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Review

Grand Theft Auto Online Review

  • First Released Sep 17, 2013
    released
  • 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
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.

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 
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RandalMcdaniels

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Edited By RandalMcdaniels

ha im right i said multiplayer just doesnt seem to click well in games like these.. Too much going on to warrant a stable online experience just like gta4. They made fun of my comment in feedbackula

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JoeHeartsock

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Edited By JoeHeartsock

@randalmcdaniels You do realize that a 7 is still good, right? Also now that they got a lot of the bugs fixed, I love it.

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SteXmaN

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@randalmcdaniels "They made fun of my comment in feedbackula" XD

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Thesuperstar2k

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good score

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SteXmaN

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So basically consolites are BETA testers jk jk xD

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tom2750

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@SteXmaN nah all the problems are because so many people bought the game so the servers couldn't handle so many players at first but don't worry you should be fine on PC because only about 5000 people will actually buy the game on PC

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SirSlimyScott

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@SteXmaN xDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

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deactivated-588e2038987e3

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If single/multiplayer modes are to be reviewed separate now will future Call of Duty campaigns (assuming they are like previous entries) receive the 5.5... uh I mean 5 that they have deserved for so long?

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LightEffect

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@R083R70 Rockstar specifically said that GTA Online is a separate game that comes with GTAV.

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deactivated-588e2038987e3

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@LightEffect @R083R70 Really couldn't that be said for all different game modes then? I suppose it could be a good marketing strategy if publishers just said "Yeah, technically all the content is on one disc but Smash + Shoot 4 has a story mode, a arena mode, and an online multiplayer mode so you're practically getting 3 games for the price of 1!". (yes if you want to get technical GTA V on 360 has 2 discs but you get my point)



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BigBossWato

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@R083R70 Not if Activision pay them it won't

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awhite33

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I'm waiting for my money.

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BigBossWato

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@awhite33 Sometime next week, I read that it will come via patch some were between 10-13 to 10-20 but I could be mistaken.

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awhite33

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Edited By awhite33

@BigBossWato @awhite33 ok thanks

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SiLenTWarrior29

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Edited By SiLenTWarrior29

I think in this case online can be reviewed in many different perspective. For me the first day was horrible... couldn't even get pass the first mission and when I did I always get stuck in the clouds and restart come back and my character is gone but after the first, second day it starts to run better. For most people it was worst so 7/10 is a pretty decent score imo. GTA online could of been SSOOO much more if wasn't for all the many problems and if it could get more into storyline of GTA 5, more interaction would have been great.

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IAMTYLERDURDEN

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Edited By IAMTYLERDURDEN

@SiLenTWarrior29 When people say this should have been called a beta I have to agree because a lot of the features Rockstar plans to add haven't been implemented yet. I'm really looking forward to the mission editor personally.

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23Jarek23

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GTA Online will launch with 500 missions, remember when they said that? Including DM, races and everything else I bet that number isn't even 200.

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WantYouBad

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@billlabowski @DiverseGamer Really how large is this group of people who purchase a game ONLY for multiplayer or for ONLY single player?

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SteamyPotatoes

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Average Player Score 1.3 ^_^, the internet ...

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Pawfalcon

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@SteamyPotatoes Wow, a 1.3 thats some determination right there.

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WantYouBad

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@SteamyPotatoes About as accurate as Metacritic or customer reviews.

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Edited By WantYouBad

You're stuck repeating missions over and over and over (which are all the same anyway), all the other modes are barely entertaining, and there's not much else to do.

The game is very hollow.

And to purchase anything it costs a fortune so it gets to be quite a grind.

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Trol1yFartsy

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@WantYouBad Just like your brain

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deactivated-588e2038987e3

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@Trol1yFartsy @WantYouBad I really wanted to give you a like just because how humorously out in left field your comment was, but I'm afraid your indeliberate terminology blunder unfortunately compels me to retract my previous approval.


Thus are the harsh realities of the Gamespot commenting world...

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WantYouBad

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Edited By WantYouBad

@Trol1yFartsy @WantYouBad You mean my head is hollow; which is to say I have no brain, dumbass....

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Miguel_Barca

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@WantYouBad Golf claps sir, you deserve it.

