GTA 5 Next-Gen Review: New life for the Modern Masterpiece

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How do you take one of the best 21st-century games ever made and make it even better? Well, with GTA 5, Rockstar's approach was fairly simple. Take all of the frustrating aspects of the game for a modern player and eliminate them all.

Load times, performance and ageing visuals are the frustrations in question. With the quality of games that have been released in the last few years, GTA 5 was starting to show its age, even on the PS4 and Xbox One.

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With these improvements in place, has GTA 5 reached the point of perfection? Let's take a look at where the next-gen version stands against the original.

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A fresh coat of paint

From a pure gameplay perspective, GTA 5 is a game that doesn't need any major work to bring it up to speed with current open-world experiences. In fact, many developers are still using GTA 5 as the template for how to structure their own games.

I found that the most notable changes were actually to the load times when first launching a game or when starting and finishing missions. Switching between Story Mode and GTA Online is also now far more tolerable. I can remember outright refusing to join friends in GTA Online in the past when dreading the awful load times between the two modes.

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Throw this massive improvement in with the higher resolutions and better FPS (still capped at 60) and this is everything GTA 5 needs to not feel out of place in 2022.

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There's something comforting about returning to Los Santos with these subtle tweaks but they can only be truly appreciated if you take yourself back to the way the game looked and played on the PS3 and Xbox 360. Preservation of gaming history is always a hot topic, especially when companies like Nintendo are insistent on controlling the narrative and which games from their history are allowed to survive.

With GTA 5, it feels like a game that has stood the test of time and is in the best place possible to stick around comfortably for another decade or so. We'll still be talking about it when the next game in the franchise is released and it can't be overstated how much of an influence on the industry it was both at the time of release and even today.

Online improvements

One big talking point regarding the GTA 5 next-gen update are the changes made to GTA Online. The biggest change you'll notice is if you start a brand new character. Rather than the slightly hands-off intro you now choose a starting career path and are given $4,000,000 to get your empire running.

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New story content like The Contract is still available to play

It's a great way to get going and there's a small tutorial that follows to ensure you have an idea of what to do and where to go after you've been dropped into the world. This new tutorial will only take you so far though and eventually, you'll have to figure out how to make money, increase your reputation and ultiamtely survive in GTA Online.

Thankfully, the mode itself is still arguably the best persistent experience in gaming today with endless options for how to choose to play. Weekly updates and some huge free expansions have created such a wealth of content for everyone to enjoy for years to come.

Feel the difference

One big addition to GTA 5 that shouldn't be overlooked by PS5 players is the new haptic feedback features. While they're not on the same level as Astro's Playroom, the small thrill of driving a car through grass and having the controller do its best to represent this through gentle vibrations is a quality change.

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Each vehicle has its own unique haptic feedback and feel

There are a ton of feedback options added and each one can help increase the immersion or tension of moment to moment gameplay. As with the rest of the improvements in the next-gen update, it's these small quality of life changes that all come together to push GTA 5 as close as humanly possible to perfection.

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Verdict

GTA 5 on next-gen consoles is the definitive way to play the game. Yes, PC performance offers a little bit more but the convenience of console play is what wins out here.

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From the relatively minor visual upgrades to the future-proofing haptic feedback features, GTA 5 now feels like a modern masterpiece without having to excuse any signs of ageing.

RealSport Rating: 5 Stars (out of 5)

Our GTA 5 review code was provided by Rockstar Games for PS5