Dissecting the New GTA V Trailer

When Grand Theft Auto V was announced, the news triggered rampant speculation. Would the game sell 25 million copies, as some people claimed? Where would it be set? How would it continue to improve on a franchise with such a long and distinguished history? Without knowing anything about the game, we published a list: “5 Things We Want from GTA V.” Now that there’s a trailer out, we can compare our expectations with reality.

Update: Possible Release Date?

At one point in the trailer, you see a man pounding a “For Sale” sign into the grass in front of a house. Painted on the curb is the address “2405.” As detailed by GameFront’s Ross Lincoln in his post on the possible GTA V release date, Rockstar could indeed be hinting at something, due to their preference for European-style dates (dd/mm/yy).

The Setting

More than anything, GTA fans were curious about the setting. Today, the trailer revealed in no uncertain terms that the game would be set in and around Los Santos, the GTA universe’s fictional version of L.A. Loosely disguised locations like the “Vinewood” sign (above) and the Venice Beach stand-in pictured below made that clear. Who knows what dangers lie in store in “Little Seoul,” a clear analogue for Koreatown. Actually, come to think of it, the dangers almost certainly involve a heavily-armed Korean gang.

But though the game will center on the city of angels (or saints, if you prefer), it looks like players will get a chance to visit other locations in San Andreas, Rockstar’s pseudo-California. Majestic peaks and wind farms both make notable appearances in the trailer, providing a rural counter-point to the urban squalor that typifies Grand Theft Auto Games. The hills that surround the windmills suggest Northern California, and the oil well pictured below is a clear indication of Long Beach’s inclusion.

UPDATE: Rockstar’s official press release makes it clear: the game will be set in and around Los Santos:

Developed by series creator Rockstar North, Grand Theft Auto V heads to the city of Los Santos and surrounding hills, countryside and beaches in the largest and most ambitious game Rockstar has yet created.

A bold new direction in open-world freedom, storytelling, mission-based gameplay and online multiplayer, Grand Theft Auto V focuses on the pursuit of the almighty dollar in a re-imagined, present day Southern California.

The Character

The trailer’s mysterious voice-over is sure to have the internet chattering feverishly until the moment more information is released. GTA V’s presumed protagonist sounds like an older man, financially secure enough to buy a “big house” in Los Santos, and eager to avoid what sounds distinctly like a criminal past. Speculation abounds — is Ray Liotta back, portraying an older version of Tommy Vercetti? The trailer’s narrator wants to be a “good guy,” a “family man,” but if the shot below is any indication, our graying hero isn’t able to stay on the straight and narrow for long. At some point in the game, it looks like he’ll be robbing a bank while wearing an exterminator outfit.

There’s also the possibility of multiple playable characters; Kotaku ran with that rumor when the trailer was announced. Now that it’s taking the web by storm, the rumor isn’t any easier to confirm or deny. The clip certainly focuses on a number of different characters — like the cool, argyle-wearing cat below, for example — but at this point, it’s probably too early to tell.

UPDATE: Two character-related theories have appeared on the internet — one on Reddit, the other on PC gamer. The first implies that GTA V will mark the return of our favorite characters from previous games, as pictured below.

The PC Gamer theory contends that the game will have multiple protagonists: the three red-suited armed robbers that show up halfway through the trailer. The trio is comprised of characters who appear elsewhere in the trailer: the older white guy and the tattooed guy running from the cops, to start with. My pick for the third robber is the dapper African-American gentleman with the jet-ski and the cool sweater. It’s hard to tell whether the guy in the red convertible pictured below is the same one who is running from the cops.

Is it possible that the game will have a canine character? It certainly wouldn’t the first.

The Cars

Riding around in style is a crucial component of any GTA game, and Rockstar clearly hasn’t stinted. The GTA V trailer has shots of sleek convertibles, a motorcycle, the “Speedophile” jetski, a crop-dusting plane, and even a fighter jet, recalling the VTOL plane favored by C.J., hero of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the series’ last excursion to the West coast.

UPDATE: Thanks to our intrepid readers, we can point out the blimp that appears at the beginning and end of the trailer.

Thanks to commenter Robbb13, who is apparently something of a gearhead, we can point out that the black car below is modeled after an Audi R8

Then there’s this ride, “somewhere between an Aston Martin Vantage and an Alfa-Romeo 8C,” according to Rob.

Which crashes into a car styled after a “Bentley Continental GT.”

You can also see GTA IV’s familiar “Huntley” Range Rover analogue in the picture below.

Then there’s the possibility of pilotable jet skis and fighter jets.

Squalor and Sarcasm

Rockstar’s distinctive, darkly comedic social commentary is definitely back. In addition to goofy puns and plays on words intended to pillory American capitalism, the trailer also has shots that evoke the economic zeitgeist. Migrant laborers cough out lungfuls of pesticide. Homeless gather under the freeway, in an eerily accurate replica of the real-life tent city under L.A.’s 9th street overpass. Prostitutes, now more or less a given in Grand Theft Auto, turn tricks in front of a decrepit liquor store.

Did you spot something we missed? Let us know in the commments.

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20 Comments on Dissecting the New GTA V Trailer


On November 2, 2011 at 2:30 pm

when he puts up the for sale sign it says 2405 which might be the release date


On November 2, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Perhaps when the awesome convertible’s top comes off? :D


On November 2, 2011 at 2:54 pm

did you mention the dog at the beginning?


On November 2, 2011 at 2:56 pm

i hope there is a reference to cj. it doesnt look hip hop oriented.


On November 2, 2011 at 2:59 pm

At 0:57 there is a new car which (more than) clearly represents an Audi R8.

There is also an aeroplane from San Andreas – The Shamal.

At 1:04 there is a car that seems to lie somewhere between an Aston Martin Vantage and an Alfa-Romeo 8C.

Golf Carts appear to be making a comeback.
Possibly airships at 0:18 (top right)
Wearable backpacks?
0:24 Huntley from GTA IV and convertible with interchangeable roof.
0:56 more ‘ladies of the night’
Maybe can donate money to tramps, perhaps for a ‘kindness’ statistic of sorts?
At 1:05 the blue car being crashed into represents a Bentley Continental GT.
0:35/1:06 possible main characters?


On November 2, 2011 at 3:29 pm

theres a sign that says piercings at 0:25..maybe thats a character customisation?

theres a bunch of signs that say *cash* with some word under it, perhaps “cash only”? there is also an ATM at 0:34 so perhaps you need to withdraw money to make purchases at shops that have cash only?

i like the idea that the 2405 might be release date, thats exciting.

theres also a bunch of liquor stores in the clip, maybe you can purchase alcohol without having to be taking a girl on a date? the beggar at 0:58 has a sign that says need money for beer, more evidence?

i hope house robberies are back, they were fun.


On November 2, 2011 at 3:53 pm

There is a fighter jet in that trailer, and I cant see them putting that in there, along with the many other planes featured in the trailer, unless you can fly them and rockstar said that the reason that there were no flyable planes in gta 4 was because a) the map was too small and b)there was only one airport, and assuming that these planes are flyable (which they most likely are as a lot of the trailer features them) then that would suggest that there is more than one airport, which means likely more than one city, and this means that the game probably will be in all of San Andreas, at least I hope it is, that would be epic! xD
And there was also a dog at the start of the trailer, looks like Rockstar has gone all out with this game.


On November 2, 2011 at 4:18 pm

blimp @ 0:17


On November 2, 2011 at 4:23 pm

& 1:03 & 1:09


On November 2, 2011 at 5:06 pm

i have played gta san-andreas an SAMP (san andreas multi-player) and it was very very good…. i hope that this style of multiplayer will be availiable on xbox live…. for example in the samp you get a job, buy houses, by shares whilst living a virtual reality life. every week you had a lottery and if you won you could get loads of money to start you off with some good shares and a good house… the jobs you had were good or bad….i.e if you were a cop it was good weekly pay for criminal players could be burglars, drug dealers weapons dealers car ringers ect whilst the honest jobs were fishing-men, pilots, truck drivers ect…through out your life you stash your wages in your house but your house could be burgled by baddies ( you can buy burglar alarms and extra locks)…. you can get locked up in jail and have to wait for sometimes 10mins before being released… you can be robbed, carjacked ect and if you havent banked your wages (if you dont pay insurance and the bank gets robbed) you could lose alot of cash
in samp you can play alone or co-op the more you work as a team the more money you make….all of this was before xbox 360 was out i think so i think it possible…i hope it is like this for its just like having an online avatar that works,socialises, and plays(pool, bowls ect)

.if you google gta san andreas samp you should find the site its cool….not sure if there is many servers running it now but their might be


On November 2, 2011 at 8:35 pm

A 5/24 release date makes sense. GTA 4 was released on a Thursday and 5/24/12 falls on a Thursday too. That is a good catch by Jonathan.


