A generation of gamers grew up living out their criminal fantasies playing the Grand Theft Auto series. Now, five years after the previous installment was released, “Grand Theft Auto V” promises to take the franchise to a new level.
“GTA V” takes place in a fictional city called Los Santos, which is a satirical version of modern-day Los Angeles and its surrounding areas.
With more than 100 hours of game play, Xav de Matos, feature content director of Joystiq.com, told Metro World News that this might be the most ambitious game in the franchise.
Instead of playing one character, GTA V allows the player to experience the GTA universe through the eyes of three protagonists with fully fleshed-out stories. One lives in a mansion and has a family, the other resides in a trailer park, and the third is a kid living in a bad neighborhood.
“GTA V brings social class to the forefront,” de Matos said. “This is something they haven’t been able to do in the past because it’s always been just one character.”
The game has moved beyond just stealing and other crimes. This version will allow the player to partake in other tasks such as golfing, tennis and skydiving.
An online component, set to be released as an update on Oct. 1, will allow gamers to go on organized heists with their friends.
With all these features, it’s no surprise that GTA V has been rumored to be the most expensive video game ever made, with a budget of $265 million. While producer Rockstar Games has remained quiet on what it actually spent, experts believe that in addition to creating the GTA V universe, a large part of the budget was earmarked for marketing. A GTA V movie-like trailer has graced TV screens, and a viral website for the game was created to parody Facebook.
One thing that is sure to be the same is that this newest installment will be controversial, featuring graphic content that players expect from these games. De Matos predicts that one specific interactive torture mission will anger many groups, but he believes that the creators meant the objective to be a commentary on what is going on today and showcased in films like “Zero Dark Thirty.”
“Torture in the last five years has been in the media,” he explained. “It’s pretty clear that as a company that does games as commentary on society that this is something they would tackle.”
But, de Matos is quick to point out that while many opposed to the series say that the game is harmful because it not only lets you see violence but actively participate in it, this doesn’t meant GTA gamers are going to go out and shoot someone.
De Matos believes it’s up to parents to make sure that their children aren’t playing games that they aren’t mature enough for -- but then again the game is called “Grand Theft Auto.” No one is pretending this game is about holding hands, playing with puppies, and chasing rainbows and unicorns.
The video game industry tries to help parents as well. ERSB ratings that restrict certain age groups from buying video games have been proven in secret shopper tests to be the most strongly enforced in the U.S. when compared to explicit warning labels on music and MPAA age ratings on movies, de Matos said.
Though the topic of violent video games encouraging dangerous behavior often comes up, de Matos argues that for every study linking violence with watching violent content there is one that disproves that link.
“GTA IV sold 25 million games,” he pointed out. “There haven’t been 25 million crimes reported in the world that were directly attributed to that particular game.
“What people need to remember is that a video game doesn’t make you something -- or else I’d be a famous explorer, surgeon, lawyer who races cars for a living. Unfortunately I’m not, but neither am I a murderer.”
“Grand Theft Auto V” is out now.