Steve’s been playing GTA V on the PS4 and ended up pondering whether the game deserves the title of best remaster this year.
Consider the remaster - a lucrative by-product of not having backwards compatibility that allows a developer to flog its wares a second time round. In the first year of the PS4 and Xbox One, we’ve seen a fair few coming out, which can leave you asking the question: Why aren’t the big devs remastering last year’s games working on some new ones for the hunks of gaming power sitting by our tellies?
I rather suspect the big devs involved are making the new games we so crave. In Rockstar’s case we might see the apparently abandoned PS3 exclusive Agent announced for PS4 before the year is out (watch this space). From a developer's perspective, with the 8th generation still in its relative infancy, you can see how the remaster is a good project to use in order to learn how to get the most out of the new consoles, given that the game is already for the most part ‘written’
Consequently the quality of a remaster has now become a standard by which a developer is judged by and the best remaster category has popped up in this years Game Awards.
Look on the list and you’ll see GTA V in the running for the remaster prize, and from my experience of the game on PS4 I reckon it’s got a pretty strong chance of winning it.
So far, GTA V is the fourth remaster I’ve replayed this year after Tomb Raider, TLOU and Diablo III and I’m inclined to think it has the edge over these at least.
Graphically GTA V on PS3 was pretty strong to start with but it’s improved (as you would expect) on PS4. With better antialiasing things look sharper, the textures have been completely redone and the already impressive draw distances are well, more impressive. You’re also wowed with new particle. lense and light effects, rain and water look great, explosions dazzle you and catching a passing glimpse of camera shine feels more next gen.
What really, quite literally is a game changer for the GTA V remaster however is the addition of first person mode. Sure, driving can be a bit wonky, the cover system doesn’t work all that well and clearly some of the missions weren’t designed with first person in mind, but now you’re thrown much deeper in.
A major factor which sold the game the first time round was its brilliant cinematic quality, now, with the option to zoom into your character, just by goofing around you can create your own series of cutscenes. Seeing yourself failing at driving and smashing through the front of your windscreen immediately has the ‘how awesome would that be on Oculus Rift’ alarm bells ringing as well (the same goes for flying).
You get a broad field of view and saunter about when you’re walking, which both make the game feel less like a straight FPS (although shooting does become a lot easier). While it’s clearly an idea wedged-in to give the game a new spin, what a spin it is.
A brutal realism comes with the first person experience, the disconnect created by third person dissolves and everything feels a lot more purposeful. Yes there are violent first person games out there, but the theme is generally that you’re killing bad things. Going about dishing out random violence on innocent passersby hits you a lot harder - something I know many will find deliciously cruel - you’re now viewing the world directly as a free-roaming psychotic killer and the coldness of it all did make me feel like being a bit better behaved (sometimes).
Beyond other remasters giving a makeover/bundling in DLC/adding photo mode, sharing features, DualShock 4 functionality etc, Rockstar has given GTA V something new with first person mode that is enough to suck you back in again. I find myself wondering how a potential GTA VI will turn out now its here. Will Rockstar work to fit the game around it more, change the driving and combat, ramp up the grittiness?
If the criteria of ranking the remaster includes how it has moved along from the original then GTA V makes a strong case. Technically less so, the magic 60 frames per second compromised for 30, which can sometimes slow up a bit with a busy screen, but that’s about the only niggle I can find.
Put first person mode away though and you’re still left with a whole lot of attention to detail. a vibrant facsimile of a real city and a cinematic sheen that all gain with the remake. Playing GTA V again hasn’t been laborious and has served to remind me just how well made the game was anyway.