Not all that long ago we featured our review of Grand Theft Auto 5 on the PS3, a game which was as bewildering in its scope as it was in its technical accomplishment. It looks incredible, gave a massive amount of things to do and (eventually) a well padded online mode with a range of activities and game modes on offer. The story itself took a long time to complete, and yet was essentially a small proportion of the overall game. At no point were you forced to play tennis, go for a round of golf or fly to incredible altitudes before leaping out and parachuting down to the top of a tall building with little more than a rocket launcher and a grin of mischief on your face, but you could do it if that took your fancy. But coming so late in the life of the last generation consoles did raise a big question – will we see it on the PS4 and One? Well we know that answer by now – yes. And let’s make this clear from the start, it’s most definitely been worth Rockstar’s efforts.
Those who have already played GTA5 on another console will know what the game is all about, and in terms of storyline and gameplay very little has changed in the newer, shinier version. If you’re sat wondering what all the fuss is about, then take a look at our review – it covers all the main points that we’re not going to go into here, and will fill you in as to why it was many people’s game of the generation. This new version probably won’t take the same accolade in a few years’ time – there’s a lot of life left in the new machines after all – but right now it remains one of the best games on the market, and is a true benchmark for those other companies looking to take a slice of the open world gaming market. But how do you improve on such an amazing game, and one which a lot of gamers said could barely have been better? Well, you use the extra power to your advantage.
And that’s not just in the looks department, although it’s clear to see just how much better this looks on the PS4 than it did on the PS3. Initially you might not notice a huge difference to the older versions, especially in the opening bank raid, but get out and about a bit more and things start to really take an impressive turn. The transition from day to night (and back again) provides some incredible lighting effects which take both natural and electric light to provide something quite spectacular at times. Take a trip across town at night while it’s raining and the reflections in the road will amaze anyone the first time round, and once you take to the skies in a plane or helicopter you’ll get to experience some remarkable draw distances and the vast levels of detail which have probably always been there, but are now much more defined and easier to spot. There’s the much-mentioned first person view as well, which gives the game a surprisingly different feel, although I didn’t stay on the view for long, preferring to stick to the more flexible standard camera.
But the improved visuals don’t just stop at everything looking prettier – everywhere is now far more immersive, with more people knocking about, more cars on the road, more cats, dogs and other animals roaming the streets and mountains. Even the trees, long grass and other foliage looks brilliant, especially when you go back to the older version and compare the two side by side. The whole map now is far more like a real, living environment, and considering that was one of the things that impressed first time round, it’s great to see Rockstar squeezing even more into their locations.
In terms of main single player missions there are a handful of new things to try out, but generally things are as they were in that respect. Not that this should put you off, there was so much to do in GTA5 first time round that most of you won’t have done everything on offer, and certainly not to the extent that it’s possible to. Online though things have been bolstered much more, with the online player count rising from a maximum of 16 up to 30, which not only means there are more gamers knocking around town for you to muck about with, but also more chances for you to complete the various missions that are available to you when you’ve got others nearby to help out. It’s far more fluid as a result, without the often annoying wait while you realise nobody actually wants to jump out of a plane with you.
But despite the new version of GTA5 being an impressively improved remaster of the original game, the same question is bound to come up – if you played it before, do you need to buy it again? It’s usually a tricky one to answer, but having played this again it’s easy to remember just why the game is so highly rated. Unless you vowed never to go back to Blaine County again, chances are you pick this up, feel instantly at home and start to love every moment in just the same way you did first time round. The perfect game just got better, now it’s up to every other open world developer to try and beat it.
Reviewed on PS4