Gamers hoping that Rockstar Games might carry through on its promised Spring 2013 release date for the newest entry into its famed Grand Theft Auto franchise were dealt a terrible blow today as reports began to circulate that GTA V has been pushed to a September 17 release.
A spokesman for the company had this to say: “We know this is about four months later than originally planned and we know that this short delay will come as a disappointment to many of you, but, trust us, it will be worth the extra time.”
While use of the words “short” and “disappointment” might strike most fans of the series as felonious understatements – “excruciating” and “crushing blow” in place of those sentiments would be far more accurate – Rockstar’s need for extra dev time is woefully expected. The studio’s last three marquis releases (Max Payne 3, LA Noire and Red Dead Redemption) were all subject to long term delays in an effort, the studio claims, to make sure each game was of the highest possible quality.
Considering Rockstar Games’ track record, though, this might not be too far from the truth. In addition to essentially reinventing the open world genre with each release, the studio’s games are also known for being relatively stable and stunningly beautiful. In short, the wait might be agonizing, but the return is always worth it.
We’ll see if Rockstar’s newest, Grand Theft Auto V, will measure up on Sept. 17.
Now, for all you gamers out there, here’s a list of some things we’re hoping to see when GTA V hits shelves this Fall.
Focus on the story
This one is basically a given. Across all of their titles, Rockstar leads the league in terms of story telling. Critics can squawk all day about Uncharted or Mass Effect, but when it gets down to it, no one spins a yarn like Rockstar Games.
Take the company’s western-inspired epic, Red Dead Redemption. Few stories in gaming have crafted a character as sympathetic (but totally freaking awesome) as John Marston, the game’s conflicted ex-killer protagonist. As a relic coming to terms with the violent collision of a past he abhors and a future that doesn’t want him, Marston leads gamers on an engrossing and ultimately heartbreaking journey through the death of the Old West.
We can only hope Rockstar will deliver on a tenth of that beauty and poignancy.
Let us explore again
Coming off of the sheer size of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, GTA‘s return to Liberty City seemed extremely confining. After having the freedom to move between 3 full-sized cities and the surrounding countryside, being roped back into three small islands just seemed like video game prison.
Not to worry, gamers, because Rockstar luminary Dan Houser has already addressed that one: “Just how big is this world? Art director Aaron Garbut crunched the math. When you include interior and exterior spaces together, Los Santos is bigger than the worlds of Red Dead Redemption, San Andreas, and Grand Theft Auto IV combined, with room to spare.”
We’d say that’s going to be big enough.
Let us buy things again
We can totally understand that Grand Theft Auto IV is an immigrant’s story. Granted the immigrant in question is a bit of a sociopath, but still, the point is that Niko Bellic, GTA IV‘s Serbian protagonist, comes to Liberty City with nothing but the clothes on his back. As such, he’s not terribly concerned with acquisition in the same way as the franchise’s previous heroes. We get it, Rockstar, you’re going for story and character continuity.
Well, cut it out.
Gamers wanted to feel like Tommy Vercetti, snatching up valuable property in Vice City, or like Carl Johnson, establishing an empire throughout an entire state. Let us buy clubs and houses and generate some income. We wanted to see Niko thrive, not merely survive, and we want our new GTA trio to have the option to throw that cash around with reckless abandon.
Can a gamer get some clothing options?
To say that this omission from GTA IV was a little upsetting would be an understatement. In San Andreas, gamers could customize the player character, Carl Johnson, to no end. Wanted a buff hero? Hit the gym. Wanted to pilot a fatty? Hit the fast food joint. Whether your tastes ran for the effete or the ghetto fabulous, your protagonist could be customized to fit your personal style.
When you were done outfitting CJ, you could lift a wide variety of cars, run them into a mechanic’s and build the stolen car of your dreams.
In GTA IV, Niko could ultimately work his way to having something like four whole outfits to choose from (and zero car customization). Come on, Rockstar, give us back our options!
We game because social interaction is for the lame
This one sort of goes without saying. After all the grief Rockstar got for forcing the player to listen to Niko’s moron cousin gripe and moan over a game of darts, we sincerely doubt that the studio will go out of there way to have players repeat the scenario.
While you’re at it, guys, how about eliminating the entirely unnecessary romantic entanglements, too. As fun is it was to get a bird’s eye view of an apartment while some woman sputtered hackneyed sex talk, we could do without the trips to the bowling alley.
I feel the need – the need to actually be able to control my car
We could be in the minority on this one, but Grand Theft Auto IV‘s driving was the pits. An apparent attempt to recreate real world driving, vehicle handling was a slippery affair to say the least. Players had to spend untoward amounts of time developing the driving skill necessary just to get from point A to point B without completely demolishing their vehicle.
It wasn’t until the game’s last DLC “Lost and Damned” that Rockstar got its act together. In GTA V, we want to feel like we’re in control of the vehicle, like we’re playing a character who’s actually driven a car before. We want smoothly executed hairpin turns, Fast and Furious-style.
We’re not playing a racing game, here, folks, we’re playing a bad*ss simulator; that’s how we want to feel, and that’s how we want to drive.
Tone it down, guys
With the static that GTA IV got for its glaring omissions, and given the sheer scope of the map, it’s tempting to push things over the top in terms of spectacle and action. Rockstar, seriously, do not do that. Saint’s Row has that market cornered. You’re not going to outdo a roving people canon, naked skydiving or the ability to dress up like a cartoon dog and flip off the cops.
More than any other studio, Rockstar does staid extremely well. The most affecting bits of GTA IV weren’t skipping a rocket through traffic (though that was fun), it was the intimate confrontations between two rivals, the downplayed gangland atmosphere.
Keep doing stuff inspired by Heat, Rockstar, and leave Michael Bay to the rest.
Give us the keys to whatever you got lying around
This is a simple one.
In the last Grand Theft Auto, we got helicopters, motorcycles, boats and cars. In GTA V, we want more of all those things, plus jets, the return of jet packs, and anything else that we weren’t creative enough to list here but still want very, very badly.
Judging by the screenshots released, the odds of this one coming true are pretty good. No word on the jet pack, though . . .
Let us feel the weight of our weapon
Admittedly, this one is tough to do, since a lot of GTA‘s action centers around gun play, which isn’t the most in-your-face type of violence. We’re not asking for Assassin’s Creed-style bloody acrobatics, because that would just be silly, but take a page from the Max Payne 3 playbook, Rockstar.
A game centered around gun fights should actually have fun gun fights. Players don’t want to feel like they’re moving from cut scene to cut scene, they want to look forward to pulling the trigger. Give us environmental damage, usable physical combat, a working cover system and a tighter camera angle that tricks gamers into thinking the action is way more frenetic than it really is.
Keep making multiplayer fun for everyone
At least once every three months, some person claims that multiplayer will eventually kill the single player gaming experience. That might seem true for someone who feels called to duty on the battlefield, but there’s still a large contingent of gamers who prefer going it alone (they’re called Skyrim players).
Here’s something that GTA IV did extremely well. It managed to transfer the glee of destruction from a self-contained single player world into a private playground for you and fifteen of your closest friends. And it was universally fun. The only downside was, the playground was empty except for you and your friends (and occasionally the cops).
When it was released, Red Dead Redemption, took this concept into the old West and gave players something they’d secretly clamored for: NPC victims.
We want all of this in the GTA V multiplayer, plus access to all the activities we can do in the single player portion of the game (whatever those might be). Let us destroy a real, breathing city, Rockstar, and we’ll be eternally grateful.