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Trol1yFartsy

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@billlabowski @Trol1yFartsy No

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billlabowski

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@Trol1yFartsy ...Just stop

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Trol1yFartsy

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Edited By Trol1yFartsy

@WantYouBad @Trol1yFartsy No i actually meant to say your brain bud :) Your brain is hollow

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Pre_ordered_PS4

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@WantYouBad @Trol1yFartsy haha owned XD

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Pre_ordered_PS4

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Edited By Pre_ordered_PS4

@WantYouBad

I completely agree. Pretty much my sentiments below exactly

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Pre_ordered_PS4

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Edited By Pre_ordered_PS4

Too generous, I would personally give it a 6. When all is said and done, there just isn't enough variety in GTA Online. The missions are very samey (lost count how many different 'get the weed' or 'get the car and take back to simeon' jobs that I have done).

Probably the most fun to be had is in a survival with 3 other mates but even then, it gets tediuos quickly

There are activities to par take in but are you really going to keep back for more just to play darts or tennis?

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IAMTYLERDURDEN

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@Pre_ordered_PS4 I guess you have to play with friends. I'm still having a blast with it even though I'm a single player kind of guy. Once they are able to concentrate on their original plan to add weekly updates along with heists and the mission editor, I think folks will be happier.

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dctackle60

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30 seconds in and already cant stand the narrator's voice...thats bad

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quinten488

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Edited By quinten488

@dctackle60 I hate him too.

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pikanoob

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@dctackle60 its carolyn petit, no one can stand her voice. too much like a man trying to sound like a woman.

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bluefox755

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Edited By bluefox755

@dctackle60 I'm sorry, but I felt the same way, and I find this reviewer is never really objective anyway, so I'll just go somewhere else.

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DiverseGamer

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Edited By DiverseGamer

I don't see why this is being reviewed as if it's a separate title. The online in GTA IV didn't get it's own review. How is this any different?

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LightEffect

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@DiverseGamer Rockstar said GTAO it's own game, it just comes with GTAV.

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ramb1402

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@DiverseGamer Guess we are supposed to add up that 7 to the 9 so the final score is 16/10. Good enough for me.

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IAMTYLERDURDEN

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@DiverseGamer I agree. When GTA 5 launched, multiplayer wasn't available but sites rushed to get a review out anyway because they knew it would generate traffic. The hype is dying down a little so some sites will do a separate review for the online component in an attempt to milk more traffic.

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dark_rage864

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@DiverseGamer i agree games should be reviewed as a whole not separate, isn't a game review required to recover all aspects of a video game am i right?

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WantYouBad

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Edited By WantYouBad

@dark_rage864 @DiverseGamer Until games are cut apart even more and you have to purchase the single player and multiplayer separately.

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billlabowski

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@DiverseGamer Because Gamespot has changed their reviewing procedures. Seeing as though some people buy games for single player, and other people buy them for multiplayer, Gamespot is doing you a favor by giving you more knowledge so you can get a better bang for your buck. Sorry your fragile eyes had to see a GTA component get a 7, I'm sure it's more than heartbreaking.

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WantYouBad

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@DiverseGamer It's the ploy that the online component is so large and sprawling that it deserves its own review as if it were an MMO, when in reality it is just a facade.

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On a more serious note, I'm enjoying GTA Online more than GTA 5, if the two really can be considered separate entities. Story was good in the single player version, but it's just a comedy story at the end of the day, with lots of action. I usually hate gaming online, but GTA Online feels fresh and sometimes exhilarating (when it's not crashing ... which is rare).

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Edited By Pukshd

Well, i can't say if GTA Online is worth your time(Just played 6H) but i don't know, if they made all the content, and then released the online, wound't take alot of time?

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"Someday, this could all be yours."
What, the curtains?

Grand Theft Auto V More Info

Follow
  • First Released Sep 17, 2013
    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 Rating4961 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Grand Theft Auto V
    Developed by:
    Rockstar North
    Published by:
    Rockstar Games, Take-Two Interactive
    Genre(s):
    Action, First-Person, Third-Person, Adventure, Shooter, Open-World, 3D
    Theme(s):
    Crime, Violent, Modern
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Mature Humor, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs and Alcohol