I still can’t quite believe Grand Theft Auto V has managed to span three whole generations.
When it hit on PS3/X360 all those years ago, as it was towards the end of the console’s lifecycle, I think there was always a slight expectation it would pop up on successive formats.
Particularly because of how hard the consoles had to work, how slow it ran on the loading screens, and indeed, the way it looked. We knew it was bleeding those consoles dry and we could still get much more out of it.
No doubt, I would say the game found a much more comfortable, familiar home on PS4 and Xbox One.
But when I first booted up GTA V on my PS5, I was conflicted. Because once again I could see a significant upgrade. The graphical details on the roads and with the frame rate were surprisingly elaborate. The loading times are ridiculous. Somehow this 9 year old game has managed to look, sound and play better again.
Somehow it’s sparkling anew. The colours pop beautifully, the skies are more blue and filled with clouds, water glistens and gleans as never before, cinematic sequences have never flowed better. This is not too far off the leap from PS3 to PS4 and how, quite frankly, is pure wizardry.
But one thing also became pretty clear to me early on. As good as this upgrade is, Grand Theft Auto V is a game that’s also starting to show its age.
While Michael, Franklin and Trevor’s faces are more expressive and defined than ever, the character profiles and bodies are dated, some motions looking irregular and jagged. A few animations are dicey, plus at a distance and up close, things tend to fade and pixellate.
It’s to be expected. And the fact that Rockstar have concealed it for the most part is to their massive credit. You will probably find yourself more drawn to the gorgeous sunsets, the high rises towering in the distance and, of course, the stunning vehicles on the road.
But every now and then something rough will catch your eye and remind you that this is really starting to get on and we’re all really ready for Rockstar to show us what’s next for Grand Theft Auto.
It is, of course, still an incredible video game and many of its mechanics and implementations, amazingly, still haven’t been bettered. Like the character switching. Rockstar made the seamless flow between protagonists feel natural and intertwine it beautifully with the story.
You got to experiment with each character’s traits, see them crossover in missions and even get a glimpse of what they do in their off-time before you hijack their life.
It feels as if things are constantly in motion and are happening in the world. Not everything is dictated by you and it’s refreshing, freeing, and still very much goes against the grain of the modern open world adventure where everything is governed by your choices.
Also the sheer variety of things to do, like playing tennis, being a taxi driver, even triatholons. The scope of the game all these years on remains ridiculous.
Some things have aged less favourably of course, like the game’s lock-on effect and some of that rough UI. But what’s clear is that Grand Theft Auto V can very much still hang with the modern day video game, remaining influential and trendsetting.
As mentioned, 4K is a great fit for Rockstar’s masterpiece, as is seeing the action flow fast in 60FPS with Performance / RT Mode, but the other major benefit comes on PlayStation 5 and I’m not talking about the free GTA Online.
DualSense really helps the game come alive in an exciting new way. Phonecalls now play through the controller speaker, adaptive triggers offer resistance when riding around in cars and the colors light up around the touchpad to respond to your situation.
For example, red and blue colours will light up if you’ve got a wanted level and you’ll see a colour representing your character, like blue for Michael and green for Franklin.
But there’s also little touches, like when your car drives over the hard shoulder, you feel the ground reverberate beneath like you would in real life, and you can sometimes feel droplets of rain pounding your car or bullets whizzing past your head.
They’re small touches, simple, but they really enhance the experience and offer a slightly different way to play from what you’re used to before.
I’ll report back on GTA Online in another piece to follow, but for now, I wanted to dive straight into the story and give a feel for how GTA V is looking these days. I’m extremely impressed.
Considering the apprehension around this re-release even happening to begin with, and the concerns around the original GTA Trilogy which launched last year, I’m happy to report that this is the definitive edition of GTA V and a surprising triumph that somehow manages to enhance the quality of the game even further.
It’s hard to know how long we’ll be waiting for GTA VI, I somehow doubt it’ll be here anytime soon. It could be this re-release will have to tide us over for a few more years to come. Fortunately, the shape it’s in is set up just fine to manage that.
Grand Theft Auto V on PlayStation 5 is almost as big of a leap as we saw from the PS3 to the PS4. The loading times are rapid, the visual quality is blindingly beautiful, its smooth as silk and many of the game’s mechanics still hold up very well. Some things definitely have not aged as well, though, and it is a game, you feel, which is beginning to run on fumes.
+ Fidelity is simply dazzling and Performance oozes silky smooth
+ Most main mechanics still hold up incredibly well
+ Blistering loading speeds
+ DualSense really adds to the experience
– Some textures, models and animations can only be concealed so much
– Dated mechanics and aging UI bring you out of the experience somewhat
Grand Theft Auto V is out now on PS5 and Xbox Series X
Played on PlayStation 5
Code Kindly Provided by Rockstar