What is a new numbered entry in the Grand Theft Auto series if not a game-changer for the industry? While the advances between GTA IV and the previous console title in the series weren't so huge, between III and IV, the evolution of the series between III and IV feel like a leap from a rough draft version of Liberty City to the complete story in the most recent game.
So what kind of great leaps and innovations can we look forward to in GTA V? Well, here are some guesses.
A living city
I want you to think back to GTA IV and the citizens of Liberty City. Most of them walked around in pretty generic paths, with occasionally responsive dialog strings if you happened to be wrecking some stuff up nearby. For the most part--with the exception of a cop chasing a criminal on foot--they weren't really up to much of anything, though. Then look at Red Dead Redemption and all of the little vignettes that would pop up requiring your response as a player: quick-draw shootouts, kidnapped locals, horse thieves, stage coach robberies. And even within these there was a little bit of variation (sometimes a robbery would turn out to be an ambush). Here's hoping Rockstar looks to iterate on this model for the next game.
Branching narrative and choice
In part IV, Niko faced some hard decisions at a couple of junctures that had repercussions on the rest of the game. I'm thinking specifically of the situation where you had to choose which of two gangsters to kill, and later making a choice that could end with either the death of your cousin or the new girl you were getting close to. If I'm a little hazy on the details about each choice, well it was three years ago and they weren't exactly exciting choices (although the aftermath of each was interesting). Will Rockstar add more options to branch the story in their upcoming game, making their open world feel even more open?
The plot: more of the same or something new?
I've already covered some things we can infer about our new hero from the trailer, specifically some of the ways in which he might be similar to and different from the characters of the past. A lot of the previous GTA titles worked from the Goodfellas/Scarface templates to one degree or another while in recent years, crime drama has gotten a lot more, for lack of a better word, raw. How will the influence of shows like Breaking Bad or The Wire fit in with Rockstar's storytelling sensibilities?
Visually, it's IV.5
That's the impression I got from the trailer, at least. It doesn't look like the game is exactly inching towards photorealism or anything, but there's an extra layer of shine here not present in the last game. The body animations seem a little more fluid than in the last entry, but nothing near the precision of human movement. And since we haven't seen any of the characters talk, we don't know what kind of facial animations we'll be looking at.
The faces you will see
None of the faces we've seen so far match the eerie facial scanning of L.A. Noire, so it looks like the artists at Rockstar have more of a hand in the look of the characters than the cyborg face copier machines.
What about multiplayer?
On this front, who knows? I'll cop to finding the multiplayer experiences of both GTA IV and Red Dead Redemption to be the least interesting things about those games--both kind of floaty cover-based shooters with some curious, but not exactly memorable objective modes. Since multiplayer will be a feature in V, here's hoping Rockstar's designers have been playing a lot of great third-person shooters and taking some of the best lessons from those games to add to their own.
Keep checking back here at MTV Geek as we continue to bring you developing coverage of GTA V.