GTA V: Best Video Game Ever?

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Posted November 20, 2012 by J Matthew Cobb in HiDef
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The wait is still on, but the verdict is already out. Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V is already on its way to becoming the greatest video game ever

You might be asking yourself the burning question:

What do video games have in common with music?

Well, if you’ve been living under a rock for the last 30 years, it’s probably time I brought you up to speed. The first music video aired on MTV was the Buggles’ bubbly synth tune, “Video Killed the Radio Star.” Since then, the medium of video has been intertwined with the evolution of music. And that also includes the world of video gaming. And the world of hip-hop simply can’t get enough of the classics. Super Mario Bros. was injected into Smif n’ Wessun’s “Super Brooklyn,” Pac-Man was injected into Lil Flip’s “Game Over.” SPIN magazine recently cranked out their list of 50 rap songs with video game connections. But the love relationship of music and gaming goes beyond the realm of rap. Gaming institutions like Guitar Hero, Karaoke Revolution, Just Dance and Dance Central has proven to be a goldmine for Top 40 archaeologists.

The franchise of Grand Theft Auto – as angular as the title seems to the gaming novice – deserves to be named amongst that collection. Despite its open world of mischief and bad habits, gun toting, carjacking and missions to break the law, the storylines are usually cinematically epic and the 3D graphics on each and every installment becomes the new norm to beat. And the soundtrack literally becomes the portable jukebox for the legion of kids anxious to go beyond the corridors of their local environment.  Since GTA Vice City, released in 2002, the developers over at Rockstar have explored the Rolodex of popular music, which comes into play throughout the never-ending storyline and on the in-car stations. Genres like alt-rock, heavy metal, reggae, EDA, r&b, hip-hop, funk, Top 40, new wave and others have all been injected into the series since Vice City hit shelves in 2002. And the titles that followed have all opened up unlimited possibilities for sixth and seventh-generation gaming systems like the Xbox 360 and the PS3.

There’s plenty of reasons to implore why GTA may be the greatest gaming franchise alive. It attracts the first-class superstars (Gary Busey, Samuel L. Jackson, Burt Reynolds, Ray Liotta, Iggy Pop, George Clinton, Phil Collins and Dennis Hooper have all voiced characters in the franchise) and has sold over 114 million copies since 2011. To top it off, its shelf life as a brand continues to wow gamers. People are now downloading GTA: Vice City for the first time on their iSO and Android-powered devices. Thankfully, Rockstar took a brief siesta after dropping the impressive GTA IV in 2008, which at the time became the largest open-world environment to hit the series. The game developer did release a two-game expansion of short story games to help soothe gamers over until the next one dropped. But a lot of time has passed since 2008 and 2012. And since then, gamers has become even more scrupulous about what to consume – leaning on tech-driven, online-compatible, GTA-friendly titles like Call of Duty: MW3, Halo 4, Gears of War 3, Batman: Arkham City, Killzone and even returning to arcade familiarity (Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter).

GTA 4 was our first attempt at a new platform and HD visuals, so the first part of development was seriously difficult. Now we know what the hardware’s capable of, so it’s become a lot easier to move things along and a lot more fun, too…Now’s the best timing of all.” – Dan Houser, GTA writer

But patience is running thin. And it’s now turning into pandemonium. Do a search inquiry on just how anxious fans are for Grant Theft Auto V – the next chapter in the GTA anthology. The message boards and YouTube tributes are now reaching the fevered pitch of One Direction and Justin Bieber status. The game was originally slated to drop before the 2012 holiday season, but has since been moved back to Spring 2012. And then when glamorous premature snapshots and promo clips of the game surfaced, worries started to float around if the game would debut on next-generation consoles like the rumored Sony PS4 and Xbox 720. But those fears were recently vexed into a mode of quietness when GTA writer Dan Houser explained why GTA 5 was making its move to today’s systems. “Rockstar is a content company, not a hardware company,” he told Famitsu, a Japanese gaming magazine. “We use the technology we have to create content, and we try not to let ourselves get beholden to the hardware. The fact that hardware’s so mature right now is exactly why we’re able to go on to the next level. GTA 4 was our first attempt at a new platform and HD visuals, so the first part of development was seriously difficult. Now we know what the hardware’s capable of, so it’s become a lot easier to move things along and a lot more fun, too…Now’s the best timing of all.”

