    analgrin
    analgrin

    Absolutely love the single player game. Online is also cool but I think hardware is what holds it back. If it were possible to have 64 or 128 online players on the map this game would be an absolute riot!!! Hopefully PC or next gen console versions will allow this.

    bonander
    bonander

    As great as the single player game was, now that I've finished the main story, I can't stop playing GTAO. And I usually don't play the multiplayer in most games. I don't think I'm going to get 100% completion any time soon.

    PaperthinTV
    PaperthinTV

    Put it this way...GTA f*&%ing VICE Mother-F&$#ing CITY ONLINE is more stable than this $#!T. Attention! Rockstar fails on this early access leftover of a beta. how can you even give it a 7 with all the bugs?! I think that Rockstar would be better off resetting the servers and starting over. I mean, this is just unjust how many bugs there are, no wonder it came free! I watched my brother, and many other players, get everything they wanted on GTAV-O and he did it the easiest (and may I say, done in the least amount of time possible [auto sales glitch]). I personally feel that a different kind of approach for the online Infrastructure...it's not quite suited for just 16 people. It is a BIG map! But who knows, I expect it to just dwindle down like the previous installments . Only time will tell. Personally, I think Rockstar really f#$%ed up this time *smh*.

    unfreak-believ
    unfreak-believ

    It seems I'm the only one who's having a blast playing this.  I don't play much deathmatch and the like, but just messing around in Buzzards with friends, wreaking havoc on fellow players is ridiculous fun.  As are some of the more absurd gametypes, like Top Fun, or playing pistol-only GTA races in SUVs.  It's by no means a smooth game, but I don't let that ruin my fun.  Bring on the heists!

    Kinguard73
    Kinguard73

    Online can be exciting but getting missions stems from ONLY those on your same server so you have one by yerself good luck doing misisons. I had a far easier time taking a quick job helping feel out another's group then making my own. Rockstar THAT MUST CHANGE. We need to pull from a larger pool then the tiny one you provided to fill groups. Two things need to improve. Rank leveling needs to double. If it's a grind it's easier to play another game then this one I mean it's free no unrgency means no need to play at all. The game needs housing not apartments badly and heists dear lord heists. Hell doing the story misisons online would have been great to hold people over for the real online version. Online is a damn fine thing but I think people's mindset is MMO then Multiplayer. You can do ALOT more in this game then any other game including Battlefield 4 which seems to take a step in the right direction of giving people more options.

    samdam3
    samdam3

    Quite a bland online mode IMO.  With that said, single player is worth every cent I paid, was absolutely fucking awesome! 

    DiscGuru101
    DiscGuru101

    Played online for the first time last night on 360. Matches were full. Didn't notice any glitches. Didn't play long, and wasn't impressed much.

    DoogyDonDoogy
    DoogyDonDoogy

    Played it for the first time tonight,  I  could  hardly find a match. Maybe it's because it's on PS3  and not the 360 I'm not sure.  The matches/missions I  did play weren't that exciting, be it races or team deathmatch, it all seemed kind of dull. The single player campaign was good but not great. I hope for future iterations they go back to having excellent storylines, like in Vice City, GTA III, & the original San Andreas.


    Wasn't going to trade this in but this is almost just a extension of the side missions in GTA V, now before you say duh, all I'm saying is for all the hype prior to it's release GTA online is a major disappointment, btw I experienced no glitches while playing at all so that didn't even factor in.

    Tremblay343
    Tremblay343

    Why is this glorified update getting its own review?

    noladem504
    noladem504

    This is a pretty fair review. The parts i disagree with are merely due to my own experiences.

    fredyellowone
    fredyellowone

    I'm already bored of GTA online.  I prefer playing the main story.

    mikemaj82
    mikemaj82

    Looks like a whole lot of the same stuff I can do in the story mode.

    galactic88
    galactic88

    So going forward at least what I've gathered from this BS. Is that every game developer going forward should release their online portion after the campaign and therefore get TWO separate reviews, cause hey if one part completely blows the other will balance it out right?

    flexy456
    flexy456

    Back in the day I had a blast playing with an extremely glitchy multiplayer version of GTA Vice City. It was probably the most fun I ever had in a game. This review is good, I think GTA V online may be just like that again. Now...waiting for the PC version....

    CUDGEdave
    CUDGEdave

    7/10,About the right score,It is pretty drab online.

    Nexttime45
    Nexttime45

    A seven is still too high. As amazing the campaign is, as boring the online is. 

    WillyWynn
    WillyWynn

    i don't see why these should be reviewed separately as no other game gets the same treatment. Like i said GTA V is not perfect and multiplayer is a big crap. the game don't diverse a 10

    elburnso
    elburnso

    @theslovakian38 R* will hook us up eventually, in the meantime I'm continuing to rank up and make as much $ on my own, but that first $250k is going towards helping me purchase one of those sweet high rise apartments with the 10 car garage.

    SereneAndSilent
    SereneAndSilent

    @SKaREO  That's a pathetic comment, when is the right time to make a review? right after the launch or the next year? A work in progress is a closed beta... This is not the case. 

    zaboon_
    zaboon_

    @SKaREO So why would they release a work in progress? You're the pathetic one, my friend.

    clarkgriswold
    clarkgriswold

    @Gravity_Slave 

    I still play GTA4 online. It only gets old if you let it. The open world simply means you get to do whatever you want with a group of friends. Helicopter golf was always fun (turn PvP damage off, fly a chopper on it's side and use the rotors to fling other players to designated spots).

    clarkgriswold
    clarkgriswold

    @DoogyDonDoogy 

    GTA III was hardly an "excellent" storyline. San Andreas was probably the most fun of the 3 you cited, though Vice City gets huge points for style and music. I was, however, not interested in the fate of CJ. So I really don't find that story to be excellent either. Vice City had a pretty fun story, though the scope was rather limited at the time. GTA4 was a bore.

    GTA 5 has been outstanding. The 3 character method was a brilliant move, and the plot has been pretty damn interesting.

    pongley
    pongley

    @DoogyDonDoogy I think it's definitely a friend game, you need to have a crew to do the coop stuff really. I know what you mean about it seeming like an extension, I have a feeling the pared down the singleplayer heists so they could have them in multiplayer instead.

    Kinguard73
    Kinguard73

    @mikemaj82 Not anywhere close. You played 15 minutes you didn't even go online yet. I wish a lot of what one can do online could be done offline.

    ziproy
    ziproy

    @flexy456 Yeah it's fun alright. Deserves the score it got at this point, but it's constantly getting better so here's hoping I stop getting kicked out of deathmatch lobbies just as they're starting

    DoogyDonDoogy
    DoogyDonDoogy

    @CUDGEdave exactly my sentiments ol chap, tried to get into it tonight a good 4-5hrs before I had enough of the boredom

    DoogyDonDoogy
    DoogyDonDoogy

    @Nexttime45 Yeah the campaign finished strong, especially with that last mission SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS I chose the Deathwish Option there'ls no way I could have killed my psycho with a heart=Trevor or my Mid life crisis having, backstabbing, alcoholic cohort =Michael 

    galactic88
    galactic88

    @Nexttime45 You know the biggest thing that pissed me off about the online portions launch, is not the connectivity issues, server lag, or the lack of anything really to do. What pissed me off the most is from the day it launched the GTA store was fully functional, that's what pissed me off the most. So despite the fact that characters and money were disappearing, they still were selling cash packs.

    JusticeCovert
    JusticeCovert moderator

    @WillyWynn Since GTA Online didn't launch alongside GTA V, we had little choice but to review GTA V separately. It's true that we could have covered GTA Online as an update to the GTA V review, but we've instead opted to review it in the same way we would a piece of DLC which is, in effect, what it is.

    One of the benefits of this approach is that, in time, when GTA Online evolves into something quite different, we'll be able to revisit this review without impacting the review of GTA V which, in relative terms, is unlikely to change significantly at this point.

    DoogyDonDoogy
    DoogyDonDoogy

    @clarkgriswold @DoogyDonDoogy  GTA III had an excellent storyline as I found it engaging and I was driven to complete each mission to get to the next cut scene. As did San Andreas, caring about CJ's fate is irrelevant, the overall story and substories were very interesting. GTA V had some good stuff but they dropped the ball with some side missions and missions not having good story to them.

    Kinguard73
    Kinguard73

    @galactic88 But I never had such issues and wish they bring the damn cahs packs back =P Yhis ooint might as well spend it elsewhere and just buy it next month

    SKaREO
    SKaREO

    @JusticeCovert @WillyWynn It's not even complete yet, they need to add heists and player created missions and races. Maybe wait until Rockstar finishes the game before you slam it with a 7/10 score for the obvious issues they had. This is the most fun I've had in an online game since Quake in 1996. I've been hooked on it. To read this review is like listening to a troll grind their nails on a chalkboard. It's infuriatingly annoying.

    Foreheadvcr
    Foreheadvcr

    @JusticeCovert @WillyWynn All this is crap.  A second review is a Gamespot double dip. Another way to drag Carolyn through the mud and get some more page views.  

    galactic88
    galactic88

    @JusticeCovert @WillyWynn You consider something you neither have to pay for, or subscribe to a piece of downloadable content, when in fact it is no extension or addition to the main campaign merely a button press on the controller and the switch of an additional character?

    The online portion is completely integrated into the "package" you buy at the store there not separate and therefore should not be treated as such. I don't buy a cheeseburger and then write a critical review separate from my meal experience on the lettuce they used.

    clarkgriswold
    clarkgriswold

    @galactic88 

    The lettuce doesn't come to your table 2 weeks after you've eaten, digested and passed the burger you speak of.

    Kinguard73
    Kinguard73

    @DoogyDonDoogy @ziproy @galactic88 But you gotta wonder why something so pointless as if he wants an argument to start over nothing. He added nothing to the issue. Why a separate review? because it was significantly different then the offline game which it is period. He post was just pointless over little things.

    Kinguard73
    Kinguard73

    @galactic88 All data is data so you are feeling upset by the means which it was delivered (prior instead of latter) Do you always argue pointless semantics?

    DoogyDonDoogy
    DoogyDonDoogy

    @ziproy @galactic88 He has a right to voice his opinion whether it be a negative one or positive one and also whether you agree with them or not

    noladem504
    noladem504

    @ziproy @galactic88
    Thank you Ziproy! Took the words out of my mouth. If anything, I am happy Carolyn got to redeem herself and earn some respect back from me at least. I am glad it got its own review and glad Carolyn did it.

    As for why does this game "get special treatment"; not only is what the moderator said a good point, but this is GTA5. Its the biggest game release in history. The original review has 22k comments for God's sake. Get a life.

    ziproy
    ziproy

    @galactic88 If the existence of the review pisses you off so much then don't read it and don't comment.

    No one wants to hear you complain about nothing

    Grand Theft Auto V More Info

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  • First Released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • + 3 more
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    Grand Theft Auto V is an open-world crime epic set in the LA-inspired city of Los Santos around the lives of Franklin, a street hustler looking for real opportunities; Michael, a professional ex-con whose retirement isn't all he hoped it would be; and Trevor, a violent psychopath.
    8.9
    Average User RatingOut of 3729 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Grand Theft Auto V
    Developed by:
    Rockstar North
    Published by:
    Rockstar Games
    Genres:
    Action, Adventure, 3D, Open-World
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Mature Humor, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs and Alcohol