It should be no surprise that a company like Rockstar Games - which knows no boundaries when it comes to quality, innovation and pushing the proverbial envelope - is able to craft such an [in]famous series that has been running on a lifespan of sixteen years and counting. Dating back to 1997 with the franchise's debut release of the PlayStation, Windows and MS-DOS title, Grand Theft Auto was one of the first open-world games of its kind. Ironically enough, while it was a critical success, it did receive a plethora of mixed reviews.
Rockstar developed the third game in the series which brought a 3D setting to the franchise - Grand Theft Auto III - and it was considered to be one of the most revolutionary and critically acclaimed video games of all time, sharing that moniker with Grand Theft Auto IV. Now, as we near the launch of the fifth generation* of the franchise, Rockstar has released quite a bit of mouth-watering details about their upcoming instalment.
I originally discovered Grand Theft Auto back in 2001 with the release of Grand Theft Auto III - I was nine years old when I first played the game and I've been a fan ever since. It was the first game in which I experienced open-world freedom, in essence, and the ability to go almost anywhere and do almost anything. Since then, I've been ridiculously anticipating each Grand Theft Auto release and getting involved with the community to discuss the franchise: where it's going, where it's been and where it should go next.
I must say though, I am not at all on-board with my peers on the opinion that Grand Theft Auto is one of a few series in the gaming industry that's had its time, among Call of Duty, Saints Row, Assassin's Creed and Battlefield. In my opinion, if a video game franchise is profiting well enough to continue and it's pleasing its fan base as well as the occasional casual gamer, then by all means, let it continue. Furthermore, I am such an avid Grand Theft Auto fan that if it weren't for my sense of logic and reasoning, my opinions would almost be biased. Luckily, I do not let my fandom cloud my better judgement.
Moving on, Rockstar has just released some new information about Grand Theft Auto V that has piqued my interest much more than I'd ever thought possible. After reading the articles top to bottom about what I can expect in the coming instalment, I've nearly run out of patience for the September launch. There are a few details I'd like to cover and give my two cents on, most importantly being:
Customisation: Lord Jesus, take the wheel. After Grand Theft Auto IV, I'd honestly lost hope for customisation and the likes after seeing how seriously Rockstar took the last release. It was one of the many things I liked about San Andreas and one of the reasons I defected to Saints Row to sate my appetite for player tailoring. Rockstar confirmed that you will be able to customise your weapons, vehicles and the three protagonists. There wasn't much detail into weapon customisation, but one can safely assume it'll boil down to sights (optic, reflex and laser), attachments (suppressors and compensators) and if I might stretch so far as to say regular and gold-plated. Vehicle and character customisation received more detail, however: vehicles can be customised aesthetically or performance-wise in terms of spoilers, rims and decals to engine tuning, suspension and brakes. Rockstar even warned that it's possible to overtune your vehicle, but the consequences have not yet been disclosed. As for the three protagonists, you needn't expect to gain weight from eating too much Cluckin' Bell, but you can purchase and change clothing as well as haircuts and getting tattoos.
Sports and Recreational Activities: I am most excited for this as well and although most of the activities seem aesthetic - yoga, deep-sea diving and hunting - it cannot be denied that it brings quite a lot to the proverbial table in terms of things to do on the side and attention to detail. For instance, while undoubtedly a majority of gamers that pick up Grand Theft Auto V won't indulge in yoga or tennis, the fact that you can walk through a park and be welcomed to join a yoga session or tennis match already going on, is amazing. While there will be a substantial increase in how many pedestrians and civilians will be in the game, most of them will actually have lives outside of walking around aimlessly and that is thrilling. In addition to the aforementioned, there is also skydiving, golf, cycling, hiking and of course, stunt jump challenges.
Money, and Lots of It: While it's been confirmed that a primary source of income hails from high-octane robberies such as banks and ripping off Gruppe Six armoured vans, there's the eternal question of making money on the side. Heists have been implied to be an integral part of Grand Theft Auto V - especially considering the 'V' in the logo materialises money - with the combined inventory system, one wonders of any additional ways of fattening one's wallet. I remember a rumour circulating about a drug distribution feature being carried over from Chinatown Wars and I hope to God it's true. The feature will be most welcomed and would make sense thematically - gangs and the lifestyles of the rich and famous just scream for a heavy drug industry. I would be incredibly disappointed yet understanding if this feature does not make it into the game. I'll settle for purse-snatching, chop-shops and the classic bang-kill-run when it comes to the denizens of the night.
Guns, Combat and More Guns: The combat system has been said to take elements from Max Payne 3 and rework them into a manner that suits the Grand Theft Auto name. Players may now utilise the "combat jog" to sprint with their gun and a combat roll to quickly take cover - the cover system has also been touched up and is virtually seamless. There are also a few different targeting systems to choose from, like in Max Payne 3; you can select a totally free-aiming option to a hybrid lock-on which gives you the ability to move the reticle away from automatically selected targets. We can now also run and gun while maintaining complete control over the reticle. In addition, whilst shooting 'over the shoulder,' the camera will pan out more to give a wider field of vision. I think I'll go out of my way to get into gunfights this time around.
So far, Grand Theft Auto V is shaping up to be an easy candidate for Game of the Year and I have never been more thrilled for a game. With so many improvements and new features to offer - not to mention James Bond's classic Aston Martin DB5 making its way into GTA V - how could one not be excited?
(*The term 'generation' in the Grand Theft Auto franchise is used to mark the next set of games under a single Roman numeral. For instance, Grand Theft Auto III was the third generation as well as Vice City and San Andreas. Grand Theft Auto IV was the fourth, with Lost and the Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony.)