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    Grand Theft Auto V: PC version,A new perspective on Rockstar’s crime epic.

    The long-awaited PC version of Grand Theft Auto V will come with a stack of new content and enhancements, including better visuals, more wildlife, new weather effects and  a replay editor. But it’s the addition of an optional first-person mode that’s proving to be one of the most exciting new features.

    This ‘remaster’ of the original 2013 release is already out on consoles, but has been delayed on PC until later this month. So I decided to get a taster of what’s to come by playing the PlayStation 4 version, and I discovered that GTA works really  well when viewed through the eyes of its sociopathic anti-heroes.

    Set in LA-parody Los Santos and the surrounding countryside, GTA V tells the story of Michael, Franklin and Trevor,  a trio of criminals whose lives become entwined. Michael is a retired bank robber living a life of luxury in witness protection, but who misses the excitement of his old life. Franklin is a streetwise repo man seeking a way out of the hood. And Trevor is an insane meth dealer.

    The three don’t like each other, and they couldn’t be more different, but the pursuit of one thing keeps their uneasy alliance together: money. You control all three characters, and can jump between them at (almost) any time via the push of a button. This is  V ’s big gimmick, and each protagonist has his own RPG-lite stats (stamina, driving ability, etc) a returning feature from  San Andreas that I missed in the last game.
    Los Santos is an atmospheric world to exist in, and a big one too
    Rockstar’s world-building has always been among the best in the business, but it’s only when I switch to first-person that I realise just how incredibly detailed its satirical recreation of California is. I spend time just walking around, wandering the dense, detailed streets of downtown Los Santos, strolling through sun-dappled forests and dusty deserts, and climbing to the peak of the colossal Mt Chiliad.

    It’s an atmospheric world to exist in, and it’s big too. But not big for the sake of being big. Everything feels carefully handcrafted, and there are no boring expanses of procedurally generated countryside.

    Walking, cycling, sailing and flying around the map in first-person makes it feel bigger, and all the vehicles now have rendered interiors, with working radios and speedometers. Weapons have iron sights, and there are new animations especially for the new viewpoint. It’s clear a lot of work has gone into this, and I wonder if it’ll become a standard feature in future GTA s.

    It’s customisable, too. You can set camera modes for different actions, like if you only want first-person when you aim a weapon or get into a vehicle. My only complaint is the FOV, which is very narrow. This can make actions where the camera moves around a lot like pulling a driver out of their car to steal it a bit disorientating. Hopefully, the PC version’s graphics options will offer an adjustable slider.

    While I come to prefer the new camera mode for exploring and travelling between missions, I find the traditional third-person view more useful in firefights, as you’re more aware of your surroundings and can use cover more effectively. I’ll be switching views a lot when I play the game properly on PC, but some people will undoubtedly play the entire thing in first-person. It’s nice to have the option.

    An unexpected side effect of this new perspective is that the violence which is pretty strong to begin with feels even more brutal. Speeding down a busy sidewalk, I watch floppy, physics-enabled bodies slam into my fender and get tossed over my hood. Punch someone and they’ll recoil and crumple, blood streaking across the sidewalk. In the traditional  GTA  view, you were kind of detached from your character’s dubious criminality, but here you’re face to face with it, and it can be grim.

    As for the enhanced visuals, this new version already makes the 2013 release look embarrassingly outdated. The moment this really stikes me is during a drive to the Vinewood Hills at night. Snaking up narrow, palm-lined streets, past palatial celebrity mansions, I come to a ridge overlooking Los Santos.

    My eyes are met with a sea of lights. I can see freeways teeming with traffic, and helicopters shining spotlights on the streets below, hunting for criminals. Cities in games are often unconvincing, but Los Santos genuinely feels like an urban sprawl that’s pulsing with life.

    The roads are busier, and there are more pedestrians lining the streets, not to mention more animals. You’ll see people walking dogs I had a particularly harrowing moment of regret when I accidentally (honest!) ran a guy over,  only to see his labrador wander over to his body and sit, confused, wondering  why his master wouldn’t get up.

    Rural areas are much better, too, with denser foliage and swaying grass. Everything just looks really good and remember, I’m playing this on a PS4. I can’t wait to see what it looks like running on a high-end GPU in 4K, which is natively supported.

    New features and fancypants visual effects aside, though, this is pretty much the same game you (might have) played on Xbox 360 or PS3. But that’s no bad thing, because it’s probably the best GTA game. It embraces the absurd in  a way that  IV  spectacularly failed to, and almost every main story mission is fun and well-designed.

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