Replay Value:
Overall Rating:
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated

Grand Theft Auto V is a big game. Perhaps you consider this an understatement and of course, it is. But until you play the game, you can’t fully grasp the meaning of that common three-letter word. You may assume it pertains merely to the size and scope of the virtual environment. You might think it involves the attention to detail and the role-playing-like depth. If you believed both, you wouldn’t be wrong. However, it’s when you pause, step back, and cast an appreciative eye over the unparalleled vastness of GTAV as a whole that you begin to understand. Then you stagger, ‘cuz it’s just that overwhelming.

It’s never easy to issue a separate graphics score for open-world sandbox games, primarily because you know the developers were forced to sacrifice a bit of clarity and detail for the sake of smooth gameplay. But when you consider the ridiculous size of Los Santos and the surrounding areas, you can’t help but be impressed by what Rockstar has accomplished. Sure, zooming in on various parts of the world reveals minor yet outdated flaws, and the cut-scenes are hardly CGI quality. Again, though, step back a moment and view the enormity of this achievement. It’s all lovingly crafted, from the random shrubs on the outskirts of the city to the tallest skyscraper.

While it’s a challenge to appropriately analyze the visual presentation of such a colossal game (and compare it to other titles), it’s easy to evaluate the audio. It’s awesome. The voice acting on all fronts is superb, which is a definite step up for the franchise, the soundtrack is bigger and better than ever before, and the ambient city effects are unbelievable. It’ll take a while before you hear the same street conversation twice, the diverse soundtrack is a blend of modern music and throwback tunes, and even minor NPCs are voiced pretty well. Okay, so there are a few balancing issues between voices and the rest of the audio, but that’s about it.

It’s difficult to know where to begin. Do I start with the changes and additions to this particular GTA installment, such as the switching between three protagonists? Do I begin by assessing how the gameplay and specifically, the control, has evolved? Am I supposed to tackle the branching storylines, which admittedly have a few flaws? Do readers expect me to give them an idea of mission types, and if many of them seem similar or repetitive? What about the question as to whether or not we should wait to do a review, because the online multiplayer won’t be available until October 1? And hey, do all those hundreds of extras, like activities and outfits, actually have an impact? Or do they feel superfluous?

Yes, I suppose I could attempt to answer each one of those questions in logical, successive progression. However, I’d rather embrace the far-reaching scope of the game and tell you what it feels like to play GTAV, because there’s so damn much to do that it all coalesces into this absurdly immersive atmosphere. The immersion begins right out of the gate, as you’re involved in a bank heist, which soon spills out into the snowy streets. Here you will learn the basics, such as movement, aiming, taking cover, and switching between available party members. It’s all smooth, accessible and well-implemented. Then, before long, you and a buddy jack two sports cars, and you’re racing along the crowded streets of Los Santos.