Last night, Rockstar Games dropped an unexpected bombshell: not only is the next installment of Grand Theft Auto already in development, but the first trailer is set to hit the Web next week (you can read our original report here).
Gaming flashback: Grand Theft Auto series
According to an "inside source" who spoke to the gaming website Kotaku, GTA V will be set in a fictionalised version of Los Angeles, much like GTA IV's re-imagining of New York (AKA Liberty City). Whether this will be a return to 2004's GTA: San Andreas or a completely fresh take is unknown.
Personally, we hope it's neither.
If there's one thing the GTA series needs, it's fresh ideas. We've played in the urban crime sandbox countless times already, both from Rockstar Games and its numerous imitators. What we really want to see is something that nobody is expecting. Something that turns the whole GTA experience on its head.
With that in mind, here are five crackpot ideas for what GTA V should be like. [Note: Rather than concentrate on gameplay minutia, we've decided to look at the 'big picture'.]
GTA: The Return of Niko Bellic
Okay, so this sort of flies in the face of our 'something fresh' stance, but if they bring Niko Bellic back into the fold, all will be forgiven.
After all, the Serbian rapscallion is easily one of the most iconic and well-rounded video game characters in the history of the medium. Unlike the protagonists of most crime games (Mafia 2 anyone?), Nico was a hugely likeable anti-hero from start to finish. It's a trick that the GTA universe has arguably been unable to replicate since. (i.e. -- Johnny Klebitz was a hateful thug and Luis Lopez was pretty forgettable.)
We'd be more than happy to slip back into Bellick's knock-off trainers as he continues to chase the elusive American Dream. Liberty City didn't work out, so why not San Andreas? He could even take Roman and Mallorie's kid in tow for some Leon style father-daughter bonding.
GTA: "IIIIIIIIIIIN SPAAAAAAAAAACE!"
No really. Imagine a GTA game set in a Blade Runner-esque metropolis filled with whizzing hovercrafts and surly cyborgs. If nothing else, it would give Rockstar reams of fresh material to mine. Think of all the sci-fi tropes and clichés they could poke fun at – it'd be like an R-rated Futurama! It would also be neat to see what Liberty City looks like thousands of years into the future.
Added bonus: The Republican Space Rangers (frequently seen on GTA IV's TV screens) could make an in-game cameo.
GTA: The MMO
Grand Theft Auto IV proved that multiplayer works wonderfully in the GTA universe. But imagine a game in which every character you meet is controlled by another player? You could join a bikie gang, rub soldiers with the glitterati or simply vege out in front of a virtual TV with your mates. Granted, this would doubtlessly affect the single-player narrative that GTA is so well known for, but there must be some way of tying these two elements together.
GTA: End of Days
Or Grand Theft Armageddon if you prefer. (You're fired - Ed.)
Setting GTA V inside a ticking time-bomb city with a slowly approaching meteor would be great. For starters, it would give the cast of characters a compelling reason for turning to crime, rather than just the usual "mo' money" excuse. It would also give Rockstar the chance to completely raze the game world to the ground while you're still in it -- two games for the price of one!
Alternatively, when the apocalypse hits, it could be the work of zombies. (Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare was just a training level.)
GTA: Kinect Edition
Only joking. Although it would make the inevitable 'hot coffee' mod kind of interesting...
What are your thoughts on the next Grand Theft Auto game? Are we missing the point of the series entirely? Let us know in the comments section below...