Well, well. We expected the latest GTA V to whet our open world whistles, but I’m not sure we were quite prepared for just how ferocious the 110 second roller-coaster ride that Rockstar have now treated us to was going to be. Not only was the latest trailer a feast for the eyes, it also revealed a lot about the game that we’ll all be lost in come Spring next year, and I’m here to try and help you break that deluge of information down into bite size chunks.
The first thing that struck me was just how beautiful Los Santos looks. The amount of diversity that the world is threatening to provide us with is staggering: the trailer showed us the lights of skyscrapers glinting in the night sky, rolling hills littered with wind turbines and hillside mansions where the rich of the worlds can sip martinis and hit a few balls on their own private tennis courts. I don’t think I have to tell you that the prospect of exploring all these environments is mouth-watering, and if Rockstar make accessible all of Los Santos’s sprawling landscape then this could just be the best open world that the developers have ever made. And that’s saying something.
Along with this beauty comes a grand sense of scale. GTA V’s map is huge. It’s so big, that Rockstar are saying that you could comfortably fit, collectively, the maps of Red Dead, GTA IV and GTA: San Andreas inside it. It’s hard to get your head about just how vast it is going to be; suffice to say that unless you’re a modern day Indiana Jones and dump a serious number of hours into pure exploration then you’ll never be short of interesting new places to encounter.
In terms of gameplay, I’m sure this impressive setting will play a large part. A lot of what we saw in the trailer seemed to be set pieces that were spectacular, in large part, due to the backdrop against which they took place. We saw Trevor, one of the game’s three main protagonists (more on them later) escape a train crash atop a rickety bridge between two mountains and quad bikes racing atop dusty, worn down tracks that snaked between towering fir trees: Rockstar will milk the huge variety that they’ve built into the game for all its worth. This will mean that missions and side quests will no doubt transport you to many jaw-dropping locations for you to do your dirty work in.
You may have noticed, if you were watching very carefully, that the trailer contained quite a lot of action. We saw Michael’s son (Michael is another main character, bear with me) desperately clinging onto a boat mast as it swung dangerously into oncoming traffic on a packed freeway, a car falling out of a plane, and chases that involved as many barking, angry dogs as they did ricocheting bullets. Expect the action to be bone shaking, and expect it – judging by what we’ve seen today – to be the focus of the game, and no doubt Rockstar will come up with more jaw dropping moments than we can possibly imagine.
This high octane attitude will no doubt make its way into the game’s various missions, producing more satisfying multi-tiered adventures than we’ve been treated to by Rockstar in previous years. Expect more heists too – the highly regarded ‘Three Leaf Clover’ mission was many people’s favourite in GTA IV, and the trailer gave us a glimpse of some vault door blowing, money making romps. More opportunity to knock off banks would not only keep us happy on the entertainment front, but it also provides a great source on in-game income, which we can then spend of the catalogue of new items that we hope Rockstar will add into GTA V.
The fact that the developers have laid the action on thick may, in part, be due to some of the criticism that GTA IV received, namely that it was too serious and stepped too far away from the trademark outrageous foundation that previous GTA games had been built upon. They seemed to have answered this criticism in another way, too: the trailer felt a little more light-hearted than your average two minutes in GTA IVs world, suggesting that perhaps Rockstar are looking at this iteration of the serious through a slightly less serious lens. That’s not to say that the characters will simply be punch-line machines: it looks like they’re all fully fleshed out and completely unique.
First there’s Michael. He’s an ex-gangster who is clearly not very good at the ‘ex’ bit. He’ll have a cool head when things go bad, lots of funny one liners and many suave suits. He’s got a huge house and a dysfunctional family: a regular Tony Soprano, and cut from the same old school cloth. Next, there’s Trevor, who is already shaping up to be my favourite character. Simply put, the man has issues. He’s violent, slightly mental and, in general, looks like he’ll be a lot of fun to get to know. Lastly there’s paper-chasing young gun Franklin, who seemed to be the blandest out of the three characters although, admittedly, it’s hard to judge on such little evidence.
The trailer certainly provided us with enough to suggest that each character merits their own story, with background information relating to their past and their families liberally hinted at, and therefore I anticipate that GTA V will be split into four story segments – one each for the individual characters, and one overarching strand that connect them all together. Each of these segments will no doubt become increasingly intertwined as the game plays out and our three heroes become an unlikely bunch of brothers-in-arms.
To have three main playable characters is a bold move indeed, especially in a GTA game. In the past, the series has lived and died by its main characters, and has allowed the player to bond with and, in a large way, become their on screen counterparts – something few games manage to achieve nowadays (not for lack of trying). Now, to try and do this with 3 protagonists simultaneously is obviously going to be a big challenge; there’s always the risk that the player may not like at least one of your characters, which could easily become a huge, game changing annoyance. However, if anyone can best this challenge, it’s Rockstar.
The last thing of note is that Rockstar seem to be implementing a lot of the same technology they did in L.A Noire in GTA V. All the lip-syncing in the trailer was flawless and the facial expressions very realistic – don’t be surprised if there’s been a lot of motion capturing happening behind the scenes. Not only does this make the game more immersive by making cut scenes believable, but it may also mean that animations in general have been improved, meaning actions that play a huge part in the game, such as running, shooting and taking cover, will appear more realistic and therefore more fun to do.
Overall, the latest GTA V trailer has given us a lot of answers but also many, many questions. Questions like ‘how quickly can you throw your money at your computer screen?’, as well as substantive queries as to how exactly this open world epic will play out. Perhaps Rockstar will grace us with another trailer in the near future, but for now just know that GTA V is shaping up to be everything you wished it would be.
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