Grand Theft Auto V, the game considered to be the pinnacle of technical achievement on the last generation of consoles, makes its way to the PS4 and Xbox One with a swagger about it that oozes confidence. Does one of the best games of the last generation still hold up well, and does the graphical upgrade alone warrant a second purchase for those who already own the game?
Game: Grand Theft Auto V
Developer: Rockstar North
Publisher: Rockstar Games
(Review copy provided)
First and foremost, I’m not going to sit and re-review the entirety of the game. I stand by my review from when the game launched on the PS3 and Xbox 360, and I maintain that it is still an absolutely astonishing example of what can be achieved on the last generation of consoles.
With that being said, it felt good to get back to Los Santos. Really good. Slipping right back into Franklin’s white Buffalo S, and trading profanities that would make your average rap artist blush with your bungling buddy Lamar, you’re immediately reminded of the superb world that Rockstar created for you to essentially do whatever the hell you want to do in. Michael is still as conflicted as ever, and Trevor is… Well… Trevor. Los Santos is your oyster, only this time it looks even better than ever before.
The extra horsepower of the new consoles really shines through in the character models, with an unnervingly realistic yet cartoony look running through the characters, and there is a level of extra polish that extends to practically every area in the game. The streets of the rougher areas are strewn with litter, and the high rise buildings of the financial district glisten with an awe inspiring level of fidelity in the sun. One of the more immediate differences with this game is the sheer density of the traffic. Both in terms of pedestrians and vehicles, the variety is just stunning. There won’t be many instances of seeing the same car repeated ad nauseum this time round!
In terms of performance, there are a couple of moments very early on where the frame rate dips below 30, but on the whole it’s almost rock solid. It’s a little unfortunate that the areas where this happens show up in the first couple of missions, but they are very isolated areas, and the rest of Los Santos is a fluid joy to re-experience.
The biggest change, and quite possibly the best way to show off the improved levels of detail on offer, is the First Person mode. You can now play the entire game looking through the eyes of your characters, and it adds a huge sense of immediacy to the proceedings. Suddenly, you aren’t controlling Trevor yanking an innocent man out of his car and running him over, you feel like you’re doing it. And it’s unsettling. Of course, this is still a videogame, but the level of absolute freedom that GTAV provides is something that practically every other FPS has never been able to offer before. I found myself suddenly caring about how I was driving, and resorting to shootouts on a much less frequent basis whilst playing in first person. I’ve never experienced anything like this in a game before, and it’s something that I can only imagine a game like GTA being able to provide.
There isn’t a huge amount of new content thrown into the mix with this release of GTA outside of the aforementioned First Person mode. There are a few extra cars and little bits dotted around the map for those who have played the previous generation version of the game, but other than that, it’s the same content released last year. And that is no bad thing by any stretch of the imagination. If you haven’t played GTAV yet and have jumped into the new generation of consoles, it’s an absolute no-brainer. The first person mode is a revelatory, if not initially jarring experience, and really adds something to the game that I never thought would be possible. At times it’s harrowing, but on the whole it’s a new way to experience the immersive world that Rockstar have created.
GTA Online is still a little bit spotty, but it’s nowhere near as broken as it once was. I would guess that this is due to the influx of players either starting up for the first time or picking up where they left off (As you can pick up your progress from the previous gen if you so wish). It’s an enjoyable online experience, but it didn’t grab me in the way I thought it would initially.
I said in my original review that Rockstar dropped the mic on the previous generation with the release of GTAV. If that’s the case, this feels like a remastering of a classic album. The fact that this isn’t known as “GTAV: Definitive Edition” speaks volumes to the attitude Rockstar have taken with this release. It’s GTAV, and it’s on the new systems. There is an absolute treasure trove of content to dive headfirst into, and with its fresh coat of paint, GTAV on PS4 is one of the best looking open worlds that there has ever been on a console. I fully expect the PC version to be modded to the moon and back when it’s released in January, but for now, this version of Los Santos will remain the pinnacle.
If you’ve yet to play Grand Theft Auto V and own a new system, there is absolutely no excuse for not picking up this release. If you’re thinking about double-dipping, then it’s a slightly more difficult proposition, but I would recommend it. Admittedly that’s because I was looking forward to taking my time with the game rather than mainlining the story campaign in a few days like I did with the review last year. There are still parts that I’ve yet to touch on the last generation, so with everything to do all over again plus all of that? It’s one of the best value propositions on the market right now. Hopping on a scooter and riding down to Vespucci beach during the sunset never felt quite so good.