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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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hotcheese0

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The web site is being run by people who knows nothing about video games. So sad...

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anybodykilla15

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Edited By anybodykilla15

im surprised he didn't mention how sexist it is because you can wear bikinis in the game and sex changes aren't available once your character is made

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Link3301

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@anybodykilla15 That's because those things are not sexist.

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AlmostUndead

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I'm surprised it got this high of a score. Why didn't Rockstar do more testing with it before releasing? Maybe added more servers knowing that millions were going to get on right away.

This game is all about Freeroam and trolling/griefing others in the worst possible way. That's all there is to this component of the game.

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KillzoneSnake

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Edited By KillzoneSnake

I agree with what the carolyn guy said but i dont agree with the score.

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Megamoss1984

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For me, GTA Online is the most convoluted, contrived options menu ever created. They should have kept free roam and races/missions/DM/Co-op separate and accessible with a quick, simple menu. Limiting what the player can do according to level is also a big frustration and going up against players of a higher level is pretty much pointless. This is the same problem I had with RDR MP, there are highly levelled guys going around with every advantage over you, just waiting until you spawn to kill you. That's not my idea of fun.

That said, when I have gotten in to a race or mission I've ultimately had fun. But the process of getting to that point is ultimately frustrating.

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ssdd_again

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@Megamoss1984

"They should have kept free roam and races/missions/DM/Co-op separate and accessible with a quick, simple menu"

They did/have.

Limiting the missions available according to rank is simply to encourage completion of missions and unlocking new side quests (although most people seem happy to just farm the same Job over and over, too stupid to realise that mixing it up pays off). Shame, because if they actually bothered to explore the options they might actually make some money.

Not everyone at a high level is a jerk, but they will inevitably be slightly better, they've put the practice in.

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chieflion

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dece score but honestly its gunna get better so why even put a price on it u know

maybe im just high, but give it a chance

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wexorian

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It's part of 1 game why review it alone? ooh because rockstar knew that MP part sucked and they released it after 2 week of main game launch yeee.

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ssdd_again

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@wexorian

They obviously released it two weeks after the single player so that people wouldn't skip the single player and get a massive head start ranking up (which is what always happens with other games)

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Earthen80

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Edited By Earthen80

Rockstar should have released a finished product. Plain and simple.

It would have been in their best interests to put a "Beta" tag for a few months.

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G4mBi7

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@Earthen80 They said first two weeks are beta, there will be bugs and data might be lost for some. Oh wait people don't know how to read, i knew i forgot something important. =D

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Sadek

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Apt score. GTA online needs to open up to the player faster and there needs to be more co-op variety. Most of it is geared towards PVP. Whatever happened to cops vs robbers? We also need the heist missions asap and we should be able to invest in something that gets us money depending on the rank. I'm always strapped for cash.

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LE5LO

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@Sadek From memory I did some crew jobs for Simeon (up on d-pad and x?) that are co-operative, like stealing a car and taking a friend for backup, that stuff was definitely more fun to me than getting death-match spawn-kills and glitchy opponents in races.

I'd also love to see more co-op, I get the feeling it's hidden there in the menu's and just as prevalent as PVP but I'm just not sure where?

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Sadek

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@LE5LO @Sadek After level 15, Simeon ang Gerald jobs started repeating. I did a lot of them but for hardly any xp for cash. I'm almost level 20 now, and I probably get 1 story mission per level thats quite hard. And that pays only 3000. I think rockstar is forcing GTA online players to play more pvp. I dont like that. I like doing things with a friend or solo. They really need to allow way more freedom to how we play online. Also this trolling bullshit needs to stop. They need reduce the money dropped when a player gets killed in free roam and they definitely need to stop charging so much for medical bills when u die in free roam. Its a game breaker for me.

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Sadek

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@chieflion @Sadek @LE5LO you r so right! I completed one round of survival and made 30,000. Good stuff!

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Sadek

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@ngboy @Sadek @LE5LO I'm at level 21. I'm taking your word for it and I'm gonna keep playing. Sounds like fun.


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ngboy

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@Sadek @LE5LO i'm at level 25 and i'm getting tons of jobs from lester and martin, lots of which require co op partners to pull off and pay over 5k. i've actually done zero pvp matches and while there have been a few repetitive missions, i haven't found any trouble getting new coop missions pop up.

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ssdd_again

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@Sadek

You only drop $100 if you're carrying less than $5k, if you're carrying less than $100 then that's what you drop.

