There are plenty of things to be excited about in GTA 5. The multiple characters, the size of the world, the fact that you can scuba dive like a Jacques Cousteau, if Cousteau was a crank-addled madman with a fetish for ultraviolence.
Anyway, forget all that. Here are the smaller things that will make GTA 5 the best thing since the last thing Rockstar did.
A funny thing to get excited about, especially when in reality the prospect of even thinking about competing in a triathlon seems about as more terrifying than spiders and zombie Thatcher combined.
In San Andreas however, the combination of triathlons and an in-game week cycle turned me into the sort of iron man that would make Lance Armstrong's doping program proud. Every Sunday I'd change into my gym shorts, head down to the beach, and compete in the triathlon.
Why? No idea. But then again, why did I only do missions at night in San Andreas? Why did I have a strenuous workout routine that happened every day at around 8Am? Because it seemed to fit in naturally with the world. (No-one should commit crime in broad daylight, after all.)
That was the power of the game: giving you a bunch of things to do letting you choose how you did them, no matter how outlandish or banal they might have been.
Also, you got to race against a giant cock. If you can't do that in 5 I'm going to be very upset.
This one's a big feature for me, because lets face it: if you've made millions of dollars from a vast and brutal criminal empire, you're not going to carry them around in your pocket (pay attention, Mr Bellic). Especially when your job is essentially to fling yourself out of moving vehicles at top speed.
No, like all good gangsters, I want to be able to, ahem, diversify (hide) my interests (blood money) in fancy/garish property (that one's pretty self-explanatory). After all, just look how much fun Tony Montana was having! (That's the moral, right?)
Anyway, a GTA game where you use money like you'd usually use bullets (as in, controlling or eliminating your enemies) sounds good to me. Earlier games have experimented with this: Vice City and San Andreas saw you using your cash to purchase property. Vice City Stories took it even further, enabling players to buy fronts for illicit buisnesses. Once the building was yours, then came the decision as to what level of production to go for: higher rates means higher profits, but increased attention from rival gangs, who would attack the fronts.
It was an interesting system, and I'd love to see it built upon in GTA 5. Because if I can't purchase a mansion with a swimming pool shaped like a dick in it, what have I accomplished? Nothing.
A lot has been made of the three playable characters, and the ability to switch between them at will. At the moment, Rockstar's stance is that 5 will not feature a co-operative campaign. Seems fairly open and shut. But I'd be surprised if it didn't have it, in one way or another. After all, Rockstar itself has stated that the studio is moving away from providing a linear path through the game, with the heist missions now playing a big part. If that is the case – and there's always two other AI characters wandering around – surely you'd be able to recruit other players into your game to take over those roles?
I hope so, because Rockstar seems to be going all out with every other element of the game, and it would be a shame for the firm to miss what seems like an open goal. Saints Row is a series that is improved immensely by the addition of campaign, simply because the amount of dicking around increases ten-fold. Speaking of multiplayer and dicking around...
For all of its merits as a story-driven single-player game, elements of GTA 4's multiplayer mode were also truly brilliant. There's little to touch taking on the city's cops, running wild with a posse of friends through Liberty City in free mode, and the smaller, objective-based missions were also a lot of fun. But it's Cops and Crooks that really grabbed me: two teams on opposite sides of the law try to escape or kill the others.
It's a fine concept that was great in execution, as the crooks (who start on foot) deperately try to make it to the escape zone by any means necessary. Car chases, desperate leaps off of bridges, and tense shootouts were staples, and there's a horrifying, The Terminator-chasing-you tension to being a crook. You know a game mode is good when it lets you crash a chopper into a crook players escape helicopter to prevent him winning the round.
Now, take that mode and put it into 5's massive world – and, more excitingly, its vehicles – and I'll pretty much call it a day on the rest of my life. Multi-part escapes, like taking a chopper to the airport while hounded by cops? Sign me up.