It’s always an event when Rockstar announce another entry in their stellar crime sim series Grand Theft Auto, and the launch of the first trailer is paramount to our first impressions and expectations in the lead up to its release.
Before we get to dissect the trailer for all it’s worth tomorrow, here’s 10 things that we’d really like to see implemented in the eagerly awaited Grand Theft Auto V.
More Humour, Less Realism
Grand Theft Auto IV might have achieved Rockstar’s intention of creating a grittier more believable world with flying colours, but at what cost ?
No other entry in the series seems quite as divisive, with many disgruntled fans expressing anger and regret over the new direction of the franchise, with others congratulating Rockstar on maturing both as a developer and with the series itself.
The humour was certainly still there – such as the Get-a-Life building, America’s Next Top Hooker, or even a Ricky Gervais cameo – but the overall tone was relentlessly po-faced.
It’s sad when people dismiss GTA IV outright for trying to do something different or for taking the series in a brave new direction. Yet, few of us would disagree that a return to the anarchic humour and ridiculous moments of Vice City and San Andreas would be anything but a plus.
A Varied Enviroment
While GTA IV was a technologically groundbreaking depiction of a fictional New York which felt vibrant, alive and most of all real, the different areas of the map often lacked variation or a character of their own. What we’d really like to see in GTA V is an open-world which feels ripe for exploration, encouraging players to seek out every nook and cranny.
2004′s Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas boasted the best open-world of the entire series, with players able to drive through the sunkissed streets of L.A, cycle through the forests and countryside and even jet-pack your way through a glitzy recreation of Las Vegas.
If the rumours are true about the game returning to the huge world of San Andreas, it certainly looks like we’ll get our wish.
GTA IV’s multiplayer was a welcome surprise, and while it wasn’t entirely successful, it certainly acted as a decent distraction to the single player game. There’s definitely the potential there for a substantial and enjoyable multiplayer mode which could gain a dedicated following, should Rockstar offer us enough reasons to keep playing.
Throw in some more excellent modes like the addictive Mafia Work or new co-op modes and give players some incentive to keep playing – such as leveling up bonuses, character unlocks and rewards – and GTA V could be as fantastic on multiplayer as it is on single player.
I’ll be honest, despite enjoying GTA IV and its two excellent add-on packs, I never felt truly engaged or appealed to any of its main characters. Niko started off as a likable underdog but soon became tainted by his brutality, while the bikers of The Lost and Dammed were also a pretty nasty bunch. The Ballad Of Gay Tony’s Luis on the other hand, was simply just too much of a flash bastard.
Even though it’s a series based around violent criminals, it doesn’t mean they can’t be appealing enough to make the story more engaging. Give us a character who is still likable despite his questionable lifestyle and surround him with characters as enjoyably sleazy as Vice City’s Ken Rosenberg or San Andreas’ Mike Toreno.
If one thing has been lacking from the entire franchise, it’s the option to create your own characters to take through the story – something which rival series Saint’s Row prides itself on. While it’s arguable that offering players the option to create their own lead character would harm the effectiveness of the story, it’s hard to believe that a company as talented as Rockstar couldn’t make the concept work.
Even if it’s unlikely that we’ll see Rockstar finally let us unleash our own characters into the Grand Theft Auto series, rumour has it that we might be given the option to control a variety of different characters this time around rather than just one protagonist.
Branching Storylines & Moral Decisions
Whereas the core gameplay of GTA was once groundbreaking, after years of copycat open-world games things aren’t quite as fresh as they once were. This was especially true of GTA IV, with several missions suffering from a distinct feeling of deja-vu – most notably those which felt like glorified training sections.
If Rockstar want to keep Grand Theft Auto as influential as it once was, they need to step-up the gameplay to a new level and offer players a storyline which allows for us to alter its path dramatically. The execution sections of GTA IV gave us a mere taste of what a Grand Theft Auto with moral choices would be like, and there’s definitely room for more of these kinds of sequences.
Missions could be improved with new mechanics – such as lock picking, stealth or dialogue options – which would allow Rockstar to spice up the over familiarity of missions. We’d also love to see more missions which emulate the action and tension of GTA IV’s standout bank heist.
Another Awesome Soundtrack
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City remains the soundtrack highpoint of the series, with a huge mix of ’80s tunes which gave the entry its distinctive style. While GTA IV’s soundtrack was pretty good, it was perhaps a little too obscure, offering fewer memorable tracks to soundtrack our adventures around Liberty City.
Worse still, some of the stations such as Electro-Choc and The Journey often felt too similar and lacked the variety of radio stations from previous entries. We’d like to see a soundtrack which mixes big commercial hits with more obscure underground tracks, along with the more genre defined radio stations from previous games.
San Andreas’ superb soundtrack managed to combine styles as diverse as Country and Western with Latino Hip Hop, and was all the better for it.
The GTA series has always prided itself on offering players a huge variety of distractions and side-missions outside of the main story. Sadly GTA IV fell somewhat short of the large amount of stuff we expect to find in a game of the series.
To be fair, there was a lot of new content, but it didn’t all work as well as Rockstar had perhaps hoped. The friends mini-game in which Niko was forced to socialize with his close contacts as well as accepting annoying phone calls during life and death situations was a definite misfire, at least in its execution within that game.
Thankfully, add-on packs The Lost and The Damned and The Ballad Of Gay Tony brought with them a number of enjoyable such as the return of Parachuting from San Andreas and mini-games like arm wrestling and even nightclub management.
We hope that GTA V will shake things up with a whole host of new side missions and mini-games unlike anything we’ve seen in previous entries of the series.
An Open-World With More Freedom
The Liberty City of GTA IV was a stunning recreation of New York and stuffed with tiny little details which brought the virtual city to life. Nonetheless, it felt lacking in interactivity.
Few buildings and shops could be entered unless as part of a scripted mission and even those felt abnormally rare. With such a huge sandbox playground at our disposal, we’d love to be able to explore more of the buildings and skyscrapers, improving the overall immersion rather than limiting us to exploring the outside world.
Wider Character Customisation
It seemed like there was little we could do to alter the appearance of GTA IV’s Niko Bellic, whereas previous entries allowed us to customize to a larger degree. We’d like to see more of the basics return such as being able to alter hairstyles and subtly change your image. Vice City gave us the power to buy and control nightclubs, businesses and invest in luxurious apartments – could we see a return of this kind of freedom ?
Even the RPG elements from San Andreas would be a welcome return – perhaps refined so it’s not quite so distracting – but the way in which players had to keep an eye on CJ’s figure as well as his statistics added some much needed depth to the proceedings.
On the subject of San Andreas, we’d certainly like to see the return of being able to mod and change the look of cars, which would be especially fun when combined with GTA IV’s realistic vehicle handling.
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