Grand Theft Auto V: London, to be specific. The fans want it, and Rockstar know it, so why not England’s capital? Going back to Vice City or San Andreas would be billed as ‘lazy’ after going back to Liberty City, and if they were to make a new playground, R* would have to search for an English-speaking, neon-lit metropolis filled with seedy underground crime and many, many cars. Tokyo isn’t English, Canada is hardly a metropolis with underground crime – in fact, unless you were to head back to America, no other place on Earth would fit in with the series’ cynical capitalism-bashing.
We first set shore in 1999, with two London-based expansions to the original GTA – London: 1969, of which you will have fond memories, and London: 1961, which…is best left forgotten. The graphical prowess of those days was…limited, and the London expansions were basically GTA 1 with some new textures, buses, and voices. But imagine what could happen today…
So, there’ll be planes, right?
Hold up. By that, I assume you’re addressing the immense stick R* got for trying to move GTA into more realistic territory. Instead of the jet-packs, harrier jets and Area 51 break-ins, IV focused more on seedy murders and tower-block killings, much like The Wire. End result? A confused little game. While the missions ans story were excellent, players, upon completing the main missions, found there was bugger all to do.
The extra Assassination missions were about 9 strong, and mere minutes after completing the game, Roman called and asked if I wanted to go bowling. Y’know, as if the events of half an hour ago didn’t exist. The solution?
No. Well, yeah, but, just wait. GTA V needs to be more self-aware. That doesn’t mean it goes on a rampage and repeatedly screams ‘I’ll be back’, but instead it needs to be aware of what you’re doing, and what just happened. So if you go on a rampage in an area, there will be increased police activity for a short while in that zone. Evade the police with an NPC at your side, and he won’t want to go dancing after – he’ll call you, reminisce about that time you escaped the clutches of law. That sorta stuff.
Ok, ok. So, what’s the story?
Well, we’re certainly not going back to the lo-tech 1960′s. Set in 2010, you play as Jimmy. Yeah, Jimmy. Why? Well, think of any other Jims in videogames. Can’t think of any, can you. So, Jimmy is tall, bald, with kind blue eyes and grizzled face. The sort of bouncer you fear, yet respect. Having been in jail for almost 2 years, he’s back on the streets living with his sister, Sam (Family members are all the rage, and cousins and brothers both feature heavily in other titles).
Oh, but there’s no American dream in store for old Jim-boy. Times have changed, and he wants to know who put him in jail, as well as avoiding all the new gangs on the streets.
Cool. So, just a quest for revenge?
Kinda. Y’see, Jimmy can’t get to his rival all by himself. And here’s where GTA V gets it’s stereotypical London feel. Just have a quick look at the . How very British, you say. Well, Jimmy is assisted by his own band of merry men – The small, loud-mouthed American, the big Eastern European, the silent African, the gentle, caring Canadian and the slightly bumbling Australian. Comparisons to Team Fortress 2 are many, but that’s a good thing – the darkly humours and very 60′s style is exactly what V is shooting for.
It’s an easy, but incredibly enjoyable buddy movie set up, with each of the members going on the missions together, accompanied by the persistant arguments and Hi 5s. A bit like Ocean’s Eleven, with a band of ‘experianced’ criminals behaving a bit like amateurs.
Ok, so you have the basic story. How does the game play?
The shooting in GTA IV was class. Simple to use, harder to master the headshots, and fun. So, bring it back – but also add a first person view, by pressing a certain button. This allows you to look down the ironsights for greater accuracy, and also allows you to look down scopes. Not just sniper scopes, mind you. GTA IV had 7 types of weapon, with 2 of each. Instead, V will offer up over 30 distinct guns, as well as add-ons like lazer sights, scopes, grenade launchers and silencers.
Driving will basically be the same as IV, but instead of the same cars over and over, how about 7 or so car manufactures, with 10 cars in each? So the Stallion would make a return, but as a manufacturer – manufacturing the Stallion SUV, the Stallion GT, etc. Throw in the car customization shops of San Andreas, and suddenly the roads look at little more appealing.
And finally, police. My only gripe, apart from lack of things to do after the games completion, is the fact John Q Law was an idiot. Blindly sending SWAT member after SWAT member into a Cluckin’ Bell only to meet their demise at the end of a shotgun, it really got boring fast. So, until 3 stars, have the same basic system, but with police actively trying to arrest you, not mow you down. At four stars it gets interesting. Cops will lay off, instead of throwing everything at you – you’ll have a handful of cars behind you, a helicopter circling, and several roadblocks ahead. Not the usual paper-thin barriers, but proper spike strips and metal barriers. The aim is not to overkill you, but to make you stop, so they can close in and arrest you. Staging a hold up in a building? The police will secure the area, and send in negotiators – a little mini-game where you can try strike a deal, like being arrested but keeping your guns or money. Rooftop battles will also evolve, with helicopters able to dispense SWAT members of your roof, and sniper teams to near-by stories.
But what will keep my playing after the main missions?
Well, firstly, a lot more main missions. Hows about ones that have an impact on the world, like a bank robbery you plan and set up for days, and afterwards, you have to lie low for a week?
But afterwards was a problem for IV. So, instead of friends calling you up to go dancing or bowling, you could attempt assassinations for them, carry out night-raids with their crew, or you inviting them for a quick four-star-frenzy. Add in the minigames from Chinatown Wars – drug running, go-karting, zombie hunting (?!), etc, and to top it off; as well as your phone, an upgradable iPod. Stat with the lowly models, holding 10 songs, working your way up to as many as you want. Either get the songs from the in-game radio on via the in-game Internet, or put on songs from your hard-drive. Oh, and snow. Snow makes any game better.
I, for one, don’t quite know why IV’s multiplayer didn’t kick off. V would obviously add a proper lobby system, and quite a few more co-op mission choices, but we’ll have to leave the real additions to the maters themselves, R*.
Yes, they’ll be planes. But piloting a 747 down Jamaica Road won’t really work, so instead, use the Red Bull stunt planes that compete down the Thames yearly. They’re small, quick, agile, and stick a few guns on them for Multiplayer, and you’ve got a dog-fight.
Not for a while, it seems. Rockstar are being suitably coy about announcing a new GTA, and we probably won’t see the first screenshots for a year or 2, seeing as all the GTA IV DLC isn’t out, and there’s no information on PS3 exclusive Agent. So, don’t hold your breath…but keep hold of your glock.