Since the new generation consoles had arrived November of 2014, we’ve seen a lot of new games, some looking every bit a new generation game and some not quite so. During that time we’ve also seen various new gen re-releases. Such as the amazing The Last of Us: Remastered, Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and a few more along the way (and certainly more to come). Whether you’ve embraced these new gen re-releases, all comes down to you in respect of if you’ve ever played the original version or you loved that game so much, you now want to play a new and improved version of it. One of those games is none other than Grand Theft Auto V.
When I reviewed this game on the PS3 last year, I gave it a whopping 9.5, which at the time was my highest scoring game. Since then our review scoring system has changed somewhat, which makes it ideal for this very re-release. But the big question is “is the new gen version of GTA V worth picking up regardless of whether you have or haven’t played the original?” I’ll cut to the chase, hell yes it is! Even on the PS3, this was a game for me that didn’t require much improvement (if any), well actually the gun and driving combo could have been better. Yet somehow Rockstar Games have managed to make a great game even better than before, let’s find out why.
Before I talk of benefits of the new gen version, I’ll quickly run through the jist of the story (if you want an in-depth review of the game as a whole, then refer back to our original PS3 review here). GTA V is the story of three men, with very different personalities and lives. To be honest, each one of these characters could have starred in their own games, so to have three such strong characters is fantastic. First up we have Michael, a man brought up in life of organised crime. He has done time from a young age and there’s nothing he knows better, then to plan a heist and rob a bank. He’s a man with two ungrateful, spoiled children and a wife that is not passed diverting her attention to other men. However, no matter how hard Michael tries, he wants the perfect family life, but keeps getting dragged back into old habits.
Next up we have Franklin, a young man from the ghetto of Los Santos and he wants to get out of the hood and make a successful life of his own, though how morally he goes about his quest is another matter altogether. He’s a good guy at heart, but he will do just about anything to get the life he craves. Franklin meets Michael by chance after finding himself involved in a credit/finance scam by his crooked boss. Seeing the big house and flash cars that Michael possesses, he will do what he can to impress the man that he looks up too (though he could have picked a better mentor if we’re honest).
Then we have Trevor, Trevor, Trevor, Trevor. What can we say about this insane, lunatic, trailer park, homicidal maniac? Well I think that sums him up pretty well. For me, Trevor is the star of the show and he’s a whack job, who in truth, I don’t think he even knows what he’s going to do next (as when you switch over characters, expect to see him drunk in a random location in nothing other than his dirty white underpants) Beneath his tough, straightjacket “should be in an asylum for the criminally insane” exterior, there’s a man that just wants to be kind…isn’t there? Believe me when I say, Trevor will provide many memorable laughable and what the f@%k moments.
The first and most obvious improvement to the new gen GTA V is just how gorgeous it looks. It looks simply stunning and somehow manages to blend almost (slightly) cartoon like characters, with a world that at times looks so real, you want to sniff and take a lick of the tarmac. This is a game that looked stunning of the last gen, but with these new and improved textures, it’s now also one of the best looking games on the new gen. This is a massive feat, considering how huge and diverse its world is.
In this new version, we have draw distances that stretch back further than ever before, greater crowd densities and even more wildlife than its predecessor. Los Santos not only looks stunning, but it is quite literally brimming with all sorts of life, whether it’s happening right in front of you or elsewhere. Also both the PS4 and Xbox One versions run at 1080p/30fps, which is very impressive considering the sheer size and constant activity in this game, it’s great that Rockstar have not only made it look great, but it runs immensely smooth too. While I will never likely be able to play the PC version (released January 27th 2015), it’s worth nothing that it will be 4K compatible.
In terms of gameplay, this version of GTA V is essentially the same, only there is one game changing element included and that is the 1st viewpoint. You can still play the game in 3rd person, with several zoom in/out perspectives. However until you play this version of GTA V, it’s difficult to describe how much of a difference that the 1st Person view makes. When you are gunning especially, it does feel like you’re playing a 1st person shooter, you can even alter the controls, one setting for 1st person and another for 3rd person. Just even walking round the streets in 1st person, makes it feel more personal, I guess for similar reasons why horror games such as Alien: Isolation or the Silent Hills P.T demo feel far more scary in 1st person, then they perhaps would in 3rd.
It makes this crazy world feel that little more real (if that’s possible). Even when driving around in 1st person, doesn’t feel to dissimilar to actual racing games, especially when partaking in street races. Also when driving, it makes your experience feel that little more immersive when you have a passenger in the car and you can see them engaging in conversation with you. I even appreciated how you could see your phone when reading out a text while driving (tut tut). But as immersive as the 1st person viewpoint is, it’s not my preferred camera for main aspects of the game. I still prefer to walk, gun and explore in 3rd person, but I most certainly prefer the 1st person view when driving. Little details have also been included when driving using the new view, such as being able to see working speedometers, dashboard lights and all the other little trimmings, even a cup holder (I know, impressive right?).