On November 2, 2011 at 9:16 pm



On November 2, 2011 at 10:21 pm

looks like the internet and computers are back ..when he talks about the house ….in the downstairs floor you can see a laptop and his home is around vine-wood hills…and you can see in the beach the work out sections …maybe you can work out and get girlfriends too because the girl is infront of the work out section …this game isn’t in present day ? because there are building still being built in the downtown section …all building in downtown l.a are there robbing stores is back!!! because in the picture beneath CARS you see a 247 store…i dont think the city is going to be as big i mean maybe the whole game but not the city because if you look at the city below the picture with the windmills you dont see the split between the mountains …where you take the 405 freeway to north hollywood …the game is going to be very violent ..they : exaggerated” the litter and homeless people in the city …everything seem pretty close together and the game wont be split by islands …and i thing sanandreas is the name of the state …thats what they do in real life you dont have the name of the city in the license plate is the state so idk about other city’s like gta s.a


On November 3, 2011 at 1:48 am

There appears to be a blimp in the background of the GTA V sunset shot at the end.


On November 3, 2011 at 6:20 am

the license plate says san andreas


On November 3, 2011 at 6:52 am

I was expecting a trailer that would be mostly tight lipped and would tell us very little. R* have done the opposite, they’ve given a short trailer with a bucket load of details packed right into it. The GTA:IV trailer focused more on how good the new engine was at rendering shadows and lighting on Liberty City. This trailer seems to be more focused on what matters: story, gameplay, map, visual details.

If I was asked ‘Based on what you saw in the trailer, what kind of game do you think R* is going for?’, I’d say:

“An utterly massive graphical upgrade over GTA:IV, and huge improvements in terms of facial/character animations over any GTA game made. Not in just a technical sense, but in terms of actual quality of the animations overall, and in terms of detail in the world. GTA:SA style map in terms of vibe, theme, colours, size, variance in location, with a little bit of VC mixed in as well. Better theme/main character, something like a clash between GTA:VC and GTA:SA. Multiplayer as good or better than GTA:IV (a given). GTA:IV combat, but probably with improvements, and clearly better weapons (again, a given). More realism/simulation. Huge improvements in AI over any GTA game. GTA:IV style car handling/physics/simulation but slightly more relaxed so every car doesn’t feel like a bus. Missions that are a clash between GTA:VC and GTA:SA in terms of types of missions, and levels of craziness. Tommy from VC style character in terms of appearance, cool/level headed and fun like CJ and just trying to escape a life of crime like Niko. More social commentary and satire. All the GTA:SA vehicles returned, plus maybe extra ones.”

Seriously, could you ask for more than that? Isn’t that pretty much *exactly* what we’ve been asking for and wanting since we bought, played and finished GTA:SA?

It’s like R* sat down and tried to work out exactly what was great about every GTA game that’s ever been released. Then in addition to that, went online and read all the wishlists on forums for things we’ve wanted to have added to the game. And combined as many of them all together in one trailer to give us hope again in the GTA series.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a prediction. If this game turns out like what this trailer is suggesting. It’ll be game of the year. Regardless of what else comes out. I’m seeing 100/100′s in this game’s future if it turns out like what the trailer is saying. Definitely the best GTA ever, and in the top 5 for game of the decade (the 10′s).


On November 3, 2011 at 12:13 pm

On the number plates of the cars it has san andreas at the top? location maybe?


On November 3, 2011 at 2:49 pm

if you look at the car picture closely top left hand corner it says OCT? maybe it will release on october, but who knws only the guys who makes the games. I really want this game to come out before april atleast.. Looks awesome. I hope you can buy cars, houses and all that just like SA where u could buy houses.


On November 15, 2011 at 3:45 pm

I think u should be able to pick your character in the begining of the game the white guy or a black guy n be able to change hair eyes and features it make it will make it fair for every one with their race and it should come out early in 45 days n drop a sanandres stories n 2012 in by the way saints row 3 sucks but u can create your own person that rocks


On March 16, 2012 at 9:50 pm

I seen a rumor which suggested that the girl crossing the road when the guy honks the horn at her is a playable character because her clothing is more detailed that other girls you see in the trailer! And that she reacts to the guy like she knows him! :)