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July 2022

Grand Theft Auto V

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action
Developer: Rockstar Games
Release Date: March 16, 2022


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PS5 Review - 'Grand Theft Auto V'

by Cody Medellin on April 8, 2022 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Set in the sprawling city of Los Santos and the surrounding area, Grand Theft Auto V delivers a world of unprecedented scale and detail bursting with life, from mountaintops to the depths of the ocean.

Buy Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V originally arrived in September of 2013 on both the Xbox 360 and PS3, two months before the arrival of their respective successors. The game was immediately hailed as a masterpiece, and despite the new consoles, the lack of backward compatibility and sheer breadth of the game was enough to keep the older consoles plugged in, especially after the online component was released. A little over a year later, a PS4/Xbox One version was released, and the PC version followed, bringing with it some much-needed improvements in graphical fidelity and curiosities such as a first-person mode. Less than a decade after the initial game's release, Rockstar has released a native PS5/Xbox Series X|S version. The initial low price for the new version, which isn't available as an upgrade for existing PS4/Xbox One owners, makes it tempting for those with the latest consoles, but the question is whether the upgrade is worth it when the consoles can play the last-generation iterations.

For those who haven't played the campaign before, you'll find this to be both familiar yet fresh due to you controlling three different protagonists. Michael is a bank robber who got rich, but his life isn't the best because he hates his family. Franklin is struggling to make it big despite his best friend being stuck with a small-time hood mentality. Trevor is the one-time associate of Michael who's doing fine on the outskirts of Los Santos but is wondering how Michael faked his own death. Once everyone comes together, it's all about trying to succeed despite the weird and wild trappings of the city.

Close to 10 years old, the campaign still feels quite good thanks to the writing and different scenarios, especially if you look at this as a time capsule like San Andreas or Vice City, rather than something based on current times. The use of multiple characters for the campaign feels fresh, mostly due to the personalities on display. Each one feels different, but Trevor has notable differences with his rage ability. The side activities, like playing tennis or racing, are more inviting because they aren't mandatory. The heists are a perfect complement to the usual slate of activities, but you'll wish there were more of them by the time the story wraps up.

What will disappoint longtime players is the fact that there isn't new content. The ability to play the game from a first-person viewpoint is something taken from the PS4/Xbox One iteration. The missions are the same as the original, as are the radio stations and bits of side content. It's been apparent for years that Rockstar has focused on the game's online component, and those hoping this might be the opportunity to add something new should prepare for disappointment.

Some work was done on GTA5, as the improvements focus on a few key areas for the PS5. The first is DualSense support, which can be hit-and-miss for some. As expected, the haptic feedback is more nuanced, with everything from the rubbing of cars against metal to gunfire getting some type of response in terms of intensity and direction. The cell phone calls come through clearly on the controller's speaker and blend in well with the other sounds coming from your speakers. Acceleration and braking sometimes cause trigger resistance, but you feel it more when shooting guns, as you need to really pull on the trigger to fire. It may be immersive, but considering that some people hate the effect, they'll be pleased to know that the trigger resistance can be dampened or turned off.

The graphics have also improved if you know where to look. You have three presets that give a combination of minute and noticeable graphical changes. Choose fidelity, and you'll get a 4K presentation that's mostly locked at a solid 30fps. This mode also does ray tracing on shadows, where it looks more realistic. Performance focuses on frame rate as the game tries to stay at 60fps most of the time, and the experience feels transformative for those who never experienced the game on PC. Taking a page from the likes of Spider-Man: Miles Morales, the game also offers a Performance RT mode that aims for 60fps and adds ray-traced shadows with a resolution drop to 1440p; it's a great choice for those who want fast frame rates and good graphics.

Finally, there are the load times, which greatly benefit from nVME speeds. With a 20-second load time from the main menu to story mode, that might not seem fast, but it's lightning fast when compared to the PS4 iteration, which has a multitude of loading screens and minutes-long load times. Switching characters and taking on missions also greatly benefit from the increased drive speeds. The online game on the console finally feels on par with the PC in this regard.

As stated before, GTA Online is Rockstar's focus, and you'll find no better proof of this than the fact that it is the first thing highlighted when you boot up the game. If you're just starting out, then you're getting a different introduction to the world compared to those who played a long time ago. Instead of starting with a few bucks in your pocket, you begin with $4,000,000 in your account but are forced to spend at least $3,000,000 on bases, cars and guns before you can begin. You can choose from one of four career paths: biker, executive, gun runner or nightclub owner. You also start fresh from the police station as opposed to getting out at the airport and meeting with Lamar.

It almost sounds like it's cheating to start with so much money, but it becomes apparent that this is necessary because the online mode is bursting with all of the content the game has received over the years: mission creator, heists, stunt races, and the latest contract missions featuring Dr. Dre. There's even exclusive content in the form of new mods and modded cars in the shop. If the previous iteration is anything to go by, future GTA Online content will remain free, making it difficult to break away from the game when you theoretically don't have to spend anything to get new content.

The slew of content that has arrived relatively free of charge has done its part to keep GTA5 from getting stale, but one of the big reasons it has such a large population of players many years later is because there's nothing like it on the market. Other developers haven succeeded in making their own open worlds feel good to live in, but no one has attempted to populate it with other live players running around at the same time. It isn't quite an MMO, but it is close to one, and there are barely any games that embrace a more modern setting in multiplayer. More importantly, no other game thrives on the chaos like this while providing enough structure to accommodate those who want a multiplayer version of the single-player game and those who want to run around doing whatever they want. The fact that Rockstar couldn't cause lighting to strike twice with Red Dead Online shows how good and lucky they were at getting this right.

The online version is free for a limited time on the PS5, but one thing may stop you from jumping in. There is no cross-play support in GTA5, bucking the recent trend in big-name titles. Players have gotten used to the fact that the PC, PS4 and Xbox One communities couldn't play against each other, but that now extends to PS5 and Xbox Series X|S. You can import characters to this version, or you can start fresh with fewer people trying to grief you. On the other hand, this means that you have to abandon your crew if everyone hasn't upgraded yet — a real possibility considering how difficult it is to find these consoles in the wild.

If you've somehow held out on getting Grand Theft Auto V until now and don't play games on your PC, then the PS5 version is the one to get. The faster loading times and graphical bumps still make this a good-looking game, despite the age of the assets. The solo campaign still has some allure, and the online component has proven its staying power. If you've already played the campaign to death, then you might be tempted to grab this because of the ridiculously low, temporary intro price. If you're an avid GTA Online player, then you may be on the fence given the segregation of online populations. This version means that the wait for GTA6 is going to be painfully long, but what's here is solid enough to tide one over until that finally arrives.

Score: 8.0/10

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