The Future of GTA

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. 

 

I really got into the series when it became a big deal on the PS2, I was lucky enough to receive a PS2 with a copy of GTA 3 from my mother when I was around 12 years old, not long after its release. This is a move some might call bad parenting, but I put it down to her not really understanding that gam
Silent, but very deadly
es could be anything more complex or adult than Mario and Sonic. It was a revelation to me, and probably one of the first games that made me realise that I wanted to make games for a living (A path that has lead me into my final year of a degree in video game design). I thought GTA had peaked, and when I first heard the news about Vice City I was excited but had already reserved myself to disappointment, lighting doesn’t strike twice, but it did. 
 
 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
 

 A step/burger to far

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.

Thanks

                      Soap 
15 Comments
15 Comments
Posted by Soap

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. 

 

I really got into the series when it became a big deal on the PS2, I was lucky enough to receive a PS2 with a copy of GTA 3 from my mother when I was around 12 years old, not long after its release. This is a move some might call bad parenting, but I put it down to her not really understanding that gam
Silent, but very deadly
es could be anything more complex or adult than Mario and Sonic. It was a revelation to me, and probably one of the first games that made me realise that I wanted to make games for a living (A path that has lead me into my final year of a degree in video game design). I thought GTA had peaked, and when I first heard the news about Vice City I was excited but had already reserved myself to disappointment, lighting doesn’t strike twice, but it did. 
 
 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
 

 A step/burger to far

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.

Thanks

                      Soap 
Posted by crystalskull2

Actually i liked the massive environment of Sun Andreas more so i hope GTA 5 will have at least 2 big city.

Posted by Esten

I too liked the massive open areas of San Andreas. I could drive from one city to another for hours, litsening to K-ROSE and K-DST :D
 
For the next installment in the GTA series, I would like them to continue in the direction they're heading now. Liberty City in GTA IV is extremely detailed, and with over 100 hours in the game, I still don't feel like I have seen all of it. I think they should feel free to experience with different time periods and different locations, because Rockstar North have yet to dissapoint me.

Posted by Symphony

That was a good read. :)
 
Vice City was by far my favorite of the PS2 GTAs, with Tommy Vercetti being a fantastic anti-hero. GTA: SA and GTA IV just never really did it for me. Maybe because they didn't have the nostalgic appeal of VC or because they just felt like more of the same.. I'm not sure.
 
Spending more time on the little interactiosn would be neat, but I do hope there will once again be something that appeals to my nostaligic side, though I'm not sure if that can be done again with the GTA series. I'll just hafta wait and see, I guess.

Posted by Soap
@Symphony: 
 
Thanks Symphony, :D
 
Glad to see someone liked it :P
Posted by Stephen_Von_Cloud

Good write up.  I think that's definitely the direction Rockstar is heading (they did flesh out the little details in IV and we can see them taking that same approach from recent Red Dead Redemption previews) but it could always be improved.  People write Rockstar off all the time before their next GTA game comes out, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them shut up everyone again.

Posted by Gump
Posted by Yummylee

I'd love for GTA to still carry on its huge scapes of enviroments, just this time not have so much of it wasted on nothingness. GTA4 really had little reason to go exploring the city for me personally. Unlike san andreas which had limitless amount of secrets and collectibles to find.
Posted by Synthballs

That was a beautiful piece of writing. I'm not being sarcastic, it was a really good piece of literature.
 
The thought of the next GTA is something that is in the back of every gamers head in one way, shape or form. I'd like to see a little more to do when not on a mission but, it was a great game GTAIV which will be hard to top.

Posted by Bigandtasty

Good read. I too share your sentiment on the direction the GTA series should take. San Andreas had more mindless fun, but IV had a lot of little things that really struck me as impressive details contributing to an immersive world. I even enjoyed the man-dates, which so many people seem to hate, because of how they helped to flesh out Niko's buddies.
 
When I first played IV, I had not yet played anything current-gen other than Brawl, Rock Band, and Halo 3 - all good games, but not great representatives of what this generation can do. Because of that, IV initially floored me with how well it made a living, breathing city.

Posted by SaucySala

Really great post!

Posted by Dr_Feelgood38

Awesome post. I loved having such a huge world in San Andreas like most other people, but I hated how it was so bland and devoid of personality. I would love for the next GTA to be a middle ground between the two in terms of size but still retain a high level of detail.
 
@Esten said:

" Liberty City in GTA IV is extremely detailed, and with over 100 hours in the game, I still don't feel like I have seen all of it. "
Me neither. I always come across some little thing like a piece of graffiti or a certain store or even an alleyway (or subway tunnel) with some homeless guys in it that I'd never seen or noticed before. That's what gave the game so much character to me, the fact that all of this stuff was there but you sort of had to slow down and take the time to look the city over.
Posted by DJJoeJoe

Yes, when my PC was out of commission a month or so ago I loaded up GTAIV for the first time in a while and found out how amazing the living city still is. It's really incredible and I wish I had the time to go down each alley and just really experience the city the way it begs to be. That said I also wish the PC version wasn't so massively demanding, I'd love to just tool around in there with slightly nicer preformance... my quad core PC runs the game worse then my 360, which makes me cry.

Posted by applet0n

Great post mate. 
 
On one hand though, I still want to see GTAV take place in a recreation of London...

Posted by Typetool

im hoping that V will be a big map with allot of secrets like in San Andreas..