Grand Theft Auto V Review – PlayStation 4

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When I reviewed Grand Theft Auto V 14 months ago on the Xbox 360 I was blown away with just how much Rockstar was managing to milk from Microsoft’s aging hardware.  It was certainly a peek into what the next generation was going to offer and now that next-gen is our current gen, and Grand Theft Auto V is back to dazzle us on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4…and PC coming next year.

Perhaps the biggest compliment I can pay this new version of GTA V is that even though it has been less than a year since I last played the game the entire experience seems fresh and new.  Part of this is certainly due to the amazing graphical overhaul the game has received, but Rockstar has also added plenty of new game content to lure last-gen owners back to the crime-ridden streets of Los Santos.   Reviewing the game from scratch would be pointless – especially after I went into so much detail in my original review, so this review exists to answer one simple question.

Is this new version worth a double-dip purchase?

HELL YES!

Now I will amend that positive response with one caveat.  If you are seeking the “ultimate visual experience” then you might want to wait for the PC release in 2015.   While the PS4 version is a technical marvel to be sure, there are still a few concerns such as inconsistent framerates and aliasing issues that keep this new release from total perfection.  Still, it is a remarkable improvement from the last-gen game.  And for next-gen system owners and gamers who have never played GTA V; what are you waiting for.   This is the reason you bought a PS4.

If you have been following our coverage of this game leading up to its release then you have already seen the comparison videos and read about all the new content added to the game including the exciting new FPS mode, but that was all from the perspective of Rockstar media hype.   How does all of that PR spin translate into tangible results in the final game?

The FPS camera is a cool idea and can easily turn the game into an entirely new experience once you come to grips with the twitchy controls.   Thankfully, you have plenty of options for tweaking sensitivity and even assigning new control schemes for first-person mode.  You can even tell the game when to use first and third-person cameras based on certain gameplay situations.   Driving from the first-person dash cam is perhaps the greatest challenge to overcome, and combat is a bit odd since you are never looking down the sights when squeezing L2.  You still aim using the white dot.   The FPS mode also meant that Rockstar had to go in and add a lot of new detail to, not only the game world, but fully realized cockpits for cars, planes and any other vehicle.  My favorite detail was the car dash that showed your current radio station and the song title.

The DualShock 4 was put to excellent use in several aspects.  All of your cell phone conversations as well as police radio chatter now play through the speaker in your controller giving it that added edge of immersive reality.  Also, the light changes color to match the orange/blue/green color of the player you are currently controlling, and if you are being chased by the cops it will start flashing red and blue, which adds more to the experience than you might think if you are playing in a dark room.  The downside to all of these cool controller-specific features was that my controller battery was dying 90-120 minutes faster than with any other game.

The core story remains as solid and enjoyable as ever and with the added new content there are now more secondary missions than primary ones.  The new stock car races are quite enjoyable and Franklin’s new Wildlife photo challenge can and will take hours to complete, but the Kraken Sub vehicle is a worthy prize for the effort.  And Michael’s own little Murder Mystery missions were a great cinematic touch with a great reward for solving the murder.  Throw in new events, new vehicles, and new weapons and you basically have a “new game”; even if you have already played it.

This new version of GTA V still works with the iFruit app, and I was able to sync up on my iPad and iPhone and play with Chop the dog and do some car customization for my whip then have those car mods sent to the garage in the game.   There are also other fun diversions you can mess around with using iFruit to socialize and further flesh out this highly immersive game world.

If you enjoyed playing GTA Online on the last-gen just wait until you experience it on the PS4.  Not only do you get to experience the game’s awesome new graphics and improved framerate, but the player limit has been increased to 30 simultaneous players in both Free Roam and competitive modes making these gang wars bigger and better than ever.   And don’t worry about losing all of that hard-earned progress you may have made in the previous version.  You can do a one-time transfer of your online character to next-gen and retain all your progress and any special gear.

I can’t recommend this new next-gen version of Grand Theft Auto V highly enough.   Rockstar pushed the limits of last-gen consoles and it has done the same thing with the new current generation.  The only way this game could possibly get any better is on some high-end super gaming computer, and we’ll have that review for you in 2015, but until then rest assured that GTA V remains one of the best open-world games in the history of gaming; certainly the best installment in the franchise, and a showcase title for the power of the PS4 and clever functionality of the DualShock 4 controller.   A must own title if there ever was one.

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