It’s staggering to think that GTA 5 got its start on the PlayStation 3. Even today, almost a decade since it first debuted, Los Santos feels more lived in than virtually any other open world. In fact, compared to its urban contemporaries, like Cyberpunk 2077’s Night City, it’s startling just how believable the Hollywood-inspired backdrop is. Stand in traffic and angry NPCs will stop, honk their horn, and plead with you to get out of the way. Some will curse at you, as they eventually attempt to steer around you, while others will be less kind and just drive through you as they seek to beat the morning rush.
A lot of what’s going on in GTA 5 is an illusion, but it all helps to build a sandbox you can embed yourself in. Take the short trip to Vespucci Beach, and you’ll find revellers sunbathing, playing volley ball, and jogging on the sidewalk; travel further east to Cypress Flats and the seaside setting is swapped for something more industrial. Los Santos may not be the biggest open world you can find on consoles these days, but few have character quite like it – the type of cars you see and the behaviour of people you encounter all depends on which district you’re in and what you’re getting up to.
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