GTA V offers the structured breakaway from reality that we need, inviting us into a game world with open arms, before pointing the finger, laughing and mocking as we chase the unfathomable dream. It was a brilliant game a year ago, and now with the added benefit of improved textures, sharper visuals and a confronting yet enthralling first-person perspective, it’s certainly one of the better remastered games on the market.
It’s almost too easy to play through this game again. GTA V (and the GTA series broadly) has the capacity to mock and parody itself alongside the fallacies of contemporary society, and that’s one of the reasons I keep coming back to the game world. Replaying it again was a no brainer. GTA V is certainly driven by the “masculinity” hinted at by Dan Houser in interviews preceding the game’s release, and yet it miraculously addresses the series’ male-only character focus through delightful parodies and hilarious commentary.GTA V, like its predecessors, manages to separate city from character, offering two decisively different interpretations of society through the eyes of individuals, and also through the soul of a lively, thriving city.
The shift between each of the three main characters, and the ways in which they interact and engage with one another, is central to GTA V’s stunningly witty and believable tale, and I had forgotten how seamlessly Rockstar had moulded the character shift into the experience.
Michael, Franklin and Trevor still feel like real people: they’re like odes to Tommy Vercetti in Vice City and CJ in San Andreas, respectively, while Trevor is the refreshing breakaway — albeit a chaotic one — that appears to be representative of the anarchic intentions of the player. If Trevor is Rockstar’s interpretation of the GTA player, they nailed it. I’m so glad that a year on, with the dust having settled and the hype surrounding the game’s original release having faded, that the story and characters still hold up.
Above all else, the best thing about GTA V is undoubtedly the freedom it presses up against the player: the big bank accounts, the heists, the randomness and depth of the game world, the detail of Los Santos, the believable accounts of the characters. All of this moulds together to form an experience that perfectly defines modern society. The game invites you to hunt that American dream, only it knows reality will eventually come crashing down.
Now that the game’s out on PC, I’m torn: it looks and plays better on PC than it does on console, and even though I’m a console gamer at heart, it’s hard to ignore how well this game has translated over to the platform. Rockstar has released a fully optimized piece of software that runs at the highest framerate and resolution that your PC can handle, while also throwing in 4K/UHD resolutions and multi-display setups as the cherry on top. The game looks its most impressive in first-person during a high-speed car chase. As the beautiful Los Santos landscape streams past you at 60 frames per second, the explosiveness of the gunplay and action goes up a few notches in this spectacularly enhanced game world.
It plays superbly, too, and I never thought I’d fall as much in love with a keyboard and mouse as I did playing GTA V. While it’s far easier to take out enemies with headshots, more control over the reticle makes for a far more satisfying gunplay experience. It’s easier to activate each character’s special ability, this time mapped to a single button, as is sprinting, which automatically makes the default PC button mapping infinitely less tedious to control than the console versions.
The PC version also adds in a very deep Director Mode tool, which lets you create classy clips and machinima from your gameplay footage. It crashed a few times initially but when it works, it works well, giving you unprecedented control over your best gameplay moments in an effort to capture Los Santos at its most pristine.
The Final Verdict
It was only a matter of time before GTA V appeared on PC. It still stands up as a hypnotising open-world adventure, with addictive characters and a broad aesthetic that gives Los Santos a mind of its own. It looks better and plays better, and while it’s mostly the same experience, we won’t hold that against it: GTA V is well worth another playthrough, especially with it looking and playing as good as it does on PC.