Is Grand Theft Auto V The Best One Yet?

Hope you’ve enjoyed your extended vacation away from Los Santos because it’s time to come back — and get paid. Debuting last year on the older consoles, “GTA V” certainly lived up to the hype that Rockstar Games promised. We absolutely loved it.

Of course, we all knew that “GTA V” would eventually make an appearance for the new generation and PC — just not when. Well, today’s (November 18) the day folks. If you’ve held out this long for a next-gen release or just need another excuse to play it all over again than you should definitely pick it up, because this version is the definitive “GTA V” experience.

Crime Pays
As with all “GTA” games, you don’t exactly star as a good guy. Robbing jewel stores, shooting cops, and mugging old ladies ain’t exactly nice — but it sure is fun! In “GTA V” you’ll play the role of three different anti-heroes, each with their own path through the story. You can switch from each character at will — unless the plot demands a specific person — and complete their jobs and side missions. Furthermore, the characters have their own stats which you can upgrade by skillfully playing, and have unique abilities to help you out of jams. When you’re tired of stick up jobs and heists there’s a myriad of other things to do — golfing, deep sea diving, racing, skydiving… You name it, and it’s probably in the game.

Michael, Franklin, and Trevor’s path merge fairly close to the beginning, but Rockstar does a good job of allowing players to meet and experience their lives more intimately. Michael is the mid-lifer, retired criminal who is having an existential crisis. Franklin wants to get out of the ‘hood and knows something out there is better for him. And Trevor… Well, Trevor is a meth-fueled maniac that, um, really embraces life’s opportunities. How they become embroiled in the larger picture, however, is revealed later on.

The main gameplay focuses around a handful of heists that Michael, Franklin and Trevor must complete in order to stay out of their increasingly chaotic lifestyle. The heists are the highlight and we only wish there were more of them (supposedly Rockstar is drumming up more content). The tense atmosphere of holding down hostages or maintaining a low profile is quite exhilarating. When you finally shake the police or make a final stand and get away with it, you’ll have a huge smile.

A New Perspective
The big new thing for the PS4 and Xbox One release is the first person mode. It might not seem like much on the surface, but exploring fake-L.A. has never been more exciting. This is the first time a “GTA” has officially incorporated a FPS camera — complete with a total reworking of the controls — outside of PC mods.

With a simple tap of button, you can seamlessly transition between 3rd and 1st perspectives, and it makes for a totally different game. It’s more immersive — and frankly more exciting. We’ve been replaying almost exclusively in 1st person and loving every minute.

Naturally, there are a few quirks when dealing with the new camera. Movement feels a bit floaty while on foot and shooting is not as smooth as we’d like it. “GTA V” isn’t exactly a “Call of Duty,” so it might take you a bit to get reacquainted with the controls. Driving will require some investment, too. But overall Rockstar has done an excellent job of merging 1st person into the game and thankfully they’ve added a good deal of user customization for the controls.

The Big Score
“GTA V” looks phenomenal on the new consoles. New textures, lighting, and animations have been added and tweaked to make this version look great. And that’s really saying something, as the older generation’s “GTA V” was one of the graphically best games on those systems. Somehow, Rocktar has outdone themselves on this version. Do yourself a favor; jump into 1st person and just explore the city.

The attention to detail is breathtaking – and the city and her people feel alive. Citizens squawk on their smartphones, lay out on the beach, or play tennis. Everyone is trying to become a movie star or have been beaten down by the system. Los Santos is a city of highs and lows as you explore the high class life, and delve into the darker underbelly.

Go Online
“GTA Online” is a bit of a mish-mash of gameplay. Los Santos is completely open to explore and complete jobs — or just blast other players into oblivion. However, there are more structured games — deathmatch, races, etc. — that reward you with cash and unlocks to bigger and better things.

While it’s fun to mess around online, it’s not perfect. “GTA V” suffers some of the same issues as “Red Dead Redemption” in that sometimes the chaos of gameplay overrides the experience. Mayhem really is the name of the game and the more you understand that it’s all about seeing what insane stunts you can pull the better time you’ll have. This isn’t a knock to Rockstar, though: “GTA Online” fulfills their vision of how they want players to interact with their game and, for the most part, can be very fun.

Final Thoughts
There isn’t more to say than what we’ve already said in our review last year. “Grand Theft Auto V” is one of the best in the series. It’s a must-play if you’re a fan of open world games.

Rockstar remains top in class for sandbox gameplay and brings a level of unmatched dedication to presentation and polish. “GTA V” looks great, feels great, and plays great. The changes that Rockstar have made with the release on PS4 and Xbox One might seem a bit minor, but should sway players back into what is a fantastic game.

Grand Theft Auto V” is available today (November 18) for PS4 and Xbox One