First off the driving mechanics have improved greatly since the last game and are almost as good as the handling mods on GTA IV for PC. Rockstar definitely listened to our complaints on that one, although not perfect it’s still miles better than before. Sports cars can now have a oversteer that doesn’t result in you doing a 180 turn most of the time. Also, trucks and semis handle appropriately. Also the off road vehicles are just plain fun to drive and bikes handle appropriately, though the physics seem just a bit off, this may be by design since Rockstar enjoys having wacky physics.
The shooting mechanic is also way improved, taking a ton of things straight out of Max Payne 3. The free aim has improved significantly since the original console version and feels fantastic with a mouse and keyboard. We like to use a controller for vehicles while using a keyboard/mouse while on foot. We also noticed the sneaking options for your stealth ability seemed few and far between, cover is much more effective and solid than in GTA 4 which just felt clumsy and awkward.
Although the world does not feel as large as GTA:SA and definitely tiny compared to Just Cause 2, it definitely feels more interesting and with more things to do.
The game also adds special abilities for each Character, Franklin has a slow motion effect while driving that instantly stabilizes a car and gives it amazing handling. Michael has Bullet time and Trevor has a full on rage mode that does more damage and lets you take more damage. They each give each character a bit more flair and differences.
The Addition of 60 FPS (and higher if your monitor supports it) makes a huge difference while playing and is probably the best thing to come from the PC version. Higher frame rates mean less input delay and more responsive controls. Thus, less car crashes and a better, smoother experience.
The First Person mode is very good, but we found ourselves switching back and forth between first and 3rd person the same way we did between keyboard and mouse to controller. Driving using a keyboard was a awkward experience to say the least, although it was much better than Saints Row 4 and Watch Dogs, we still found that the controller is much better for driving, flying and boating since analog steering, brakes and acceleration helps with precision.
Rockstar finally listened to us and added mission checkpoints. All of the frustration is now gone from difficult sections, not having to re-do 15 minutes of driving, 6 times over, is wonderful and makes the game way more enjoyable.
The Heists are brand new and are reminiscent of Payday, but bring their own spin on it. There are two options in how you may go about the heist. One usually being a bust down the front door, or a less aggressive option, and also the ability to choose who your “Crew”, will be picking more experienced criminals who will make the mission a breeze and take a large chunk of the cash or a less experienced criminals who generally screw things up for you. Although they do gain experience through the heists, so they do get better as missions progress.
The aforementioned Heists are the set pieces of the game and really show off some great and creative level design while showing off the 3 person style in gameplay as you find yourself switching between characters mid mission.
Director mode is also rather interesting for those looking to create some machinima, with a wide variety of different Actors AKA player models to roam around the city in.
The Director mode gives a wealth of different weather, location, and time of day options to change as well as things like exploding bullets and super jumps to add a little more spice.
The Rockstar Editor also gives you tons of control with different filters, blur effects and camera options.
All of this points to giving the end user a ton of creative options for recording and replaying his gameplay. We can see this being used for webseries and clips alike in the future.