To quote the Dude, “new s*** has come to light!” With the three trailers Rockstar released last week, covered by yours truly here, and the number of articles that have begun springing up all over our rivals’ sites since then, I’ve managed to obtain a pretty good idea* of what GTA V itself is all about. This is no longer what we expect to be in the game; this is what we know is in the game. Let’s start with the map itself.
*I use those words lightly; I’m a walking encyclopaedia of GTA.
The city of Los Santos borders the Pacific Ocean on one side, and the sprawling countryside of Blaine County on the other. Los Santos is as diverse as Liberty City, but bigger. Rockstar Games have been credited, for some time now, with saying that the surface area of GTA V’s map is going to be larger than San Andreas, GTA IV and Red Dead Redemption combined. Fellow Rockstar aficionados will know that is a lot of space.
The level of detail is immense even compared to Liberty City, which genuinely felt like a real city at times. Civilians in GTA have evolved by leaps and bounds since the third-era games, and even since the fourth. No longer do they merely perform the office of moving targets that spew tongue-in-cheek one-liners; now they have their own lives. As you travel around the city you’ll see NPC civilians seamlessly going about their business, much like you will be but without quite so much of the violence, gunfire, explosions and car chases. More Red Dead than GTA IV, the civilians (which, whether we like it or not, are just as important as everything else in the game) are there to pull you into their world, and make you feel like you’re just another ingredient in the recipe. To put it in a nutshell, Los Santos is self-sufficient; it can survive on its own and it doesn’t need your help to fill it with atmosphere and life. Though, of course, the game wouldn’t be much fun without someone to play it.
With two of the three player characters hailing from opposite ends of the city, the affluent areas of Vinewood & Richman and the ghettos of [what I can only assume is] Ganton & Idlewood, we’ll get to experience the many sides of the meticulously produced LA parody that is Los Santos; the rich and poor, the clean and dirty, the sunny and smoggy; the safe and downright dangerous.
Outside the city limits, however, it’s a completely different world. But before you begin to yawn at the idea of trawling around the generic countryside of San Andreas listening to a contemporary K-Rose on the radio, let me say, with confidence, that Blaine County is going to be as interesting and exciting a place to explore as the City of Saints itself.
Besides the actually geography of rural San Andreas, the countryside also boasts a thriving ecosystem. Drawing from the success of wild life in Red Dead, animals are finally coming to GTA! Expect mountain lions and squirrels a plenty as you inevitably run out of gas in the arse-end of nowhere. Oh, and don’t be tempted to go for a dip if it’s a nice hot day and you’ve just piloted your speedboat out off the coast of Del Perro; there’s sharks, big sharks. Animals’ mechanics are just as detailed as civilians, and their inclusion is said to be “more than just a backdrop”.
GTA V is going to provide us with the biggest playground we’ve seen in any of the games to date. With the most vibrant, detailed, and varied of any GTA map in its history, I for one am probably going to spend the first few days simply exploring it. Needless to say there won’t be many breaks either.