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Grand Theft Auto 5 Review: Are Video Games Art?

The Quest for an Answer

It is often asked: “Are video games art?” People have been debating this ever since the early days of internet forums. However, there is not much to show for it, since not even artists can give a workable definition of what art actually is. In Grand Theft Auto 5’s case, I think we have found the answer.

It took a while for them to release it on PC finally, but GTA5 is the very definition of an “open world” game. You can go anywhere, and do all the things you want to do in real life, but do not, due to the fear of death, loss of limb and/or imprisonment. It really is amazing how much you can do; whether you want to hijack a jet fighter, take a submarine to the depths of the ocean, or just go for a drive, this game has you covered.

That is not to imply, though, that the main story missions are lacking in any way. GTA5’s thrilling story will take you all over the map, doing many crazy and awesome activities. Missions very rarely feel boring or overly linear, as they are designed to give you multiple options on how to handle each situation. In heists, you are given a choice between two completely different ways of pulling it off, which adds a considerable amount of replay value.

Kickass Multiplayer Mode: GTA Online

That is without even mentioning GTA Online, a multiplayer mode you have access to for free, along with the base game. Free multiplayer is not exactly revolutionary, but it is significant in this case because it comes with its own separate storyline, missions, vehicles, and even heists. The sheer amount of content in this game is exceptional, and virtually all of it is of the highest quality.

Speaking of high quality, graphically GTA5 is very impressive. It is quite incredible to drive around any city at night, or watch the sunset from a helicopter high above the mountains; the open world and impressive graphics are a great combination.

“Hey, Doc… Nah, I don’t need therapy anymore, this sunset cured me”

The graphical options menu is the most comprehensive I have ever seen. It is hard to think of much that is missing; you have got your controls for anti-aliasing, texture quality, lighting quality, and the usual. There are also options for render distance and population density, as well as individual settings for shadows, water, particles, and even grass.

Very Impressive

Hidden behind the “advanced options” menu, you have the option to further increase your render distance. You also have another three separate options for shadows, making five shadow settings in total, which is very impressive. GTA5 also natively supports supersampling and subsampling, which is very rare to see.

Performance is also good; the vast range of settings provides enough customisability to run the game fairly well, even on weak systems, while at the same time letting you really push it to the limit on high-end systems. You are rewarded with some serious eye candy. There is just one thing I would criticise: performance is quite significantly worse during the daytime compared to night. Unless you want to be changing your graphics settings, (including a restart), every 24 minutes, which would be annoying, it is possible to use a mod to have it always night time. It looks prettier that way.

Yaaaaay, snow day!

Here is Another Thing

Do also note that GTA5 is very sensitive to RAM instability; I had overclocked RAM that even passed a stress test, yet was causing crashes in-game. I since added a little more voltage and have not had any issues, so check your RAM overclock if you are getting crashes.

The game has quite good mod support; if you want to take GTA5’s already excellent graphics any further, there are several options available, whether you want ultra-realism or maximum prettiness (good luck running those unless you have a supercomputer though). Aside from that, you have got your usual utility mods giving you the ability to spawn vehicles, control the weather, make yourself invulnerable and such. You can also turn the blimps into star destroyers.

That is not to say the game does not have issues; the controls can be cumbersome to use occasionally, and there are no difficulty settings in single player, (though the default difficulty is in a fairly good place). There is a lot of cool stuff in multiplayer, but it can be challenging to get enough in-game money to buy it unless you get a hacker to give you some, (who said peer-to-peer multiplayer does not have its advantages?).

Not too Big of a Deal

None of these things really seem to matter. You are not going to care that your FPS is 20% lower during the daytime while you are flying a military cargo plane you hijacked and being pursued by fighter jets. You will not mind that the game is slightly too easy while you are cruising around the city in that new supercar you picked up. You will not notice that the multiplayer mode is stingy with money while you are, well, on second thought, I had better not spoil that bit.

Grand Theft Auto 5 is an absolute masterpiece blend of open gameplay, inspiring graphics and amusing social commentary. While there are a few things to complain about, those issues are dwarfed by the game’s enormous size and quality of content. This is as good as it gets. This game will surely stand the test of time, and be remembered as a reflection of this era in gaming. Video games are not art. They are even better.

Kaya Yatsumi / Writer

Welcome to my world! I am a techy person who loves animated films. You’re never too old to cherish your inner child.
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