The question now looking over the minds of fanatic GTA gamers is what inside GTA 5 is determined to set it apart from its predecessors. Well, there’s plenty of reasons, but here’s five good reasons.

5. Multiple playable characters

Three protagonists – Michael, Trevor and Franklin – have been selected to outline the game’s direction in a world quite similar to San Andreas used in GTA: San Andreas, the alternate modern-day version of Los Angeles. Now the bad boys (or heroes, depending on who you poll) are returning to the West Coast to Los Santos. In one of the early trailers for the game, the Hollywood sign is morphed into Vinewood. All three have their own set of missions and will be switchable throughout the course of the adventure.  “It’s a completely different type of story this time,” Houser said. “The three heroes are all playing out their own conflicting roles, and it makes for a deeper and more complex story than before. I’d like you to think of it as a new story, one that you’ve never experienced not just in games but in any other medium.

The idea of playing different characters in the large sandbox world was something that sprouted out of GTA IV when characters Luis Lopez and Johnny Kelbitz were used in the episodic expansion pack, sold separately from the original game as a download or on separate disc. GTA V will become the first sandbox game that allows three playable characters to be played during the game. Although word is starting to leak about the multiplayer function for some of the game’s missions, Houser isn’t slowing down his adjectives over the game’s breakthrough in multiplayer and live online developments. He claims GTA V’s multiplayer will be “one of the best” Rockstar has delivered yet.

“We think there’s something very compelling about open world multiplayer,” Houser told IGN. “We believe this is the game with which we will finally convince other people of that, a large number of other people.”

4. Open world is proclaimed to be the largest in the GTA franchise

It might be perceived as marketing hyperbola, but developers aren’t mincing their words while describing the open world of GTA V. Now players can travel the depths of the sea, travel the terrain of the mountainous cliffs and even take a strolls on the beach. Broadcasters are even mentioning that GTA V’s playable environment is larger than Red Dead Redemption, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto IV combined. Maps will be able to zoom in Google Earth-style, which is quite revolutionary for a make-believe world that so easily parodies real life.

3. Side-by-side comparison of the graphics of GTA IV and V reveal a world of difference

Need proof? Just look at the photo gallery below.

2. Hours and hours of games inside of a game

Want your character to practice yoga? Or go base-jumping? Scubba diving? Work out? Golf? Even jet skiing? Participate in triathlons? Well, GTA V will allow your characters to participate in these functions. It’s like playing The Sims without any limits. Although some of these ideas have been visited before in GTA: San Andreas and GTA IV, they will be enhanced and will be further utilized into the game’s psyche.

1. The world of music, revisited and greatly expanded.

The musical box set for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

In GTA IV, the number of radio stations increased considerably, reaching a total of 19 in all. And the barrage of songs, which played in random order since GTA IV, reached 200. Hit songs from Kanye West, Electric Light Orchestra, Elton John, R.E.M, Ne-Yo, Genesis, R Kelly, Barry White, Loose Ends, Smashing Pumpkins and Queen lit the game’s pathway. Due to the expanded games of The Ballad of Gay Tony and The Lost and Damned and downloadable content (DLC), 50 new songs were added to the list. 200 songs + 50? That’s like having an iPod shuffle stuck in a video game. Who knows what the next soundtrack will entail. But what has been confirmed, thanks to the released trailers, the soundtrack will continue to feed that glowing trend. So far, Stevie Wonder’s “Skeletons,” a groovy piece of late-Eighties synth-funk, and Small Faces’ “Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake,” a psychedelic rock piece taken from a concept album bearing the same name, has been confirmed as two of the song selections. Sources close to the game believe that the genres the game will choose to focus on will be classic rock, country, hip-hop, pop, modern rap, latino, modern rock, EDM and more chat radio.

Astonishingly enough, GTA V is poised to break records. And don’t expect a faulty economy to hold gamers back. When GTA IV was released in 2008, the game – which landed on Tony Mott’s list of 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die, initially broke a world record for being the highest grossing video game to be sold in 24 hours. For first day sales, it became the fastest-selling video game in a day. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has since eclipsed that feat, but don’t expect that to scare Rockstar into a corner. Fans anxiously waiting for the latest GTA episode aren’t planning to hold anything back.

 

GRAND THEFT AUTO V: PHOTO GALLERY

Leaked photos of the upcoming release of GTA V are spreading across the Internet – and it seriously looks like the folks at Rockstar are improving on what’s already been accomplished with their predecessor.

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About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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