Sunday, November 4, 2012

Grand Theft Auto 5 Coming Spring 2013

With every genre out there, there's generally one game or series that can more or less encapsulate what we all consider that genre to 'be' or at least used to be in some cases.  Basically the stand-out series that has steeped itself in the tenets of what that genre -is-, that we tend to associate it with the genre and vice-versa.  For First-Person Shooters it's (currently) Call of Duty (formerly Halo, formerly Doom, etc. etc.), for Role-Playing Games it's somewhat still Final Fantasy though pretty much by default, and for the Sandbox Game Genre, it's basically Grand Theft Auto.  There's competition, surely, but Grand Theft Auto 3, Vice City and San Andreas basically cemented its place as the fore-runner of the genre with nothing else really coming along to seriously challenge the throne.  Saint's Row has come perilously close, thanks to its insistence on sticking to out-of-the-box shenanigans and parodies where Grand Theft Auto 4 strayed off course, earning it some ire, but it never quite made it, and it's hard to say that it -will-, with 3 being a mixed bag and no 4 in sight.

Being the fore-runner of the genre means that whenever a new installment is heading out to the masses, it's kind of a big deal because folks get excited for that thing.  I might count myself among those excited for the announcement of a release window for GTAV, but I'm not quite sure just yet, based on how IV did end up.  The funny thing is that I like IV, and I even have a few stories from it (one from the Multi-Player portion of the game if you can believe that) but it's not a game that can hold your heart or your vigor for long, especially when others come along that do what it does and better.  And it's because of those games that I just have to wonder how V is going to compare, as it's not a matter of simply being uncontested in everything it does.  It's going to come up short in some areas when based against other Sandbox games, simply because it cannot do everything, and it's mostly a matter of how forgivable those short-comings will be.  It'll likely be a matter of how well it does what it does well, really, and that's just something we'll have to see.

As for myself, and this comes as no shocker I'm sure, I'm sure I'll end up basing GTAV against Sleeping Dogs, because I really really like Sleeping Dogs, and it certainly has some interesting takes on the 'formula' that GTA games tend to follow as a basic principle, as well as unquestionably being leaps and bounds above it in quality for some areas.  The melee combat for sure, and I'd argue that it simply covers all close combat things (meaning I'm counting melee weapons as well) better, where the actual gunplay is down to opinion.  (I prefer SD, of course for the slow-mo, but I'm willing to step back and say it's not perfect since it's not a 'focus' as it were)  I'd even venture to say that some of the things it does with driving, namely the action hi-jacks and the ramming are miles ahead of anything GTA IV or even previous games in the series, could hope to meet, and it's not something I look for V to implement.

Depending on what your opinion of IV was, V either has a little or a lot of room for improvement, and I certainly cannot see a future in which people lament that "X was better in IV", so all that remains to be seen is just how -much- of a leap in quality V is over IV.  Going back to the familiar haunt of Southern California (though not necessarily to San Andreas, Los Venturas or San Fierro) is a start in the right direction, but a tricky one as well, as that means it's going to get a lot of allusions drawn to GTA:  San Andreas, which some consider to be the best game in the series.  If you don't manage to fit in that amount of stuff that SA had, you're gonna get complaints probably even moreso than IV which is a troubling thought for sure, and based on IV's rather sparse (in comparison) landscape of things, that's going to be a challenge.  Buying property's basically a sticking point if you ask -any- GTA fan, so I would certainly hope that Rockstar is smart enough to include that, and in a way that's satisfying.  It'll need an overall economic re-shift for the mechanics, of course, since you're likely going to be making money off these properties, thus you'll need things to buy with said money and in consideration of how much you're likely going to get around a certain point in the game, but that's for forward-thinkers and balancers to worry about; just get it in the game and we'll be happy.

That's honestly really all I'm expecting out of GTAV in all honesty.  I know it's going to be a cinematic game, bordering on 'experience', and I'm sure Rockstar is planning on sneaking a little more parody into this one than the last, but other than that, it's really kind of a blank slate.  And that, more than anything, I think, is really exciting, since we've seen what they can do with the tools they have.  To see what returns from IV, what -doesn't- return from IV like the man-dates and to see what just comes in 'new' (like property ownership, and if I'm wishing, then customization) and to see what level of polish it all has is what's going to really have me looking forward to it, more than anything else.  Say what you will about the mechanics of any game they release - the recent ones generally have a level of polish on them that a lot of other studios really can't afford to have, and that goes quite a long way on its own.

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