AS A car speeds off into the distance, the camera swings round, and your character shouts: “I’ll sign the contracts alright, just don’t mind the bodies”.

In those three seconds, you encapsulate everything about GTA V – cars, corpses and commercial activity.

The Grand Theft Auto series has come a long way in the past 16 years and the latest iteration demonstrates that GTA is to gaming as Tarantino is to cinema.

Set in Los Santos, an exaggerated and satirical take on modern day Los Angeles, Rockstar, the game’s developers, take you on a subversive tour of modern popular culture.

You jump between three protagonists – the retired thief Michael, Franklin, the 20-something trying to escape his life in the gang-run ‘hood and Trevor, the psychotic sociopath hillbilly – as their lives entwine and unfold in the sprawling metropolis and environs.

Unlike the previous antihero, Niko Bellic in GTA 4, these three characters are easy to relate to – they have lives away from the criminality, making for a more absorbing experience in the expertly written narrative.

However, what most people take from GTA games is not the superb script or the lush visuals but the ability to let rip in rampages of carnage – be they part of the storylines or just something to do for the hell of it.

Car theft, murder, drug taking, prostitution, terrorism – it’s all here.

If ever an example was needed that video games are an adult pastime, this is it.

The game doesn’t reward these activities – it just enables them, the same as it allows you to learn tennis, golf or how to fly a plane.

The choices are the player’s and the player’s alone – it’s in this that the enduring appeal of the GTA series lives.

The gameplay itself has been refined to make it far more accessible and intuitive.

It’s easier to tackle enemies with the new targeting and cover system and cars handle more like you’d expect, as opposed to previous games.

Indeed, the look of GTA V makes the Liberty City of GTA IV seem quite barren.

It’s hard to believe this is a current generation game and not something for the upcoming PS4 and Xbox One. The 20-minute install time is well worth the wait.

So far, it is only possible to play the game in single player mode – a multiplayer service is due to go live next month.

Presumably this is due to Rockstar not wanting to overload their servers meaning no-one can get on – although an expected play-through time in the region of 50-60 hours for the single player game should more than compensate.

Despite that niggle, it’s hard to fault Rockstar’s return to the San Andreas.

Indeed, it makes the idea of going to California – the inspiration for the fictional state – more and more tempting such is the re-creation.

If GTA V is to be the final hurrah for the current generation of machines, it’s quite a send-off.