GTA V Preview Rundown: My God, It’s Full Of Stuff
3.) And What About Gameplay with Three Protagonists?
What if Grand Theft Auto IV and both of the Episodes From Liberty City were all on the same disc, and accessible during the same game? Awesomeness, probably, especially since the major theme of GTA IV only really makes sense once you finish The Ballad of Gay Tony1. But what if by doing so, all three games ended up having their mission totals and character development reduced by 20 percent or more? Lameness, probably2. That was my first thought when GTA V’s three payable protagonists were first revealed last fall.
After all, a simple rule of engineering is that the more complex a machine is, the more potential there is for it to break down. Fortunately, while we obviously won’t know how well Rockstar pulls it off until September, all the new information suggests Rockstar has the right idea about balancing gameplay between three characters in a single game.
For starters, you aren’t forced to play the three characters in a set order. They’re available from the start of the game, and you can switch between them at any time. You’ll smoothly transition between them when you click the transfer button on your controller, causing the camera to pull back to what everyone compares to a Google Earth view, and then zoom back to whomever you’ve selected. The speed of the transitions is determined by proximity.
In missions using all three characters, each has a specific role, and players can choose to stick with one character and let AI handle the others, or actively flip between them. Ideal switch moments are hinted at by dialogue, and you can switch POVs during cutscenes. There is also plenty for players to do with the three characters during their downtime. In addition to mini-missions and the huge open world, the press demo showed off so-called “mini-heists,” in which the characters secure equipment for the big job, followed by bigger heist missions in which the player must recruit the right team to pull the job off. Players will be required to pay for crew and resources, implying that money earned from property and other activities will be essential to the game.
I hesitate to go superturbonerdcity over what amounts to information spilling out of a highly managed marketing event, but in all honesty, every new tidbit makes Grand Theft Auto seem impossible awesome. Strong RPG elements, hours and hours of stuff to do, a vast open world that by all appearances seems built on the lessons Rockstar has learned from GTA IV, Red Dead Redemption with elements foolishly discarded after San Andreas, and the taking of genuine chances with gameplay and narrative. Consider me impossibly impatient. Grand Theft Auto V launches September 17.
1.) Spoiler: That theme? The essential hollowness of the American dream (or the pursuit of it?). The MacGuffin that links all three games together is the bag of stolen diamonds that changes hands between the three games’ protagonists multiple times. If you just play GTA IV, the diamonds matter only superficially, and Niko’s story ends rather clumsily on a downer note unnecessarily muddled by the choice of two separate, but functionally identical outcomes. If you play The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, you eventually see those diamonds (which every faction in the game, including law enforcement, has been trying to get their hands on) randomly end up in the possession of a homeless vet named Jerry Kapowitz, who ends the series filthy rich through no effort of his own.
2) Well, GTA IV could have definitely been reduced by about 20 percent without any problem, considering the amount of irrelevant space, not to mention the fact that the choice-based outcomes should have been based on whether you exact your revenge or not. The other two games, on the other hand, are just about the right size, and could have benefited from the full range of GTA IV activities.