Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Platform(s): Playstation 3, Xbox 360
Version Tested: Playstation 3
Developer: Rockstar Games
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Genre: Open World Third Person Shooter
ESRB Rating: M
Length: 30+ Hours
Game Modes: Single Player, Multiplayer
Full Game Size: 17.4GB
Disc Install Size: 8.4GB
Frame Rate: 30fps
Audio Format(s): Dolby Digital, 5.1PCM
Release Date: September 17th, 2013
The biggest, most dynamic and most diverse open world ever created, Grand Theft Auto V blends storytelling and gameplay in new ways as players repeatedly jump in and out of the lives of the game’s three lead characters, playing all sides of the game’s interwoven story.
All the classic hallmarks of the groundbreaking series return, including incredible attention to detail and Grand Theft Auto’s darkly humorous take on modern culture, alongside a brand new and ambitious approach to open world multiplayer.
Open world games are a dime a dozen nowadays, but Grand Theft Auto V proves once again that Rockstar is at the head of the class. It's taken an army of hundreds of designers and artists the better part of a decade to craft, and it's obvious that not a moment of that time was wasted. The value of open world games is frequently measured by the size of their world, but they all too often consist of small islands of interesting content separated by vast tracts of empty space and pointless filler. The city of "Los Santos" is the polar opposite, and is absolutely overflowing with detail. No two blocks of the city are alike, painstakingly modeled after real locations in Los Angeles such as Venice Beach and the Hollywood strip. Although it has it's fair share of wilderness, even the mountain ranges and forests feel carefully hand crafted. I was initially apprehensive about the scope of the world, assuming a large part of it would be filler, but I'm happy to admit that I couldn't have been more wrong about that. It feels like there's several games worth of high quality content on the disc.
More than anything else, Los Santos genuinely feels like a living, breathing city. There's no shortage of attractions to catch your attention, ranging from a mundane sightseeing tour of the "Vinewood" strip to motocross races in the desert and even a full blown triathlon. Given all that there is to do in Los Santos, it's easy to forget that there's also a lengthy storyline. In typical GTA fashion, it follows the path of a small time criminal as he grows to full fledged criminal mastermind. A unique twist this time around is that you control not one character, but three. They're all despicable human beings in their own unique way, ranging from the cliche retired bank robber to a full blown meth addicted psychopath. Franklin, the small time street criminal with lofty aspirations, is probably the closest to a normal human being, having at least a shred of a conscience. But Trevor's impulsive and sociopathic antics are so far beyond the bounds of acceptable human behavior that it's impossible to take his character seriously. And you're clearly not meant to, as he perfectly encapsulates how much less self-serious GTA V is than it's predecessor. Although the core storyline manages to maintain enough plausibility, just about everyone you will meet along the way is a ridiculous caricature of one stereotype or another. Although it's not as flat out absurd as Saint's Row, it has quite a bit of fun with itself in a genuinely silly way, rather than the often unbearable snarkiness of GTA IV.
The highlight of the campaign are the heists, where all three team up together to pull off an elaborate robbery. Of course it rarely goes off as planned, which leads to some very intense chase sequences. Even within the less complex missions, there's an impressive amount of variation. It's quite a feat that within the hundred or so missions the trio can engage in, there's always a unique twist to each and every one.
By all accounts a game that's built on such a reprehensible foundation shouldn't be this much fun, but casually tossing aside behavioral norms and committing horrible crimes against humanity with no consequences somehow manages to be incredibly entertaining. When the entirety of the Los Santos police force is on your tail and you manage to ditch them by driving a stolen garbage truck through the golf course where you just shot four under par, it all comes together. It's only because Rockstar has crafted such a convincing replica of a real city that the fantasy works as well as it does. It's a solid improvement on it's predecessor in almost every way, but it's unlikely to change anyone's mind about the series. GTA has a huge following, and they're catering entirely to that crowd. Even though some of the game mechanics are still lacking in basic polish, the fact that I still can't pull myself away from the game after dozens of hours of play speaks volumes about how engaging the entire package is.
Anyone that lets a child near this game should have Child Protective Services called on them. GTA V glorifies and allows you to take part in every felony crime on the book, including but not limited to: carjacking, murder, prostitution, assault, grand larceny, DUI, extortion, identity theft and drug abuse from amphetamines to X. There's frequent and explicit nudity, sexual content that goes far beyond mere suggestion, and it can barely go 60 seconds without dropping the N-word or the F-bomb.
