Over the last week or so, I've been revisiting the world of Grand Theft Auto V for hours and hours at a time. I've been playing the remastered, new generation version of the game on my PlayStation 4, and I've actually had more fun than I usually do with such revisitations.
I love old games. I really like digging into stories and mechanics I enjoyed years ago. Heck, I just picked up Pilotwings on my Wii U with the express purpose of reliving those summer weeks spent flying a prop plane through rings with a ridiculous supporting soundtrack.
My problem with Grand Theft Auto V's remake, then, is that it's not old enough for my taste. This is a great, fantastic and incredible game built in such a way that Rockstar should be commended for their brilliance. It's just that, as a new generation port, I don't really see it as a compelling title worth shelling out bucks to play once again in such short order.
Remember, the original version of this game released last year. We just played this. It sold millions upon millions of copies on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Rockstar gussied it up a bit, added more foliage, some fun easter eggs and a first-person mode, and they're selling it again on new consoles at the same price.
So, I'm in a weird position here as a reviewer. I'm reviewing Grand Theft Auto V as a remaster, but it's coming so soon after the original product that I have to take two groups into consideration while writing.
Is this a game newcomers should buy? Furthermore, is this a game veterans should buy? Well, yes and no.
The Sights, The Sounds
Make no mistake, this is the best looking Grand Theft Auto ever made. It's absolutely gorgeous on the new generation machines, especially for an open world title.
The changes Rockstar has made to the textures, animal life and traffic all add up to this really fantastic looking picture. Grand Theft Auto V looked great on the last generation of consoles. It was a late release, and it showed a lot of what the aging horsepower could do.
Here we are with the new generation, though, and there's no denying that the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are capable of producing games that practically wipe the floor with their previous generation versions.
So, yes, Rockstar absolutely succeeded in making this a better looking game. They also added more music to the title's radio stations (162 more songs, all told), made traffic more dense and gave nature a big boost in the worlds of foliage and wildlife.
This feels and looks like a bigger and better game because, put simply, it is.
First-Person Mode is Here
Rockstar also added some brand new content and mechanics to this game. As far as the content goes, gamers will be able to hunt down or call in unique experiences (phoning in the blimp if you own the original games or eating peyote in order to turn into a wild animal). Everything new feels minor, but it's certainly enough to push the package out in interesting ways.
The most compelling addition, though, is the first-person mode. Your mileage on this feature will vary, friends. For some, going first-person is the entire reason for snagging the new generation version of Grand Theft Auto V. For others, like myself, hitting first-person is little more than a neat distraction during downtime.
Let's start with why it works, though. Grand Theft Auto has always been an out-of-body experience. Whether top-down or over the shoulder in perspective, this franchise has always put player behind and away from the immediate action happening in front of them.
First-person mode, then, is a bit crazy. It's like all the crazy stuff you did in the old games is still there, only the new perspective manages to make it more intimate and intense. The violence is more perverse, the language is more jarring and the sex more controversial.
It makes sense, of course. You're not watching a character commit these things, you're seeing them committed through your own eyes. For some gamers, that's a massive thrill. First-person mode might be the point that brings home the proverbial bacon for this new generation port.
Personally? I didn't like it too much. It's not that I couldn't take the heightened perspective or the swap in style. Rockstar made it stupid easy to go into first-person mode (it happens with a single button press, and it's instantaneous as you cycle through camera positions).
I didn't like first-person mode because, for me, it eliminated too much of the characters themselves. By not having the camera behind Trevor, Franklin or Michael, I felt like these characters vanished in between cutscenes. I could see their hands and hear their voices, but they seemed to disappear quickly after missions began. I used each character as my moral compass in play style and decision making. I play Michael precisely, Franklin hesitantly and Trevor as a bull in a china shop.
Without seeing the characters at all times, I sort of lost my way. I feel the game has more personality as a third person affair, and I cared a whole heck of a lot more about the main trio as I played alongside them instead of in their heads.
I know, I'm weird, but perhaps others will feel the same way here.
Any Questions? Read the First Review.
I wrote the review for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 version of Grand Theft Auto V last year before the game initially launched. I covered the storyline, mechanics and locale in that review.
By and large, that stuff remains the same. The heists are still glorious, the three characters still present a nice slice of personality and friendship and the storyline is one of the better in Grand Theft Auto's history.
The fact of the matter is that, at it's core, this is the exact same game as it was last time. So, for the unimproved stuff, you'll want to read the first review. My opinions on those tangibles remain unchanged.
Oh, and I headed this section with the trailer from the first version of this game for one simple reason: I love it. It may represent Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 gameplay, but I love it.
Too soon? Too soon.
This is where my review is likely to make a few Grand Theft Auto fans rather upset. I want to be clear. I like Grand Theft Auto V. I loved the game when I played it the first time around on my Xbox 360, and I've been enjoying it as a retread here on the PlayStation 4.
However, I have to say that I wouldn't really recommend this as a $60 purchase for someone who just finished the game last year. Yes, the better graphics, added music and first-person mode all make it a stronger package than it was before. It's just that the price tag doesn't really warrant a second visit for someone who just purchased the game less than a year ago.
For newcomers? Yes, absolutely. Buy Grand Theft Auto V. The remastered version is just icing on an already delicious cake. $60 goes really, really far if you're brand new to this game. That group of players should absolutely pick this thing up.
Players like me? Players who have already dumped 100+ hours into Los Santos as Trevor, Michael and Franklin? If you're a huge, huge, huge fan? I guess this is a good buy. Otherwise, you could easily wait a year and pick it up at a discount. Heck, another year goes by and a lot more of the missions will feel completely fresh. As it stands now, the cost of the package coupled with the fact that the original only released a year ago makes this hard to recommend as a must-buy for folks who have played it already.
I'm splitting the difference here. GTAV's remaster is a Buy for those new to the game, it's a Wait for those who have already played it. Wait for time to pass and a little bit of a price cut to come around.
Disclaimer: We purchased Grand Theft Auto V with company funds. We replayed the game, transferred a character into GTA Online (and started one from scratch) before writing this review.
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