The GameInformer cover story has lead to tons of more details about Rockstar's highly anticipated sequel.
Most strikingly, Grand Theft Auto 5 will let you switch between three characters at the touch of a button. Think The Lost Vikings or Trine, but with less puzzling and more killing. Which I guess is sort of a moral puzzle if you think about it.
The playable cast is comprised of the following characters:
- Michael; a retired bank robber in his early 40s who lives in a posh Rockford Hills (a Beverly Hill stand-in) estate with his spiteful trophy wife, bratty teenage daughter and 20 year old son. He's in the witness protection program, but still leads a luxurious life due to an "unconventional deal with the FIB." His money is running dry due to his wife's spending habits, so he inevitably returns to a life of crime.
- Trevor; a junkie and ex-military pilot prone to fits of rage. He resides in Blaine County, a desert region full of bikers and meth heads (similar to the area around the Salton Sea). An old friend of Michael's, he joins up for another heist. A hands-off demo showed him set fire to a car just for the hell of it, apparently.
- Franklin; a hustler in his mid 20s working for an Armenian car dealership where he plays the role of thuggish repo man. He lives in Vespucci Beach (like Venice Beach), and wants to move up in the world. He comes in contact with Michael after targeting him for a hustle.
Players are free to switch between characters at any time when not on a mission. When on a mission, however, players are given the option to switch at specific junctures.
One mission has the trio extracting a target from being interrogated/tortured. Trevor flies the helicopter, Michael rappels down the side of the building from the chopper, while Franklin acts as a sniper from a rooftop across the way. The player initially takes the role of Michael until he bursts in through the window Die Hard-style and takes a human shield. From there the player is given the choice of whether to continue playing as Michael or snipe foes from afar as Franklin.
During the getaway a helicopter chase ensues and players are given yet another choice whether to pilot the getaway chopper as Trevor, act as the craft's gunner ala Michael, or snipe the opposition's helicopter pilots as Franklin.
One of the concessions to the three character system is you won't be able to gain or lose weight ala San Andreas or romance different people ala GTA 4. "We weren't sure it would work, and we're doing a lots of other new stuff," said vice president of creative Dan Houser. "It just felt like it was going to be overly complex."
Houser explained that this three character system will add more diversity to the enormous locale. "That contrast between three different experiences, geographies, and vibes to everything should really be strong, and I think it's something that gives the game a unique feeling when you're visiting these people's lives and seeing what they do."
Looking at the setting, art director Aaron Garbut noted it was bigger than San Andreas, Grand Theft Auto 4, and Red Dead Redemption combined. It's so vast that you can even don scuba gear and explore its ocean floor.
Why so big? Well, LA is the largest city in the world geographically and Houser said the studio felt like it only scratched the surface of what the city had to offer in games like San Andreas and Midnight Club: Los Angeles and it wanted to make a proper game about LA. "We felt we hadn't done that with San Andreas - which was these very small, sketchlike cities," Houser explained.
"The geography you could get outside Los Angeles is spectacular," added Houser. "The contrast between desert/rural Southern California, inland from LA and just a bit north, compared to LA, gives you a great microcosm of red state/blue state theme - different vibes culturally as much as geographically. I think that was something we really felt would be good about this location."
Houser also confirmed that familiar faces from GTA 4 and Episodes From Liberty City may make an appearance, but no one from the PS2 era games will show up because the "high definition universe" is completely separate from those titles.
Other details include the ability to flip off people [give them the middle finger - a gesture meaning "f*** you" in the US], which will result in different reactions from various citizens. Some rough-and-tumble types may throw down, while soccer moms will have a very different - and probably funnier - reaction.
Also confirmed was some sort of multiplayer component, though Rockstar is keeping mum on the details of that for now. The report noted that the multiplayer option was located just under switching characters in the menu, suggesting that some sort of co-op will be available.