We are only a few short weeks away from what looks to be one of, if not the biggest release of the year. Grand Theft Auto 5 will hit the shelves on PS3 and Xbox 360 on Friday, September 17th 2013 – in what will undoubtedly be ‘a last hurrah’ for the current generation of games consoles. If what we’ve been able to see and hear so far is anything to go by – this is going to be one heck of a swan song for the machines that have weathered the longest generation in console gaming history! A lot of questions have been asked of developer Rockstar‘s decision to keep this game on the current machines- especially releasing it on the eve of the next generation of consoles (PS4 and Xbox ONE have both been confirmed for release before Christmas this year).
However, for me, sticking with current generation makes a lot of sense. Not only do they have a wealth of experience in developing for existing hardware- and this game will certainly be squeezing every last speck of power out of both consoles- but they also have millions upon millions of adoring fans who own one, if not both of the platforms the game is to be released on! At Twinstick Gaming, we have been as eager as anyone to spend some time with the game- and hope to bring you our full in depth review as soon as is humanly possible! For now though, we bring you our top 5 reasons to be giddy with excitement for GTA V:
I: The Scope. The sheer size of this game world is truly staggering. It took me weeks to look over every square inch of San Andreas, yet this game is said to be bigger than Liberty City, Vice City and the enormous San Andreas -combined! And the variety held within the gigantic landscape is breathtaking.
There are areas of extreme urban decay, lavish areas of mansion-esque properties, virtually untouched wilderness to explore- teeming with wildlife, trailer parks, mountain tops and even underwater!?!
These aren’t wide open spaces with nothing to do either. There are games within the game (become a taxi-driver? You lookin’ at me?), side quests, ‘dynamic quests’ (ones that pop up as you’re driving by – such as helping old ladies retrieve stolen purses, etc.) and rewards aplenty for those who choose to explore the vast environment! AND, breaking the trend of earlier games in the series, all of it is open to you from the very start!
II: The 3 Protagonists. Count ’em. In a massively unexpected (though now heavily publicised) twist. Rockstar has decided to gift us with 3 experiences for the price of one. We get to find our way through a story that will play out more like your favourite TV drama than a blockbuster movie (although, as we’ve seen in the trailers, we’ll also get to re-imagine some pretty amazing moments from blockbuster heist movies).
We can play as Michael- a once successful bank robber, struggling with life as a millionaire family man and yearning for the glory days. Skilled with weapons and seems to be the ‘brains’ of the group. Or we could hop over and play as Franklin- a guy who’s grown up on the wrong side of the tracks and has gang affiliations that he’d rather not have to deal with (similar to CJ in GTA: San Andreas at first glance)- he also just happens to be an exquisite getaway driver! Alternatively we could opt to play out some shenanigans as Trevor- who makes ‘Howling Mad’ Murdock (of A-Team fame) seem as calm and playful as a kitten. He’s also the pilot of the trio AND quite the brawler.
What’s more, players will be able to switch between characters – at will – during the game (though there may be some restrictions during certain parts of the narrative, full details are yet to be shown).
The trailers have shown amazing footage of Michael swinging down the side of a building, attached to a helicopter being piloted by Howling Mad Trevor, whilst simultaneously being supported by the fine sniper skills of Franklin who is perched atop a neighboring building – all controlled by the player at different points! However, this looks especially impressive between missions – as events will be occurring in real time with characters living their own lives, whether you are controlling them or not. What this means is that if we start out as Franklin then flip over to Michael, rather than finding him waiting patiently in his walk-in-wardrobe, awaiting instruction – he could be in the middle of a game of tennis, or out for a bike ride around the (no-doubt closed) community in which he lives! We might stick with Michael for a while then, as seen in the trailer, pan away from him and take control of Trevor during a high speed police chase or bar brawl?
III: The vehicles. It’s easy to forget the eponymous cars were once front and center in GTA games. The quality of storytelling, development of characters and voice acting as well as the sprawling game worlds may have left the the vehicles playing second fiddle in more recent GTA titles. This could well be the game that puts them back as a main feature, alongside the characters and narrative. Rockstar seem to have
every base imaginable covered (with the possible exception of roller skates, but I could never get the hang of them in California Games, they’ll not be missed). From SUVs, pickups and hatchbacks – to muscle cars, sports and vintage cars – all the way up to helicopters and fighter jets.
There is a lot of variety in each vehicle class – and it will be up to to decide which vehicle best suits a situation: using an ambulance to ram raid your local store, the Hydra to battle the police or an Emporer sedan for a slow-paced and sensible drive-by? The choice is yours. What’s got me particularly excited about GTA V’s vehicular peculiarities – is the fact that push bikes and a selection of boats are returning to the series. Moreover, certain classes of boat will come equipped with scuba gear, meaning players can explore the world beneath the waves (and find out exactly who IS ‘sleeping with the fishes’?).
IV: The Heists. Heists have got us very excited. The game will be based around (we think) about 6 ‘major’ heists that you have to plan and prepare for as you play through the game. Yes, you have a trinity of fully controllable, bad-ass characters, but a heist on the scale of, say, Heat, requires more than a 3 man team. You will have the ability to gather information on the layout of the bank you’re going to hit, security patrols, acquire weapons or vehicles that best suit YOUR plan (slow and stealthy or fast and LOUD?) and then you’ll get to hire and train your crew. At this point we’re assuming that your crew will be best developed by – surviving the missions you take them on! Of course, there may be other ways to boost your crew, we’ll find out when the game is released.
The fact that the missions are maturing is a really interesting slant. Most missions in GTA games have been either short and precise, or longer because they unravel or parameters shift while you’re on the mission. This time, we’re preparing for a longer, detailed mission – and we get to choose how we handle it! This is a Rockstar developed game of course, so expect the unexpected! We’re very keen to see, other than Michael’s boredom with his suburban life, what is the motivating factor behind the heists and why are these three, in particular, drawn together when they seem to be from such different backgrounds?
V: Raising the bar. Whatever we expect from Rockstar Games, they always seem to surpass expectation and raise the bar higher for the whole industry. Right back to the original Grand Theft Auto in 1997, the industry was raised through its use of an anti-hero and controversial content (which may seem almost tame by today’s standards).
GTA III put sandbox games on the map, developer after developer tried to recreate their magic formula, though most others stayed clear of the game giving players the ability to visit, then mug prostitutes – more controversy). Vice City brought us amazing characters and stunning voice acting as well as a faithfully re-created 80s era (with Rockstar’s unique humor draped over the top of course). San Andreas expanded the game world, the depth and involvement you could have in your characters development in an enormous open environment – that could be explored using BMXs, fighter planes and jet packs – as well as finally introducing the ability to swim! The level of detail that was added in the gritty realism of this generation’s GTA IV, showed us fully fleshed out characters and involving story lines as well as a city that was as much a character as Niko Bellic (and once more courted controversy with the addition of drunk driving). We have some idea of areas the bar is being raised in GTA V, but you can bet that what we’ve been shown so far will barely scrape the surface.
With little or nothing to distinguish the XBox 360 version from the PS3 version, it’ll be a case of purchasing GTA V for your favourite console on September 17th. Check out our full review coming in September!
Richard is a father, teacher, gamer and writer. He believes that The Last of Us and Olli Olli 2 are the finest games ever made, feels that the StarWars Saga should only be watched in ‘the Machete order’ and once cleared Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in one sitting. Took him 20 hours, four cups of tea and a sausage roll. You can follow him on twitter @TLOUFactionsMP or @VigilanteSanta and view his occasional twitch outbursts on twitch.tv/spooklebeans.