Rockstar, you are insane...
Every so often there comes along a trailer for a game which you know is going to blow your mind, you're not sure just how much mind-blowing there's going to be, but the PR has hyped you into a fever pitch and you press click. What transpires on the screen needs about twenty separate viewings to process the information overload which assaults your eyes at the same time it assaults your other senses.
Seriously Rockstar, you are insane and we love you for it. It's no secret that you make amazing games - just look at Red Dead Redemption and even GTA IV when it first came out. GTA V though may well just be the best GTA game yet. The sheer scope of what's in that trailer is enough to send our gamer's inner geek soaring into the stratosphere here at Games Xtreme and it is impossible to actually take all of the things in that trailer on-board in just one single sitting.
The fact that it IS running on a PS3 for this demo, and the draw-distance is literally bigger than anything we've seen. It's at least 1.5 times the normal draw distance and the beautiful vistas Rockstar have managed to create look grand at any distance. There's some serious tech-wizardry going on here and we don't care if there are smoke and mirrors involved, because it just looks fantastic so far.
It is still current gen graphics, but for the most part those graphics look so much better than GTA IV and the cars look fantastic. The facial animation on the woman who gives Trevor his bounties looks odd though, we spotted that and we're wondering if that's an intentional character thing because Rockstar aren't known for that kind of mistake. It doesn't matter though because there's Bounty Hunting and our minds are already whirring with the possible ways we could use a character to complete a mission in this massive open world game.
We are already imagining the crazy things we could do with the planes and choppers of V. if we can somehow involve a chopper and a Wanted: Dead or Alive bounty, we will and we'll record it for you too.
The size of the gameworld is one factor that doesn't really come across in interviews, or rather doesn't gel until you see it revealed for the first time in a gameplay video. We thought RDR was big and this game is supposed to be bigger than RDR, GTA IV, San Andreas and then some...complete with fully mapped underwater for scuba-diving (yes there's no air requirement in the tanks too, so you can dive until you get bored of it) - we're kind of hoping for a secret underwater sea base and a certain Lotus Esprit as an Easter egg, it's a false hope we know - but it doesn't hurt to have dreams (as Deadpool would say).
NPCs are going to be looking for loot amongst those sunken wrecks, so we can't wait to beat them to it (and beat them down if we have to).
Then there's the fact that the cast list has 3 characters.
Michael: once-successful bank robber who turned snitch and was put into the FIB's Witness Protection. Now he lives a life of luxury.
Franklin: street hustler and racer, badass and extremely critical of everyone else around him. Trevor, pure psychopath and ex war vet pilot.
Trevor: ex military pilot, violent psychopath and totally off the rails.
When on a mission you can switch from character to character naturally, this is used to great effect to change up the gameplay's mission narrative and flip the structure around. One moment you're able to shoot cop cars and bad guys in the streets below, but a group of guys flanks Michael and Trevor...not a problem, as the AI takes over for both of them as you switch seamlessly to Franklin on a roof armed with a rocket launcher.
Firing a rocket at the bad guys and their car, you switch back to Trevor and watch the fireworks close to ground zero.
Or in the case of the video, you're able to switch to Franklin and take out guys whilst armed with a sniper rifle. Then hop back to Michael and finish off any stragglers whilst Trevor flies the chopper.
Then you're back to Michael as the chopper escapes, gunning dudes down.
This expands into the other mission narratives too, such as robberies as you can use the three characters to accomplish various parts of the plan. Dump truck to block an alley, the dump truck driven by Trevor...Franklin smashes into the money truck with a bigger truck and Michael moves in on foot with a gun.
It looks fantastic, and we can't wait to try playing it.
We were also impressed by the way the wall shattered in that video. We're hoping that's a physics based thing in the game and not some scripting - we have a feeling it was scripted destruction, but it was cool non-the-less.
Having all the diversions as well, which we are sure wasn't the whole list and we're confident that Rockstar will dazzle us with even more things to see and do in the coming months before the game's released to the awaiting public and press. We were really interested in seeing the AI take over when it came to character switching between missions too.
The whole Google Earth style voyeuristic map-switching system is excellent and knowing that the characters have lives, enemies, things they like to do on different days and so on is something we're really impressed with. It's nice to be able to know Trevor will probably leave us in some seriously dangerous situations when we decide to switch back to him after an hour or two of free-roaming with Michael or Franklin.
The video showcases Trevor's penchant for upsetting the law, nicely.
Michael has been for a ride; Franklin has just bought a bong or something and taken a hit.
We're hoping we can tag along as a second character and just see what the heck they get up to.
A day in the life of Trevor has to be done.
We are also pleased to see that the gunplay has been tweaked, reportedly by the Max Payne 3 team - and since that gunplay was fantastic, we can't wait to shoot some bad guys in GTA V now. One of our biggest bugbears with IV was gun combat and cover, it was just way too clunky really after a prolonged time.
RDR's weapon wheel is in, there's modifications for weapons and more too which we hope we can see in another video.
Car customisation is back in a big way and it's a huge amount of options, with the ability to tune the car's performance.
Virtually every aspect of GTA IV has been tweaked for V. The story is now more over the top and bigger/bolder. There are heists which are setup by the player as they play through, taking control of every step of the way until the final mission which seals the deal. You hire a crew, you choose how to do the mission and you work out the best way to get away from the crime.
You can buy property again, put money into stocks and shares and there's a much bigger emphasis on having things to do with your cash this time around. Money was no problem really in GTA IV and once you had it, you didn't have much to spend it on. V looks to have solved this in a big way by offering a lot more bang for your buck - literally.
Then there's GTA Online and we sat back, we looked at the dazzling vista in the background thinking: please, let there be a massive freeroam across the whole game world like in RDR. It looked like it, there were 19 dev names we could pick out and with the guy in the window, that was 20 players. We're hoping it's 32 of course... because that would be superb.
As long as Rockstar fill free-roam with fun and exciting things to do, let us annoy the cops, perhaps gang members and of course pedestrians (as well as each other), we'll be as happy as anything. The idea of scuba-diving with a friend to explore the deep or play a full 18 hole golf course in multiplayer fills us with the spiritual equivalent of a giant grin.
We had a lot of fun with free roam in RDR and we sensed the potential, even though there was no way to re-enact the Great Train Robbery or hold up a train.
Lastly, each and every time we see it - that jet is a thing of beauty and we can't wait to fly it.
GTA V is poised to be one hell of a game, the best GTA game for a long time and might even end up as a current gen Game of the Year.
It all looks fantastic and from our peers across the globe, many have said it seems to play well too from their time with the game. It looks packed with ambient life and people and just everything going on around - one world you could lose yourself in.
We shall see!
Check out our site for more GTA V things in the coming months and our review when the game's out.
Now excuse us whilst we go and watch that jet again.