Stop the Press, its GTA V
Just when I was about to give up on finding a topic for today's post, Rockstar came to the rescue by officially confirming the existence of Grand theft Auto V with an ambiguous logo and the promise of a forthcoming trailer. Twitter, online forums and blogs sprang to life as Rockstar announced the sequel which we all knew was coming, unveiling a logo that tells us nothing and giving a date for what is likely to be no more than a teaser trailer. I'm sure you will agree that this is an exciting development and a fine excuse for a blog post.
A lot has changed since we last had our fill of a console GTA, and the expectations for a new instalment have gone through the roof. In the last three years we have been spoiled rotten by rich and detailed sandboxes - Panau is always the first that comes to mind - and being near the end of the current console cycle, we are not as susceptible to impressive visuals. Rockstar raised the bar even higher with their own Red Dead Redemption, and the engrossing story and interesting characters of the Wild West have set a precedent for excellence that GTA V will be expected to best.
There is already much speculation as to the setting of GTA V. Despite a lack of concrete evidence, the consensus seems to be a US city, more specifically LA. A return to the locale of San Andreas may be welcome, but for me the City of Angels holds very little appeal. Unfortunate memories of LA Noire aside, Los Angeles, or a fictionalized version of the city, is lacking in internationally recognized landmarks that will make non-US residents sit up and say "I know where I am". GTA IV may have been hiding under the guise of Liberty City, but everyone knew it was really a distorted New York, and there was a real thrill the first time you travelled over the Brooklyn Bridge, leapt out of a helicopter and onto the Statue of Liberty, or ran over pedestrians in Times Square.
The font used for the V in the logo has been likened to that of a US dollar bill, which may suggest that a US city is likely. If, however, Rockstar are willing to look further afield, London would be a great choice, especially if they revisited the capital in the swinging sixties. How about modern day Tokyo with its neon-lit nights and daytime legions of pedestrians, ready to be mowed down? No matter where it lands, I do hope that the soundtrack lives up to past entries. The licensed music has always played a significant part in my enjoyment of the series, as the varied radio stations serve to bring the city to life and favourite tracks have you searching through FM frequencies before speeding off to do something dastardly.
|John Marston always struck me as a modern fellow|
One of the reasons why I loved IV and never strayed too far from the narrative was how much I enjoyed Niko's story, and no matter what despicable acts I had him preform he remained a sympathetic figure. This is in complete contrast to my previous experiences with the series, where I couldn't give a toss about the cut-out characters and their painfully predictable stories. GTA V must build upon IV, and RDR, to deliver a memorable narrative, perhaps one populated by more than one character. Expanding to an ensemble cast did wonders for this year's Yakuza 4 and I think there is a good chance that we will be following more than one person in the next GTA. The Ballad of Gay Tony and The Lost and Damned showed that a Rockstar city is big and layered enough for multiple stories and characters - individual parts that don't even need to cross over in any meaningful way. If built correctly, the city can be the star and play host to a range of supporting, playable characters.
Perhaps we will see a female role within this group, or a cop taking centre stage. Maybe Rockstar will try their hand at penning an entirely unsympathetic character, one who would revel in the mayhem we love to cause between missions. Your freedom to do whatever you will, no matter how immoral, has often been at odds with the likeable, but redeemable characters that Rockstar create. If we were playing as a serial-killer or a hardened hit-man, we could remove the disconnect between the character as written and the monsters that we, the despicable gamer, turn them into.
Although it won't be played for laughs, maybe it will be a little more tongue-in-cheek than its predecessor, taking a cue from Saint's Row. Rockstar have already shown they are up to the task, having created a wonderful addition to the otherwise straight-faced RDR in the form Undead Nightmare. Why not throw John Marston, zombie or otherwise, into a time machine and have him chasing down whores on a super-bike, lasso in hand? Ok, maybe not.
At this point it’s all speculation. All we know for sure is that, while Rockstar may have their work cut out for them, GTA V will sell by the bucket loads, irrelevant of the city we are navigating and the characters we are abusing.
Are you excited about the prospect of GTA V, and what would you like to see in Rockstar's latest?