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GTA 5 next-gen review: Is the update worth the price?

The latest version of the game promises improved graphics and faster loading times

Jasper Pickering
Tuesday 15 March 2022 13:14
<p>The game is nearly a decade old </p>

The game is nearly a decade old

Rockstar Games has not had the best of luck when bringing its old games to new hardware.

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - Definitive Edition was far from the definitive version of the beloved PS2-era of GTA titles when it launched late last year. So much so, in fact, that the publisher felt compelled to publicly apologise for its technical issues.

The game may be nearly a decade old, but with the launch of GTA V on the PS5 and Xbox series X/S consoles, can Rockstar Games give players a truly better experience?

Originally released on the seventh generation of gaming consoles (Playstation 3 and Xbox 360) the title has seen a number of new ports as well as a host of downloadable content, most recently in December 2021 with the release of The Contract for GTA Online.

While the graphical improvements are showcased well and loading times have certainly been cut down significantly, GTA V feels significantly dated compared to more modern open world games.

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How we tested

We played the latest version of GTA V using a Playstation 5 copy of the game. We spent a few hours playing around with graphical settings as well as test loading times and other notable features. Our experience is based on a short playthrough of the game’s story mode as well as some of the online features from GTA Online.

GTA V: £8.75, Playstation.com

Los Santos is a wonderful playground, even if it’s starting to show its age

  • Consoles: Playstation 5, Xbox Series X/S
  • Developer: Rockstar Games
  • Release Date: 15 March 2022
  • Price: £8.75 (PS5) £17.49 (Xbox X/S)
  • Rating: 8/10

Performance

While some of the character models are starting to show their age after nearly a decade, there is certainly an improvement on some of the lighting mechanics and textures. The world of GTA V is a colourful place by any standards and there’s a vibrancy to Los Santos that really shines through on the latest hardware, depending on which graphical mode is being used.

“Fidelity” mode targets the highest possible graphical settings at the expense of a fixed 30FPS framerate. In this mode 4K visuals are enabled as well as ray tracing which is most noticeable at night, when the city lights reflect off cars as you speed down the highway.

The graphical improvements are more apparent at night

“Performance” mode, however, does the opposite with a focus on high framerates at the loss of the ray tracing option. A high framerate is more immediately beneficial to gameplay than ray tracing functionality and with retained 4K support for PS5 and Xbox series X, this might be the better option for gamers looking for a smoother experience.

Luckily, “Performance RT” takes the best of both worlds with a variable, yet sturdy framerate as well as ray tracing options.

Loading times

When first launching the “story mode” portion of GTA V, the improved loading times are immediately noticeable. Loading up the entirety of Los Santos takes seconds rather than minutes and once you’re in the game, changing between the three protagonists, Franklin, Michael and Trevor are near-instant, regardless of where they are located on the map.

It’s hard to imagine that in 2013 one of the biggest complaints was the amount of time it took to transition between two characters.

Switching between Franklin, Michael and Trevor has never been so fast

Hardware

One other notable addition to the list of new features for GTA V is the support for next gen controllers. Driving and gunplay has seen a noticeable improvement thanks to the PS5 dualsense controller’s features.

A less useful feature is the use of the controller’s built in speaker which makes its way over from the PS4 version of the game. Phone calls, long distance conversations and chatter from police dispatch can be heard through the tinny speaker on the controller and the experience is somewhat disorienting, even if it is somewhat novel. This, thankfully, can be turned off, however.

The verdict: ‘GTA V’

While it has become something of a running joke that Rockstar Games is able to release the same game across three different console generations, the latest version of GTA V really is one of the best ways to experience one of the biggest games ever made on a console. Gamers will baulk at the idea of forking over yet more hard-earned cash for the same game a third time but from now until 14 June is the best time to take the plunge before it goes up to full price.

The improvements on offer here won’t do much to appeal to PC gamers, however. With a strong and well-supported modding community, many of the graphical enhancements can simply be experienced on a decent gaming PC with the right configuration and settings.

If, somehow, you have yet to find the time to visit Los Santos, experience its cynical characters and try to steal the tank from the military base, then the low price point might initially appeal to you. But as it’s been mentioned previously, the game is nearly a decade old at this point and that’s starting to show, even with the enhancements.

To put it mildly, the next Grand Theft Auto can’t come any sooner.

‘GTA 5’ PS5 and Xbox series X/S edition

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