Matt Clark: I still vividly remember the first time I played Grand Theft Auto III; the rush of freedom was exhilarating. Suddenly, nearly every despicable action I ever wished for in a video game had come to fruition. Remember the annoying non-playable character in -- well, basically every game ever? I always wanted to hit him with a bat. Yes, it's sick, but it's also true. As the years and sequels wore on, the series has continued to define the open-world genre, and Grand Theft Auto V is set to take things even further.
Whereas Grand Theft Auto IV took a few missteps in its new depiction of Liberty City, GTA V is returning to the setting of the franchise's greatest moment: Los Santos, San Andreas.
If GTA III was the realization of the now ubiquitous open-world video game setting, San Andreaswas its crowning achievement to date in 2004. Rockstar managed to create a protagonist in CJ that we actually cared about, and the freedom to take part in non-linear activities across a massive city meant San Andreas stayed in my PlayStation 2 for a very, very long time. Hell, I still play that game.
Rockstar has stated the explorable world of Los Santos is bigger than the environments of Red Dead Redemption, GTA IV, and San Andreas combined. Some of my favorite memories of San Andreas are just goofing around, exploring the woods outside the city. Considering the scope of the GTA V map, searching out every nook and cranny could take considerable time.
Beyond the nostalgia of returning to San Andreas, GTA V is altering the formula, making significant changes to how this Grand Theft Auto will play. Three protagonists -- Michael, Trevor, and Franklin -- offer you different angles from which to observe the story of GTA V. More interestingly, each of the three characters seems wildly different in regards to personality.
The ability to switch to different perspectives has implications beyond the narrative, as well. If you're stuck on a particularly difficult mission, commandeering an alternate character -- and thus letting the machine take over for the other two -- could lower the frustration. But mostly, I'm just excited to play as Trevor; that guy looks like a total weirdo.