There’s no denying the impact of last year’s GTA V. Massive, hyped up and delivering on several promises, the game blazed a billion dollar trail for developer Rockstar Games. But when just about everybody buys your game, you’re faced with a dilemma when it comes to the remastered re-release. After all, how do you convince consumers to buy the same game twice? By making the remastered version an entirely different game, that’s how.
Here’s the original review for GTA V, which details that magnificent core single-player game. But you already know all that. So let’s talk about the new. In many ways, the shift from the top-down perspective of GTA 1 and 2 to the third-person viewpoint in GTA 3 and beyond, was just what the franchise needed in order to feel fresh again. That camera angle hasn’t disappeared in GTA V, but it’s been suplemented with a first-person mode, which adds an all new layer of reality to the game, while intensifying the more lurid aspects of the game that have many an overzealous politician fuming.
Playing through the eyes of Michael, Franklin or Trevor isn’t just a quick gimmick, it’s a new experience as players can take turns getting completely hammered, shot and beaten up, while dishing out punishment, going for a jog, robbing a 24/7 convenience store or having exploitative backseat sex with a street worker. There’s something magical about seeing Trevor flip a zap sign at pedestrians or stumble around drunk out of my skull from a strip club, after the bouncer caught me violating the no-touching rule.
Driving now also feels even more intense, while various other actions such as running, swimming and skydiving add even more layers to this mode. As a standard FPS in heated situations, the mode works wonderfully, and can be adjusted on the fly to give players benefits from both first and third person modes. If you’re anything like our dear Zoe however, you’re going to need to do a lot of tweaking, as even the sternest stomach might find itself going green with all the various bobs of the head and various rolls that a night out in Los Santos can bestow on a player.
If this was the only mode that Rockstar had included in the game, it would have still earned plenty of praise. But it isn’t, because there’s more to GTA V than just a taste of hyper-realism.
Graphically, it’s the smaller details that count. The terrible trio of Los Santos don’t boast massive overhauls, and look largely familiar to their Xbox 360 and PC counterparts. But Los Santos itself is now a more bustling metropolis. More pedestrians walk the street, just begging to be beaten into the pavement and their cash stolen. More vehicles line the highways, textures are vastly improved, the wilderness feels alive and there’s a selection of wildlife just waiting to be flattened under your wheels. New weapons line the shelves of Ammu-Nation stores, with returning players gaining access to some particularly brutal new gear such as a rail-Gun big enough to make Arnold Schwarzenegger green with envy.
The PlayStation 4 version had some extra flair as well, with the controller being put to good use. Cell phone conversations and police reports blare through the controller speaker, the lights flash various colours during specific situations and the touchpad is used to decent effect as weapons are selected. It’s a nice touch, that shows quite a bit of thought went into the game.
There’s also a bevy of new content in addition to the main missions and various side quests. Franklin for instance, can flex his photography skills and capture wildlife through his lens, while Michael gets to play detective and noir things up in a murder mystery amidst plenty of other content. Race in a league, own property, take on dangerous missions or assault an army base. It’s everything from 2013’s GTA V, plus more. Hell, you can even get beyond high with some peyote and live life through the eyes of an animal. Just don’t tell your mom.
But that’s the single-player side of GTA V. There’s still GTA Online, a mode which massive on the last generation, but was still victim to technical limitations and various hurdles. Some of those obstacles are still present in the new version of the online game, but they’re thankfully an occasional nuisance now, and not a game-dropping bug that plagued the original GTA Online.
Those lofty ambitions are within hand now, as the improved version of GTA V hits the online multiplayer space. The grind of doing missions is largely gone, with co-op jobs now a regular occurrence, without worrying about the more well-funded veterans having a massive advantage over you in PvP modes. Using some sort of Rockstar Club magic, the game instantly knows if you were a member on the previous generation or not, giving returning players a cash injection online to the tune of $500 000. I’ve invested most of that cash into the stock markets, some decent guns, wheels and an obscene palace to call my very own.
It’s a much bigger mode now, with GTA Online home to a maximum of 30 players during any session. There are still some teething problems, but they’re the kind that can easily be fixed in the next couple of weeks.
Last Updated: November 27, 2014