We’re only about a year into this generation of consoles and MAN have we seen a lot of HD re-releases! For the most part, i have no issues with that, as these HD upgrades look and play so much better than their last-gen counterparts. It’ll be hard to go back to any Halo game or The Last Of Us on last-gen, and as of today, I can never go back to Grand Theft Auto V on last-gen either.
When GTA V launched in 2013, it was a masterpiece. Beautiful graphics, excellent mechanics, an epic story, and an addictively immersive online mode (when it worked) rounded out what was arguably last-gen’s finest hour. Like God of War before it, GTA V proved that while new consoles were on the horizon, the old guard still had a few more haymakers left in the tank.
While it would have been easy to simply slap on a new coat of polish on top of GTA V and call it a day, Rockstar surprised the pants off of me (both figuratively and literally, as my daughter tugged hard on my shorts as I was booting up the game) by adding a few more tricks to the re-release, one of which has fundamentally changed the way I play the game.
After seeing GTA V presented in its full 1080p glory, it’s hard to imagine that I was so infatuated with the visuals on my PS3 version. I would have liked 60 FPS, but honestly, it’s not the end of the world, and once you scale Mount Chiliad and take in the magnificent draw distances, you probably won’t even care about the framerate. Enhanced anti-aliasing and tessellation make this the smoothest and sharpest looking GTA game ever; even bricks look freakishly real. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at Wade’s dreads. Compared to the PS3 version that I also own, the differences are staggering. Some environments almost look brand new as opposed to simply visually upgraded.
Also, the fact that the game now operates via my Dualshock 4 is a day/night change for me. My hands never got used to the DS3 and I always hated using it. Life is a LOT better on the PS4, and everything from driving to simply running around Los Santos feels ten times better.
I’m not going to spend too much time going over the story of GTA V. That hasn’t changed from the original version, and chances are if you haven’t played it yet, then what are you waiting for? Check out our original review HERE. It’s still the same GTA V that we know and love, just with more. All the content from the previous eleven updates are all included here, which makes the population of the game world much more diverse. You’ll see more people on the streets and more variety of car models. New land, air, and sea vehicles are available for you to use. Foliage is thicker, and new animals dot the landscape. Essentially, the game just looks more “alive,” with more life permeating nearly every aspect of San Andreas.
The biggest change to the game, and the one that I mentioned earlier was a fundamental change to the way I played the game, is the inclusion of a first-person mode. Don’t think this is some hastily tacked on feature for some quick cash-in…no, no, no. First-person mode in GTA V has been treated with a lot of love as it is a fully realized, option-rich feature. Not only can you switch between third and first-person views at anytime when you’re on foot or driving, but the game will remember what mode you were last using and default to it. If you like to be in third-person in vehicles and first-person on foot, the game will remember this and you will never have to constantly switch back and forth. It’s a small thing, but it speaks volumes that Rockstar is so confident about first-person that they will encourage you to run it full time if you choose.
In first-person mode, you have a variety of different control schemes to suit your needs, including the one I settled on, “Standard FPS.” You can play with whatever button layout makes you comfortable. You can even alter things like aim sensitivity, field of view, toggling features like head bobs, ragdoll, combat roll, and whether or not you want to remain in first person when you take cover.
In addition to a bevy of options, first person mode also includes new animations for climbing, carjacking, parachuting, entering and exiting vehicles, and how players strafe and jump. But Rockstar did not stop there. All vehicles now have a fully modelled interior, complete with working dials and gauges. New to the first person mode are over 3,000 new animations just for weapon interactions alone. You’ll see new animations for things like reloading, different aim states, and character animations. And speaking of weapon interactions, if you find yourself struggling to get used to combat in first person mode, you have a number of aiming assist options to help you out. If you choose, you can set things to Free Aim where there are no assists. If you don’t want to worry about accuracy, set it to Assisted Aim where there is lots of assisted aiming and bump targeting. Or choose a couple of settings in between where you can have a brief assists which then goes away after a few seconds.
Moving away from the single player component of GTA V, we now come to GTA Online. I’ll be honest, the launch of GTA Online has not been smooth, both when the original launched and now in its remade state. If you were someone who frequented GTA Online in the last-gen version, then you’ll be happy to hear that you can import your character to the current-gen version as well. The process is as simple as selecting the option in the menu and following the prompts. Once you select the character you want to import, you even get a cool little cutscene of your character getting his/her mugshot and leaving the station.
GTA Online has increased the total player count to thirty plus two spectators, with a new character creator, 150+ new props, and cross-gen/cross-platform saves. Any existing upgrade to GTA Online and Rockstar created content since launch will be available in-game as well.
For the most part, getting into GTA Online has not been an issue. As soon as I imported my character, I was sitting in my apartment, with the exact same cars in my garage as before. I roamed around town for a bit before trying to join a race. And that’s where I was stuck in matchmaking for ever and ever. Honestly, it seems like “being stuck in matchmaking” is the theme for new releases these past couple of months. Everything from Driveclub to Halo: The Master Chief Collection have been riddled with multiplayer issues. I guess it would have been wishful thinking to assume GTA V would have no issues.
If you are a returning player, you will be able to enjoy a variety of exclusives across the game world. There are a variety of new events including new vehicles (like the returning Dodo seaplane), a murder mystery that you can play through as Michael (where you can unlock noir styled screen filters), new weapons such as a hatchet and the rail gun, a new wildlife photography challenge as with Franklin, and a challenge where you track down a mysterious street artists tags across the city. For those who lean towards the automotive side of things, there are a variety of new vehicles and new stock car races where you can actually slap your car in a bunch of sponsor logos. Assuming there are no further online issues, there’s pretty much no limit to what you can do throughout San Andreas.
I won’t go far as to say GTA V for current consoles is an amazing or revolutionary feat. It’s not; it doesn’t break any new technological ground or anything like that. But that doesn’t make the experience any less amazing. I played GTA V from beginning to end in one long sitting when I first got it for my PS3, and I did pretty much the same thing this time around on PS4. It’s still as brilliant a game as I remember, except everything is just better.
It looks better, plays better, and gives me all the updates that I could wish for. It gives me a completely new way to experience the game with first-person mode. While not immediately noticeable, it gives a ton of new in-game items like new cars, animals, vehicles, etc. And all this is on top of an already masterful game. Yes, GTA V for PS4, Xbox One, and upcoming PC is pretty much perfect.