Agree with the medical bills part though, probably lost over $50K in medical bills (though some of that is from bounties being collected on me, which is fair game)

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chieflion

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@Sadek @LE5LO survival boys, thats where the cash is at

im at half a million meself

feeling pretty fucking awesome about it too

i love gta online

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Samparksh

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@AggrandizedUser @jnco10999 Slim chance bro.They didn't do it for SimCity.

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Bgretenh

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Do I now have to watch 30 seconds of fucking ads before I can see any video?!?!?! Screw you, Gamespot, screw you.

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SKaREO

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@Bgretenh Get AdBlock Plus. Problem solved...

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alien33

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Edited By alien33

@Bgretenh I don't know about you guys. I have Kasperkiy Internet Security, NO AD BLOCK, and I see no advertisements at all, anywhere on the internet...

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SurfaceNerd

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@Bgretenh Yes they have to make money

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naryanrobinson

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Is it just me or does this new player not show you how much of the video is loaded?

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deadpeasant

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Edited By deadpeasant

@naryanrobinson I'm the same, Its important for people with crap internet connections like me. I need buffering! :D

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Gamesfetch

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Edited By Gamesfetch

@naryanrobinson Yes when I pause the video I don't see that loading bar

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leandrro

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finally a proper gta v review score

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IAMTYLERDURDEN

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@leandrro The score is for gta 5's online portion only. The single player was reviewed separately and both were reviewed fairly and accurately imo.

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Viral-venom13

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@leandrro

Lol!

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leandrro

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look at those great visuals, is this a playstation 2 game??

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lingo56

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@leandrro Nope PS3, what else do you expect from 6 year old hardware? It's the reason I don't want to dive into los santos until a proper PC port is released.

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tom2750

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@lingo56 @leandrro the ps3 is 8 years old not six and also the game looks far better in the single player I haven't played the multiplayer yet but the single player looks 10 times better then those screen shots

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lingo56

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@tom2750 @lingo56 @leandrro I think you have some kinda of mystery glasses or something cause the game looked the same if not better in the videos and screenshots shown online. I mean even the PS4 will be outdated when it comes out, doesn't even run most games at 1080p 60fps, that is pretty sad.

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SurfaceNerd

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Edited By SurfaceNerd

@tom2750 @lingo56 @leandrro Rockstar used a ps3 for the trailers

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Gamesfetch

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@lingo56 @leandrro No played on Xbox 360

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SurfaceNerd

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@leandrro is a dreamcast game

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ForceSkin

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Character models are as ugly as sin

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Dasim64

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Edited By Dasim64

@ForceSkin Yea that's for certain. I hate seeing someone with their shirt off because the body structure is all messed up and tatoo's look horrible. This is one area where they could really improve the overall look of the game on the PC or next gen consoles. Thankfully the fun of online play doesn't rely on looks and the overall game world still looks fantastic.

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BadMrSnake

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Edited By BadMrSnake

So does that mean the game as a whole gets a 16-17 out of 10?

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lingo56

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@BadMrSnake Gta online is kinda a seperate game in itself, but saying that, and the fact that it's a really great multiplayer. I think it totals to a 9.8 for Gta 5, nothing that breaks bounderies as far as gameplay and story goes but it does what it does so freaking well you can't help but enjoy yourself even doing the sometimes cringe worthy things you partake in.

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nait2k4

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@BadMrSnake WTF!! This game deserves a 20 out of 10!!! F*** YOU BAD MRSNAKE!!!!

Etc. etc.

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SurfaceNerd

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Anyone playing atm?

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SKaREO

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@SurfaceNerd I have been playing for a week straight with little sleep in between.

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LE5LO

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@SurfaceNerd Yeah playing a bit, enjoying it when I'm not being spawn killed or watching competitors cars floating above the road. xD

I'm on there pretty regularly, anyone here feel free to add me on PSN if you're looking for match-up: SUPER-LESLO

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FingerChud

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GTA Online should have either been considered as a plus on the GTA 5 review, or given the MMO treatment and given a couple of weeks to smooth out their service.

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Auriken

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Edited By Auriken

@FingerChud Uhuh...how many people gave Sim City that same leeway? I'll tell you: Pretty much no one. Why should GTA get special regard to fix their shit when people started whining about Sim City from day one?

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therealjeremy

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@Auriken @FingerChud

Sim City relied on the online components unlike GTA V. If I don't want to play online I can still enjoy the single player aspects.

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SurfaceNerd

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@MrTrick @nine-eight-nine @inappropriate_name Because Rockstar made a bazillion dollars

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):
    3D, First-Person, Shooter, Action, Open-World, Third-Person, Adventure
    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