Rockstar Games has scaled a mountain with Grand Theft Auto V, creating the best-looking, best-sounding and, most importantly, best-playing version of gaming's most notorious franchise. Scaling one peak, however, reveals another—their cloud-piercing ambition to create a great ensemble video game drama, an epic of intersecting, interactive lives. Rockstar doesn't summit that new peak as impressively with GTA V, but in its first attempt at such an audacious feat, makes a good go of it.

This is a game that feels like both the best of what anyone might expect from a GTA and the exciting, somewhat raw, uneven first try at a more interesting future for these kinds of massive open-world adventures.

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