13 months after the initial release of Grand Theft Auto V, which blew us away in our review, Rockstar have given violence and villainy enthusiasts the chance to return to sunny Los Santos in glorious 1080p for PS4 and Xbox One. The result is a beautifully polished version of an instant classic to next-gen that gives new players a definitive edition of the game whilst still offering veteran Santos sinners enough new content to sink their teeth into.
The most notable new feature is of course the first person mode, a first for Grand Theft Auto that already feels like it belongs in the franchise. Completing a heist in first person drastically heightens the tension, whilst the gunfights place you at the centre of the action (shooting demonic clowns or evil alien spawn has never been so immersive). The most surprising delight of this new viewpoint is that you can truly experience just how detailed the world is that Rockstar have created. Whether that immense sense of detail is found whilst walking downtown and gazing into the shop fronts or simply gazing out at the city following a quad bike excursion up the Vinewood hills, this game is indisputably the most stunning iteration of a Grand Theft Auto title to date.
Additional content has been added, including a new murder mystery mission for Michael that unlocks a couple of noir-style filters for the game, for those who want to get their Hitchcock on. Players on the PlayStation 4 will experience some features exclusive to the Dualshock 4, such as intuitive swipe controls (including a swipe to throw grenade feature), an atmospheric red and blue flash from its light bar if you become wanted and the audio for your in game phone and the police scanners run through the controller’s speaker. These touches alone are not game changing, however they are indicators of what Rockstar have achieved, which is something far beyond a 1080p port of their past success.
GTA Online returns in a big way, after the problematic start on last-gen consoles it’s incredible to see the full potential of the online mode from the offset. In the ambitious online mode your created character is let loose on Los Santos and there are hundreds of hours of fun in deathmatches, races, jobs and of course just running riot with friends or fellow miscreants online. Hours can be lost as players scrimp, save and steal to get that dream car, plane, boat or tank as you make your mark in Rockstar’s city of sin. The variation of every gameplay is growing with every update, yet heist missions are still unavailable in Grand Theft Auto Online at the time of writing this review. With a PC version coming in January heists are expected to enter into the fray soon, yet in the meantime tons of additional content in the form of clothes, vehicles and weapons are being released.
Ultimately, Grand Theft Auto hits the next-gen with more than just a ripple, offering a variety of new features and another chance for gamers to experience the stellar storyline and the hilarious, absurd, sharply satirical, manic and beautiful world that Rockstar Games have created. The story still flourishes and remains one of the strongest and most entertaining in video game history. All of the devilish joys that are found in the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions are back in force (I missed Trevor’s utterly insane rampages more than I knew was possible), and there really is a fresh new perspective to be found in the first person mode. If you are returning for a second time, get ready to be engrossed all over again, and if this is your first journey into Los Santos, prepare to be blown away. Sometimes literally.
Grand Theft Auto V is now available for PS4, Xbox One, PS3 and Xbox 360, with a PC release slated for the 27th of January 2015.