Game journalists from around the globe descended on Rockstar’s New York City headquarters for a 30 minute preview of Grand Theft Auto V. This is the first time anyone has gotten to see the game in action. Up until now, everything we knew about the game came from watching the trailers Rockstar released. Now we have a better idea of what to expect from this game.
Grand Theft Auto V is without a doubt, very ambitious. The game features three characters instead of one and the open world of Los Santos is better than any city in the previous games in the series. Los Santos is also a very different city than the New York City inspired Liberty City of Grand Theft Auto IV. While Liberty City gave players a gritty, dark, and realistic game, Los Santos doesn’t take itself too seriously and offers more varied environments.
So what have we learned from the short demo given to game journalists?
Three Characters: Franklin, Michael, and Trevor
The biggest change is the introduction of three playable characters. There’s Franklin (a talented driver and carjacker), Michael (a former bank robber who’s sick of his perfect family and life), and Trevor (a wild hillbilly who prefers to melee his enemies to death). Each of the three characters will be playable any time during the game.
Players will have to switch between the characters if they hope to succeed in the game. Missions will require players to play different roles, switching from character to character at the right time. This offers a completely new experience as you can now witness events from multiple perspectives.
Upgrading skills has been simplified. Want to level up your driving ability? Simply drive more and your abilities will improve. While each character comes with his own unique dispositions and skills, it’s easy to improve weaker skills to level the playing field.
Rockstar has always been known for creating huge, open worlds and Los Santos is by far their most ambitious attempt. The city is enormous and is completely unlocked from the beginning of the game. Previously, players had to progress far enough in the game to unlock different parts of a map. Now players can choose to go anywhere within Los Santos, making the world truly open.
There is plenty of detail and things to do in Grand Theft Auto V. The demo showed off the forested area of Blaine County where wildlife ran around. There are also dogs in the game, as shown in one of the trailers. Rockstar has plenty of experience creating visually impressive and realistic worlds. Red Dead Redemption included tons of different animals and lush environments.
A central theme of the game and where much of the action will take place is during over the top heist missions. Representatives from Rockstar said that players will have to put in a good amount of planning to each heist, like how to enter and escape , but the demo didn’t show off any of this planning.
As mentioned before, players will have to switch between characters in order to succeed in the game. Heists will require a lot of strategy about when to switch characters. If cops are storming the building, you’ll probably want to switch to a character with a sniper’s vantage point to take out the flood of police.
Vehicles and driving have been a core staple of the Grand Theft Auto Franchise and this is no exception in Grand Theft Auto V. There will be plenty of different cars, planes, jets, helicopters, and more for characters to pilot. IGN reports that driving mechanics in the game have been nailed down to be more realistic.
“While players of past GTA games had legitimate gripes about on-foot movement and combat, Rockstar always nailed driving, and if they’ve refined the system even further, whether in a car or truck, or in a plane or boat, then all the better. Either way, it was great to see someone driving carefully around Los Santos, because it was certainly a different approach than I take when I’m behind the wheel in GTA.”
Grand Theft Auto V is ambitious but it may also be too ambitious for current generation consoles. The game suffers from low resolution textures, which are very apparent when you get up close to an object. The world of Los Santos is so massive that there’s issues with textures popping up in the distance, like buildings sprouting from the ground. Compared to great looking games like Tomb Raider and Bioshock Infinite, Grand Theft Auto V looks very dated on current generation hardware.
While facial animations look spectacular in the trailers, the demo didn’t impress as much. Faces were less detailed and realistic than what was expected from the trailers. Rockstar has certainly learned a ton from making L.A. Noire, a game with extremely realistic looking facial animations, so hopefully the final product can improve this.
Work In Progress
There has been a lot of hype surrounding Grand Theft Auto V and the demo had to knock it out of the park. Unfortunately, it didn’t and left more questions than answers. Will there be multiplayer? Has the shooting mechanic been improved from the previous game? Is there a morality element in the game? The demo was too brief to answer all of these questions.
While the graphics may have disappointed, the gameplay seems solid and having control of multiple characters makes the game less fatiguing. Rockstar only has several months to polish the game before its September 17th release date.