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Grand Theft Auto V Game review

Game review 22 March 2022, 21:30

GTA 5 PS5 Review: Great, But Getting Old

How many times has GTA 5 been re-released already? Probably too many times to count, and so you have to ask yourself: is this next-gen version of Rockstar’s open-world masterpiece really worth the upgrade?

The review is based on the PS5 version. It's also relevant to XSX version(s).

It’s amazing to think that Grand Theft Auto V first came out on the PS3 and Xbox 360 almost a decade ago. Its open world was an impressive feat at the time, and its online mode quickly became a multiplayer universe fans still play to this day. It’s no surprise that even now the game with all its achievements is a force to be reckoned with.

It may not be as funny or as visually impressive as it was back in 2013, but you have to admit, GTA 5 does have that appeal that has kept it relevant and alive all these years. This most recent version of the game may not be the next numerical installment we have been asking for, but this upgrade truly lets it shine and show off why it was so good in the first place. That luster, however, is just about showing its age.

California Love

Playing the original game was an unforgettable experience in itself as GTA 5 created a satirical version of Los Angeles we had never seen before. Its map was massive (for games at the time) and featured a richly dense world full of characters like its three protagonist whose different lives were interwoven to tell one of the strongest stories in the franchise. Literally popping into the lives of Franklin, Michael, and Trevor and checking in on them or completing one of their missions gave us a unique take on the GTA series that made the game feel alive, connected, and real.

PROS:
  1. The definitive way to experience GTA 5;
  2. Improved loading times;
  3. Fun DualSense features on PS5;
  4. A massive world to experience and love.
CONS:
  1. Graphics that show its age;
  2. No new content;
  3. Controls are still clunky at times.

Even its NPCs and the world they inhabited were just as impressive as you could literally see them go about their day as you shoved past them or ran into them on the road. Drivers would sometimes run away scared when you crashed into them while others would step out of their car to confront you. Each neighborhood felt different and each encounter was a unique experience. Los Santos was an exaggerated version of Los Angeles, but it had its own unique details, knock-off landmarks, brands, and even TV stations that truly made the game feel “Grand”.

This rich world is yours to explore once more in this latest version, and its graphical upgrades will make your adventure even more enjoyable. The game offers three modes you can choose that enhances its resolution or its image quality. From ray-tracing that improves the various shadows you see or a Performance mode that ups it to 60 FPS with 4K resolution, the choice is really yours. I found the hybrid Performance RT mode to be the best as it gave me a smooth 60 FPS experience with some ray-tracing elements that didn’t make the game feel sluggish. Going back to an era of 30 FPS after playing some of the newer PS5 games is something I avoid.

Performance Enhancement Substances

If you have played the game’s PC version, you will notice many textures have been transferred over. Not only does the game perform better than its 2013 version, but it obviously looks cleaner and more detailed. It won’t be Horizon Forbidden West-level amazing, but it looks good considering how old the game is. Unfortunately, these touch-ups will also highlight some older facial textures and even animations that look dated. Even the game’s notorious clunky controls are still present here so jumping, running, and any sudden change in speed feels underwhelming. Don’t expect a major performance or visual overhaul here whatsoever as the game feels just like you remember it for better or worse.

What is a highlight and perhaps makes this the version to get is the game’s load times. The main game now takes less than 30 seconds to load — and that is a big deal. Again, this is nothing compared to the five seconds it takes to load up a brand new PS5 title saved to your SSD, but it is better than waiting over a minute for the world to load on the PS3 or PS4. Even switching characters makes it feel like it was meant to be — quick, seamless, and done in a matter of seconds.

VERDICT:

Picking up this latest installment of GTA 5 can only mean you either haven’t played the game yet or want to start it over on a faster, more powerful console. Either choice is fine and means you will be in for a real treat as this is the definitive way to experience its 30-some hour story by far. GTA 5’s graphical improvements and even current gen features like haptic controls somewhat update the game to today’s standards, but it does show its age and makes the case that this should be the last time it gets released again.

On the PS5, the use of DualSense features also elevates the game further and tries to put it at the level of modern games. You can hear crisp phone calls on your controller’s speaker, see the light flicker from red and blue when you gain a wanted level, and even feel the rumble change depending on the kinds of roads you are driving on. These little touches pull it all together and further make this fake Los Angeles feel so much more real.

You Still Play GTA Online?

Aside from these performance enhancements, there really isn’t anything new with GTA’s story mode. It’s unfortunate that after all these years Rockstar hasn’t released any additional backstory missions or any content to further expand on the various storylines and arcs the game puts you through. The story is still fun and filled with plenty of humor even though it does feel a bit like an old dad joke you’ve heard one too many times already.

GTA Online also feels like an improvement thanks to the overall performance buffs, but it’s still the same old mode players have been known to love or hate all these years. One notable change is that you now begin the game with 4 million dollars and you can choose what kind of career you want to build from the start. This eliminates the first few hours of the game where you really didn’t have a sense of purpose and simply ran around Los Santos completing missions toward goals you didn’t even know led anywhere.

Once you pick your desired career — executive, nightclub owner, gunrunner, or biker — you then do missions that immerse you into the many kinds of activities you can do for money and fame. This feels a lot like story mode in how it holds your hand through its introductory hours, but it still gives you full freedom to do as many missions as you want whenever you feel like it. You will still get lost at the sheer amount of stuff you can do and when figuring out how to run your covert operations, but it all feels superior to the previous versions you may have played.

Final Thoughts

Picking up this latest installment of GTA 5 can only mean you either haven’t played the game yet or want to start it over on a faster, more powerful console. Either choice is fine and means you will be in for a real treat as this is the definitive way to experience its 30-some hour story by far. At currently only $10, the game seems like a steal if you have never played it before, but if you have, then it may seem like robbery considering you’re not getting any new content.

GTA 5 PS5 Review: Great, But Getting Old - picture #5

Our reviews are featured on Metacritic.

Its graphical improvements and even current gen features like haptic controls somewhat update the game to today’s standards, but it does show its age and makes the case that this should be the last time GTA 5 gets released again. This is a great open-world game that will keep busy for a long time, but we all know Rockstar just wants to keep you occupied until GTA6 comes out.

Giancarlo Saldana | Gamepressure.com

Giancarlo Saldana

Giancarlo Saldana

Giancarlo grew up playing video games and finally started writing about them on a blog after college. He soon began to write for small gaming websites as a hobby and then as a freelance writer for sites like 1UP, GamesRadar, MacLife, and TechRadar. Giancarlo also was an editor for Blast Magazine, an online gaming magazine based in Boston where he covered various video game topics from the city's indie scene to E3 and PAX. Now he writes reviews and occasional previews for Gamepressure covering a broad range of genres from puzzle games to JRPGs to open-world adventures. His favorite series include Pokémon, Assassin's Creed, and The Legend of Zelda, but he also has a soft spot for fighting and music games like Super Smash Bros and Rock Band. When not playing Overwatch after a long day at work, he enjoys spending time working out, meal prepping, and discovering new international films and TV shows.

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