Grand Theft Auto 5 – Next Next Gen Impressions

Grand Theft Auto 5 - Next Next Gen Impressions

God, GTA 5 just won’t go away, will it? Not content with just dominating sales charts for 2 entire generations of gaming, Rockstar has decided that they want their dominance to continue for years to come. So with that in mind, here comes the Xbox Series X and PS5 versions of the game, but the question is, does GTA V still need a place in your library? Well, honestly, not really, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a good time to be had. 

I picked up GTA V for the measly sum of $15 on the PS5, a price that is hanging around for a little while so it is worth keeping in mind. For $15 this is a great upgrade to a classic title. There is no doubt the game looks better, runs better and loads faster but Rockstar, disappointingly, left things at that. There are no quality of life improvements made to the game that could really help with some of the frustrations that come from playing a game that is almost 10 years and two generations old. Driving is still a pain, the map is still clunky and combat can feel on the janky side of things. Rockstar missed a real opportunity here to push GTA V forward in a meaningful way, to iron out issues that have frustrated players for years. Instead they decided a glam up is all that is needed and haven’t changed the game in any meaningful ways. 

But, as far as glam ups go, this is a pretty good one. The game offers three different graphical settings, a 30fps mode with all the bells and whistles, a 60fps upscaled mode that includes some ray-tracing and a performance mode where the game is optimised for the best framerate possible. For me, the 60 FPS with RT is the sweet spot, offering a noticeable upgrade to the graphics (even over my PC version of the games) while still running at a buttery smooth 60 frames. I can’t see why anyone would pick the other modes, but they are there if you so choose. 

One of the unexpected problems of the upgrade is that the game, especially in the early missions where there is a lot of driving against a clock, feels more difficult now. This comes about because of the increased amount of traffic on the roads. The sheer increase in the number of cars zipping around the city is impressive and makes the city of Los Santos feel more alive but there is no doubt that this translates into extra obstacles that need avoiding during missions. The early street racing Franklin mission was especially frustrating because it only takes one little bump to be out of winning contention. 

One of the more impressive upgrades that I noticed was one not really mentioned by the press releases. The use of the PS5 controller and its built-in speaker and haptics is a great addition to the game. Rockstar has managed to implement both of these features in meaningful ways that never feel like they are gimmicky. The game also loads significantly faster, with the initial load of the map sitting around the 30 seconds mark, as opposed to almost two minutes on the original release and 90 seconds on the PS4. Bless those SSDs folks, because in my mind they are doing more to improve the user experience than any graphical or audio trick.

In the end, though there is no escaping that this is a slightly disappointing upgrade to one of the most loved games of all time. The graphical and presentation boosts are very nice, but the problems with the game that were present in the original 360/PS3 release are still here, which means there isn’t enough to justify a full-priced upgrade. At the current price of $15 I feel it is worth grabbing, especially if you haven’t played it since the original release, but at the RRP of $69.95 there is simply no value for money.  Chances are you already know if GTA 5 is your thing, but if you have the PC or Xbox One/PS4 version I find it hard to recommend this upgrade, there just isn’t enough here to justify it. 

For the purposes of this impressions piece, Matt played around 4 hours of this version of GTA. Matt played on the PS5 with code he purchased. All screenshots taken from the PS5

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