It Takes Three To Tango In Grand Theft Auto V
Like The Lonely Island once said, “It ain’t gay if it’s a threeway; with a honey in the middle there’s some leeway.” Not that we’re against homosexuals in any way. That said, Franklin is totally the honey in this threesome…
Name: Grand Theft Auto V
Genre: Fox News Special
Multiplayer: Standalone online.
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360
Developers: Rockstar North
Publishers: Rockstar Games
Release Date: 17 September 2013
Price: R665 (PS3, Xbox 360)
Welcome to the fifteenth title in the Grand Theft Auto series. (And they say there are a lot of Call of Duty titles…) The aptly titled Grand Theft Auto V is the first of the ‘main’ releases to not be set in Liberty City, opting instead for a return to the sunny San Andreas that featured in everyone’s favourite GTA title from 2004. This time around, while the open world sandbox will be much larger, the primary focus of the game will be Los Santos. If you’re thinking in terms of real-life inspiration, think of San Andreas as California and Los Santos as Los Angeles. Now you’ll know who the governor with the Eastern European accent is based on, when he makes his inevitable appearance in the game. No doubt banning something fun and awesome. Dick.
Now I don’t want to talk for too long about Grand Theft Auto V because honestly, who doesn’t know what it’s about by now? I’m going to try and keep things relatively brief and concise and rather focus on the history of the series leading up to this point, and where Rockstar North seem to be headed with this game. Their direction, if you will.
Let’s pick things up from Grand Theft Auto III, which was the first game to cause real breakthroughs in the world with a fully realised 3D open world sandbox to explore, and a genuinely fun and entertaining storyline to play through. Granted, not that many actually played through the story, most just opted to run around and kill things, but the idea was there that it was entirely up to you what you wanted to do next, within the confines of some narrative. If you wanted to fuck around for hours on end, you were free to do so. But if you wanted to explore more of the city, you had to play some missions in order to gain access to those areas. And so on.
Moving on with the GTA series, we saw titles such as Vice City which was loosely based on an 80s Miami, home of sex, drugs and supercars, and starred Tommy Vercetti as the game’s protagonist. Next up we got GTA: San Andreas which took things in a more African-American gangster-life direction, with protagonist CJ coming up from street thug to become owner of multiple lucrative businesses, while meeting some of the most interesting characters in the series to date. The series then returned to Liberty City with Grand Theft Auto IV which attempted to take things in a slightly more serious direction with Niko Belic, dropping some of the humour in favour of drama and suspense, and a truly forlorn ending that proved that in the world of GTA you simply get fucked over, one way or another; the game then expanded into The Lost And The Damned and The Ballad Of Gay Tony, two additional content packs also set in Liberty City with respective protagonists Johnny Klebitz and Luis Fernando Lopez who completed the so-called ‘Trinity Piece’ of Rockstar’s ambition to show the world of Liberty City from three very different perspectives.
They’ve taken that a step further in Grand Theft Auto V.
Grand Theft Auto V revolves around three very distinct, very unique protagonists from different lives and lifestyles. Each of them has a reason for being there and each of them is entirely playable, with their own special abilities. That means that at any time during the game, you can flip to either of the three characters who will be resuming their daily lives entirely on their own until you take control, and then you can just set about on your merry way, leaving the previous character to resume their daily living. There are various benefits to this, such as being able to instantly teleport around the map without needing to travel great distances first, as long as you’re okay with using a different character. It also means that missions offer various possibilities for playing through, where you could opt to, for example, provide covering fire from a nearby building, or get in close and personal instead, depending on the character. Perhaps you’d like to be the driver of your getaway car, or perhaps you want to ride shotgun… literally. Maybe there’s a particular special ability that you’d like to use to your advantage.
Rockstar hasn’t yet clarified on how the character switching system will work for getting Wasted or Busted, but we’re hoping that it will simply allow you to switch to another character for a short while. The final game will surely tell. In the meantime, it’s just a really cool concept to have three uniquely different characters, each with their own personality traits and back-stories, that you can play as you please, throughout the game. Again, there hasn’t been much clarification on whether or not you’ll be forced to play a particular character through certain parts of the game, but that’s one we’ll leave for the final version to tell us.
Without further ado, let’s meet the main characters.
