Grand Theft Auto V or GTA V took about 19 months since its original September 2013 release on the older gen consoles, to finally make it on the platform that birthed the franchise, the PC. This has been the longest wait for an entry in the series to be ported to PC and even that journey started with denial. When GTA V released for the PS3 and the Xbox 360, there were no plans announced for a PC version leading to a lot of heartburn for diehard fans. Since this was a time the PC Master Race movement was gathering steam (No Pun intended), it became a means of claiming superiority by their opponents in the Console supporters camp, leading to petitions to Rockstar Games for and against porting the game to PC. When Rockstar finally announced plans for porting the game to Next Gen consoles and PC a year later, the same debate resumed. However, the PC release was delayed to January and the next gen release happened first, again leading to some heartburn among the series’ fans on PC. This was not the end of their wait though, for the January release got pushed back to March and then again to April.
Given that, the wait for this game has been so long, with the impatient players having bought a PS3 or Xbox 360 specifically for it, GTA V PC bears a lot of expectations. So was it worth the wait? The short answer is Yes. Given the shoddy mess that was the port of GTA IV on PC, gamers were sceptical of Rockstar’s porting abilities, even though the company redeemed itself with Max Payne 3. GTA V took a few delays to get right, but boy did Rockstar get it right. The game runs brilliantly smooth even at the lowest settings on the suggested systems. It’s a visual treat when everything is cranked up to the max. The game pushes the boundaries of what the hardware offers on PC.
Since the core gameplay and story is the same as the old gen release, our review of that version is still very relevant. It’s still that excellent game that was first experienced in September 2013 and it has been improved upon. As a PC experience however, the gameplay feels very fresh as the game gives you a lot of freedom to enjoy its brilliantly crafted sandbox. The First person mode offers a new perspective to play the game and makes it even more interesting when you are moving around in the various vehicles offered by the game. This mode might be new to the franchise, but it feels like it was always there and you can play the entire game in this view if you so wish.
The game is a visual treat. Cranking up the settings to the max, the sandbox of GTA V looks absolutely gorgeous on the PC. The waves of the ocean look very realistic as the white foam moves about on the surface. The terrain textures are diverse and highly detailed. The first person mode shows detailed working dials and gauges inside vehicles. Shadows change as per the time of Day and the lighting looks brilliant at night. The game’s weather effects look even more brilliant with the additional power the PC allows for. Particle effects and smoking vehicle tyres add to the realism of the sandbox. The game even comes with a benchmark mode to show off all this graphical goodness. So much so, that it inspires one to build a new PC just to max it out. There are some features exclusive to AMD cards and some to Nvidia cards, so both camps should be happy with this game.
Rockstar must be lauded for the sheer amount of effort they have put into making their sandbox game world as detailed as possible. The number of different unique textures and models on display in even the smallest of areas can be overwhelming. Interiors are so intricately detailed that you couldn’t be faulted if you thought it was real. Even the exteriors contain a lot of detail with both animals and humans roaming around. Random events can occur in the game world that you can choose to take part in, such as a hoodlum running away with a lady’s purse, that you can chase down to keep the loot for yourself or be a good Samaritan and return it for a smaller reward. What seems amiss from among the attention to detail is the treatment of hedgerows in the game. They seem more like solid blocks rather than the complicated tangle of vines that they are. Of course, given that the game is now on PC, one can always expect someone to provide a mod to fix that.
While it may seem from the previous lines that the port is flawless, there are some flaws to be found. MSAA is the main culprit behind the visual bugs in the game. The implementation was broken at launch though it should be fixed in subsequent patches and drivers. Some PC gamers who use the Keyboard and mouse may also be displeased with the keybindings for operating certain vehicles like planes. The flight model in the game will take some time to get used to, especially if one plans to master the stunts. The driving model is also a bit finicky for some vehicles with minor impacts causing them to go into major spins. The ingame internet can also bug out at times with some options causing a blank page to show up. The underwater controls can also be tricky and you might accidentally drown your character.
The game shows few signs of being a port rather than a platform native game. Rockstar’s effort on this front is worth of praise. The ingame models do not appear to be low poly as in the old gen version, nor do you see the same models repeated all over the place unless you set the settings to minimum. There are some vestiges of the old gen to be found when one goes to watch a movie in the theatre since the movies are pixelated and low poly.
Returning players and those who preordered get a bonus amount of currency when starting the game on PC. This can alter your game experience as the starting cash can be spent on purchases you might not have been able to make until later in the game. You can give this bonus currency to only one character though. There are exclusive vehicles to be unlocked and an exclusive mission to reward your loyalty to the game. Even otherwise, there is plenty of new content added in terms of vehicles, weapons, animal species and radio tracks to the game. There are quite a few Easter eggs to be found in the game with cheeky references to other games in the series.
The addition of new music to the already expansive library is very welcome. Rockstar has curated its song selection well and you will easily find something to fit the mood at any time in the game. The Voice acting and dialogue delivery is so well done, that you end up mimicking it mentally after a while. It really brings out the nuances of the various ingame characters, which is built upon by the unique responses to each character from the NPCs that throng the streets. The vehicle sounds are also a treat to listen to, as are the weapon sounds.
GTA Online is the biggest beneficiary of the delay since all the updates and improvements to it are available from Day One. Rockstar has plans for even more content making this a valuable investment indeed. Unlike GTA IV, which used the horrible Games for Windows Live for its multiplayer, GTA V will use Rockstar’s own Rockstar Games Social Club service. Even the Steam version will use this, so there won’t be any restriction on crossplay between owners of the Retail and the Steam versions. GTA Online will also get the bonus cash and weapons for preorders and returning players. Your characters from the old gen version will be available for import on the PC if you so wish.
The release of the PC version opens the doors for the flourishing modding scene of the franchise to work their magic on the latest entry. We are already seeing mods that range from crazy to some ease of life shortcuts to graphical enhancements. However, some mods are also letting players cheat in GTA Online, which has caused Rockstar to issue patches that break other mods too. Of course, depending on community contributions can’t be a selling point for a game, but it is a nice bonus to have.
GTA V PC comes in a 7-disc retail version that is a collector’s delight. The game has a huge download size of some 59GB, which makes the retail version preferable in a country with crappy internet speeds like India. The box comes with a map depicting Los Santos and Blaine County. There’s a manual and a leaflet listing preorder bonuses for those who preordered the game. The real treats are the discs themselves. Every disc has an individual cover design based on the art from the game. This is in addition to the full side images of the three protagonists of the game. For more details, you can read about our unboxing here.
Looking at the sales figures and gameplay stats within the first few weeks, the PC community has shown how much it wanted this game. Steam sales alone show more than 2 million copies sold and retail numbers should bump this even higher. In India, we found that all major retailers were sold out within the first couple of days with the remaining copies from small players being shown for as much as double the MRP of ₹2499. In terms of player stats, the game has seen more hours invested into it than some titles that launched a few years ago with huge active player bases. Now that GTA V has had its PC release, the only thing left on PC Gamers’ wishlist from Rockstar is a PC port of Red Dead Redemption.
There is one major warning to be given about this game and that is the Age Rating. This game has a lot of adult content such as Drugs, Nudity, Graphical representations of Sex, Foul Language and Gory Violence.
Our conclusion of this PC Port report is that GTA V is a fantastic port. It promises something for both returning players and new ones. It’s an experience to be savoured by both hardcore series fans and newcomers alike. Though a Price of ₹2499 or $39.99 might seem steep, the game is certainly worth it given the hours of entertainment its story mode provides in addition to the online component. As a sandbox, the game world is fun to explore and shoot up, though it comes with some real repercussions. All we’ll say is what are you doing reading this report when you could be playing GTA V on PC at 4K 60fps?!??!!?