GTA V is much more than a Californian reskin of GTA IV – Rockstar are tweaking every element of the game engine to bring it in line with modern expectations. The car handling will be nippier to give it the feel of a dedicated racing game (Rockstar vice-president Dan Houser retrospectively rues than GTA IV’s fleet felt a little ‘boatlike’ to drive), and we’re promised a sizable evolution in both the shooting and melee combat mechanics.
If you fancy giving the life of crime a rest, then Los Santos still has plenty of extracurricular activities to sink your teeth into – ranging from jet-skiing and base-jumping to yoga and tennis. There’s even a full-sized golf course ready and waiting for your custom.
“We really wanted to make heists a big theme in the game” explains Dan Houser. “People are in love with doing the bank jobs [from the previous games], particularly when they feel like they have prepped the bank jobs.
“We’ve never felt we’ve done a great job with a bank job, so we decided: ‘Let’s properly invest the story and the design for some of the missions into making some of these built-out series of heists”.
And so the main storyline features many a bank heist attempt as our ‘heroes’ attempt to fast-track their way out of debt – and the ability to quickswitch between the protagonists gives the players agency to decide which role they want to play in the mayhem.
Do you stay back and watch the action unfold through the sights of a sniper rifle, or would you feel more at home getting stuck in on the frontline? During the getaway, would you rather drive, or man the guns? GTA V’s innovative structure allows you to play to your strengths and it means you’ll never find yourself stuck doing something you’d rather not do.
Outside of the mainline missions, GTA V revisits the dynamic side-mission structure that proved so successful in Red Dead Redemption. Los Santos and its surroundings are jam-packed full of muggers, shady hitchhikers and murder-mysteries – but whether you choose to investigate the suspicious sights and sounds you come across on your travels is completely up to you.
GTA V is big. Very big, in fact. It is estimated that its game world will be five times larger than those of San Andreas, GTA IV and Red Dead Redemption /combined/. This estimate factors in an enormous fully-detailed ocean floor (which you can explore while scuba diving) and the fact that each and every building now has an explorable interior. Due to the larger scale of the map, planes will make their return after taking a leave of absence during the GTA IV story arc.
San Andreas was a tale of three cities; Los Santos (Los Angeles), San Fierro (San Francisco) and Las Venturas (Las Vegas). Although GTA V boasts a larger overall game world, it kicks the latter two cities to the curb in favour of offering a proper, faithful rendition of Los Angeles and its surrounding landscape.
It’s a setting that provides plenty of scope for variety. The environments span the gauntlet from tacky commercial beachfronts to locked-down military bases; from desert lowlands to a fully scaleable Mount Chillad.
This side of the game is still shrouded in mystery as Rockstar are saving concrete details on GTA V’s competitive multiplayer mode for a later date. Dan Houser sounds pretty upbeat about what his multiplayer team are building however, commenting: “We’re very pleased with the direction it’s heading. We’re ever closer to nailing the fun and excitement of open-world multiplayer”.
The only solid thing we do know is that Max Payne 3’s Crew infrastructure will carry over to GTA V’s multiplayer, via Rockstar’s Social Club. Multiplayer sessions will support up to 32 players simultaneously.
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