In a market flooded with HD ports and last gen re-releases, it’s easy to imagine that some simply come out unnoticed. Rockstar Games did not want this to be the case with Grand Theft Auto V and they performed a drive by release that is one to get the attention of most everyone. Is this worth a repurchase for those of us that already own it on our last gen consoles? Rather than describing what GTA V is as a whole, I’m going to give you a breakdown of the changes and share my thoughts on what is an impressive port that is more than just a quick cash grab.
Most newly ported games throw an extra line onto their titles such as Definitive Edition or Game of the Year etc, but Rockstar Games seems to have little concern about how their new release will sell. Grand Theft Auto V brought in over 34 million sales on last gen consoles alone and having it brought to current gen could have been a simple re-release like upping the resolution. Although this has been increased to 1080p for both current gen consoles, Rockstar did not stop there and went on to add a plethora of new content. Besides the resolution bump, one thing that is immediately noticeable is the higher quality textures and denser environments. Everything from foliage, to traffic, to the bark on trees and cactuses, the world has come alive in a new way that is extremely impressive, even for current gen titles. The way that street lights and neon lit buildings reflect off your car at night as you drive by, and the way that rain will pool into puddles with reflection is incredible. Rockstar has an uncanny knack for catching minor things that most developers might overlook with their insane attention to detail – GTA V comes alive in a way that most games could never dream. It’s really in the subtle things that make this game shine so uniquely. From the way your vehicle’s engine gently rattles as it cools down after a long drive or the way that your gas gauge will empty after the gas tank has been shot, these minor, oh-so-very important details are what seal the deal and draw players in with great immersion.
Upgraded visuals aside, the folks at Rockstar were not happy leaving it there. Over 100 new songs have been added spanning the 17 radio stations. All previously released content for GTA Online is now available for everyone enjoy. As a special “thank you” to returning players, several new adventures await players in the form of new missions, special weapons and vehicles and new photo modes for taking in game pictures. Special attention was also given to the Dual Shock 4 controller and wonderfully utilizes its features. Camera modes, radio stations and weapons can all be quickly changed with the swipe of the touch pad. Police radio chatter and phone call conversations will all come out across the controller’s speaker and thankfully it is quite loud. It’s surprised me just how well it works and I am becoming more convinced every day that the speaker in the controller is a very nice touch and is not a gimmick. If (I should say when) you get the attention of the police, the light bar will flash red and blue. But wait, there’s more!
While adding new content and upping the graphics is neat and all, Rockstar was still bored and decided to throw in an entirely new camera mode to allow the whole game to be played in first person. The amount of work that went into remodeling the inside of all of the vehicles to adding thousand of animations to characters and weapon reloads is staggering. Switching between camera modes on the fly is extremely easy with the click of the touchpad and it can even be custom tailored to your preferences. If you prefer driving in first person but shooting in traditional third person mode, then you can select your settings and the game will switch it for you automatically. Driving in first person mode is fun and changes the perspective greatly. It adds a new sense of speed and a new camera blur affect after a hard crash that adds to the sense of immersion. It makes you feel that your character maybe actually did just crash into a car going 90 MPH.
Walking around in first person is probably less smooth than I would like considering the somewhat clunky movement, but is still completely playable. Shooting is a little more developed as a new cover system has been implemented, and aiming your weapons can also be changed based on no aim assist, loose or very accurate assists. The only trouble I was having was not knowing when I was being shot while in first person. Since GTA V is all about the minor details, the little splatters of blood made it easy to detect when being shot at since you can see your character react. This is absent in first person mode so keeping a close eye on your health bar is a must. I must say that I still prefer driving in the traditional third person mode. I love looking at my modded cars and seeing them become damaged in real time. Looking out my windshield only doesn’t quite cut it for my tastes. I also love looking at my characters and seeing how they look, but shooting in the first person is more favourable than driving to me. While you may choose to ignore the mode altogether, the fact that it is included and is polished to the degree that it is shows that Rockstar Games cares about their work and their players.
I praised Tomb Raider Definitive Edition earlier this year for its quality port and added content, but GTA V on PS4 and Xbox One takes the cake in overall added content, features, and aesthetic detail. GTA Online has also received some great treatment with added vehicles, weapons and player made missions. If you have a character from PS3 or Xbox 360 in Online, then you can bring them over with all of your progress, regardless of past platform to any new one that you choose. This is a great way to welcome players back to the fold that have not played for a while, and at the same time appeases players that are extremely high level and don’t wish to start over from the beginning. The infamous Heist missions are still nowhere to be seen and there is some single player DLC still yet to be released, so hopefully these will come to fruition sooner rather than later. I speculated that maybe the heist missions were, for whatever reason, too hardware intensive for last gen and Rockstar silently decided to wait to release the feature for the new consoles, but this is not the case apparently.
All in all, Grand Theft Auto V on current gen consoles is a staggering amount of content for the $60/£50 price tag. Rather than luring in faithful fans for another purchase with a quick up in the graphics, Rockstar gave everyone a compelling reason to return to Los Santos. Grand Theft Auto V on PS3 and Xbox 360 earned a perfect 10 from us last year, while the Online portion was limited in its previous state at a 9/10. Considering all of the Online fixes and additions it easily can earn a higher score in my book. Then you have the main campaign. Can you add points to something already so impressive? Not when you’re already maxed out. The age of the game is also something to take into consideration as it has to be stacked up with other similar games that are on the market today. GTA V feels like it was designed and created with current gen in mind and easily holds its own against most any title out today. The long load times are still present and some bugs abound, but they are par for the course in today’s high resolution, open world playgrounds. This game is an easy recommendation to new and old players alike and sets a new standard for re-releases of last generation games.
A review copy of Grand Theft Auto V on PlayStation 4 was provided by the Rockstar PR team. The game is available now on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and you can still get the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions.