It’s impressive how Grand Theft Auto V, a game that originally released in 2013 (two console generations ago), still manages to feel so relevant in today’s gaming landscape, but hey, that’s the power that the franchise holds. Whilst a lot of that is owed to Grand Theft Auto Online, the single-player experience still has a special place in gamer’s hearts, with Michael, Trevor, and Franklin’s crime-fuelled escapade one that packs plenty of punch.
Now, with the release of Grand Theft Auto V on the PlayStation 5, players get to experience it all over again in its best possible console form. Fancier visuals, a slick frame rate, DualSense support; it has everything you’d expect from a current-gen release of an older title, but is it still fun to play? Definitely.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
I don’t really need to go over the ins-and-outs of Grand Theft Auto V, because let’s face it: if you haven’t already played the game, you’ll at least know exactly what to expect from it. It took the open-world formula from previous games and expanded upon it ten-fold, with more elaborate and entertaining missions to complete, more side tasks to stick your teeth into, and a more detailed world to explore full of the quirky personality players have come to expect. It brings with it the biggest map too, coming in at 75.84 sq km which is nearly double the size of the second biggest in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (which is 38.2 sq km). Basically, it took everything about the series and made it bigger and better, which is why it’s so critically-acclaimed and loved by fans.
With the power of the PlayStation 5 behind it, Grand Theft Auto V feels better to play than ever. Players are given a choice of three different modes to play on: Fidelity Mode (4K resolution, ray tracing, and a 30fps frame rate), Performance Mode (4K resolution and a 60fps frame rate), and Performance RT (4K resolution, ray tracing, and a 60fps frame rate). Each mode looks and feels impressive, with plenty of visual enhancements on offer even if you play in the frame rate-prioritised Performance Mode. However, it’s the Performance RT that I found the best – having the benefits of ray tracing as well as a 60fps frame rate just felt the most special, even if it does lack the consistency and visual fidelity seen in the other modes.
There are other notable improvements to be found too, with the load times cut down massively, more traffic and foliage to be found across the city, more visual detail and better lighting in the environment, enhanced weather effects, and even more destruction when in the midst of a frantic shootout. Whilst there are some aspects of Grand Theft Auto V’s visual design that makes it obvious that this is a game that originally released in 2013 (something you’ll especially notice with some of the animations and character faces), there have been enough visual enhancements made to ensure that it doesn’t feel out of place on current-gen consoles.
“There are other notable improvements to be found too, with the load times cut down massively, more civilians and traffic to be found across the city, more detail and better lighting to be found across the city, enhanced weather effects, and even more destructive effects when in the midst of a frantic shootout.”
The game also uses the DualSense controller’s features in cool ways, with haptic feedback capturing the sensation of the action taking place, whether that’s when in a shootout or simply speeding down a bumpy road. Then you’ve got the trigger resistance, which gives weapons and vehicles that extra sense of oomph when using them – I know this can be a bit hit-and-miss with some gamers, but it’s well-utilised here. Want to know one of my favourite new additions? The way the controller lights up red-and-blue when being pursued, which was something that caught me off-guard when I noticed it when playing in the dark. It’s neat to see that Rockstar Games have used the controller in a meaningful way that genuinely adds to the immersion, with these sort of features the kind that can be a deal-breaker for those who’ve yet to decide what platform they want to play the game on.
I think it’s safe to say that the game has aged pretty well, with the meaty campaign still offering tens upon tens of hours of chaotic fun. Whilst open-world games have come a long way in the last nine years, the impressive environmental and city design, the distinct variety of locales, and the outrageous scenarios you find yourself in ensure that Los Santos remains just as fun to explore now as it did back when the game first came out. Admittedly, I’ve never been a big fan of swapping between three protagonists, but Michael, Trevor, and Franklin still remain likable – regardless of their questionable actions. Admittedly, the controls could feel a little clunky in places and there were a few missions that could feel a little bit repetitive, but it still feels like a masterpiece to play.
“New online players even have the option to give themselves a bit of a boosted start, with extra cash available as well as the choice of a business venture to start earning cash straight away. It’s a cool incentive that ensures players won’t feel too far behind those that have already spent plenty of hours online.”
Of course, it’s the multiplayer found in Grand Theft Auto Online that’ll pique a lot of players’ interests, especially those on the PlayStation 5 who have been stocking up on the monthly million dollar pay out that their PlayStation Plus subscription has been offering. As someone who has easily poured over a hundred hours into Grand Theft Auto Online, it’s been great playing it with the spruced-up visuals and enhancements. The core gameplay experience hasn’t changed at all, sure, but it’s easy to appreciate just how pretty everything looks when playing on the PlayStation 5. New online players even have the option to give themselves a bit of a boosted start, with extra cash available as well as the choice of a business venture to start earning straight away. It’s a cool incentive that ensures players won’t feel too far behind those that have already spent plenty of hours online.
Whether a new or old player, Grand Theft Auto Online still remains one of the most absorbing multiplayer experiences available right now and lets players embrace the classic gameplay formula in a totally different way. There is a lot to take in and it might take players a while to get to grips with how the businesses work, but the sense of progression felt as you build up your criminal empire is so rewarding. Add to that the excellent co-op Heists and you’ll quickly find yourself utterly absorbed into the experience.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that this is a paid release and not something PlayStation 4 owners can upgrade to for free, which is a little disappointing. Whilst it’s clear plenty of effort has gone into the release (and the discounted price at launch is a bonus), it would have been nice if those who own the PlayStation 4 version of the game could have had a free upgrade path in a similar vein to other releases on the console.
Grand Theft Auto V Review
Grand Theft Auto V is still a brilliant game to play today, with the new release bringing with it enough enhancements to make it worth returning to. Sure, it does show its age in some places, especially with the controls, character animations, and the occasionally repetitive mission, but it still manages to deliver a beautiful and masterfully-crafted experience that’ll keep both single player and multiplayer gamers very, very happy.
It’s a shame it doesn’t have a free upgrade path for returning PlayStation 4 gamers, but it doesn’t stop Grand Theft Auto V feeling like a special release on the current-gen consoles.
Developer: Rockstar North
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC