When Grand Theft Auto V first launched in September 2013, I had originally planned on picking it up right away. After all, I had been a fan of the series since 2001, and it had been 5 years since we’d seen a proper entry. As the months went on, though, I, like many others, began to think about the possibility of the title coming to the recently released Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It made sense, as plenty of publishers do the same thing, and Rockstar Games has ported previous entries in the series over to several different platforms in the past.
So, I waited. And waited, and waited, and waited for Rockstar Games to announce something. Rumors popped up for months, but it wasn’t until E3 2014 that we got an official confirmation that the title would be coming to current-gen platforms, as well as PC. Now, after 428 days of waiting, I have finally made my return to San Andreas.
For those unfamiliar with the plot of Grand Theft Auto V, let me provide a quick outline. Following an intense prologue set nine years prior, we formally meet Michael De Santa, a retired criminal. Now living the posh Los Santos lifestyle, Michael begins to feel that his personal life is crumbling around him. Eventually, he comes into contact with Franklin Clinton, a young man trying to make it big. Stuck working for a shady car dealer, Franklin longs for something better than cruising around with his partner Lamar. As the campaign continues, the duo meet up with Trevor Philips, a psychopath who has history with Michael.
Back when the game was first released, the main campaign proved to be a little divisive. Some appreciated the split between all three personalities, while others felt that the characters were too unsympathetic and hard to relate to. Personally, I enjoyed the storyline, but I did have some issues with how Trevor comes across. I get that he is supposed to be unhinged and crazy, but he seemed a little too cartoony at times, especially when compared to the more grounded issues that Michael and Franklin have.
Part of what makes the story so entertaining comes from the assortment of missions that Rockstar has crafted for this go around. The Heat-style heists are the biggest addition to the traditional GTA formula, as they introduce a unique gameplay experience to the series. Being able to bring together a group of equal-minded scoundrels in order to pull off thrilling heists is a blast, and I appreciated that I could select my crew based around their different traits. Even when I wasn’t planning and executing a major heist, though, I still had a a great time playing through the campaign. Whether I was cruising around with Lamar or taking down a plane, I was consistently entertained and never found myself feeling bored or unsure of what to do next.
As one would expect, Grand Theft Auto V also features a plethora of additional content for players to experience. These activities range from the relatively mundane, such as running a triathlon or going to the shooting range, to the completely absurd, like Trevor’s Rampages. The current-gen ports have added even more content, if you can believe that. Returning players can look forward to activities such as stock car racing or solving a murder with Michael that only add even more content to an already jam-packed title.
Besides the bonus content and the upgrades on the technical side of things, the biggest addition packed in with the current-gen ports is the ability to play in first-person mode. Most developers probably would have taken the easy way out and half-assed the feature. Not Rockstar Games, though, who not only completely overhauled the control scheme to fit the camera angle, but also designed new animations for every action and re-modeled the interiors for vehicles.
As impressive as this feature is, I had trouble getting used to it during my playtime. Shooting and combat is fine, as it is easy to get used to if you have ever played a first-person shooter before. What troubled me was trying to drive around with this camera angle. I already had enough trouble driving around in the regular third-person view, where I can see traffic coming from all directions. Trying to pull that off in first-person, where you can only see what’s directly ahead of you, proved to be a far more frustrating task then I would have liked it to be.
Bigger, bolder and badder, Grand Theft Auto V shines just as bright on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 as it did on last-gen consoles.
Grand Theft Auto V (Xbox One) Review