Grand Theft Auto 5 for PC Impressions: Homecoming King

After several long months of delays, Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto 5 is now available on PC. How does it fare compared to its console counterparts? Check out our impressions.

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It’s been a long, arduous road for the PC version of Grand Theft Auto V, but as of April 14, the game is actually available for sale across a number of digital marketplaces. It was rumored and delayed for so long, it kind of feels surreal to play the game on a PC platform. But here I am, running from the cops of Los Santos for “accidentally” running over a cyclist with unwarranted road rage fifteen times while cursing “NO ONE FLIPS ME OFF BUT ME!” I know, I’m terrible at insults.

A Feast For The Eyes

For the PC version of Grand Theft Auto 5, I decided to hook up the Area 51 Alienware loaned me for review, and I’m happy I did because playing the game with all of its settings maxed out is an experience fans need to witness for themselves. Character facial animations never looked so detailed, the atmosphere never looked so rich, and the world has never felt so expansive. That’s because Rockstar has given PC players a slew of controls over the game’s visuals which includes being able to improve the quality of several graphical features, including textures, shadows, and shaders, distance scaling, and population density, to name a few. The game looks even more impressive when accessing its first-person perspective.

Don’t have a souped up PC rig? No worries as Grand Theft Auto 5 still looks good on PCs that aren’t as powerful. I also tried playing the game on some gaming laptops and they ran well, although I had to limit just how hard I was able to push them considering they didn’t have nearly the same horsepower. Thankfully, Rockstar includes a GPU meter when you’re changing the game’s graphics options that helps in figuring out just how far you can go with your current setup.

PC / Keyboard And Gamepad Play

Considering Rockstar released Grand Theft Auto 5 on consoles first, it’s a no-brainer to learn the PC version has gamepad support. I found this to be a very good thing considering the PC controls aren’t as intuitive when compared to how Rockstar mapped the game out on a gamepad. For example, to bring up the cell phone, the “Up” directional key is used which isn’t as user friendly as slipping your left thumb down to tap “Up” on the D-Pad. But that isn’t to say the controller is better at everything in the PC version as I’d be downright insane to consider a gamepad can perform better than a keyboard and mouse when shooting mechanics come into play.

By default, your aiming style is Free Aim considering PC players will most likely be playing with their mouse and keyboard. I found using the Assisted Aiming style to be the best when playing on a controller and Rockstar warns you this mode is best for gamepad play. If you play Assisted Aiming on your keyboard and mouse, you’re going to be at a disadvantage when accessing GTA Online. Thankfully, the game will attempt to put you up against others who play with similar control mechanics to keep things even.

Tap Into Your Inner Scorsese

Grand Theft Auto 5 shares many of the same improvements that were made to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions, but one feature it has that no other versions does is the Rockstar Editor. The Rockstar Editor allows players to create their own videos directly from within Grand Theft Auto 5 that can then be shared on YouTube and on Rockstar. I played with the Rockstar Editor for around 30 minutes and I’m amazed just how much you could do with it.

The first thing I did was record myself pummeling random pedestrians. Because what else would you do in Grand Theft Auto 5. Anyways, recording my rampage was done just by pressing the F1 key, which causes clips a little under 30 seconds to be created. Once I was done, I could access the Rockstar Editor from the in-game menu which allows me to add clips to my project, a radio track, score track, and text.

When editing my project, I could change the camera angles in a number of ways, use a number of filters, dictate when a piece of music or score come into my piece, and add a piece of text anywhere at anytime in my film. The options Rockstar presents in its Editor is impressive to all be available at launch, and I’m sure the developer will continue to add new tricks to help would-be directors create amazing content.

Welcome Home, GTA

The Grand Theft Auto series originally released on the PC platform, and with each iteration, that platform always seems to be the last one to get published. Regardless of how long it took Rockstar to release Grand Theft Auto 5 onto PC, it’s here now and it’s by far the best version based on my experience playing all of its console versions.

Senior Editor

From The Chatty

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    April 17, 2015 12:05 PM

    Daniel Perez posted a new article, Grand Theft Auto 5 for PC Impressions: Homecoming King

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      April 17, 2015 3:34 PM

      My performance is not what I hoped for. Running a 970 with a modern cpu. I let GeForce experience set things and it almost maxed them out. Vsync off, 144hz. Benchmarks show between 40 and 60, but it doesn't feel that high. Might actually be the mouse control. There's also quite a bit of tearing. Will mess with it more tonight, but something feels off compared to the glowing reviews I'm reading.

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        April 17, 2015 3:48 PM

        A few things to try: VSYNC OFF (or forced adaptive in Nvidia Cpanel), Mouse from Raw input to Direct (this got rid of the input lag which felt like fps drops), GRASS to normal or high, HQ shadows off (there really is no difference but quite the massive gain in quality).

        Also check out the MSXAA stuff you really only want Nvidia TXAA, the others are just a huge FPS drop for little improvement that you can see.

        By default my system was a stuttery mess, now it runs beautiful and the meter in the options is in the red and says 3.9 out of 2gb .... lol

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          April 17, 2015 3:50 PM

          Last I recall nvidia's TXAA was a horrible blurry mess.

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        April 17, 2015 3:50 PM

        Turn off all of the advanced graphical settings in game. Turn MSAA down to 2x or even disable it and use FXAA instead. My 770 2gb card averages 55-82fps while driving around at fast speeds using these settings.

        My vsync is turned off and I don't really notice any tearing unless i'm spinning my mouse around very fast.

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          April 17, 2015 3:52 PM

          Is FXAA an option?

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            April 17, 2015 4:08 PM

            Yes, I am convinced you are high as fuck every time you look at the graphics settings, lol.

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        April 17, 2015 4:10 PM

        I think you can tune the geforce experience thing for frame rates vs quality; there's a slider if I recall.

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        April 18, 2015 3:34 AM

        Remember you don't actually have 4GB of memory. Bumping my settings down until I got under that 3.5GB worked like a charm.

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      April 18, 2015 5:38 AM

      So glad I went with a 4GB card. Looks gorgeous and runs really well on my system on the swift.

      https://www.dropbox.com/s/3rvo7fhqvuawygh/speccy.png?dl=0