Review: Grand Theft Auto V

A screenshot of Trevor Phillips in Grand Theft Auto V (image: Rockstar)

Truth be told Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto (GTA) franchise has a mixed history. However, when the fifth installment launched a week ago, it was well worth the wait.

A screenshot of Trevor Phillips in Grand Theft Auto V (image: Rockstar)
A screenshot of Trevor Phillips in Grand Theft Auto V (Image source: Rockstar)

Grand Theft Auto V was released five years after Grand Theft Auto IV, and the title has sold so well that it recently became the fastest-selling video game in history by racking up over $1-billion in sales in the first few days.

But is a game of this magnitude all that it is cracked up to be?

What we like about it

The open world action-adventure has once again proven why it is the best sandbox game franchise on the market and includes a number of elements not yet seen in a GTA title.  For starters, players will take control of three main characters, all with their own unique backgrounds and stories, that will mesh into one big plot as they cause chaos in the fictional city of Los Santos in San Andreas.

With a game of this nature, the plot tends to change over time, especially since there are three characters to focus on. However, one could say that the overarching plot focuses on the relationship between Michael de Santa (formerly Townley) and Trevor Philips.

Phillips and de Santa used to rob banks together, but after their last attempt nine years ago de Santa was presumed dead and Phillips made his getaway.

Gangster Franklin is introduced to the story while trying to repossess one of de Santa’s vehicles. The plot weaves in and out of smaller missions with only one character, while some will see the player team up with other characters to line their pockets or do some dirty work for a corrupt government agency.

Out of all the characters (which are fully customizable) in GTA V, Phillips is as bad as they get. He is the character that all gamers wish they could be, but it is definitely not socially acceptable – he is crude, rude and has a really bad temper with a choice vocabulary. On the other hand he is definitely not stupid, is fully aware of his actions (and their consequences), and has some of the best one-liners and come-backs in the game.

The early missions in GTA V are a bit slow as players are shown the ropes around town and explained how all the elements come together. There are an incredible wealth of things to do outside of the main missions, as players can take up a spot of tennis, play a round of golf, and even practise for a triathlon.

Where this title makes use of the same mechanics as with the previous titles, is in the main missions. Being an open-world title in the GTA franchise, there is not much that has changed in that regard. If players are familiar with how GTA works, there really is no need to delve deeper into that mechanic.

In terms of graphics, the title delivers a fictional world that replicates a real-world almost immaculately. Attention to detail was of a very high importance for developer Rockstar, as players will notice. It is all the smaller things that come together to deliver the title in all its awesomeness, from clothes that get wet, foot prints on the beach and even puddles with reflections after rain.

Grand Theft Auto V has brought together everything that players wanted in previous titles – better graphics, a control system that is not complicated, an intriguing plot, and a really good soundtrack. With all that in mind, it is really clear why this title has managed to sell more than 12-million copies in the first three days.

What we do not like about it

Frankly, the dislikes of the title was easier to write than what we liked about the games – simply because there is very little to fault the game on. Besides a few minor glitches that caused vehicles to go flying through the air when hit by a train and garages causing cars to disappear, there is not much to go on.

Sure, gamers can knit-pick at small issues such as certain vehicles that are difficult to drive, players getting stuck in awkward positions and that players cannot run faster on an uphill, but that is all par for the course with a game of this size.

Stopping short of saying the game is near-perfect, it comes pretty close. Maybe the only real complaint could be that some of the cut-scenes tend to drag on a little bit longer than what they should. And then there is the now-infamous torture scene…

In short, aside from minor glitches and story mechanics, the title delivers on everything that it promised, and there is little that players will find wrong with it.


Grand Theft Auto V is without a doubt the best GTA title that has been developed in the history of the franchise. The characters walk properly compared to GTA IV, the vehicles are of much wider variety and handle better, and the citizens of San Andreas will have no problem with ‘flipping you the bird’.

The use of three main characters with the support of many secondary characters deliver a believable (as believable as GTA can be) performance of backstabbing, betrayal and in search of that one last big score that will set them free.

As mentioned, the graphics are fantastic and it is clear that they are pushing the current generation Xbox to its limits – water flows naturally, clouds roll in over to cause a rain storm and the facial animations and mannerisms of characters have been effectively reproduced.

We know there is a ton of things that we have left out, but the most important part is that Grand Theft Auto V is good, really good. The multiplayer portion is scheduled to be launched on 1 October, and even without that, the single player campaign alone should keep players busy for over 40 hours.

Brilliant characters, amazing graphics and a plot that is worthy of a Hollywood series – that is Grand Theft Auto V.

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor