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If you were to have told me the highlight of my recent Grand Theft Auto 5 showing would've been a deer running out into the road, I would've laughed in your face. And yet, as the animal obstructed one of the lead character's – Michael – car, it was enough to convince me that Rockstar's latest had all the makings of something special. I didn't need to see an over the top set piece or a barrage of soldiers being gunned down. Watching one of the three GTA protagonists react to the beast with an expletive before swerving around it reminded me how well the series does the little things, and just how important those moments are.

GTA 5 feels like a combination of the developer's efforts rolled into one package. The world is bigger than nearly all of Rockstar's previous environments combined; the three characters exist to introduce a new and more complex narrative; for the first time it has its own soundtrack which will change depending on your current situation; you can go scuba diving. All of the above will become staples that define GTA 5 but, much like my new friend the deer, it's the aquatic action which threatens to open many-a-gamers eye.

As the game shifts from Franklin – who hurled himself from a helicopter and parachuted past the gargantuan Mount Chiliad – to Trevor (he himself surrounded by dead bodies that seem to be members of The Lost gang), it's almost ridiculous that an option even exists for the ex-army pilot to take a speedboat to the middle of the ocean and jump in. Using the scuba gear found in the back of the vehicle, the sheer size of what can be explored beneath the sea is intimidating. There's underwater wreckages, schools of fish and, more worryingly, two sharks who smell blood. It's a far cry from stumbling over a fence, crashing into the waves waiting for the inevitable 'Wasted' to blare on-screen. Diving beneath the waves itself could probably justify a whole game.

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It's glimpses of new elements such as this – and the white-hot hype that accompanies every new entry into the franchise – that make GTA 5 a tough gig to live up to. Since its announcement in November 2011, Grand Theft Auto, as is oddly the way, attracts voices from all camps. Akin to the John Cena of video games, you may not like the series but you damn well care about it and have an opinion. If a new trailer, much like the three we were treated to only a couple of days ago, were forced to make its way to a WWE ring, it'd probably be greeted with as many boos as it would cheers. It's this stigma that GTA has to face, and that's before mentioning the opposite group who desperately need this to become the greatest game of all-time. That's the presence it has in the industry.

If anything GTA was going to win over both camps, though, 5 is the likeliest of the bunch. Be it the dynamic events that have been carried across from Red Dead Redemption or the prevalence of multi-part 'Heists', there's ideas here that fundamentally build upon what the core of the series has been toying with for years. While the former may be less of a surprise thanks to the adventures of John Marston – randomly helping Vinewood superstar Lacey Jonas escape from a horde of paparazzi is an enjoyable aside – the latter is a different beast entirely.

During GTA IV's launch period a common conversation that could be heard 'around the water cooler' focused on the mission Three Leaf Clover. A bank job in a similar fashion to the movie Heat, it struck a chord with many, leading to what could turn out to be 5's trump card. Heists, as they are known, follow a similar format to the now iconic mission but with a barrage more depth. Regardless what the end goal is, every aspect has to be constructed by you. That includes sourcing a crew, disguises, locations, vehicles, weapons and no doubt a ton more as you piece together the intricate nature of the criminal puzzle.

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For now Rockstar is keen to concentrate on a specific mission known as 'Blitz Play', essentially a smaller version of a heist that requires only the three leads and without as big rewards. The brainchild of Michael and his love for Vinewood action moves, its complexity can't be overlooked. With the tools needed already in-hand, each character is given a specific job to, in this case, bring an armoured truck to its knees. Trevor is to keep a lookout from the roof of a nearby building, Michael will block the entire road in a lorry and Franklin's frantic ram in a tow truck will signify a successful finish. During such events the game will decide when is prudent to switch between characters, giving you more control, in this particular instance, once the local police turn up to see what the problem is.

Rather than your usual gun, cover, shoot mechanic, being able to jump between individuals adds far more tactical and strategic options than GTA has ever been able to boast before. Trevor, having the advantage of higher ground, can be responsible for sniping and taking out air threats, whereas Franklin and Michael take turns with the more conventional third-person shooting fun. Given that you have what is an essentially a co-op partner, however, opens up the potential to go on suicide-like runs while protection is provided for you. As your friends will take care of themselves when you're not in control, there's far more life to gunfights and, more importantly, variety. In order to ensure everything is sealed off nicely, once the law has been pinned down, Franklin takes his truck to a pre-discussed spot, blows up the evidence and drives away in a planted getaway car.

It's a mere hint of the grander plans Rockstar has, but it opens up visions of what could be possible come September. Franklin, Trevor and Michael exist independently of one another and of you when you're spending your time elsewhere. It begs what may happen should you team up all three away from a structured mission. Rampages have long been synonymous with the franchise; just how much mayhem can be caused by the trifecta is surely only a matter for the imagination.

