An Incredible Week of Playing Grand Theft Auto V PC

April 24, 2015 9:00 AM

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GTA V coming to PC has definitely been an emotional roller coaster. “Yes, it’s coming out!”. Delay. “Wow we’re nearly there!”. Delay. “Oh look it’s been delayed again, do I even care anymore?”. Fortunately, once you get over the countless times of disappointment, you’ll find one of the greatest PC versions of any game, ever. It was everything we had hoped for, and then some.

Many of the PC gamers out there waited this one out – at any moment we could have easily bought the last-gen versions, or even the current, refined and polished iterations. But we knew it was coming. We just didn’t know when. It was scary waiting for GTA V after the catastrophe that was Grand Theft Auto IV on PC. The game took months after release to finally be patched up and playable – framerates were poor, graphical fidelity lacking, and Games for Windows Live made the saving/online process a nightmare. Finally, here we are, just over a week passed since release, and the experience has been nothing but sublime. Silky smooth framerates, super high resolution textures, keyboard and mouse controls, Rockstar Editor…the list goes on.

It’s a joy to play this game as a newcomer as well – we know Michael, we know Trevor and Franklin, that’s unavoidable, but the experience of finally playing as all three of them has been a fantastic experience, both gameplay and story wise. These characters all have a story, a culture, and they all play differently. Subconsciously I was playing all three differently because of this. I all of a sudden realised I was a gun raging nightmare when playing as Trevor. I was a sensible and humble player as Michael. And as Franklin I played fetch with my dog and did side missions with my family, as family seems to be a big priority for him in the game. The voice acting is also superb, from not only the main characters, but the side characters as well. Lester, the geeky yet endearing character who helps you plan heists (more on that later), feels like he has a history and life to him that most video game characters don’t. Michael is my personal favourite – an old bank robber who has moved on from his past, living in a gorgeous mansion in Los Santos, drinking and smoking his life away. His wife hates him, as does his kids, but he’s a very likable character. Maybe it’s his charisma, or his good intentions that don’t always show through, but he’s a good guy – just with a dirty and troubled past. This is all I’ve learnt within the first week of playing the game, however the story is bound to explore all of these characters further as I progress.

It’s also the small things in Grand Theft Auto V that really make this game as incredible as it is. After completing a main story mission as Michael, I unlocked the ability to do marathons. Naturally I get straight to it, signing up for the race and getting in to my attractive skin tight suit. First I swim, then I cycle, and lastly I run to the finish line. The marathon starts, I sprint on the sand, leaving footprints behind me, and dive in to the ocean. The warm orange sun is setting, the light reflecting off the wavy and often unpredictable sea, as I start powering through to the shore on the other side. I flip between first and third person to take it all in from both perspectives. I eventually get to the sand, my wet suit now reflecting light off it, as I run over to the closest bicycle. All of a sudden the race speeds up, as I swerve around corners and pass buildings as the sun pops in and out of view. I’m determined to win, so I slam a nearby cyclist in to a street lamp, hearing a cry and seeing blood on the post as I speed by. This part ends quickly as I hop off my bike and start panting to the finish line. I can see the finish line in sight, I’m rather happy to be in 1st place in my first attempt. Out of nowhere, a competitor sprints past me, bumping shoulders and throwing me on to the curb. I go from 1st to 7th in a matter of seconds.The great thing is, I didn’t even care. I had so much fun doing a marathon in a game that’s primarily an open world crime shooter – it felt like the possibilities were endless.

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These small moments occur in GTA Online as well. The first time I played the game, I jumped in to a helicopter with a friend and flew over to the highest mountain, Mt. Chilliad. The sun was rising, and we simply stood there for a couple of minutes taking it all in. The draw distance is far beyond the capabilities of the console versions – I can see vehicles far down below at ground level, and boats sailing across the water. It was abruptly ended when I got sniped in the back of the head, but that’s what friends are for right? Late at night we then hopped on to our BMX bikes, jumping in to the immersive first person mode, and cycled over to the local park with a half pipe, doing our best to do tricks and not fall flat on our faces. The world of Los Santos feels like it existed before you started playing the game – it feels real and established, every corner and every street feel like a tangible place that has a history. Very much like “Fallout 3” or “The Witcher”, you start to get lost in this incredibly detailed world. This helps with the terrific first person mode, as it adds a whole new level of immersion to the game. Granted, the field of view could be wider, but that’s nothing mods can’t handle when we’re playing on a PC. I also played a full game of golf, tennis, and conducted a heist or two.

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Oh yeah, about that – heists are the more epic moments in the game, and are absolutely thrilling to play. Deciding how to approach them, whether they be silent or loud, and who to hire (gunman, driver, hacker etc), can affect how well you pull off the heist, and how much money you take in. Not only is stealing the money an adrenaline rush, but then you have to get away with cops on your tail, swerving in between cars and cop blockades on your motorcycle as you desperately try to stay alive. All this with tense music playing in the background, expertly crafted by Rockstar to add to the intensity of it all.

This is all in the first week. With the endless possibilities of mods, Rockstar Editor (which I haven’t even touched yet), and an epic storyline to still complete, this game is looking to be constantly played by PC players for at least the next few months. It’s everything we had hoped for, and then some. Bravo Rockstar, bravo.

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