Should GTA V Bring Back the Lunacy?
RAMPAGE, or minor incident?
Up until Grand Theft Auto 4, the GTA series was basically defined by massive sandboxes, crazy missions and so much to do it made your eyes spin. Whether it be stealing a tank while an army captain goes for a drink in Vice City or piloting an actual jetpack straight from under the noses of the military in San Andreas, they were games filled with humour and some of the most memorable missions in gaming history.
GTA 4 was a very different bag altogether. Stopped in realism, the game was still an excellent title, filled with Rockstar’s incredible polish and dedication. Looking back though, the game’s more serious tone made it feel less like a Grand Theft Auto game, and more like a new breed, something we hadn’t really seen before.
When I played GTA 4 I found myself having a hell of a good time – it was an excellently realised world that was brought to life through exceptional storytelling, but I can clearly remember thinking to myself all the way through ‘So where are all the crazy easter eggs?’. I know I’m not alone either – several people have been vocal of their dislike for the lack of lunacy in GTA 4, and it’s with this in mind that I ask: should GTA V bring back the lunacy?
Arguments For GTA V Lunacy
No matter what, GTA V is going to sell millions upon millions of copies. It’s perhaps the most anticipated gaming title currently in the works, and people are flocking like mindless sheep towards any snippet of information about the game. Heck, Rockstar even released two screenshots about a fortnight ago and the internet went crazy. GTA V has that kind of power.
With this in mind, Rockstar’s also got a lot to lose. If they go for the strict realism approach we saw in GTA 4′s Liberty City, they run the immense risk of turning those gamers off who want something more ‘out-there’ from their Grand Theft Auto experience.
Honestly, my fondest memories of Grand Theft Auto come from those moments where it just went completely off the rails and delivered a truly fantastic gaming experience. Whether it’s using a flame-thrower to burn vast stashes of weed in San Andreas, simply completing a rampage mission where you have to attack everyone in sight with a chainsaw or sneaking onto a ship filled with army dudes and pinching their favourite jet, there’s literally been countless moments in the earlier GTA titles where I’ve probably grinned like a fool.
I missed that feeling in GTA 4. I still liked the game, but I really, really believe that GTA V needs to bring back some of that madness the earlier games used to possess. It’s easy enough to integrate into the world; Rockstar can make everything as realistic as they want to, but why can’t there be daft little optional sidequests that involve aliens or something crazy like that?
Even as I typed that, I thought to myself: is Grand Theft Auto really in that place any more? Grand Theft Auto 4 was basically an experiment – it stepped outside the norm, and was a critical and commercial success because it went and did something different with the established GTA formula. It seems that for GTA V Rockstar wouldn’t stray too far from territory that was immensely popular in terms of sales/critical reaction, but at the same time you have to wonder if they’ve taken any pointers from series clone Saints Row in recent years and the boom in popularity those titles had because they essentially went completely over the top.
GTA V can actually learn a lot from Saints Row the Third. While that game lacked Rockstar’s significant polish levels, the gameplay was immensely fun and filled with crazy vehicles, outlandish weapons and a storyline that didn’t take itself too seriously. GTA V, in my humble opinion, needs to at least channel some of the same mindset that Saints Row has.
I believe that GTA V should essentially retain the polish and shine that GTA 4′s Liberty City had, keep the same interesting storyline dynamics, but also step away from that slightly and develop missions around the mentality they used to have.
You only have to look back to San Andreas to see exactly what Rockstar can do. As well as being absolutely huge, San Andreas had such a diverse mission structure and so very much to do (both mad and sensible) that it remains to this day one of my all time favourite gaming experiences. The balance of that title was exactly right; with a massive sandbox to explore, memorable characters and a load of throwbacks to other titles in the series, it’s something that I’m hoping will be reflected in GTA V’s version of San Andreas as well.
Arguments Against Lunacy
First and foremost, from a development/sales standpoint, Rockstar knows they’re onto something big with GTA. They could probably pump out a sequel that was an adventure through a swamp where you did nothing except catch frogs, slap a GTA name on it and sell an absolute load of titles.
They won’t do that though, of course. Everything Rockstar releases is always all shiny and polished, so you can guarantee GTA V will reflect that mentality as well. In recent years, it’s sort of Rockstar’s thing to push the boundaries of a system and deliver titles the like of we’ve never seen before. GTA IV pushed the boat out, LA Noire developed fantastic facial technology, Red Dead revived the Western and – more recently – Max Payne 3 pushed the narrative storytelling in gameplay to heights hardly ever seen.
This mentality of delivering these extremely polished games is what brings me to believe that for GTA V, Rockstar probably will keep the same style they developed inside GTA IV. It wasn’t for everyone, but the extremely polished city and focused storyline made a game world that – from a sandbox standpoint – still hasn’t really been beaten.
The main point you have to remember about IV’s Liberty City was that it wasn’t just a barren wasteland. It was a city that lived and breathed. Whether it was pedestrians unleashing umbrellas as soon as it rained or the absolutely amazing mission where you rob a bank and escape from the police, IV had such a sense of grandeur to it that earlier titles in the series lacked.
In the past, the main focus of the GTA franchise was always on ‘How big can we make this world, and how crazy can we make the missions?’. That time, I believe, has passed. GTA V is unlikely to be anywhere near as mad as earlier titles in the series were, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Your opinions on GTA are probably skewed from whether you played the earlier titles; those who are new to the series have nothing to compare GTA IV to, whereas series veterans know how much of a shift was taken from San Andreas to GTA IV.
GTA V: The New Generation
There is room to develop a GTA that both caters towards the realism and grandeur of IV while retaining some of the fun of San Andreas and earlier titles, but I have to believe that the new title will be more of a realistic approach to the series.
The next generation of Grand Theft Auto is no doubt nearly upon us, but we’ll have to wait and see how the game plays, and whether Rockstar will cater towards the nostalgic fans or deliver an experience extremely similar to GTA IV.
What do you think Rockstar should do with GTA V? Let us know in the comments whether you want mad missions, or a realistic approach like GTA IV had.