Los Angeles stand-in Los Santos will be your playground for GTA V, but why return to the same well? Why aren't we getting GTA: Shanghai or GTA: Tokyo Drift? The past of the franchise might give us some clues as to why Los Santos is the home for the latest sequel, and how cutting out the fake San Francisco and fake Las Vegas might actually allow the revamped version of the city to be bigger.
The East Coast is played out
I mean for the GTA games, you nut about to shoot off an angry comment under the Facebook post for this article. No hate here for my home coast, but I can imagine that Rockstar might be ready to get away from Liberty City and Vice City. They've had great success with both, but now it's time to venture out a little bit.
At the same time--
Familiar stomping grounds
Let's be honest here: if you're a major game developer who's pumped millions into visualizing expansive environments modeled after real-world cities, chances are you're going to want to reuse some of that meticulously-constructed visual information somehow. I'm not saying Rockstar is going cheap on us, I'm saying they're playing it smart. Now, that's not to say that there's some "asset-o-matic" that will allow them to just drop San Andreas into GTA V and then prettify it, but there are likely elements that they could reuse in terms of the environments' basic rigging that might help their artists layer on top of it, embellish, and grow it.
And that's not even considering the narrative advantage of returning to Los Santos after all these years away. In terms of the GTA timeline, the last time we were there was nearly 20 years ago for the 90's-set San Andreas. Returning now allows us to see the city not through the eyes of every life in the hood will kill you drama of the last decade, but through the weird, toxic glossiness of modern L.A.. Which brings me to my next point--
Playing the fame game
I'm going to say something stupid and obvious and hopefully try to expand here why I think it's important to GTA V. Okay, here goes: in America, we're crazy about famous people. Note that I didn't say "love" or even "like." Over the last few years, with the rise of the ubiquitous gossip site, the pervasiveness of the sex tape, and the lowering of the bar for fame (currently it's set at "will show junk on TV while cursing and possibly drunk"), Hollywood has lost some of its cache, arguably making it even more ripe for skewering by Rockstar and their satirist spirit. What are the odds the story in V will have at least one preening, oversharing actor, or some terminally-damaged starlet circling the drain of either death, prison, or anonymity?
Less may mean more
Finally, from the recent press release, it's clear that players won't likely be visiting the San Francisco and Vegas stand-ins, Las Fierro and Las Venturas. While this means a real cut to the number of cities you'll visit across the fine state of San Adreas, that doesn't mean Los Santos itself has to feel smaller. In fact, this is an opportunity for Rockstar to elaborate on that location, to make the individual sections of the city feel larger and more alive. That means more buildings you can enter, more diversity in the environments, more character types to encounter--more radio stations!
So, yeah, don't look at it as Rockstar cutting cities--they're simply adding to the city they have.
Keep checking back here at MTV Geek as we continue to bring you developing coverage of GTA V.