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Grand Theft Auto V on Xbox One and PS4: Is it worth a second trip to Los Santos?

A significant update to 2013's game of the year just might be worth a replay.

Jeff Bakalar
Jeff Bakalar Editor at Large
Jeff is CNET Editor at Large and a host for CNET video. He's regularly featured on CBS and CBSN. He founded the site's longest-running podcast, The 404 Show, which ran for 10 years. He's currently featured on Giant Bomb's Giant Beastcast podcast and has an unhealthy obsession with ice hockey and pinball.
3 min read

Rockstar Games

This week Grand Theft Auto V makes its debut on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. At first glance it's just a prettier looking version of last year's triumph , but there's a lot that's new buried beneath its polished exterior.

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The most apparent addition is of course, first-person mode. GTA V can now be played almost entirely in that view, which essentially turns it into a different game -- at least aesthetically. I've made sure to experience my new-generation playthrough in this mode and with about 10 hours under my belt I'm pleased to say it's awesome.

Getting a first-person view of carjacking, shooting -- even just walking down the street breathes new life into the game. First-person driving shows you the car's moving gauges -- even the headlight and high-beams icons glow appropriately.

Rockstar Games

If there's one drawback to first-person mode it's that it partially severs the player from assuming the identities of the game's three main characters, Trevor, Michael and Franklin, because, well, they're not in front of you on screen. I only bring this up because of how important the development of these people is to the narrative of GTA V, so it's a little upsetting that someone playing for the first time might not get the original story the way it was originally presented.

Nevertheless, the dimension first-person mode adds is the key that makes playing GTA V for the second time not a total rehash.

The new-gen GTA V also ups the ante with a list of technical upgrades beyond the improved textures and graphical makeover. The Xbox One and PS4 editions of GTA V feature increased draw distances -- meaning the game generates visual information that appears further away (which reduces image pop-in).

Rockstar Games

The newer hardware also allows for the appearance of denser car traffic, a new foliage system and more realistic damage and weather effects. There's even addition wildlife inserted into the world.

As for actual new content, don't expect that much. There are some new weapons and vehicles in the game and a ton of new music and radio DJ content has been added.

Players can also take part in some new activities too. For those who played GTA V on Xbox 360 or PS3, tying the new-gen version to your Rockstar Games Social Club account will unlock these activities.

Grand Theft Auto V on PS4 and Xbox One (pictures)

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Grand Theft Auto Online has also received upgrades. Online sessions can now consist of 30 simultaneous players and legacy characters left over from GTAO on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 can be carried over to new-gen.

So with all of these improvements and incentives aside, is it worth a purchase? It goes without saying if you've never played Grand Theft Auto V the time is now, but what about someone who experienced the game last year?

Rockstar Games

GTA V on PS4 and Xbox One is a full-priced $60 game and that might be an instant turnoff out of the gate. But if, perhaps, you never got around to completing GTA V's massive campaign and side quests -- and you're able to get some money back for your used last-gen version of the game, GTA V on PS4 and Xbox One might just be worth it. Its first-person mode is definitely a dynamic change to the experience and the visuals, new music and new content incentives sweeten the deal.

Of course, there's still more content planned for GTA V (both on and offline) down the road, which the new-gen versions of the game are guaranteed to get.

GTA V will also hit PCs on January 27, 2015.

See GameSpot's take on GTA V for new-gen.

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