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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 
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.

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partybro

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shouldnt GTA online just be a feature of GTA 5? so why a separate review? u dont rate call of duty, then go back and rate its zombie mode separate, its the whole package of the game

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G4mBi7

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@partybro Because it is a separate title all together, future GTAO content will be free and separate from core releases and it will be standalone. You didn't pay a cent for GTAO, which is also why it had micro transactions.

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Queuingreturns

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*Cocky smirk*

Anyone still think this is the best game of the year?

The Last Of Us is all I need to say...

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OneSamTwoCups

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@Queuingreturns I do actually.

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PartyGavinParty

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@Queuingreturns Way too overrated. Too many conflicts in the story and immersion breaking gameplay mechanics. 6/10, would rent.

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G4mBi7

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@PartyGavinParty @Queuingreturns Played both, i thought Last of Us was AMAZING and unbelievable and touching story. On the other hand we have GTA5 and GTAO which pushed boundaries, of not only the console but what a game should be. 40+hours in the single player, we haven't had this much content since the ps2 days. Including the online and all future free content, GTA is going to get GTOY no doubt about it.

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SKaREO

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I lost 5 characters because of the cloud servers. The game is easily the most fun I've ever had in my life. 11/10 from me.

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TonnFool23

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@SKaREO but obviously this nagging tranny doesn't seem to share your opinion.

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deactivated-5d8fbc2356478

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Tedious tutorial missions, painfully slow grind for money, repetitive missions/races. Despite it's ambitious premise, it doesn't have the makings of a "go-to" multiplayer component unlike other superior online offerings.

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G4mBi7

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@Mikey2K10 It is a grind up to 15 if you play alone. It isn't meant to be played alone tho.

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Teebown24

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Edited By Teebown24

@G4mBi7 @Mikey2K10 i played mostly solo through to level 15, and yeah, its painfully slow, but once you gain access to survival game modes and missions start paying better and giving more xp, it begins to pick up. i made the jump from 15 to twenty quite fast. one benefit to playing solo, however, is that your skills improve faster since you have to do everything yourself.

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happycamper00

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Edited By happycamper00

At least it's not politically muddled and profoundly misogynistic.

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D-Man

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@happycamper00 Nah, it's still politically muddled and misogynistic. That, combined with the stability issues and boring tutorial missions earns this content a 7, lowered from the main game's 9.0. Seems fair. But hey, keep trolling that minor negative review point from a month ago, I love it when you bring out all the sexist fanboy children to give you free likes. You must feel so validated.

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bledsoe45sbc

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@happycamper00 then turning around and giving a "profoundly misogynistic" game a 9.0 is beyond cowardly . everyone that agrees needs to watch the annoyed gamers on gametrailers , because this reviewer and gamespot in general is a major offender

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SillySkeleton

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@happycamper00 You can play as a woman and kill all those filthy, stinking mysoginists commonly referred to as 'men'? Gamespot approved! Bonus Points!!!

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G4mBi7

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@happycamper00 Nah just has a. . "Wonderful variety of missions and activities" yet "Most of the early content is bland". . . dafuq?

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VillNess

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@G4mBi7 @happycamper00 most of the "early content". That early content is just a fraction of the content at launch and that "Wonderful variety of missions and activities" is the rest...

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JAKEINATOR183560

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Screw what everyone says. I like this new site layout.

Anyway, I played Online and I have to say I wasn't impressed. I agree with everything Carolyn is saying, only I would have given it a 6.

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sunbeam4

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well you've made your statement carolyn, let's move on now, hey.

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tom2750

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complains and says its sexist because there is females strippers and prostitutes but is fine with heaps of males being violent crazy mass murderers despite mass murderers being a far worse thing then a stripper or prostitute and enjoys having there male online character dressed up as a pig yep typical feminist hypocrisy if it happens to women its the end of the world if it happens to men well who cares right? **** Carolyn

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TheProductOfBoredom

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@tom2750 You don't understand what sexism is. Sexism is about power. GTA V has women shown crawling, helpless, sexually compromised, and at the mercy of their phallocratic superiors. For men however, its a blatant power fantasy. Being a mass murderer is worse than being a stripper, but think about who has the power in each of those situations.

Also yes, portrayals of hispanic in the game were iffy too, but I wouldn't have minded the hispanic taxi drivers and housekeepers if they had woven them into some social commentary.

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ianpac

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@theproductofboredom @tom2750 Who are you to define sexism?

"Sexism is prejudice or discrimination based on a person's sex" - Wikipedia

If a woman chooses to be a stripper - that is her choice. And there are plenty of women in the game who are not strippers. Stop being a ********

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PartyGavinParty

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Edited By PartyGavinParty

@theproductofboredom @tom2750 The women in GTA are not helpless. They're begging for it.

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D-Man

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@PartyGavinParty @theproductofboredom @tom2750 Exactly. Disgusting.

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SurfaceNerd

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@tom2750 Rich mass murderers, and women are their slaves, the game is clearly sexist, but i feel is very racist against hispanic, it feel uncomfortabkle to taze a mariachi, and ALL of the housekeepers and taxi drivers are hispanic

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Link3301

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@SurfaceNerd @tom2750 I think the hispanic thing is because the game is set in alternate universe version of California, where pretty much all housekeepers and taxi drivers are hispanics. It's not racism, it's realism.

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SurfaceNerd

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@Link3301 @SurfaceNerd @tom2750 They forgot to put how they steal the white men's women

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sugrim

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That means GTA 5 has and average rating of 8 - ((9+7)/2)

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SurfaceNerd

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@sugrim This means that you are a human

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deadpeasant

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@ssdd_again @wexorian Yeah I hate when that happens! Its the ultimate problem with modern multiplayer games. The people who play more have an easier time of it. Kind of should be the other way around. But locking more weapons as you level up doesn't really make sense either.

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G4mBi7

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@deadpeasant @ssdd_again @wexorian MP doesn't suck, i'm not even going to try an educated argument with you so i am going to simply state that you more than likely suck at playing :)

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r_audrius

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Edited By r_audrius

first of all gamespot's new layout sucks cant find anything like i used to.

ive playd alot gta5 online for the last few days, i got rank 47 and i have never experieced thoes glithces like it this vid so i just cant say that is way over buged. the only thing witch is killing me is thoes loading screens, from the begining of the game, all the lobbys, loading times and so on. but i can forgive that because of such an amazing online experience. theres no other similar game on the marked today where you can do so much in it. and almost everything is fun as hell. main thing that rockstar fails is thoes glitches for ex. where you can make money by jumping from los santos garage to pause menu and get millions just by looping this. its not fair when you play by the rules and some d*ick flying around and shooting everyone with 1,7mln $ buzzer.

other then that for sure i can say that is the best gta online experience yet. i hope rockstar will learn from theyr mistakes and will fix up everything before releasing RED DEAD REDEMPION 2

i give 9/10


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G4mBi7

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@r_audrius Doubtful he purchased the buzzard and even if he did, since you are level 47 go get your own, it spawns freely for you. LOL :) You gotta get out and explore more, this is GTA afterall.

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cryingdevil63

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Online component barely works? They should have tested this further? " Plagued with bugs and performance problems"?

Well,the same can be said for your site.

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D-Man

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@cryingdevil63 OH SNAP SO CLEVAR

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G4mBi7

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@cryingdevil63 Take my like, at least Rockstar is taking feedback and steadily improving the online component. As for Gamespot, I'm lost, might have to permanently switch to IGN -.-

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deactivated-5b797108c254e

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@DarkTempest7 They're working on fixing it =)

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Edited By SurfaceNerd

@Korvus85 @DarkTempest7 What else would they say?

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already-Born

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Edited By already-Born

Anyone knows the name of the song at 1:34 !!

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SurfaceNerd

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Anyone want to play with me feel free to invite my id is Test_The_Colds

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SurfaceNerd

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I wish there were more torture scenes, it is dissappointing to see that there are none in GTA ONLINE , I GIVE THIS A 4/10

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FAIL_TR0LL

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@DarkTempest7

First World Problems

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sm00bz

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Gamespot's new layout: 0/10

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Iemander

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Edited By Iemander

In all seriousness, I hate the hypocrisy of the female reviewer. Complaining about sexism in GTA V, but she probably laughed her ass off when she saw a male portrayed as a pig. If you want to fight sexism, at least be consistent.

Thanks for the double standards Gamespot, you're really setting a great example.

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ianpac

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@Iemander Yup now you can play as a female murderer and men are shown as pigs so no sexism rant. Who would have believed it? Now lets talk about the profound misandry........

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RobDev

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@Iemander "but she probably laughed her ass off when she saw a male portrayed as a pig" this was not a male portrayed as a pig, it was an online character created by someone who decided to give them a pig mask. WTF is wrong wth you?

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Iffy350

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Murder time, fun time!

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Iemander

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Man, why are they posting a picture with a guy's face as a pig. Are they trying to suggest that alles males are pigs??? I feel pretty offended.

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RobDev

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@Iemander you realise that was an an online character created by a player right?

Grand Theft Auto V More Info

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  • 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):
    Adventure, Shooter, 3D, First-Person, Third-Person, Action, Open-World
    Theme(s):
    Modern, Crime, Violent
    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