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Grand Theft Auto V Review – A Justified Return Trip

This is the game that everyone knew was coming. Yes, even though Rockstar never said anything officially until this past E3, a current-gen version of Grand Theft Auto V was something everyone expected. How could we not? The original game came out just on the eve of the launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. You really didn’t think that Rockstar wasn’t planning ahead?

It’s a good thing that they released the last-gen versions when they did as they satiated our appetite while we waited for this version to come out. This is how Grand Theft Auto V was meant to be. Being that this game has been out for a year now (I reviewed it myself back on my old site, STFUandPLAY) I’ll spare everyone the details of the game itself (it’s still awesome) and instead focus on the new additions.

Grand Theft Auto V - Trevor

The most obvious change here is with the graphics. Grand Theft Auto V already looked spectacular on last-gen but now it borders on the photo-realistic. A lot of this has to do with the dynamic lighting which makes things look more detailed and lifelike. There would be certain points where the sun would illuminate things in a certain way that made me feel as if I was driving through a real city. The way the sun reflects off the buildings was a nice touch as was the way lights reflect off glass when you’re inside a building.

The added weather and particle effects help to make the world seem more alive too. The city has been given more air pollution, and the countryside made dustier. Added wind effects blow debris around and it even affects character’s clothes. There is also a lot more “stuff” in the world too. Grass actually grows out of the ground and there many more trees and shrubbery outside of the city. The city itself has more cars on the streets and more people as well. It wasn’t nearly as much as you’ve seen in some of the promotional videos but there is definitely more in the environment. Couple that with all of the added lighting and weather effects and you have one absolutely gorgeous looking game.

Grand Theft Auto V - Helicopter

Gameplay-wise the biggest addition is the first person mode. Since I had already played this in third person, I spent most of my time in first person and it worked out surprisingly well. There are more aiming options now and you can tweak them to make the game feel exactly like a standard FPS. I have to admit to being a bit skeptical about how well this mode would function but after a while it became second nature.

I have to commend the game for creating a first person cover system which worked fantastically for the most part. Most FPS games don’t have proper cover so I was pleased with how well this one was implemented it. Your view is somewhat obscured, but if you look at where the enemies are on the mini-map it will compensate for that.

Grand Theft Auto V - FPS driving

I did have to leave the driving in third person since driving in first person is something I could never get used to. I did go to it sometimes though to see some of the cool stuff that was added. Characters have new animations when entering and exiting cars and even the car interiors have more detail such as speedometers that actually move. Also, jacking a car in first person is hilarious, especially when you smash a person’s face against the steering wheel and then throw them out of the car.

This mode isn’t without flaws though. Some of the transitions between the cinemas were a bit weird since they would always end with the camera going to the back of the character’s head and then to FPS view. Although I liked the first person combat rolls, sometimes they would disorient me, as did the rag doll stuff. You can turn this off and set them to third person but those transitions would be very jarring. For the most part though I really liked first person mode and it does a nice job of making this game feel fresh.

Grand Theft Auto V - FPS

The last thing I want to bring up is Grand Theft Auto Online. If you had a character on a last-gen console then you can bring them over. There is a new cinema which shows your created character getting a prison transfer. Here, you can adjust some of their features if you want. Unfortunately, the character creator hasn’t been improved and your avatar will still look like an ungodly mutant.

Transferring your data was as easy as can be. However, I was unable to actually log on to play with others because the server kept timing out. I did go in alone to mess around and it seems to work as it did before. This mode has new features as well like an increased player count and some new missions but unfortunately, heists have still not been added. I should also note that all of your online trophies/achievements carry over. If you guys know me than you know this made me extremely happy.

I’m glad that Rockstar re-released Grand Theft Auto V. This was one of the best games on last-gen and deserves to be on current-gen. Yes, most of the added features are purely visual but they really do make the game feel like a new title. This is a must buy for sure.

Grand Theft Auto V is available now for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. This review is based on a PlayStation 4 retail copy provided by Rockstar Games.

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