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Be it technically, thematically or narratively, GTA 5 is set to raise the standard set by its own predecessors. It's hard to explain the sheer scope of the environment and just how vast it is, or how populated the world feels, without seeing it. After all, how many other games can flex their technology-muscle just by showing a man parachuting through the countryside? Such is the landmass that awaits, even the simple task of switching between characters is something to behold. Watching the camera zoom into the sky and pan across the environment to wherever your chosen individual may be is not only a fantastic way to fast travel, but a window into a setting that is literally awesome.

There will be doubters, of course, but as almost an amalgamation of all the GTAs that have come before it, 5 should surely be the version to convert even the most hardened cynic and become the definitive instalment of a legendary franchise.

For even more details on Grand Theft Auto 5, check our jam-packed info burst.

If you need even more, watch our first video impressions piece below.

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11 Comments

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tall88's Avatar

tall88@ TheLastProphet

And the game was demonstrated on the ps3. Next time you might want to do some research.
Posted 19:21 on 01 June 2013
tall88's Avatar

tall88@ TheLastProphet

Dude like seriously. I doubt you like any gta games.
Posted 19:19 on 01 June 2013
snoop59's Avatar

snoop59@ TheLastProphet

Okay, First of all GTA games are not overrated, halo and call of duty are way more overrated then gta. You've said they have done nothing new since gta 3, why change the best, every time a gta comes out the story is unlike any other game,theres so much to do. Saints row hasn't came up with anything new since the start, the story just gets more retarded with each one, all it is, is lots of content,they have no detail at all. Grand theft auto has always had emotion and depth in it, we get connected to the protagonists and in saints row we just don't care, and as far as physics go just cause and saints row can't compare,nor the damage. You say saints row is better when gta4 has sold more then all the saints rows combined. Look at everything you will be able to do in gta5,hunt animals,dive for treasure,rob a bank, no other game has that all in one package. And im sure the final product will look just as good,
Posted 01:55 on 28 May 2013
DancingRhino's Avatar

DancingRhino

I wouldn't call the GTA mission structure stagnated, just unimaginative - but often thought it could be more dynamic to make you feel more powerful and the game more alive. For instance, does every mission have to end in success or failure? One mission - you chase someone, if they get away it opens up one quest branch, if you kill them another thing happens.

Choosing location and switching characters seems like it could have potential, but unlikely to shake up the scripted nature too much. That's not terrible, I'm still going to love it.
Posted 20:20 on 03 May 2013
TheLastProphet's Avatar

TheLastProphet@ tvr77

Don't get me wrong - I have enjoyed every GTA game I have played and I do think they are all good games.

The two main points I am trying to make are:

1. GTA games are grossly overrated, and although they are good games there has been very little innovation in the series since GTA 3 in 2001, and I find no justification for reviewers giving GTA 4 perfect scores in their reviews, or the embarrassing level of hyperbole surrounding GTA 5.

2. The previews of GTA 5 from Videogamer (and there are several of them in various forms) are full of nothing but glowing praise, and raise no concerns or ask any important questions of Rockstar whatsoever.
GTA is not the only third person open world game available, games like Just Cause 2 and the Saints Row games have moved the genre forward, incorporating things like online coop and deep character customisation - features which GTA has never had and GTA 5 looks unlikely to have either.

If the team at Videogamer (and most gamers) don't expect anything more form GTA 5 than parachuting (which you can do in Just Cause 2), a huge map (which Just Cause 2 also has), and a selection of ski masks to choose from (which Saints Row has in abundance) then that's fine.

Personally, I expect more from Rockstar and the GTA franchise, which I feel is lagging behind the competition in several areas.

I will definitely buy GTA 5 and I am sure I will enjoy playing it too - I just doubt I think it will be the 'Next-Gen come early' or the 'best game of the generation and beyond' as Videogamer have prematurely declared.
Posted 19:14 on 03 May 2013
Batmamerc's Avatar

Batmamerc@ TheLastProphet

Firstly, GTA stands for Grand theft auto it's a crime defined here http://tinyurl.com/cc2ulpp but primarily it refers to stealing cars, so having a key element of a game called Grand Theft Auto be stealing cars and going round causing havoc and committing crimes shouldn't need to be changed its what the game is all about it would be like taking Tiger woods golf and making it a first person golf shooter wud be pointless its not what it is, we don't need massive advancement but if you do go back and play GTA 3 (we won't class the original top down ones in this discussion) the for now play GTA 4 after and you tell me that its the same game, you wanna talk about same old same old play all the cods and tell me what's so bloody great everytime and what's different since modern warfare 1. Secondly, you wanna be a cop that decides wether to be a good cop or bad cop, there is a small game called Sleeping Dogs, it's basically GTA but you play as a undercover cop and have to decide wether to do good things or bad things, it wasn't a massive game I think it was only number 1 for a couple of weeks but you have been too busy playing Pokemon or something thats had massive changes in every incarnation and missed sleeping dogs. Thirdly next gen doesn't refer to better graphics next gen just means better hardware capable of doing more and GTA 5 appears to be doing so much more than others all on the current gen this piece doesn't even refer to the graphics been amazing just the gameplay and detail. GTA is a game that is basically a playground and the bigger the space the better as long as its filled and not just open spaces or like you say vast forests the size of china but has a GTA game ever left you thinking there is nothing here?
Posted 17:54 on 03 May 2013
tvr77's Avatar

tvr77@ TheLastProphet

You have every right to ask those questions but thats not what this piece was about.

