Grand Theft Auto V Review

Grand Theft Auto V gets a graphical update and impressive new features as it moves to the new generation of consoles. Welcome back to Los Santos!

Release Date: 20/11/2014

Grand Theft Auto V on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Grand Theft Auto 5 was one of the biggest games of 2013, giving PS3 and Xbox 360 owners one final game to sink their teeth into before the advent of the next (now-current) generation of consoles. Now the game comes to Xbox One and PS4 with a port that should make players familiar with last year’s version take a new look at this fantastic title.

First-person madness

The main selling point Rockstar employs to convert gamers who previously purchased Grand Theft Auto 5 is a first-person camera view that, surprisingly, adds enough change to the game to make it feel fresh.

This first-person option is available with a quick button press, so if you’re uncomfortable with it, you can switch back to third person. The real-time cutscenes revert to the usual third-person perspective, and you may want to switch out of first-person during some of the driving missions, but overall, this is a nice inclusion to a familiar adventure.

Additional little touches, like using the Xbox One haptic triggers or hearing the DualShock 4’s speaker blurting out the police radio reports help make this a new experience for gamers who played the old version, and acts as a nice showcase for the hardware.

Movin’ on up

Another cool feature is the ability to move your character from your old console to the new version. This doesn’t really impact your single-player adventure progress, but it’s a welcome addition for Grand Theft Auto Online players.

If you’re unfamiliar, Grand Theft Auto Online is the game’s multiplayer world, converting Los Santos into a free-for-all where street races, carjacking and mass murder are the norm. You can buy different real estate and cars, and upgrade your goods as long as you have the loot to cover these purchases.

Rockstar invested a lot in growing the GTA Online feature set, and it’s nice to see that gamers who already invested in their characters have the ability to continue that progress. There are some launch issues that may prevent characters from porting over, but Rockstar is working on a patch.

A whole new world... sort of

The main draw of Grand Theft Auto 5 is the enhanced graphics that utilise the additional horsepower provided by Xbox One and PS4. Technical upgrades such as increased draw distance, upgraded weather effects and higher resolution textures are really evident, especially when compared directly to the prior generation.

Los Santos’ population also sees a significant boost, with more traffic on the road and more pedestrians walking the city streets. Hop into a plane and you’ll instantly notice the draw distance that showcases forests that stretch into the horizon.

The game’s world feels more alive, and the detail found on the vehicles and people show a marked improvement over last year’s edition. You’ll notice game characters and even random folks you find on the street with enhanced facial blemishes, scars, better hair textures and more.

Control yourself

Since we played the game on Xbox 360, we decided to almost-exclusively run through it in first-person, and it does feel different — not better or worse, just “new.” One thing you may want to do is tweak the control setting, as getting in and out of cover or spinning around may not be as natural as the other FPS games you’re used to.

Still, once you get the hang of it, Grand Theft Auto 5 becomes a very enjoyable FPS experience. Looking down the barrel of a shotgun while robbing a jewellery store feels like a more visceral experience. You can only imagine how an Oculus Rift version of GTA will play out on PC, but this feels like a step forward for the series.

Hopping in a car, the first-person perspective remains immersive. Seeing the fear in someone’s eyes as you carjack them, as sinister as that sounds, immerses you even further into the world. Once you take the wheel, details like coffee in cup holders add that additional realism that makes the game feel like you’re in this vibrant environment.

This shouldn’t be understated: Grand Theft Auto 5 isn’t the most realistic game, but it is more immersive than ever. The humour and ludicrous action-movie style of some of the game’s set pieces add up to an experience that isn’t real, but unlike other games where you play as super soldiers or alien killers, GTA is all about spoofing the real world we live in.

Overall, Grand Theft Auto 5 offers enough new features to make this a purchase to consider making again, and it remains a must-own for gamers who still haven’t made their way back into Los Santos. Highly recommended.

GAME's Verdict: 9/10

The Good

  • First-person mode refreshes this series for gamers familiar with GTA.
  • Visuals show a huge improvement over the last generation’s version.
  • Love the inclusion of system-specific features, like the PS4 controller speaker and Xbox One haptic triggers.

The Bad

  • GTA controls need some tweaking to make the first-person mode feel right.
  • If GTA isn’t for you, this won’t change your mind.
  • There are some new features, but it’s largely the same game from last year.
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