GTA V : The Latest Rockstar
Grand Theft Auto has been innovating gameplay since its inception. An engaging story, solid voice acting and an immersive open world have been constants in the GTA Universe. It is the Coca-Cola of the gaming world, it does not even need advertising. It is coming out and fans are buying it, no question about that. But while GTA proves that an established formula will keep players coming back, developer Rockstar North did not want to sit on the franchise’s laurels and has re-imagined the story with an interesting triumvirate.
In San Andreas, fans experienced life through CJ, a cool but somewhat unrealistic character. In GTA IV, the world came through the eyes of an immigrant determined to take the American Dream by the hair. Niko Bellic was a breath of fresh air, a man trying to be good and do good in a new setting, but inevitably being corrupted by his quest. Many players pointed out the jarring disconnect of having a protagonist that could do things right and at the same time pick up a gun and go on a killing spree. Grand Theft Auto V will try to remedy that discrepancy by having players interact with the world through not one, but three discrete protagonists.
GTA V Protagonists
An accomplished bank robber, Michael is now in a witness protection scheme after working out a deal with the feds and living off a sizable fortune for his cooperation. But the “good life” has not been so good for Michael as his wife Amanda is rapidly burning through the cash. Compounding the stress of a quickly disintegrating marriage is his inability to connect with his kids. The hectic home life has left him entertaining thoughts of getting back into knocking banks to pad the dwindling fortune. Where Michael is a well dressed man that can blend easily in high society, his old associate, Trevor, is quite the opposite. A violent, alcohol-soaked, addict, psychopath that will chance a murder one at the drop of a hat, Trevor lives in the run-down part of town where he commits any number of crimes to fuel his drug dependency. Trevor is brash and uncouth, in jeans and a tee as he goes about flipping strangers off, be it in the ghetto or the rich neighborhoods, in his search for money and women. Rounding out the trio is Franklin, in shape and dressed in style, he earns his keep as a repo man. A disillusioned former gangster, Franklin is stuck between his desire for more and his criminal friends who keep him from evolving. To be rich, suave and under the pressure of a crumbling life. To be in a constant hail of alcohol, drugs, anger and destruction. To be held in place by something mostly shed, wishing for progress but not finding the rungs. What is the best choice? All of them.
The stories occur at the same time. Players can switch between characters at any time. It is this dynamic that promises a fresh situation at every turn. As the gang comes together for jobs, the different personalities and views will distinctly shape how the missions are carried out. It is up to the player to decide who is going where and when, making the heists a lot more involved, a careful planning demanded. During the missions, switching between the three men will be a tactical choice, making or breaking the job, and certainly it will keep players moving at all times. In a mission where the group rescues a hostage, players can operate the getaway helicopter as Trevor, use Franklin to snipe the pilots of the choppers giving chase, or have Michael blow them out of the sky with an automatic rifle. One wonders just how taxing the perspective changing in real time will be on the game’s engine and how Rockstar North will smooth that out into something playable.
Rocktar North And GTA
Rockstar North promises other changes to the staples of the series. For example, the driving controls have been reworked, making for driving sections that are not as frustrating. GTA V boasts the biggest assortment of vehicles of any iteration so an enjoyable driving experience would be very welcome. Reportedly there will be no romance in this installment, likely because adding love interests to three different guys would get convoluted in a hurry. The biggest change, and the biggest tease as Rockstar North is revealing very little on the subject, is the addition of Multiplayer. Will players be able to take friends along on bank heists? We do not know. Rockstar North has promised to reveal more as they get closer to launch.
Grand Theft Auto has been around a long time. Perhaps some aspects of it have grown stale with some fans. It was not a small number of people who sold back GTA IV after the errand missions got a little tiresome. The new multiple protagonists angle does leave a lot to the imagination and has peaked interest and curiosity in everyone who has loves the series. While changing the old formula is always a risk, Rockstar North is going all out on this one and more and more it looks like a good bet. While the added multifaceted view is intriguing, it would be fun to get back to robbing cars and bikes in which to do sweet jumps, mugging people in the street, and chaining trailers together, just like we used to do in the old days. And maybe we can bring our friends along, just like in real life, GTA.