Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.
This video has an invalid file format.
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy


Grand Theft Auto Online Review

  • First Released Sep 17, 2013
  • Reviewed Oct 11, 2013
  • PS3
  • PS3
Aaron Sampson on Google+

Rough and semi-ready.

GameSpot may get a commission from retail offers.

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.
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.
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.
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.

Back To Top
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
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.

Other Takes on Grand Theft Auto V

Brett Todd loves the GTA series, and untold hours of his life have gone into playing GTAs III through V.
Read Review
747 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for 4everdeadpanda

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

Avatar image for billyriz

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

Avatar image for aftermathsample

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

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for theslovakian38

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

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for zaboon_

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

Avatar image for CreatureRising

I actually like this online a lot.

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for clarkgriswold


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).

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for 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!

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for samdam3

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

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for clarkgriswold


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.

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for deactivated-58a78a043e9d4

@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.

Avatar image for Tremblay343

Why is this glorified update getting its own review?

Avatar image for noladem504

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

Avatar image for fredyellowone

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

Avatar image for mikemaj82

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

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for 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?

Avatar image for 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....

Avatar image for 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

Avatar image for joseanrodrigue9

@ziproy player are the one the kick you off not the game i get kick out a lot

Avatar image for CUDGEdave

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

Avatar image for DoogyDonDoogy

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

Avatar image for CUDGEdave

@DoogyDonDoogy @CUDGEdave Yeah true,I was hoping to enjoy it but I would have more fun having my teeth pulled.

Avatar image for Nexttime45

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

Avatar image for 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

Avatar image for 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.

Avatar image for 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

Grand Theft Auto V More Info

  • First Released Sep 17, 2013
    • 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.
    Average Rating4959 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Grand Theft Auto V
    Developed by:
    Rockstar North
    Published by:
    Rockstar Games, Take-Two Interactive
    Adventure, Shooter, Action, Open-World, 3D, First-Person, Third-Person
    Violent, Modern, Crime
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Mature Humor, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs and Alcohol