Grand Theft Auto 5 review (PS5)

About a full decade after its original release, Grand Theft Auto 5 is re-released once more, this time with a new incarnation for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S/X generation of consoles. How does it hold up after all this time? We checked out the PS5 version to find out.

In a work where reboot, remasters and ports are common, GTA 5 still manages to stand out from the crowd. Not necessarily because of the quality of the release, which we’ll go into later, but because this is a game that originally launched on the PlayStation 3. It’s been previously brought to a new generation of consoles when it launched on the PS4, and now it’s making another generational leap with the PS5 launch, even though the PS4 version is fully compatible with it. That makes this a very rare case of a game that has made two console generation leaps in its lifetime.

In many ways, it’s easy to see how the open world of Los Santos has managed to engage players for so long. Compared to many of the games that came before and after it, it feels very much alive, with a vibrant and diverse population residing inside it. Clog up traffic either in your car or on foot, and people will get agitated as they’re trying to get some place, while in other locations you’ll find them relaxing and going about their day at a much more leisurely pace or getting in some exercise. Even without engaging in the game’s story mode, there’s a lot to take in and appreciate here.

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These days, a lot of Rockstar’s focus for GTA 5 is on GTA Online, which still regularly received new content. You can see this focus on the new opening menu, which actually puts Online first and the story mode as secondary. It feels a bit strange for players, like us, who never saw GTA as an “ongoing service” game, but it’s understandable when you consider that content-wise the campaign is still pretty much the same game it was a decade ago.

It also makes sense when you realize how well Rockstar’s been able to monetize the mode, which features plenty of grinding and many years worth of content. It’s been made more accessible for new users with the option to claim some free in-game currency, but ultimately it’s probably not going to sway those who prefer a single player experience, even with the new Short Trips mode that lets you play somewhat generic missions while online. To them, the campaign will feel much more tightly designed, and GTA Online will feel a bit overwhelming.

For fans of the original campaign, the main draw is going to be the new console generation’s audiovisual improvements, with higher image quality that supports native 4K as well as frame rates of 60 frames per second. As with many PS5 titles you can choose between performance (refresh rate) and image quality depending on your preference and screen, but the bump in quality is easily noticeable on any configuration, and all modes perform smoothly. There’s even support for HDR and raytracing, which makes for a startling difference with the PS4 version. They’ve also done a good job adding DualSense support here, with lots of subtle feedback to the on-screen action – even when it’s just bad weather. Sure, the audiovisual aspects are not up there with recent titles like Forbidden West of Ratchet & Clank, but you’d never guess this was a PS3 title.

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There are a few areas where GTA 5 shows its age though, and despite DualSense support the controls are a good example. Compared to present day examples, they’ll feel a bit still and unresponsive – which is something a bit of audiovisual polish can’t hide. You’ll also notice that, even though the story and characters are still very engaging, some of the social commentary is starting to feel a tad dated. It’s not bothersome, just a mark that GTA 5 is a product of its time and that time was ten years ago.

It’s still a modern classic though, and without GTA 6 arriving any time soon it’s the best GTA experience you can currently get. If you’ve left the PS4 generation behind then you’ll love the technical boost that the game received, though at the same time you’ll have to consider if they’re worth the asking price for essentially the same content.

Score: 8.0/10

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