Press Start

Video game news, reviews and commentary with Gazette reporter Jake Magee.

Press Start: Why I double-dipped with 'Grand Theft Auto V'

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Jake Magee
May 6, 2015

I bought “Grand Theft Auto V” the day it launched in 2013.

Who didn't? People had been waiting years since the critically acclaimed “Grand Theft Auto IV” came out to get another taste of Rockstar Games' gorgeous worlds, sandbox gameplay and shifty, amoral characters. “Grand Theft Auto V” was an instant success, shattering six world records. Everyone was playing it.

Then, not long after the launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, Rockstar announced its blockbuster—originally released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360—would be launching for new-gen systems. “So what?” I thought. “The game just dropped. Who's going to buy that?”

As time went on, Rockstar proved “Grand Theft Auto V” for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One wasn't a simple port. They announced the updated version of “GTA V” would feature new missions, weapons, vehicles and music; an increased cap and new modes in “Grand Theft Auto Online”; enhanced graphics; and, of course, first-person mode.

Months after its release, I couldn't take it any more. Despite buying it day one for the 360, I had to experience the vice-filled streets of Los Santos and the meth-head infested wilderness of Blaine County all over again. I could replay the 360 version still sitting in my collection, but going back to last-generation hardware while a new, sleek version sat on a store shelf a couple miles away was too much to bear. Against my (and my girlfriend's) better judgment, I rushed out and bought it last week.

I don't do this very often, if ever. I own “Minecraft” for multiple systems, but that's a $15 indie game. Despite the massive influx of remastered games that have launched for new-gen systems (including “The Last of Us Remastered,” “Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition” and “Metro: Redux”) “Grand Theft Auto V” is the first blockbuster game that I couldn't resist buying a second time.

And now I'm having even more fun than I had the first time around.

The first thing I noticed when booting up was how beautiful “Grand Theft Auto V” looked on the Xbox One. I'm not a graphics connoisseur by any means. In fact, a game's graphical fidelity is one of its least important components when it comes to a game's fun factor. Still, it's hard not to feel like Los Santos is that much more alive with the remastered version's increased resolution. Puddles form and reflect the sky after heavy rainfall. Cars shine and shimmer in the sun. Streetlamps illuminate shady alleys when the sun sets beyond the sea. Los Santos feels more real than ever in “Grand Theft Auto V's” new-gen version. That's at least partially thanks to excellent graphics.

This new version is my first real foray into “Grand Theft Auto Online.” When “GTA V” launched for last-generation consoles, the online multiplayer was next to broken. For weeks, I couldn't log in, and when I finally could, the world felt so bare that I quickly went back to single-player. In the remastered version, “GTA Online” is where I spend most of my time. It can be annoying getting domed every few minutes by an obnoxious troll, but it's fun to hang out with friends or a crew and do missions together.

Oh, and heists. Heists are finally in “Grand Theft Auto Online,” and they're even more fun than I expected. There's nothing like spending hours setting up and completing a heist with a few of your buddies and walking away with hundreds of thousands of untraceable bills for a new wardrobe, weapons or souped up car.

I'm glad Rockstar dedicated its time to adding a first-person mode to “GTA V.” “Grand Theft Auto” games have traditionally been third-person affairs, mainly because it works, but it's surprising how well Rockstar pulled off first-person shooting and driving. Though I don't use it very often—I like looking at my characters—it's great that FPS aficionados have the option to experience “GTA” from the eyes of its protagonists. (Or should I say “antagonists”?)

I ran into a game-breaking glitch a couple days ago. Despite my best efforts to fix the problem, missions stopped appearing on my map, and I was forced to restart the game and lose hours of progress. At first, I was annoyed, but not much could taint my fun with “Grand Theft Auto V.”

Am I a little irked with developers and publishers churning out remastered versions of games that launched mere months ago? Sure. Players could easily see that as a desperate cash grab, and I wouldn't blame them.

But no one's forcing you to buy anything, and if you're content with the versions of games you bought for your PS3 and 360, more power to you! For those who feel remastered versions of games take away resources and manpower from studios that could be developing new games, realize that porting a game to a new console with updated graphics and new features isn't nearly as daunting a task as developing an entirely new game; your favorite developers will be working on brand new stuff soon enough.

In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy playing through “Grand Theft Auto V” for a second time. I may be down another $60, but I don't regret one lost cent.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a car to steal.

Video game columnist Jake Magee has been with GazetteXtra since 2014. His opinion is not necessarily that of Gazette management. Let him know what you think by emailing [email protected], leaving a comment below, or following @jakemmagee on Twitter.

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