The availability of a downloadable version of Grand Theft Auto 5 on PlayStation Network may offer convenience, but that digital copy runs noticeably worse than its disc-based PlayStation 3 counterpart, reports Digital Foundry.
The site compared the PS3 disc version of GTA 5 to the PSN alternative, and found that the downloadable version suffers from pop-in problems for both textures and objects. In a comparison video, the PSN version exhibits issues in both cutscenes and gameplay that are absent in the disc-based game.
The videophiles at Digital Foundry ran their initial tests on a PS3 with an upgraded 500 GB hard drive running at 5400 rpm, a higher-quality drive than the ones in many PS3 units. When they tried the PSN version on a launch-era, stock 60 GB PS3 with a newly formatted hard drive, the game's performance took an obvious hit.
That applied particularly in situations that tax the game's streaming capabilities, such as driving at high speed. Note the sequence from 2:05 to 2:13 in the video, during which the driver's downtown Los Santos surroundings vanish and soon reappear after a crash.
It seems that the PS3 disc version of GTA 5 doesn't suffer from these problems because it requires a mandatory installation to the console's hard drive, just like the Xbox 360 version. Streaming content from the installed data as well as from the game disc appears to offer a better experience than having to run the entire game from the hard drive. It remains to be seen whether the Xbox 360 Games on Demand version of GTA 5, which Rockstar said is on the way, will have the same issues as the PSN version.
"At this point in time we cannot recommend the digital download version of Grand Theft Auto 5," said Digital Foundry. "In all cases, we find that the retail disc game offers the superior GTA 5 experience."