Speaking of immersion, the PS4 version of the game has some exclusive DualShock 4 features. For example you can access a quick menu via the touch-pad, as well as changing radio stations, weapon selection and changing viewpoints. It’s actually quite impressive how one quick press of a button can actually have so many different ‘quick access’ functions. With the DualShock 4 you can also hear phone conversations and the police radio when their in pursuit of you, via the control pads built in speaker. When the law enforcement are chasing you down (which is inevitable in this game), the light-bar will also flash red and blue. These extra features may not seem a big deal just reading about them, but when experiencing them first hand, there all little ingredients that will immerse you even more into the digital world of Los Santos.
There are simply too many new elements to mention in this review, without turning this into a bullet-point article. Among the many new missions and activities includes the Wildlife Photography Challenge which will require Franklin to take photos of all wildlife in Los Santos. Another challenge of a similar mould is the Monkey Mosaics which will challenge you to find the graffiti art left by an unknown street artist and as a reward, you will be gifted with some snazzy monkey outfits. Other new additions include the Murder Mysteries, which feel a little LA Noire, with a GTA twist. There are also new vehicles and weapons too, such as the Rail Gun, which you can try out in Ammu-Nation.
Ever since the great GTA: Vice City, the soundtrack and especially the radio stations have played a huge part in the series. With GTA V on last gen, it featured more songs and radio stations than ever before, but now we have yet more songs for our listening pleasure. In total the new gen version of GTA V not only features additional DJ remixes, but now we have over 100 new tracks more then what we already had. This gives you the urge to drive around a few more blocks until your favourite tune has finished, and this is even better when driving in 1st person. These are one of the main reasons why I can play hours of GTA V in one sitting, but do little in terms of missions. If you’re desperate to kick start on a new mission, but are waiting for your tune to finish, you better hope that next track on the radio isn’t a favourite, because otherwise you’re gonna be clocking up even more mileage driving around those city blocks.
Everything about GTA V is huge, Los Santos is huge and so too are the possibilities, whether you’re playing offline or online. In terms of offline it’s difficult to put a timescale on this game. If perhaps you would play the main missions and nothing else, you might get around 20 hours of gameplay, but doing that would be even more insane then the madman Trevor. There are heaps to explore, landmarks, random events, side missions, races, sports, hunting; I could go on and on. For example when I first played the PS3 version of this game, within my first 20 hours of game-time, I’d not even reached the halfway mark in terms of the main missions. How you interact within Los Santos is purely down to the individual gamer, but you could easily put 100 hours into this game and still not be done with its singleplayer.
The same could be said for GTA Online (which is almost like a separate game in its own right); much like the offline mode, there is endless amounts of mischief to get up to. One of the latest additions to GTA Online is the highly anticipated heists, where you can team up with friends or random’s, plan heists and perfectly execute a well oiled bank job (but we know that job is not going to be as planned). The heists have been added via a patch at a later date for the new gen version of the game, and it will also be available for the last gen systems too. This new gen version of GTA Online can now also support up to 30 players in one game, which itself can be utter mayhem. Have races, plan heists, can on a road trip, it’s up to you and now it’s even more fun with the player count being almost doubled. Though it is difficult getting a group together of 30 players at this time, but that will likely improve in the coming weeks, especially after Christmas.
Since the release of GTA V, Rockstar Games have been incredibly generous by giving us regular additional content via game updates, from Flight Schools, Content Creator Tools where online gamers can customise their own match types and more. All these updates will be included with the new gen version, without having to download each individually and we can expect further free content from Rockstar as they ever evolve GTA Online. You may know that you can port over your GTA Online character from last gen to new gen, regardless if you’re going from Xbox 360 to PS4 or Vice Versa. GTA V on PS4 and Xbox One also now features more create character customisation options than before, so you will be able to make your own character that more unique.
If you had bought any of the special or collector editions of GTA V on last gen, then you may also be pleased to know that all that special DLC will carry over to the new gen, all enabled via the Rockstar Social Club and by upgrading, you will be gifted with $1m GTA credits, with 500k each being split between singleplayer and GTA Online. And returning players will be treated to some exclusive content, you can find out more here.
If I was going to have one very minor criticism of GTA V, it would be that while driving, it is still somewhat fiddly when firing a gun. You will quickly adjust to this after a while and it soon becomes second nature. However GTA V on the last gen was and still is one of the best games that you can pick up and the only way we could ever see this game improved, would have been with the inevitable PC port. So with this new and improved version making its way on to the new gen consoles also is an absolute joy. I don’t care if you’re new to the game or if you’ve came back to upgrade, this edition of the game is a worthy entry in just about anyone’s book. Some last gen to new gen ports can easily be accused of being somewhat lazy cash grabs, but this certainly cannot be said about Rockstar and GTA V.
The enjoyment that I’m getting from this game is the same as I was getting when I first played this game on the PS3. The term “masterpiece” can be thrown around a lot in the gaming industry, but there is no better way to describe this game, as Rockstar has successfully made one of the best games ever, even better. If you do not own this version yet and especially if you’re new to this game, stop what you’re doing, go to your favoured online or store retailer and buy this game now! You owe it to yourself as a gamer as this is one of the best games that you’re likely to ever play.