KEEP AWAY FROM CHILDREN. SERIOUSLY.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 90-100 / EXCELLENT = 80-89 / GOOD = 65-79 / AVERAGE = 55-65 /BELOW AVERAGE = under 55
**Ratings are judged against the state of the art in contemporary games. As technology rapidly improves, standards will raise appropriately.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
Low Frequency Extension:
GTA V steps it up a notch from it's predecessor, and brings the goods on the audio side. It's up there with the best when it comes to dynamics, allowing you to turn your AVR up to near reference level to utilize the full range of your gear. Barely a minute goes by without a car crash or explosion, but more than enough headroom is saved to make them sound as fearsome as they should. Deep, subsonic LFE adds weight to the effects when necessary. Your subwoofer isn't rumbling all the time, but when it does, it does so with authority. Positioning and environmental modeling are perfect, and it even goes the extra mile to allow you to specify the width and configuration of your speakers—a really nice touch, and I wish more games went that extra mile. The quality of effects is excellent all around, everything sounds just like the real thing, from shattering glass to the roar of a high powered engine. If there's any one place where it falls short, it's the weak sputter of most of the firearms, which feels completely out of place considering how high quality everything else is. If they were allowed to soak up that last 5db of headroom, it would have been glorious. It's really the only thing to complain about, it's a fantastic sounding game on the whole.
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
Art Design/Production Values:
It's amazing what Rockstar has been able to squeeze out of the current gen, but these aging consoles can barely keep up with it's ambitions. Resolution is native 720p, but there's a ton of aliasing and pixel crawling—the presentation is harsh and ugly while driving around the city at a fast pace. Performance is merely acceptable, hovering around 30fps in lighter scenes but frequently dipping when just about anything happens on screen. As bad as that may sound, it's still quite playable, and until Rockstar announces the inevitable next generation or PC version, it's all we've got. It shouldn't entirely dissuade you from enjoying GTA V as it is, because the underlying graphics are simply phenomenal. The size of the world is staggering enough, being several times larger than GTA IV, but the attention to detail of every square inch of the vast open world is incredibly impressive. And that detail never holds the gameplay back—you can hop in a helicopter and fly up half a mile with the entirety of the city in view beneath you, and then ditch the chopper in mid-air and land half a mile away, flawlessly transitioning from the aerial to the street view without any load times whatsoever and very little pop-in. It's absolutely amazing technology—there are plenty of open world games that can handle scale like that, but none with this level of detail. Normal maps add fine texture to every surface, and the weather/atmospheric effects are some of the best I've ever seen. The physics engine has seen a serious upgrade, with plenty of instances of buildings shattering to little pieces. The real-time facial animation is second only to LA Noire, but their motion capture tech has no peer, and it's put to frequent use in well-acted cutscenes.
I hate to sound like a broken record on this, but it deserves better than what the positively geriatric current generation consoles are capable of delivering. It remains impressive despite that, but unless they get an updated version out there before the world moves on, they're short changing a masterpiece of visual design.
Game Design: 72
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
GTA V feels almost exactly like it's predecessor in the gameplay department. That's either a good or a bad thing depending on your point of view. Your freedom to navigate the world is unmatched, and there's more side activities than ever. On the upside, the driving mechanics have been vastly improved, on the other hand, the on-foot movement and shooting is as sluggish and disconnected as ever. Perhaps it's a wee bit tighter than before, but it still doesn't feel anywhere near as good as other shooters. The controls are very complex, every button is used in so many different ways that I often had trouble remembering how to initiate simple actions like detonating a bomb, but the game is otherwise such a blast to play that you just learn to deal with it. The interface is sensible but cluttered—it's primarily managed through a simulated mobile phone and web browser. It's clever, but can sometimes be clunky. You'll never have trouble finding your objective thanks to ever-present GPS, but the mid-mission checkpoints are spaced a bit too far apart. And while there's a fair bit of the expected open world roughness, it's a very stable game. Load times are also a mixed bag—the up front load time takes forever, and in rare instances you'll even get dropped to a completely blank screen for a few seconds, but the vast majority of the time spent playing will be seamless and load-free.
While it's not going to change anyone's mind about the series, it takes everything GTA is known for to the next level, and then some. It's been in the oven for a very long time, but seeing the final product, it's easy to see why. The concept hasn't changed, but the execution is nearly flawless, and it's a must play for it's intended audience...which doesn't include children, unless you're trying to breed a monster. I can't stress that enough!
AVS Forum Video Game Reviews
Reference Review System:
Panasonic TC-P60ST30 60" 1080P 3D Plasma Display (Calibrated with i1 Display LT)
Anthem MRX300 7.1 Channel AVR (Calibrated with Anthem ARC)
Paradigm Studio 40 v.3 (Main)
Paradigm CC-470 v.3 (Center)
Paradigm Studio 20 v.4 (Surround)
Velodyne HGS-18 (Subwoofer)
Sony Playstation 3 Slim (500GB Seagate Momentus XT Solid State Hybrid HDD)
Microsoft Xbox 360
Custom Gaming PC (Intel i5-3470, Nvidia GTX 760, 8GB DDR3, Samsung 840 SSD)
It's pretty far out there compared to other games, but I've seen much worse on HBO. Most people intuitively understand not to sit a 6 year old in front of the Sopranos, but games still carry the stigma of being for children. GTA is kind of the standard bearer for games that are for adults, and only adults...but there's still plenty of room to make it way more explicit in the next few iterations.