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GTA V: Where Will The Next Game Be Set?

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Posted May 4, 2011 - By Guest Writer








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GTA V: Where Will The Next Game Be Set?

Grand Theft Auto is one of the more ill-chosen monikers in video games; sure the game features stealing cars, but that’s not what the game is about. In fact there are many things people may argue GTA is about. Car chases, cop-killing, hood-ornament prostitutes, shootouts; the list goes on ad nauseam. Politicians and social activists love to focus on all of these aspects, but what makes every GTA game a true GTA game is one thing – the city. Accordingly, the upcoming release of GTA V has many gamers wondering not “who may be in it?” or “is the story good?” but rather, “where will it be set?” 

It was clear from the first game, which I played on the Gameboy Color, that Rockstar intended its city to play a prominent role in the game. The game is basically one big map and with the top-down perspective, gamers were forced to memorize the city in order to evade the law and massacre civilians in an efficient manner. The other three installments released before GTA III were all top-down and knowledge of the city remained an integral part of the game, although there wasn't much character.

With the release of GTA III, Rockstar solidified the importance of the city; even going so far as to include a massive fold-out paper map with the game manual. In those first few weeks I played the game, I probably spent more time looking at the map screen, taking in the different streets and alleys, than I did killing sex workers. Without a clear understanding of the best escape routes and hiding spots, embarking on killing sprees and winning car races was much harder. 

GTA V: Where Will The Next Game Be Set?

This pattern continued in all future installments and even GTA IV, released in 2008 – well after the death of the instruction manual, came with a full sized fold-out map. Rockstar loves their cities, and clearly spend more time on them than any other aspect of the game. Held to the same standards of BioShock and the Resident Evil series, GTA’s story is piss-poor. The dialogue is often cheesy and the characters are one-dimensional. A revenge-driven sociopath killing his way to some final confrontation is not good story writing. The cover-based combat, while impressive, often turned into a House of the Dead-style shooting gallery. Further, I doubt anyone bought GTA IV because you could drive drunk, fly through the windshield, or curbstomp homeless people. The greatness all lies in the city. 

So when people talk about the upcoming GTA V, they don’t care about how many sex acts a prostitute can perform or what kind of cars your character can drive. They just want to know where the game will take place.

Liberty City

The iconic caricature of New York City; Liberty City is a possibility for GTA V, but a bit of a long shot. Indeed, Rockstar has already built the city and explored it in three separate installments, so it would be an excellent venue to further flesh out GTA IV. However, considering the fact that Rockstar has deliberately avoided any elements of a traditional sequel in the majority of their games, another game in Liberty City probably isn’t something we’ll be seeing for a while.

The company famous for going out of their way to keep things fresh won’t want their bread and butter city growing stale. So I’m going to count out GTA V taking place in the “worst place in America.” 

Vice City

If Rockstar is anywhere near as pattern-obsessive as I am, GTA V will undoubtedly take place in Vice City. GTA: Vice City was released on the heels of GTA III and its change of scenery from the drab grayness of Liberty City to the vibrant Miami-rip off was a refreshing shock. Our most recent visit to the old west in Red Dead Redemption taught us that Rockstar is more than comfortable exploring the color yellow, and in Vice City we’ll get more than our fill of it. 

With Rockstar North just having finished Red Dead Redemption and its subsequent expansions, and with a little-known Agent on its way, creating a state-sized game like San Andreas may not be a possibility. The last time we visited Vice City it was roughly the size of GTA III’s Liberty City. Knowing this, it stands to reason that a next-gen game would follow the same pattern. 

San Andreas

To be perfectly honest, I wish that Rockstar would do nothing henceforth but make games set in San Andreas. I beat GTA: San Andreas over half a dozen times on the PS2 solely due to an undying love for the setting. I ran on treadmills, spray painted walls, and did countless mindless tasks just to experience the pure joy of flying a jet pack around the Las Vegas strip. Or engaging the Air Force in an air battle over Area 51. Or parachuting onto the Hoover Dam. 

Yes, San Andreas held endless possibilities due to its sheer size. It was over 13 square miles; over four times as large as either Vice City or Liberty City. It featured three huge cities along with a dozen smaller towns and settlements. There were forests, mountains, rivers, and oceans; all completely open to exploration. After riding a horse from a snowy bear-infested mountain to a desolate Mexican desert in Red Dead Redemption, I don’t know that I can go back to being confined to one city in a Rockstar game. Sure there were three islands in GTA IV, but it was all just more of the same – tall buildings, warehouses, and taxicabs. 

Regardless, I’m not getting my hopes up. As I mentioned previously, expecting a game this large when Rockstar has so much on its plate is a bit much. Further, San Andreas may be intended to be what it was for the PS2 and Xbox; a swan song for a dying console. Considering Microsoft and Sony’s announcements of intended next-gen consoles in 2014 or 2015, the timeline seems just about right. 

A Fresh Location

This is a fun one to consider. Rockstar North has a few other cities in the GTA universe that have yet to appear in a GTA game. One such town is Carcer City from the infamous Manhunt. This city is mentioned jokingly on the radio and inserted elsewhere in different GTA games. A trip to a past Carcer City, before it became a crime-consumed cesspool, would offer Rockstar a fresh ball of clay to work with. Bullworth, from 2006’s Bully is unlikely due to its suburban setting, but a game encompassing all of New England could be a unique turn for Rockstar. Think about a game that looks like a Casey Affleck film; crime flooding the streets of Boston. The final possibility is a completely new venue. After exploring Mexico and the old west, Rockstar North may have developed an appetite for creating new and adventurous territory, and this can’t be counted out. 

GTA IV, initially deemed an unmitigated success, eventually became a polarizing topic among gamers. Was the game really that good or was it just the hype? Certainly the sheer amount of stuff available to do lead many reviewers to declare the game a smash hit, but most of this was only surface content. What makes Grand Theft Auto a GTA is the brilliantly rendered, entirely open cityscapes. So whether we end up dirt biking through a desert in San Andreas or stealing a yacht in Vice City, rest assured that Rockstar will make it, well…rock.  

Nationally unacclaimed freelance writer Jonathan Deesing has been writing about video games for dozens of weeks. His professional knowledge ranges from skiing to Peruvian history and of course, anything with buttons. 

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