Welcome Back Grand Theft Auto

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It has been a long three years since the last full Grand Theft Auto game (not including Grand Theft Auto IV’s episodic expansion packs) was released back in 2008. Having played and finished almost every single Grand Theft Auto game ever (yes even the original top-down Grand Theft Auto 1 and 2, and the handheld ones as well Grand Theft Auto Advance for Gameboy Advance and Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories), it is safe to say that I was quite eagerly excited for the big unveil of Grand Theft Auto V’s debut trailer on Rockstar Games’ official website – and it certainly did not disappoint.

For those of you who have not seen it yet, the next instalment of the Grand Theft Auto series is set in a familiar location – Los Santos, San Andreas aka Los Angeles, California its real world counterpart. So just what can we expect from Grand Theft Auto V? Well if its predecessors are anything to go by, a pretty damn good game! But let’s look at it more closely. Throughout the years, each instalment of the Grand Theft Auto series has pushed the limits of player’s expectations on what a game and consoles are capable of.

Grand Theft Auto III gave us an entire city to wreck havoc in and subsequently its sequel Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, showed us how a period setting and colourful location could make an already great concept even better. Two years later, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas again exceeded our expectations, showing us what ‘scale’ could do to a game. Players were given not one, not two but three city and the entire state of San Andreas to explore. This truly gave players an open-world to experience, one that was remarkable without any load screens between each city.

Grand Theft Auto’s jump to the current generation of gaming brought with it a serious tone, and ‘serious’ isn’t usually a word I would use to describe Grand Theft Auto. Grand Theft Auto IV saw a rebooting of the video game series. From the closing lines of Grand Theft Auto IV’s debut trailer, Niko Bellic memorably state …Perhaps here things will be different and yes, yes they were. Gone were all links to previous Grand Theft Auto games and gone was the excessive ridiculousness that highlighted Grand Theft Auto over-the-topness.

Grand Theft Auto IV ushered in a new era seeing in a return to a revamped and far more realistic Liberty City, with a storyline considerably more mature and serious than ever before. All humour was not lost however, there were of course the occasional dick and 69 jokes but considering that in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, you could jetpack across a city, base-jump out of a building and shoot up a place with a mini-gun dressed in a gimp suit; Grand Theft Auto IV felt lacking and somewhat disappointing in my option.

However with all this said, all of Grand Theft Auto IV’s short comings in its single player could easily be made up for in its multiplayer offerings. Multiplayer was a major selling point for Grand Theft Auto IV and the next big thing in gamers’ minds. Whilst multiplayer wasn’t entirely new for the series as it did appear in Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories for the PSP, it was bogged down in a logistical nightmare.

You need at least five other players with their own copy of the game and their own PSP just to play a full match in multiplayer, and good luck trying to find that. Grand Theft Auto IV was the first time that gamers could easily access Grand Theft Auto multiplayer. And it was here that the most fun could be had, as players were given a sandbox for them to make up their own rules and scenarios to play in. Everyone vs. the police, yes please! See who could last the longest with a six star wanted rating, check! Fortified a hospital and fight off police, yeah we will!

So with all this in mind, just what can Grand Theft Auto V give to us that we haven’t already seen and done before? Baring in mind that this game has only recently been announced and the first footage of the game has only just been released, the following will is only going to be wild speculation. But nonetheless, judging by Grand Theft Auto V’s debut trailer the game is looking fantastic, with top notch graphics no less. And it appears that Rockstar may even be returning to the ‘classic’ Grand Theft Auto of yesteryears going by a few hints in the trailer.

So far Rockstar Games have only shown us Los Santos, and as well all know this means that the game will be set in San Andreas. But does that mean that the will only take place in Los Santos and what about San Fierro and Las Venturas, the other two major cities in San Andreas? Grand Theft Auto V’s trailer does hint to other locations. A small bit of the countryside is shown and if you look close in one of the outdoor scenes I’m pretty sure Mount Chiliad is shown in the trailer. Planes are also shown which also hints towards multiple cities. Perhaps Grand Theft Auto V will take a bold move and include the two other cities along with two new playable protagonists, much like Grand Theft Auto IV did with its episodic content: The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony.

Buyable properties are also hinted in the trailer, with a ‘For Sale’ sign being hammered in front of a house. Buyable properties were a major gameplay feature in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and were available in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas. In Vice City, player had to purchase properties to expand their criminal empire and these assist properties provided the game with extra missions and were some were even vital to game’s overall storyline. Perhaps we will see a similar interrogation of this system in Grand Theft Auto V.

The Grand Theft Auto games have always been a mix of an above average shooter and an above average driving gaming that has been put in a sandbox world. This formula has lead to pretty decent gameplay and overall has from some pretty damn good game over the years. However, Grand Theft Auto V needs a good overhaul of both its shooting and driving mechanics to really stand out again. Case and point – Try playing Grand Theft Auto IV on consoles with auto-aim turned off…it is frustrating, the game wasn’t not designed for tight one-on-one combat.

The inclusion of a cover system in Grand Theft Auto IV was something new and different to experiment with. And while it had its single player highlights, Gears of War this was not. Grand Theft Auto IV multiplayer exposed the flaws of the cover system, it was simply a hassle and impractical to use in open environments. And where to began with driving…just take a look at the next time you’re racing in Grand Theft Auto IV’s multiplayer, chances are that 85% of players will overturn, spinout or crash within the first turn of the race. Grand Theft Auto V will certainly need to have tighter and more focused controls.

But with all this said, I’m glad to see that Grand Theft Auto V has been finally unveiled and that we will be returning to Los Santos. With no release date announced, it may in fact be another long wait till we actually get our hands on this one. But all in all, a new Grand Theft Auto game is defiantly good news and I look forward to spending another 40+ hours in San Andreas.

Stay tuned for more Grand Theft Auto V news as it comes

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