A new generation of consoles needs new games, and what’s better than a new entry in the fan-favorite, world-recognized franchise that is Grand Theft Auto. However, we probably won’t get one any time soon since Grand Theft Auto V is barely a year old. Fortunately for us, Rockstar has delivered the next best thing: a new and improved version of GTA V, targeted specifically for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (and PC eventually).
But it is enough to keep us happy until GTA VI, or is it no more than a coat of fresh paint on a game we’ve already played to death? Surprisingly enough, the answer to both these questions is “yes.”
Yes, this is the same GTA V you’ve probably played when the game first came out in September of last year. And yes, in terms of pure “content,” there isn’t a lot you haven’t experienced before. The graphics are slightly better, and there are better songs to listen to on the radio as you hurl down the highway, which is busier than ever, with half of Los Santos’ police force after you.
It’s nice enough, and if you haven’t played the game before (welcome back to Earth, by the way), this a great chance to do so on your shiny new console. But, these minor and somewhat superficial improvements do not justify another go at a game this big.
Now wholly ignore everything you just read.
Grand Theft Auto V on new-gen consoles feel almost entirely like a brand new game and an utterly fresh experience. Why? Because the game now supports a first-person mode, and it looks and feels incredible and a little bit disturbing.
GTA V can be played from beginning to end in first-person. Beyond the obvious effects on the driving and shooting (we’ll get to those in a minute), it means that every place you visit, every vehicle you drive, and every head you put a bullet through are so much more detailed than before.
While driving, you can look around the vehicle you’re in and notice all sorts of little details. If you drive an old buggy, you’ll see the makeshift repairs done to its interior with duck tape and wires. But should you steal a high-end sports car, the dashboard will be all sleek with a digital radio that displays the name of the song you’re currently listening to. It doesn’t stop there; helmets will affect your peripheral vision, and sunglasses will taint the world in a blue or green hue. Those little touches make the already familiar experience of driving more exciting and even novel.
But the changes this new point of view brings to the game are much more noticeable when you’re not behind the wheel. After all, you were already able to drive in first-person before, sort of. When you’re walking about the city of Los Santos or hiking through the rocky desert and wooded mountains of Blaine County, you’ll notice so many details that bring this world to life. For all I know they could’ve already been there, but this is the first time I saw the manga comics in Lester’s apartment, or the posters and CDs in Franklin’s room, all thanks to the new camera angle.
These new details also let you know immediately which of the three protagonists you’re currently embodying. For example, when holding a shotgun, you can see Trevor’s tattooed and scared hands, while Michael’s are much cleaner and usually at the end of an expensive suit’s sleeve.
The gunplay itself has also been tweaked to suit the new perspective. You can now aim down the sights of your gun, aim your grenades with a little more ease, and feel much more immersed when you start a fight with strangers on the street. Also, all the animations and moves you can do in combat are still there; doing a combat roll in first-person can be somewhat disorienting at first, but you get used to it fairly quickly.
Unfortunately, GTA V doesn’t make a perfect transformation into a first-person shooter, and that’s mainly because of the controls. The scheme that works for a third-person game doesn’t really work for a first-person one, and you’ll need time to adjust, especially if you play a lot of first-person shooters as I do. I kept trying to sprint using L3, which in GTA V makes you crouch and move even slower. In general, the controls feel clumsy in first-person, but since you can switch between third and first-person perspectives with a press of a button, it isn’t a big issue.
There are times when the first-person perspective gets a bit too much, usually during the more controversial moments in the game. GTA V, and the Grand Theft Auto series as a whole, doesn’t pride itself on morality, so once in a while, you’ll be doing something you probably wouldn’t want to look too closely at.
Thankfully, most of the truly horrible stuff is done during cutscenes, which always take you back to third-person mode, so you don’t have to see someone’s head pop under your boot up close and personal. Plus, that one famous and controversial scene is still in third-person. As for the sex… we better not talk about the sex part. Let’s just say it’s even more ridiculous than before.
It’s always hard recommending you should purchase and play a game you already own in a different format, but new-gen Grand Theft Auto V provides a whole new way of experiencing the game. The additional details and visual enhancements aren’t enough to justify a new release, but the first-person mode more than does – trust me on this. All the content is still there, with hours upon hours of missions, heists, side activities, exploration, and mayhem, only from a fresh perspective.
If you loved it the first time around, you’d fall in love with this game all over again. And if this is your first trip to Los Santos, then it’ll be love at first (person) sight.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.