I have experienced GTA V, but I will not say how or why. These are my unbiased impressions of this really REALLY SERIOUSLY impressive game, and where I feel it went a smidge wrong.
I do not say this lightly. Grand Theft Auto V is the single most natural looking game I have ever played. Proportionally and in terms of filling up the screen, this game does a better job of simulating real life landscapes than any game on any platform yet. The visuals are short of breathtaking, but my mouth was literally open as my screen was filled with realistic mountain ranges and foothills, sharp looking mountain silhoettes in the distance with roads stretching endlessly between them. Distant Los Santos landmarks look sharp and almost photorealistic at night and colorful and vibrant during the day, with no fog to obscure them and virtually no diminished quality with distance. (This is 8 year old hardware we're talking about!?!?)
Driving has been considerably tightened from Grand Theft Auto IV, but handling is still unrealistic. True, you can now maneuver effortlessly around corners and truly joy-ride down San Andreas highways while easily hugging every bend (I've waited a long time for a game to allow me this privilege), but acceleration and deceleration are a little fast, making the driving smack a little of Midnight Club or Need for Speed. Like in those games, car collision physics are toned down, allowing you to maintain greater control of your ride during crashes; but for a world that so simulates reality visually, it feels arcade. Character footing feels rock solid and animation is excellent, but be careful as your character can now hilariously lose his footing and take a nosedive running down a hill!
However, when you do end up taking a dive, physics again fails you as in GTA IV, and you slide as though the ground is made of ice. Your character initially rebells, but then simply rolls or slides limply instead of trying to stop the fall. Cars similarly slide without a fight if you go up too steep a hill. Why does friction suddenly stop when you enter these sequences?
Police sirens are so impressive in this game I mistook them for police action going on outside. Sound seems so natural in this game (and gives it such a sense of scale) because it simulates direction as well as distance. You immediately intuit exactly how far a police siren is just by the sound coming out of your speakers! Depth perception is excellent, ditto for ambient sounds effects. Voicework from the main actors is generally excellent, though some of the unknown voice talents struck me as a little read in comparison. Car engine sounds are perfectly matched with the vehicles that emit them, and the variety is vast as expected.
Yes, there are many, MANY MANY MANY MANY more positive things that I could say about this game, but I'm not IGN. They will certainly pick up the slack where I left off and sing the praises of GTA V ad infinitum. These are only observations that struck me as unexpected. Visually, the game exceeded my impossible expectations; in terms of driving physics, I thought it slacked a little; and ambient sound was surprisingly good while secondary voicework was solid but not natural enough in a spot of two. Was this a fair critique of the game? How about F*CK NO? This was a thought experiment. I came into this game expecting it to be the greatest game of all possible time in all possible ways, and decided to honestly grade it against that impossible criteria. Was I disappointed? 98% of the way no.