By Soap 14 Comments
I’d like to start by saying the future of GTA is at this moment, pretty unclear. Other than a teaser image that was printed in the back of the manual to the episodes of liberty city retail copy we have nothing to go on. For the sake of this blog I’m going to be explaining my predictions as well as something that might as well be a wish list of things that could really make the next GTA a classic.
To understand my ideas and thought process you should probably know something about me, and my history with GTA. I’ve played a lot of GTA through the years. I initially rented the original GTA and GTA London when I was pretty young and had a blast with them, mostly for the anarchy I could cause. It’s safe to say I never came any were near close to finishing either. GTA 2 to this day is pretty much a mystery to me; I tinkered around with it a little bit at a friend’s house but no more than that really.
To say I love Vice City is an understatement. It improved on GTA3 in every single way, characters had more depth, the story felt more focused, Tommy Vercetti was an actual person, rather than just a nameless silent killer and the world was fleshed out to a degree that so far hadn’t really been touched upon in games. Some of my greatest childhood gaming memories are of playing Vice City.
After the success of Vice City I was even more excited when San Andreas was announced, I even went as far as to create my own personal calendar and piggybank so I could save up for it while all the time counting down the days. To this day I can count the times I’ve been as excited as I was when I started San Andreas on one hand. San Andreas wasn’t what I had hoped for however, I’d like to make this clear, in no way am I saying San Andreas is a bad game, but it simply didn’t have half the charm of either GTA3 or Vice City.
Rockstar had bowed to fan pressure and increased the size of the playing area drastically. This meant that most streets had no defining characteristics and were simply repeated houses (copy and paste style) which really took away some of the character from the game. The feature list was jam packed, to the point where the game was bursting at the seams with things to do. How is this a bad thing I hear you say? Well, just because you can throw every feature in including the kitchen sink, doesn’t mean you ever should.
Finally we reach GTA 4, a game that would finally take GTA back to its roots, with a new engine and a more gritty realistic style once more. I love GTA 4, after initially coming to odds with the game play (especially the handling of the cars) I have since completed it to 100% on my old 360 account, the PS3 version when trophies were included and am currently working my way back up to 100% on my new, Giant Bomb themed, 360 account.
This leads me onto my main theory about GTA, one I’m pretty sure most people have come to for themselves and that is that GTA works in cycles. Create an original game on a new more powerful engine ( GTA 3/ GTA 4) expand on it with interesting concepts, adding depth to the world as well as being incredibly stylised ( Vice City) and then to finally throw everything they can find into the dying engine ( San Andreas) before starting again.
If we assume that this cycle is correct then we should be about ready for the Vice City of this generation of GTA’s, a more stylised game built on the GTA 4 engine with even more depth than GTA 4. This is all good and well but I also have a second theory, and that is that as technology has advanced, the cycles can become slightly smaller, rather than throwing a whole game development cycle for each game, use DLC. If we take this into account, The Lost and the Damned becomes the Vice City of this cycle, a game that is incredibly stylised towards biker lifestyle with a grittier soundtrack and even a grainy filter over the screen while playing, while The Ballad of Gay Tony is the San Andreas, with bright and over the top characters and over the top activities added into the already busy world. If this is the case, then what ever is next to come should be going back to the more simple style of GTA 4.
So what do I think should be next?
It suddenly struck me while I was playing through the Ballad of Gay Tony. I walked into maisonette 9 as a customer, to see what the clubbing scene of GTA 4 had to offer, as I walked down the stairs to the main area of the club Luis began to bob his head to the music, his swagger became more exaggerated and he was even more blatant when checking out passing women. After a brief dancing mini game I hit up the drinking games upstairs, after winning Luis was pretty drunk and as I walked back down the stairs he fell down them. He lay there for a moment before pulling himself up, as he did however he managed to knock into a walking woman who made a comment about how she was, let’s say, less than pleased. Rather than ignoring this like usual however he slurred out some drunken insult towards her. As I left the club I saw people throwing up and even crying outside and this is when it struck me.
That experience I had just had in the club was the most realistic and relatable experience I’ve ever had with a GTA game. That’s not to say I’m some club junkie, but it’s the closest observation of real life and society that I’ve ever seen in GTA. It invested me a lot more into Luis and his lifestyle, to the point were now he is one of my favourite GTA main characters (Even though most people really don’t like him). This is what GTA needs to do.
In GTA 5 (or whatever comes next) they should work more upon the smaller interactions between characters, about making the world as deep as possible. I’d much rather has a very small, very detailed, very alive city than a massive open empty environment. Playing through both DLC packs back to back also gave me the conclusion that the next GTA should be playable from the perspective of multiple characters, even on different sides of the same conflict. Seeing the conflict from the other sides, i.e. how Tony Prince was desperately trying to get the diamonds back, not because he was a selfish rich asshole as he appeared in his brief cameos in GTA 4, but because he was a desperate man trying to not get killed by some of Liberty Cities most dangerous men.
I hope this blog has been an interesting read and has at least got people thinking about what they would like to see out of the next GTA game, please feel free to give your feedback or even just tell me what you want out of a future GTA.