''Next-Gen come early'' was just an opinion, his own opinion just like you have yours.

Your talking like this article was supposed to sum up the whole game when its not even a tiny smidge of it, i think you need to have patience and wait. Rockstar are obviously sticking to a schedule and will play each of its cards to its advantage. Kinda like dangling a carrot, then BOOM!

Your comment come across as GTA hater piece but you seem to have sunken a lot of time playing every single game/expansion there is, i'm confused do you like the games or not?
Posted 13:51 on 03 May 2013
TheLastProphet's Avatar

TheLastProphet@ tvr77

I'm sure what Simon saw was amazing, and I'm sure I would be amazed too if I saw it - but at the same time I would be asking several questions to ascertain whether what I am being shown is what I'll be playing on my Xbox 360/PS3 come 17th Sept.

First of all there is no mention of which version he was shown - the graphics, framerate, scale etc of the game may be far less impressive on current gen hardware. Games developers always demo games in whatever way will show the game in the best possible light, normally on very high spec PC's.
GTA 5 is also rumoured to be a launch title for the PS4 and next Xbox - so before declaring the game is the 'Next-Gen come early' we need to know which version was demoed - as it may well have been the next-gen version.

Secondly, I have bought, played, and completed every single GTA game and expansion - and anyone looking at the series objectively will conclude the series has stagnated since GTA 3 and evolved very little since 2001.
Every game since then follows the simple formula of bigger city, more missions, more mindless killing, and more sex. GTA has brought almost nothing new to open world games since 2001, and has become a vastly overrated franchise.

The missions in GTA games follow a mind-numbingly simple structure - meet a criminal, he/she tells you to kill a bunch of people, you steal a car, drive to the location, kill everyone, go back to the criminal, and collect your reward. Rinse and repeat 100 times - game completed.
As gaming has evolved and matured, GTA hasn't. What about if I don't particularly want to kill 50 people over a $100 debt? Why do I have to take orders from the scum of the criminal underworld as their poorly paid bitch? Why do I always have to play as someone morally and ethically corrupt?

How about a GTA game where you play as a cop - where you can choose to be straight or bent, choosing to enforce the law or break it for your own gain? A game where you can fight to bring criminals down or choose to join them would be far more compelling than the same formula we have been fed since 1997.
There are 3 playable characters in GTA 5, why not include 3-player coop play over Xbox Live/PSN? Saints Row 2 has coop play for the entire campaign and all side missions, and was released back in 2011.

The ability to go scuba diving, parachuting, or choose exactly which mask to wear during a bank heist is not the evolution I'm looking for - nor is the ability to run around an empty forest the size of China.
Where is the genuine innovation and evolution of the franchise?

I'm sure GTA 5 will get praised to high heaven when released, by all and every gaming website and publication in existence - but deservedly so?

I doubt it.
Posted 12:55 on 03 May 2013
tvr77's Avatar

tvr77@ TheLastProphet

How can you come to that conclusion when you have not seen what the writer of the article has seen. It seems to me that he witnessed something which amazed him and he relayed his findings to us and how he felt about them.
Posted 11:58 on 03 May 2013
TheLastProphet's Avatar

TheLastProphet

How can a game receive such a glowing preview lavished with so much praise when the said game hasn't even been PLAYED???

Also, there is no mention of which version of the game was demonstrated. How can you declare the graphics as the best of this generation, as the'Next-Gen come early', when for all you know you were shown the game running on a £2000 PC with all the graphical effects cranked up to the max? Ironically you could have been shown the PS4/Next Xbox version of the game.

The preview reads more like a love letter to Rockstar rather than a serious attempt to provide solid new information about GTA 5.
Posted 11:24 on 03 May 2013
IndoorHeroes's Avatar

IndoorHeroes

"the game will decide when is prudent to switch between characters, giving you more control"

Wouldn't more control be letting the player decide when to switch character?

Either way sounds like the pinnacle for gaming this generation. Nice one Simon.
Posted 17:30 on 02 May 2013

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Grand Theft Auto 5

Grand Theft Auto 5
Available For: Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, PC Genre: Action

VideoGamer.com Score10

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