As it has been been over four years since the last full Grand Theft Auto console game, we are left to wonder if the behemoth can still maintain relevancy after being absent for so many years. With that the Daily Reaction crew of Dan and Seb discuss our past with the GTA series, and what we hope the future holds.
Dan: As the open world genre has been explored by countless titles this generation, from games like Saints Row, inFamous, Prototype, and Assassin’s Creed, I really do think that GTA V will have to bring more than its name this time around. If this was Rockstar San Diego, I would have more faith in their ability to do narrative, but Rockstar North really has yet to give me a story that is as gripping. The DLC they created for GTA IV was more interesting story wise, but was still far from a lynchpin to compete with other narratives.
Luckily, Rockstar North has had years to perfect and plan their latest installment this generation, and hopefully they have been able to improve the engine immensely as well. As the main problem the kings of last gen are noticing this time around is that that the niches they had once ruled are now being filled with competent titles. Much like Gran Turismo 5 had discovered this generation, the strength of a brand will only take you so far. So if GTA V is going to maintain being the powerhouse it once was, it will need to show that it is still best place to run around a city with a rocket launcher.
Seb: Well we all know it’s going to sell incredibly well, that’s guaranteed. No one doubts that. But the question is more whether the release will shake up the industry like the series has before. Will it bring new nuances to character interactions or level design that profoundly impacts the way future developers work on their own titles? Obviously I hope so, but I can’t help but worry.
You mentioned GT5, and one of its problems was that development took so long it was designed with the developers looking at competing titles from several years ago. When new releases brought new innovations, the game was far too far along with its development for Polyphony to do anything about it. The same could happen with GTA V.
GTA IV had some brilliant moments, it had a truly vibrant city, gorgeous visuals and a plot that was stronger than most. Compare it to Saints Row 2 and it clearly blows it out of the water. But compare it to more recent games like Sleeping Dogs and the flaws become all the more clear. I’ve listed my specific GTA IV hates before, but the game suffers from other problems like a terrible fighting system, a sloppy shooting mechanic and repetitive levels.
GTA V needs to seriously raise the bar. The Saints Rows and Sleeping Dogs of the future will all be looking to it for inspiration, so if we want them all to be great, GTA needs to be the one to usher in a new era of brilliant open world.
Dan: Well the one thing that GTA V can really bring to the industry would be better AI, and better animations for the world around the city. Something so simple really could give the world so much more life than it had before, and could immerse the player like never before. This is something I hope to see in more next-gen titles, but if any developer can do it this time around I think it could be Rockstar North.
One of the other things that would really give the GTA series a much needed push would be the physics for the vehicles, as they normally have felt like bathtubs sliding on ice in previous titles. While I do not know if this generation could actually handle the improved graphics, AI, and the needed power for improved physics, it would be nice to at least see some attention to this area of the game.
Seb: AI in itself isn’t the biggest problem. It’s the characters’ backstory. I don’t give a crap about any of the previous GTA characters’ (main or secondary) lives. They’re shallow excuses for a punchline, cheap parodies of a stereotypical joke.
Give me people I care about, people I want to follow through the course of the 30hr game. When I saw the recent artwork I immediately thought of Breaking Bad, which is an incredibly well written show. I care about Walter White and what happens to him. Niko? Wouldn’t give a damn if he was hit by a bus.
A lot of games struggle with trying to fit a plot around action scenes, but GTA traditionally has long cut scenes and long character conversations. The framework is there. They just need to use that to their advantage and create a story worthy of our love.
If not, there’s always Watch Dogs…
What are you hoping for in the next Grand Theft Auto? Will you be picking it day one? or will you be stealing a car to get to the midnight launch? Let us know by email, the comments, or by tweeting us pics of your favorite prostitutes to Seb and Dan.