Last week Rockstar Games released another trailer in a spate of marketing material that’s been flowing to us since the start of the summer. GTA Online is the multiplayer component of the new and much anticipated instalment of the game that epitomises gaming; Grand Theft Auto. It seems that this time around they’ve actually managed to do a good job of the multiplayer side of things, and aren’t going to make a complete hash of it like they did with, say, GTA IV. Here’s a number of reasons why GTA IV was terrible, and why GTA V isn’t only going to be the greatest single-player game ever made, but why it’s also going to be one of the finest multiplayer experiences a lot of us will have ever had to date.
In the four years I’d played GTA IV (It’s been five since its release, I know, but I haven’t played it properly since 2012) I did manage to harvest a great deal of entertainment from the “free mode” side of it, which as most of you know essentially turned the whole city into a massive playground for you and your mates to do with as you saw fit. It was great mainly because my chums and I would just make our own games modes out of it, being that there were no specific rules or anything. We’d play cops & robbers without the stupid mechanics and lack of players that Rockstar’s own version had. We’d play tag, where the only rule was you weren’t allowed to shoot each other. We’d toggle the police on and do what can only be described as “cop horde”; defending an apartment block from the entire LSPD. A few of us, without even realising at the time, went so far as to even create a completely structured roleplay environment, without even the tiniest piece of scripting (but that’d be impossible on the Xbox anyway). So needless to say that Free Mode had its moments, but other than that, the multiplayer was a disappointment, and it got worse as other people began to realise this too, and the player count gradually dropped over the years. I think it may have something to do with the multiplayer mods for San Andreas actually, but that’s for another day…
So you could say it was a bit of a learning curve for Rockstar Games; something needed to be done about the hopeless levelling system and complete lack of rewards. Luckily they had the chance to improve on their multiplayer-developing skills with the release of Red Dead Redemption in 2010. A chance they squandered, however, as Red Dead’s supposedly “revolutionary” multiplayer turned out to be a complete disappointment as well, largely for the same reasons, but also partly because they thought it a brilliant idea to introduce things like zebra-donkeys, superbulls, exploding rifles and infinite quantities of dynamite to the otherwise amazing world the game was set in. Through Red Dead’s multiplayer and the influx of GTA players that were merely looking for something fresher to play than IV, the game unfortunately mutated into something as simple as a Grand Theft Auto in 1911. It was not meant to be, at all.
Nigh-on everything you can do in single-player you can do online, and more in some instances. From being able to fully customise your character a la San Andreas, to buying yourself an apartment and having a personalised automobile to cruise around the streets of Los Santos in, the amazing world of the “HD” San Andreas will not be tainted in anyway by the occasional trip into the internet. The fact that the game’s online even features full-motion cutscenes and ambient activities (arm-wrestling, golf etc.) for you partake in definitely suggests that Rockstar have done everything within their power to keep the essence of GTA intact when we go online.
You will, of course, still need V to be able to go online, but other than that, its completely free. In this current bout of complete vulgarity in the gaming industry, it’s nice to see a developer actually letting us go online, -one of our fundamental rights as gamers-, for absolutely no extra cost. But then that’s what Rockstar are like. Under the umbrella of Take Two Interactive, they’re one of the few solid development studios left. Let’s just hope they stick to their word and that everything we’ve seen and heard about GTA Online is genuine, and not another “revolutionary” flop like Red Dead