I don’t think it’s controversial to say that the Grand Theft Auto (GTA) series is possibly the most-hyped 3rd party franchise in existence. Sure, Call of Duty games arrive annually and do incredibly well with sales, but nothing truly compares to the anticipation that Rockstar Games is able to establish as they trickle out bits of pieces of information regarding their main franchise. With Grand Theft Auto V, it all started with a simple tweet on October 25th, 2011 containing a link to the Rockstar Games’ homepage. The page displayed only the logo for the game, yet the hysteria had begun. Where would it take place? What’s the time-period? Why does the ‘V’ look like money? With just a simple graphic to go off of, fans and websites ran wild with speculation. Because that’s what GTA does, it lets people run wild.
Today, we have much more information to go off of as opposed to fifteen months ago. The series will be return to the state of San Andreas which was featured in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. However, this time Rockstar is focusing on only one of the three major cities available in that title: Los Santos. The city of Los Angeles as well as its surrounding Southern California area are Los Santos’ real-life inspiration. The fictitious city is being meticulously created to virtually represent Los Angeles just as Liberty City was for New York. But the developers dropping from three cities to one isn’t a downgrade. Rockstar has officially stated that GTA V will be their biggest title to date. The size of Los Santos is said to be larger than Red Dead Redemption, GTA: San Andreas and GTA IV combined. And the entire game is open to explore right from the gate. To fill-in this gargantuan terrain are many different styles of locale: buzzing cities, high altitude mountain regions, wild-life inhabited wilderness, suburbs, a military base and even a detailed ocean floor to go explore. Better pack your wet-suit.
It’s said that GTA V will host more variety and a larger overall number of vehicles than any of its predecessors. New to the franchise are ATVs and Jet Skis, but there are also many new versions of cars, trucks, bikes, planes (fighter jets!) and helicopters. The feel of driving has been tooled so vehicles feel less “boatlike” than before and aims to control much “more like a racing game”. Knowing that such a large world can be cumbersome to travel across, Rockstar has made it so that Trevor (and presumably the rest of the playable cast) are able to commandeer planes and helicopters early on to help travel back and forth with speed. Whose Trevor? Well, I’m glad you asked!
You see, in GTA V there isn’t just your typical solo antihero looking for redemption or a new life. There are three main protagonists in this newest entry. Three. In a first for the series, players are able to control Michael, Trevor and Franklin at will throughout the game. During a demo mission, players were able to switch between characters at will while the trio attempted to extract an important person for their cause. As Michael rappels down the side of the office building to do the dirty work, Franklin is providing cover from nearby building via sniper rifle. Meanwhile, Trevor is piloting the helicopter just outside for getaway. What part are you responsible for? You decide. Because with a press of button you hop from character to character to get the job done the way you want to.
The same goes for the time outside of missions. Each of the three men have their own homes and hobbies. Hopping from one person to the next via a “Google-Earth-style” zoom-out and zoom-in is also an extremely efficient way to move across the giant map in itself. Michael, a man in his forties living in Rockford Hills (think Beverly Hills), is a former bank robber with a dysfunctional family that is running out of retirement funds. Trevor is a previous partner of Michael’s from many years ago. He’s a psychopathic drug addict living a reckless (and explosive) life from within his trailer in the desert. Franklin is a younger and slightly innocent car repo man living in Vespucci Beach (Venice Beach). He’s recruited by Michael to start formulating some bigger jobs together and Trevor eventually comes in the fold as well. The three come together early in the story “in pursuit of the almighty American dollar”.
Here are some other minor but intriguing details: The mobile phone returns as your primary source of contact. Mobile internet is now accessible, however, many of its other features are apparently altered. You will be unable to purchase property as in previous GTA titles. The girlfriend feature is still absent, although returning is the GTA IV friend system. Your player’s clothing is customizable, but the RPG elements introduced in San Andreas don’t exist. As mentioned before, driving controls have been updated, but so are the melee and weapons combat engines. Mini-games thus far confirmed are impressive: tennis, golf, going to the gym, yoga, triathlons, base-jumping, Jet Skiing and scuba diving are included. Oh, and you can give people the finger inciting different reactions from the NPCs. Immature, but awesome.
Dan Houser and his folks at Rockstar Games have a hell of a pedigree. With five years to work on GTA V after GTA IV, you know this isn’t a rushed product. Grand Theft Auto V is one of the last huge AAA titles coming before the next console generation. Still officially slated as a Q2 2013 release for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (recent rumors suggest a PC version following thereafter), we should have a firm launch date soon. Whenever it comes, it’s assuredly going to be worth the wait. For all your GTA news, keep it locked to OnlySP.com.