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JANGTAGaming Feature: Grand Theft Auto V's Bold New Direction
Grand Theft Auto V - General News | @ 01:16 AM CST | By victim
Before GTA IV’s first trailer broke the internet and the game itself was still just a speck on the horizon, Dan Houser boasted the game-world would feel like a “living, breathing city.” When it was released, this statement certainly rang true. Liberty City was wall-to-wall covered in realism; from the gritty back alleys full of trash-cans and sleeping vagrants, to pedestrians milling about carrying shopping bags and having cell-phone conversations. The architecture and city-mapping so closely resembled real-life New York that critics labelled Liberty City as the true main-character of the game. Gamers could actually believe that people and characters existed inside this world.
“A living, breathing city.” Rockstar sure do love their buzzwords.
Looking forward, we can see GTA V as that speck on the horizon where we once saw IV. Though, Rockstar are boasting something entirely different with this outing. Rockstar’s official press-release is promising more than just the most ambitious game they have ever created. They are promising a “bold new direction.”
A bold new direction in open-world freedom, storytelling, mission-based gameplay and online multiplayer, Grand Theft Auto V focuses on the pursuit of the almighty dollar in a re-imagined, present day Southern California.
Generally, for better or worse, people fear change. In the gaming industry, repetition of franchises is what reels in the big bucks and innovation can be somewhat of a daring move. A franchise like Grand Theft Auto could easily keep moving to new locales and creating new protagonists, but how long would it take for the franchise to become drab and complacent for all the wrong reasons? A bold new direction not only implies a risk but also a drastic reimagining of the series.
What could this new direction be? Well, your guess is as good as mine. Let's break down a few of our options.
IV took a dark approach to the American Dream, while V will move the series’ focus towards America’s harsh economical climate and the recession. The trailer’s voice-over informs that our main character starts the game with quite a bit of money. Having multiple protagonists could allow us to see the flip side to that coin; imagine a character that has to steal and kill to scrape together a living, while contrasted against a more prosperous protagonist.
Rumors of multiple protagonists in V have been circulating the web since before the game was announced. It’s something Rockstar have already explored in other games, perhaps most recognizably in GTA IV; with the addition of the two episodic content releases, we got the stories of Luis and Johnny play out simultaneously to the original game. It worked well as the stories weren’t weaved intrinsically together - they essentially acted as three separate story arcs played out in one locale. Exploring the suburbs of Alderney on a bike in The Lost and Damned was a different beast when compared to the socialite degeneracy of The Ballad of Gay Tony or the ghetto of Hove Beach.
If V’s first trailer told us anything it was that the multiple protagonist rumor may be a little closer to fact than we all had cared to realize. We were treated multiple shots of three separate people, all of which looked like they could have been the game’s leading man. Other than the older gentlemen we saw two separate black characters both in heated pursuits with the law. This could mean that pedestrians can now get into hot-and-heavy police chases like our leading characters always could. It could mean something else entirely.
One of the lesser spoken of features of IV was the ability of decision making within certain missions. Sometimes these were small and seemingly irrelevant, other times they would spark major story moments or give the player something they couldn’t get otherwise. Decisions like the memorable Deal or Revenge finale altered Niko’s journey through Liberty City. As players, we could choose whether we wanted Niko to have humanity or if we wanted him to be a cold-hearted killer. Decision making abilities put certain moments in the hands of the player and added an extra dynamic to the sandbox world which Rockstar had created.
Let’s use our imaginations for a moment. What if Rockstar brought decision making to GTA V on a grander scale? These days we are seeing countless titles which change and adapt based on player decisions. A game like Heavy Rain is based around decision making, while the Mass Effect series brags that every choice the player makes will have a direct impact on the story and the game-world. So why not Grand Theft Auto? A new-approach to mission structure and choosing your own allegiances could give complete control to the player. Perhaps it could be detrimental to the story, though on the other hand it could create an entirely new experience – something the likes of which we have never seen before in a GTA game.
I'm not going to pretend like I have experience in Game Design. The truth is I know as much about GTA V as the rest of you so be sure to share your ideas on the GTA V's new direction in our comments section.
One of the best parts of the waiting game is imagining and speculating on the possibilities of the road ahead.
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