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Games : Highly Recommended
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Release Date: September 17th, 2013 Movie Release Year: 2013

Grand Theft Auto V

Overview -

While 'Grand Theft Auto' is one of the most visible game franchises, it has been five years since the franchise last saw a full game. In that time, surprisingly excellent if buggy 'Red Dead Redemption' has existed as the Old West cousin to the controversial series.

The anticipation for the game has easily rivaled the anticipation for the next generation of consoles. There is so much to the game, that one can get lost in it, focused on one objective or another. While there are still stacks of good-to great games that will be played on the PS3 and 360, 'Grand Theft Auto V' may be high water mark for those systems.

That potential technical and gameplay prowess of the game belies the controversial nature of the game series. Quickly stated, I think of the games as analogous to Quentin Tarantino movies, very violent and often enamored with various story sub-genres. The game's take-or-leave-it satire is not for everyone, and can be experienced with the same amount skepticism as other piece of fiction. Now, onto the game.

Highly Recommended
Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Blu-ray disc
Video Resolution/Codec:
Audio Formats:
Release Date:
September 17th, 2013

Video Review


Again, 'GTA V' has to wrestle with big expectations, and these expectations are akin to the kind normally reserved for racing and sports games. Make it look real, and make it look better.

Aliasing and pop-in pervade the open world. What's worse, is taking to the skies, where unsubtle texture tiling and occlusion troubles are the norm. The ocean, on the other hand, makes use of a color palette to stunning effect, even if the water can be a bit too real in its nebulous darkness.

None of these issues change the fact that 'GTA V' is a technical and artistic marvel. The amount of detail visible in the world dwarves its predecessor, and the artistry in use in deciding how to employ resources is really unrivaled in third-person games, open world or otherwise. When boiled down to segments like the psychiatrist's office (clearly a showpiece), character outfits, vehicles, safe houses, psychedelic clown beasts, or just fast-roping, that smart use of simple textures and geometry usually limited to games where the engine is less capable, delivers a product that's difficult to criticize.

Character close-ups unsurprisingly reflect the tough-to-beat unhappy valley, but the game's animations, and the variety of effective character designs seem like they should belong to a corridor shooter where detail is easier to come by.

A PC version of this game will be a stunner that helps with a lot of these issues, but one problem for me was the California/Los Santos weather. The super bright sun can make some situations look unlit. Looking at a parking lot (that sadly, is typically devoid of cars) with its concrete texture underneath a red sports car can present an immediate inequity in detail that is not helped by the overbright sunshine. That typical example, combined with some murky buildings, can make it easy to frown at the game's visuals, which is a short-sighted mistake as the game has plenty of wow in its aresneal both in scripted adn unscripted sections.

Audio Review


There is a lot happening in the audio department in any 'GTA' game. There is the series' radio stations with songs and DJs, engine and gunfire Foley, smartphone rings and notifications, and always the possibility that a firefight full of NPCs is happing just a ways off but still audible. The game doesn't really ever ask to the player to listen for enemy audio cues (unlike a FPS), and relegates sound to a complementary function, which for me was nicely done in LPCM.

This time around, the radio stations were less a joy for me, which may be due to an attempt to represent an authentic Californian FM band. Still, I found a few good stations. (Don Johnson's 'Heartbeat,' total classic.) But during missions when the radio goes away, the game's original soundtrack scores big in my estimatation, which, following 'Max Payne 3,' and 'Red Dead Redemption' is not a surprise.

No other game attempts the 'GTA' scale or can touch the games' presentation. The openness of the game suggests that players can have a blast while barely touching the single player. The temptation then is to give the game a perfect score, but while the game is both peerless and marvelous, it isn't perfect or close to perfect. It many ways, for 'GTA V,' quantity cannot beat quality.

The game of heists marketed by Rockstar is never fully realized in the singleplayer of 'GTA V.' The tri-lead character story peters out fairly early, but that does not mean that the story is not worth finishing. The game is need of some major patches, which hurts the appeal of side-content. By the same-token, the game blows away the mechanics of its predecessors and series' imitators, and that's without factoring in 'GTA Online.'