Why GTA 5 will be best on PC

Andy Kelly at

So Grand Theft Auto V is coming to PC. Hooray! I’ve played a lot of the Xbox 360 version—it’s my favourite GTA game to date—but I was always thinking in the back of my mind about how much better it would be with a smoother frame rate, sharper textures, and running at a resolution higher than 1280x720. The good news, then, is that the long-awaited PC version will have all of these things, as well as an array of new visual effects to take advantage of modern graphics cards. The lighting is better, the draw distance is greater, and Rockstar are finally giving the vast urban sprawl of Los Santos and its surrounding forests, deserts, and mountains the fidelity they deserve.

Yes, their port of Grand Theft Auto 4 sucked, but playing the excellent PC edition of Max Payne 3—which uses the same version of RAGE as GTA V—gives me a reasonable amount of confidence that they’ll do a better job this time. The PC version will also have busier streets, as seen in the trailer, which shows a freeway teeming with way more traffic than I ever saw on Xbox. As well as making the city feel more alive, this should also make chases and shootouts on the streets even more chaotic. One of the best things about 5 is that there are rarely ‘filler’ story missions, like driving characters from A to B or delivering things. They’re almost all interesting or unique in some way.

But visuals aside, the PC version is also getting a video editor that Rockstar say can be used for ‘advanced movie-making’. The IV editor was alright, but not as powerful as I’d have liked. Hopefully this one will have more features. Like its predecessors, GTA V is a game full of moments. There are so many ways to cause mayhem, toy with pedestrians, or use the varied terrain to perform stunts and create mad set-pieces. Los Santos is familiar territory, but when you leave the city limits and head into the sands of the Grand Senora Desert or the forests and valleys around Mt. Chiliad, you realise just how much more of a playground 5 is compared to previous games in the series. The addition of planes, from crop dusters to massive jumbo jets, only adds to the fun.

Multiplayer is a big part of GTA 5 too, but again, the limitations of the 360 were clear. Free roam mode only supports 16 players, which isn’t really taking advantage of that enormous map. You can drive around for a good long while without bumping into other players. Rockstar haven’t confirmed it yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the PC version supported more. 32 players would do it. As big as the map is, 64 might be pushing it, ‘cause I doubt you’d get anything worthwhile done without being shot or run over every ten seconds. There’s a huge selection of missions in GTA Online, including fighter jet dogfights, street races, triathlons, deathmatches, and way more than I could ever list here, but I’m mostly just looking forward to messing around with a group of friends in free mode.

You can enjoy it on your own, though. My favourite thing to do is wait for someone to kill me for no reason (this happens a lot), then stalk them relentlessly until they get frustrated and log off. I hounded a guy for at least an hour, constantly appearing around corners with a shotgun, chasing him in a car, or floating above him in a helicopter, killing him again and again. I was GTA Online’s very own Anton Chigurh. My hapless victim finally snapped and disconnected when I chased him to the end of a pier and landed my chopper on his naughty head. It’s this kind of emergent sandbox nonsense that makes GTA so fun, and doubly so when it’s real people you’re interacting with.

I’m looking forward to playing this again. For me, it’s the best and least irritating set of story missions in the series so far. Anyone who slogged through those seemingly endless Phil Bell missions at the end of IV will be glad to hear that checkpoints are generous, and you no longer have to escort idiotic AI characters through hails of bullets. It’s just /fun/, and the character-switching system—you can flip between the three protagonists near-instantly in certain missions—creates some enjoyable set-pieces, especially in the elaborate heist missions. It has some problems, including some mind-numbing ‘collect lots of objects littered around the map’ side-missions that are thankfully optional. But as far as the GTA series goes, this is Rockstar’s most polished, confident entry yet, and the PC version, as long as there are no glaring technical issues with the port, will be the best.

To get an idea of the variety of GTA V's world map, check out Andy's Other Places episode below. Just imagine it's in 1080p and slathered in fancy DirectX 11 effects.