A combination of awesome features and blood-boiling awfulness

User Rating: 6 | Grand Theft Auto V PC

The enemy is far away behind some cover at the end of a long hangar. I cannot align a shot with my sniper rifle because of how far away he is and how floaty the mouse controls are. The enemy then sticks out his hand and fires blindly at me and kills me. Only the fact that I bought the game for a full price made me not uninstall it that very second and then track down and kill those responsible.

Gameplay

Grand Theft Auto V is an amazing package with a great groundwork. But it fails due to a number of fairly simple but exceedingly annoying design flaws. It is like building an amazing luxury hotel and then dumping a whole bucket of sh*t at the front entrance of it. I admit that many of the things bothering me about this game may not bother the other players as much, explaining the good reviews of this game. Please note that this is both the review of GTA V single player and its multiplayer component, which some people view as separate games, but I do not see how. Having said that, lets over GTA V Online.

GTA V gives you 3 great characters to play as in the single payer campaign. The writing is great and the performances flawless and funny. Then the game gives you the multiplayer where you can have your own custom character… DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT THAT DOES!? How can anyone go back to playing as someone else after that? Custom characters are always better than preset ones because putting your own guy in greatly increases the immersion but GTA V does not allow you to play the single player campaign with your custom character, so the moment I discovered GTA Online the single player campaign was spoiled for me.

And as for the gameplay of GTA Online, well unfortunately it is not that good. You can do a variety of things, none of which are particularly interesting or well executed. You can have a team deathmatch. It’s ok, though the game was not made for shooting so it is a bit awkward. There are racing missions, which can be chaotic and fun but GTA V is not a racing game and cars do not handle well. As insane as all the missions can be, none of them were particularly fun. There are specific objective-related missions you can get from your contacts but GTAV has a leveling system and many of these missions are locked until you reach a certain level. You gain experience points by finishing existing missions, but in a game with a content problem I really do not want to spend my time in annoying races to rise through the levels just to get to the more fun missions. The game allows a few other people in your session and the life mission of at least a couple of those people is to mess with you. The most interesting mission is the Heist, but you need 4 players and teamwork. Good luck with that.

The controls are bad and the interface to which they are connected is terrible. For one, the character makes a few extra steps any time you tell him to stop, which adds realism if you just mess around in single player, but when you actually have to do anything this is very annoying. The control mapping is ridiculous. In most MMOs the right mouse button is used for turning your character. In GTA V it if you push it you engage a random citizen on the street in a fist fight. Annoying to say the least. The button for putting away your weapon (TAB) is right next to the button for Tervor's special combat aggression ability (CAPS). In every other game since the beginning of time one of the keys, usually “M”, opens up the map. In GTA V the map is hidden in the escape menu, which is menu No.1. The M key opens up another menu with some random gameplay related options on it. That’s your menu No. 2. Pressing the “up” key opens up your phone, which is yet a 3rd menu! On top of that, the escape menu is in itself terrible. There are options stuffed in every corner, sometimes logical, sometimes not. It took me the longest time to notice little arrows on the side that revealed a whole new section of that menu that I could not see. There is an endless amount of keys assigned to different sections and some do not even show up in the key bindings menu. The first airplane ride will have you fly into buildings if you do not know yet that you have to use numpad keys to fly.

The gunfights are not great, as already partially described earlier. Of course it is a step up from the old GTA games that you can now use cover and there is a minor stealth mechanic, but in general the combat feels bad.

There does not appear to be any spread or maximum range on any of the guns fired. This means that a pistol is just as accurate as a sniper rifle. Ridiculously, each gun has stats and one of the stats is “accuracy” but I have no idea what the hell the game is talking about because the accuracy is 100% all the time. You also have a skill related to gun shooting. Again, what?!

And as such, when you are confronted with a group of enemies, it does not matter if you have a sniper rifle and they have pistols. As mentioned, each of their pistols, even when fired blindly from cover, will hit you from a mile away and start chipping away at your health. It appears that up-close with a machine gun is the way this game was designed to be played. Either the AI is to blame or the weapon design or both.

The sneaking mechanic is useless. If you accept one of the missions and then approach your objective, the enemies at that objective will immediately respond to you when you get into a certain radius, regardless of whether you are sneaking or not…EVEN WHEN YOU ARE BEHIND A WALL!

These gameplay issues are a real shame because there is so much in this game that is done well. When you go into a tunnel your GPS stops working. That’s an awesome attention to detail right there! You can go to your apartment, get high and watch TV. The channels will have a few cartoons among other things, and those cartoons are actually quite good! No kidding, I actually sat down and watched all of them. You can go to a strip club. You can take your bicycle to the local park to do some tricks. This high attention to detail and variety of content just about compensates for the blood-boiling awfulness of its weaker features.

Graphics (and the world)

Perhaps the best part of the game is how it looks. It is not photorealistic but it is nonetheless very pretty and simply driving down the highway in your muscle car at sunset is pleasing. The water looks great as the sun reflects off the waves and the wave physics feel natural. The destruction looks cool like the blood effects when you get shot or the way the glass shatters.

The streets of Los Santos are filled with people and perhaps for the first time ever I feel like the world around me is alive. There is a good variety to the people and their actions and reactions feel natural. Some of them are unapologetically fat, some are businessmen in suits, some are talking on the phone about their careers, some stop to take a picture of your car. A couple of port construction workers will sit on the pier. Some guys will greet each other on the street as you pass by. When you act aggressively towards them, some will react aggressively while others will run away.

The many vehicles in the game are based on their real life counterparts and it is cool to guess which ones.

Sound

Here is another good feature of the game. The sound work helps the game feel alive. There are a number of radio stations as usual and a lot of the music is known licensed music, which is pretty cool. Of course you can add your own music.

The sounds of the city are noticeably good. As you walk down the street you hear people talking, there is construction work happening further to the side. Cars sound realistic as they drive by. Gunshots have a good bass to them

Performance

GTA V has been known as fairly merciful to the older systems while maintaining an acceptable look, and that is great, but with my settings I would sometimes have a noticeable lag in my mouse movement so I ran the available benchmark test. At first, the benchmark test kept crashing. Then finally I got it to run several days later and it came back with everything being above 50 fps. Really, game? So I just imagined the slowdown. Are you telling me that I am lying, game? Then the benchmark test crashed. Wonderful.

The loading times in this game are atrocious for a modern game. Twice as atrocious if any sort of online connection has to be made. I have sat waiting for 5 minutes staring at my screen only to be told there was a problem with the server, which is amazing because back when the game first came out for Xbox there were indeed major problems with connection, but that was more than a year ago. What the hell is going on? Anyway, there seems to be less issues now, a few weeks into the PC release.

Conclusion

In short, the AI is terrible, controls are poor, interface is terrible, loading times are terrible, the multiplayer is of mixed quality. The main pro of this game are its vivid living world and characters. As for the gameplay you have to pick and choose carefully, armed with a good deal of patience.