The grass is always greener…
2014 has been the year for re-releasing older games with a new coat of paint. In fact some would argue that the best game of the year is a re-release. That said, we all know it is going to be a long time before Rockstar brings a proper Grand Theft Auto game built for these new machines, so to satisfy the craving now they are bringing their incredibly rich outing from last year to the new consoles, complete with a bevy of upgrades. They’ve added new secrets, improved visuals and even a new perspective to play the game from. This is more than the average re-release.
Grand Theft Auto V on PS4 and XB1 is still a massive game. The story is great, the characters are interesting and the mission designs, especially the heists, are a ton of fun. The world of Los Santos feels alive, and remains one of my favorite game worlds to explore. There is so much to see and do, and almost all of it is interesting. I once again found myself simply wandering for hours, seeing the sights, and causing mayhem when my heart desired.
Platforms: XB1, PS4
Price I’d Pay: $59.99
Multiplayer: Up to 30 players
Time to Beat: 30-50 hours
On the new consoles the world is even more alive, thanks to some noticeable visual updates. Traffic density is higher, there is more wildlife scattered around the wooded areas and the polish Rockstar has added was immediately noticeable once I stepped back into the world. This is one sharp looking and detailed game, and the inclusion of the new first-person camera really shows that off.
I knew Los Santos was big, but it feels even larger looking at it from a first-person perspective. It changes the way the game feels, and the plethora of options that Rockstar has added to enjoy this new mode are great. I could customize when I wanted to be in first-person, whether it was while driving, or even snapping out to third-person when going into cover.
While the new mode definitely immersed me into the world, it also had its drawbacks. For starters, the violence seemed even more gruesome – stabbing an innocent person from that perspective, or robbing a store clerk felt a little too real.
Another issue I have with the view is that Michael, Franklin and Trevor lose some of their personality in first-person mode. Different outfits and hairstyles now mean nothing, and I felt somewhat disconnected from these great characters when playing this way.
Also new to this version is a host of new songs for every station within the game. Over 150 tracks have been added, including tracks from Boston, Lady Gaga and Eazy-E. There is also new dialog recorded by the DJs for some stations. Rockstar always manages to impress with the little details.
I spent time roaming around the world on both PS4 and XB1, and for the most part they are pretty much identical versions. There are some minor differences here and there, but none that stands out as egregious. However, for those that do have the option, the PS4 version feels like the way to go, mainly because of the silly gimmicks Rockstar added to the DualShock 4. All phone calls and police chatter now come through the speaker on the controller. The light bar also flashes red and blue when being chased by the cops.
The touchpad can also be used to quickly switch between weapons, which definitely takes some finesse and practice, but is a cool feature nonetheless. Again these are certainly gimmicky features, but I would be lying if I said they weren’t cool.
The online portion of GTA also returns with some improvements. For starters, the graphical upgrades are carried over into the mode. All of the DLC released for the previous generation versions is included, and the player count has been increased to 30 with up to two spectators. At launch there were some issues with transferring characters from the older versions, but that appears to be cleared up now. Outside of that GTAO is still a solid diversion, but again nothing that held my interest for more than a weekend.
Grand Theft Auto V is certainly more than worth your time, but the question is, do you want to spend another 30-50 hours in Los Santos, if you already made the trip last year? For me it is a resounding yes, as the new additions really drew me back into the world, and I had forgotten how much fun I had just exploring, planning heists and even hopping online with friends to cause havoc. With all the games vying for your dollars this holiday season, GTA V definitely delivers an amazing package well worth exploring (again).
Review copy of game provided by publisher.