Michael De Santa is a man who is going through a mid-life crisis. He’s in his forties and married with two children. Having retired from a life of crime by literally copping out and accepting a deal from the FIB (the fictional FBI), he lives a life of luxury together with his family, however none of them are content with it. His wife hates him and spends all his money, his children are too busy living their own lives, and his best friend, Trevor, also a criminal once upon a time, no longer speaks to him. Miserable, tired, in severe need of income before his wife bankrupts the family, Michael decides to return to the life of crime.
Special ability: Michael has the ability to slow down time during gunfights. Think Bullet Time in Max Payne.
You might see him as the token black guy in the game, we see him as the representation of a true Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas sequel, Franklin is that stereotypical hoodlum who grew up without a family, money or education and so, resorted to a life of gang banging and dope slinging. Like all young black entrepreneurs, he was arrested by the five-oh and soon after being released from prison, began working for a car dealership owner as a repo man. The result is a character who is always driving in stolen cars and shows some real talent behind the wheel. As the youngest of the three protagonists, in his mid-twenties, Franklin and Micheal develop what can only be described as a pseudo-father-son bond, with Michael seeing a chance to fix his mistakes with his real son, and Franklin finally getting a sense of family.
Special ability: Franklin has the ability to slow down time while driving. Think Speedbreaker in Need For Speed: Most Wanted.
Trevor Phillips is the closest thing to a white-trash hick that has ever graced a GTA game. Having retired from the military where he served as a pilot for just over ten years, Trevor met Michael and carried out a series of criminal heists which led to both men becoming very wealthy, very fast. However they soon had a falling out, leading to Trevor trekking out on his own. Now in his forties and living in a trailer in the desert with his friend Ron as his neighbour, Trevor is now poor and in need of some cash flow, or he’ll never be able to afford the repairs to his poor white trash living arrangement.
Special ability: Besides being batshit crazy, Trevor has the ability to deal extra damage while taking less damage, and can perform a unique melee attack when the special meter is activated. Think berserker mode, in various games.
You might argue that Rockstar North has missed a golden opportunity to introduce a female protagonist for the first time ever. I would say that you’re correct but let’s hold thumbs for DLC, shall we? There’s no need for being so critical of their direction when we don’t even know the full story just yet.
Another big aspect of the series is gunplay, and it was a huge issue in previous titles. The GTA games have never quite nailed gunplay, and while it was fun in earlier titles the likes of GTA III and Vice City, attempts from San Andreas onwards to introduce a friendlier lock-on system either failed miserably or just didn’t work quite right. Thus, taking from the experience with the GTA games as well as recent titles the likes of Red Dead Redemption, LA Noire and Max Payne 3, Rockstar North has opted for a more streamlined version of the combat mechanics which does away with lock-on entirely and instead promotes free-aim techniques.
This simple but effective change to gunplay is said to aid in realism and immersion while also presenting a sufficient challenge. Plus, I mean there are just so many console-based games which ship with minimal to no aim assistance nowadays, so what’s the need for even having a lock-on system any more? Use those thumbs, people. Have you never played Gears of War? Apart from that, the driving mechanics are more or less kept as is, with the semi-realistic but ultimately fun-over-simulation driving models left mostly intact from GTA IV. Some refinements have been made for better control, but for the most part it was never much of an issue in the first place. I’m delighted to announce that fixed-wing planes and a few other vehicles will be returning to the series, owing to the greater landmass on offer in Grand Theft Auto V.
The only thing left to talk about is the story. There is one, and you’ll probably enjoy it if you ever actually play through any of it.
Suspected Selling Points
- It is guaranteed to be on Fox News at least once, for some awesome thing or the other.
- The gunplay and driving mechanics are vastly improved over predecessors.
- The game is trying something new with the three-way character-switching mechanic.
- I mean come on, it’s fucking Grand Theft Auto for crying out loud.
- It might be too srsbsns and end up being boring instead of fun.
- The game is large… really large, so, what happens to loading times?
- Disc-swapping could possibly be an issue on the Xbox 360 version.
- What if one of my favourite characters dies?
Grand Theft Auto V is the type of game where it is impossible to manage your expectations for it. It will simply release and engulf the world, and for a while productivity will be at a constant zero until gamers surface once more, no doubt fraught with opinions. One last thing that I’ve neglected to mention is the game’s standalone multiplayer component, GTA: Online. You can read everything you want about that here. No need for regurgitation.
Grand Theft Auto V is out September 17th, for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Are you getting your hands on a copy at release? You should…