Grand Theft Auto V (PS4 [Reviewed], Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC)
Developer: Rockstar North
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Genre(s): Open World, Third Person Shooter, First Person Shooter
Released: September 17, 2013 (PS3, X360), November 18, 2014 (PS4, XONE), January 27, 2015 (PC)
ESRB Rating: M – Mature
Rockstar wowed the majority of us a year ago when they released Grand Theft Auto V on PS3 and Xbox 360. Even on old hardware, it was an excellent looking game that still looks better than some games released on the new systems. Now that Rockstar has released the game for PS4 and Xbox One, it looks even better.
For starters, there’s increased detail for everything. Textures are better, overall image quality is greatly improved thanks to anti-aliasing. There’s greater draw distance, and even textures are sharper at a distance. You can actually read signs at a distance. Tesselation has be added and previously flat surfaces now have detail and depth. And of course the resolution has been upped to 1080p and the game performs at a rock solid 30FPS. To say the game looks great doesn’t really do it justice; you need to see it in motion for yourself to see just how stunning it is.
Along with the increased visuals, Rockstar also upped the density of traffic, pedestrians, and wildlife. Not only has Los Santos and its surrounding area never looked better, it’s also never seemed more lived in. The game was already good in this department on the previous generation systems, but now it’s better.
The question for a lot of gamers who bought Grand theft Auto V for PS3 or Xbox 360 has been whether or not they should purchase the game again for one of the new systems. That honestly depends on what you want out of the game. If you’re the type of gamer who likes a story, but don’t really really care to play through one a second time (especially one as long as GTA’s) then probably not. If you’re an open world fan who cares more about the joy of just playing in the awesome Rockstar sandbox, then it’s absolutely worth upgrading for. If you’ve been enjoying GTA Online, then it’s also worth upgrading for because the player count has been upped from 16 to 30.
The biggest addition to Grand Theft Auto V, that really separates it from its previous gen version, is the inclusion of a first person option. When this mode was first rumored, a lot folks assumed it would be a simple change of the camera position to just allow for a first person view. That’s not the case. Rockstar went all out to make the first person mode feel authentic; it looks and feels like it was always designed to be first person. In other words, it isn’t “tacked on,” it is fully developed.
Rockstar added over 3000 new animations… to weapon interactions alone. Playing in first person is like playing a different game. Sure the missions play out exactly the same, but the first person view puts you in the shoes of the three characters and lets you view the world through their eyes. And the attention to detail is unprecedented. Wearing sunglasses will change how the world looks (darker, orange, etc.). Pulling out your phone actually results in viewing the phone from the character’s hand, not as a separate 2D UI. You can text and drive (don’t do that for real). Speaking of being in a vehicle, where the first person is really great (gauges work, non-crappy vehicles have radios with digital screens that tell you what radio station or song you’re listening to), you can actually turn and look at your passenger and see what they’re doing. If they’re talking, it’s completely animated.
The attention to detail in everything is simply unprecedented. In fact the only thing lacking, and disappointingly so given everything else, is that mirrors on cars don’t work. If the mirrors showed what was behind you then this game would be even closer to perfection than it already is.
Rockstar also added over 150 new songs across the numerous radio stations, as well as new talk radio, DJ mixes, and additional commentary from the various radio DJ’s. All of this helps to make your cruises around the city more enjoyable because you now have way more variety in songs on your favorite channels.
They’ve added new animals, new collectibles (there are 27 peyote plants to consume that cause you to hallucinate where you get to play as a random animal until you either die or choose to end the hallucination), new control options, a Player Interaction Menu, and new land, air, and sea vehicles. All of the items from the 11 GTA Online updates are available in story mode including 12 new weapons and 29 additional vehicles.
If you’re a returning player, Rockstar has added several new things to “reward your loyalty.” New events that happen around the world and have rewards attached to them. Michael can follow a trail of clues to solve a Murder Mystery that will unlock two Noir style filters for use in story mode and Snapmatic. There’s a rail gun, with its own set of challenges at the gun range, and a hatchet. Franklin can do work the Los Santos Tourist board by documenting wildlife in the new Wildlife Photography Challenge. There’s stock car races that award muscle cars with racing logos on them. There’s even Monkey Mosaics to hunt down and take pictures of that will earn players new monkey outfits and returning players will get a special “Go Go Space Monkey” themed Blista Compact. They topped it off with a new monster truck, and a more maneuverable and faster blimp.
In short, if you enjoyed GTA V on a previous gen system and have one of the new systems, there’s definitely enough here besides the visual upgrade to make double dipping worthwhile.
The new gen version of Grand Theft Auto V is every bit as awesome as the previous gen version, and made better because of all of the graphical upgrades, a city that feels even more lived in, and an excellent first person mode.
Rockstar was right not to give this version of the game a subtitle like “definitive” or “remastered,” because it feels like a game designed for these systems and isn’t just a prettier port. Having said that, this is most definitely the “definitive” version of the game (on console, of course it’ll look and peform even better on PC). The first person perspective makes the game play entirely different. If you played through the PS3 or 360 version of the game, you should definitely try playing it on entirely in first person on the new systems.
Regardless of generation or system, Grand Theft Auto V is still every bit the masterpiece it was a year ago. It’s a masterpiece that got better, and it’s definitely worth $60 and double dipping to upgrade over the previous gen versions. Well done Rockstar.
* A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review.