I’ve just spent a half-hour planning an ideal heist. I am going in smart, knocking out the guards and the staff behind the delicate jewellery counters of the store with a carefully put smoke bomb, and smashing into each cabinet with the butt of a semi-automatic rifle prior to making my escape on a local getaway bike. I’m reducing my cut therefore i can hire the very best hacker to disable the security system, and an experienced gunman to take care of crowd control. Yet, despite my best efforts, with one poorly-taken corner on my bike, everything goes wrong. I will be driving down a dank sewer tunnel, sneaking my way under metropolis to freedom. Instead, I’m here, mowing down wave after wave of police on metropolis streets, and for the 1st time while playing a Grand Theft Auto game, Personally i think immensely guilty about any of it.

This isn’t as a result of some grand moral awakening on my part, but a fascinating side effect of what’s the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One version of GTA V’s most compelling new feature: first-person mode. Even though GTA games were top-down shooters, there is always something of a disconnect between your sometimes shockingly violent scenes on-screen, and the mentality of the player. You could suppose, despite directly controlling a character, it had been this virtual caricature of a criminal committing the crimes–you merely played witness to them. First-person mode fundamentally changes how you view GTA V’s world. It gets the power to cause you to stop and consider your actions, and deeply question a character’s motivations. And in a string that has always been criticized for glorifying a life of crime, instead of questioning it, that is no bad thing.

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Yes, there are a good amount of violent first-person shooters around where issues of morality could be raised, but few are paired with the gorgeous Hollywood production values of GTA V. The town of Los Santos is probably the most beautiful and convincing open-world environments to have ever graced a gaming, and in its new higher-resolution guise, it’s a lot more spectacular. When compared to last-gen versions, the brand new GTA V is noticeably sharper, largely because of improved antialiasing. Textures resolutions have already been bumped, surfaces are, well, bumpier (thanks increased tessellation), and there are types of new particle, light, and lens effects. You can cruise down Vespucci Beach and choose little details in its trinket stores and skateboard shops that weren’t there before. You can drive around in the torrential rain, marvelling at the beautifully rendered raindrops and puddles on the floor. So when you stop admiring the scenery to cause some anarchy, explosions from a hastily thrown grenade play a dazzling display of fire and light.

To admire this all in first-person is a delight. The wide, cinematic field of view is quite dissimilar to that of your typical shooter, as may be the slower pace with that you walk; think P.T. and you’re on the right course. Where in fact the camera once easily tilted up above and around the town, at walk out everything looks bigger and more imposing. I came across myself walking along metropolis streets, watching as the countless weird and wonderful citizens of Los Santos went about their business. I wandered into shops, even those where I couldn’t buy anything, merely to admire the astonishing degree of detail at eye level, with nifty depth of field effects assisting to sell the immersion. It’s all very lifelike, the gentle head bobs and animations as you leap over walls and tumble out of cars drawing you in to the game in a manner that third-person mode never could.

This is also true when the action gets hotter, and where in fact the grizzly reality of GTA V makes sharp focus. With most missions revolving around some sort of gunplay, the bloody splatter of a drug dealer laid to waste on the sidewalk, or the groans of an injured cop writing on the hood of his car have a lot more of an impact than before. Of course, not everyone will be as afflicted by this as I was, but there are a few practical points to ponder too. Shooting and throwing explosives is simpler in first-person, despite having GTA’s assisted aim disabled–provided you ignore the obscene degrees of controller sensitivity before you start–but the cover system isn’t quite there, and there have been occasions when I wasn’t in a position to peek around a corner properly and got shot consequently.

Then there’s the driving, which, regardless of how hard I tried, I came across far too difficult to understand in first-person. The fully working and wonderfully detailed vehicle interiors could be impressive, however the twitchy controls that work so well in third-person for pulling off outrageous driving stunts are simply much too sensitive to easily keep cars on the highway throughout a frantic police chase. Additionally, there are vehicle missions that simply weren’t made with first-person at heart either. Trying to catch Michael’s son as he dangles off a boat on the road, or performing a speeding drive by on the road is quite difficult. It’s arguably more realistic, but I came across myself switching back again to third-person to get them done. Thankfully, it isn’t an either or situation with regards to your viewpoint. You can drive in third-person and also have the overall game automatically switch to first-person when on-foot if you want, as well as pan out to third-person when you take cover.

But regardless if you want to ignore first-person mode completely, GTA V has lost little of its lustre since release. Nonetheless, following the years of progress in the market and all of the wonderful games that I’ve played, I’m surprised how few have were able to replicate the Hollywood feel and effortless, natural dialogue of a GTA. That is a series which has constantly been the most convincing and the most cinematic in games, and GTA V continues that tradition with aplomb. Even something as basic as credible characters certainly are a rarity, yet GTA V manages to make a whole city packed with them, and three traditional leads with which to journey through it. That isn’t to state these leads are likeable characters, but perhaps that is the point. There can be several times you sympathise with retired gangster Michael as his family life crumbles around him, or when you assume that wannabe gangster Franklin could be a good guy because he says he’s always trying to accomplish the right thing.

But they are narcissistic, psychopathic killers who don’t blink an eyelid at killing a huge selection of flawlessly innocent persons when it serves their own means. That is particularly true of Trevor, who remains by far the most interesting and well-written character of the lot, a terrifyingly insane yet remarkably intelligent criminal who constantly appears on the edge of some sort of mental breakdown. Scary doesn’t even get started to spell it out it. These characters aren’t without fault, though–there are occasions whenever a character will contradict his own motivations, seemingly merely to fit the structure of a mission–but the actual fact these characters could be so convincingly terrifying, therefore sharp and snappy within their interactions with each other is a testament to precisely how fantastic the writing in GTA is.

This is a string that has constantly been the most convincing and the most cinematic in games, and GTA V continues that tradition with aplomb.

That reaches the world most importantly too: the sprawling, gorgeously detailed metropolis of Los Santos deftly satirizes its real-world inspiration of LA, and of America as whole. Highlights are the self-proclaimed god of social media, Lifeinvader CEO Jay Norris, And his company’s beanbag-filled offices; the regular barrage of adverts for celebrity magazines, prescription medications, and plastic surgeries that are savaged on the air; and the corrupt government agencies just like the FiB that often act worse compared to the criminals they’re trying to place away. Sure, GTA V may also be heavy-handed using its satire, but there are few games that dare go so far as GTA does using its nihilistic commentary, and fewer still that do it with such conviction.

Running through everything are bombastic missions that play out like Hollywood blockbusters, and the best possible of gangster films. Heists remain the highlight, and the complete procedure for planning them out, hiring members of the team, gathering equipment, and hoping that the fuzz doesn’t interfere on the wedding day is completely engrossing. Bombs are exploded, helicopters are smashed in to the side of skyscrapers, and entire squads of police give chase as you make a futile attempt escape down the highway; the sheer thrill of a 4 or 5 star chase as what appears like the complete state’s quota of police descends after you can’t be understated. Yet, GTA V remains stuck during the past in a few ways. There are chase missions where losing sight of your target because of a poorly taken start the highway means making a frustrating restart, and assassination missions where, in the event that you act rashly and kill your target prior to the game expects you to, you have to start out over again.