GTA V is out tonight, at midnight ---- and reviews of Rockstar's new open-world criminal opus have just gone live all over the Internet.
From the very first Max Clifford-orchestrated tabloid frenzies, Grand Theft Auto has always pushed people's buttons, and the latest instalment is no exception.
Our sister site GameSpot's Carolyn Petit sums it up thoughtfully:
"Los Santos is a place of contrasts, of luxury and poverty, tranquility and violence, beauty and ugliness. GTA V is an imperfect yet astounding game that has great characters and an innovative and exciting narrative structure, even if the story it uses that structure to tell is hobbled at times by inconsistent character behavior, muddled political messages and rampant misogyny.
"It also raises the bar for open-world mission design in a big way and has one of the most beautiful, lively, diverse and stimulating worlds ever seen in a game. Your time in Los Santos may leave you with a few psychological scars, but you shouldn't let that stop you from visiting."
, "Without a doubt, Grand Theft Auto V is one of, if not the most immersible [sic] videogames ever created that completely transforms you into one of its three uniquely developed characters. Los Santos is an enormous, fully realized city with a distinct personality that represents a blunt, yet honest and absurd commentary on American life and culture."
Beyond the glimmering shores of CBS Interactive, IGN gives it 10/10 and calls it a masterpiece: "No other world in video games comes close to this in size or scope, and there is sharp intelligence behind its sense of humour and gift for mayhem."
Here's Eurogamer, giving it 9/10: "GTA5 may not be the Hollywood-beating crime story it wants to be, then, but it's the best video game it's ever been, and I'll take that."
Polygon, meanwhile, gives it 9.5: "The developer's progress makes the aspects of the game left in cultural stasis -- the poorly drawn women, the empty cynicism, the unnecessarily excessive cruelty -- especially agitating."
Edge gave it 10/10. I think they liked it, but it's hard to tell: "No one makes worlds like Rockstar, but at last it has produced one without compromise. Everything works. It has mechanics good enough to anchor games of their own, and a story that is not only what GTA has always wanted to tell but also fits the way people have always played it."
Finally, the Guardian calls it "a monstrous parody of modern life". Here's Keith Stuart: "I half expected it to end with the Houser brothers dressed as Papa Lazarou from League of Gentlemen staring into the camera and whispering seductively, 'you all live in Los Santos now'. But they don't need to, of course. This misanthropic masterpiece says it all for them."
Were you waiting for the reviews before you decided to buy GTA? Or have they convinced you you were right to pre-order? Plan your virtual felonies in the comments below, or on our straight-shooting Facebook page. And if you haven't watched GameSpot's Danny O'Dwyer and friends' hilarious history of the game series, check it out now. You've got nine hours to kill, after all.