I’ve been getting a little weird about GTA V over the last few days; I’m in that super-hyped-up pre-release phase where it’s pretty much all I can think about. Hell, I played an hour of Red Dead last night and ended up having non-stop dreams about GTA.
I say this all the time, that comparing new work to previous work can be awfully reductive in terms of analysis, but here’s the thing – most Rockstar games end up sharing a lot of DNA, and pretty much every game that they’ve put out since GTA IV has made remarkable strides in terms of the overall gameplay experience, and so there’s things in those games that I would like to see integrated into GTA V. As I said above, I’ve spent a few hours this weekend playing Red Dead Redemption specifically so as to get re-acclimated to that game engine and the marvelous little touches that are sprinkled throughout, as well as a tiny little bit of Max Payne 3, which really refined the combat systems perfectly.
Anyway, since the reviews are coming tomorrow morning, I’m feeling compelled to get out in front of them and speak my mind as to what I hope to see. I know nobody will read this between now and then, but for whatever reason I feel like I need to be on record about the stuff I want.
- The penalties for failing a mission in previous GTAs were unbelievably harsh; if something went wrong, you were kicked out and had to manually trigger the mission again, minus whatever ammo you lost; if you died, you woke up at a hospital without a car and out a not-insubstantial percentage of cash. Whereas in RDR, you just restarted at a mid-mission checkpoint. Saints Row has been doing this for the last few iterations, too; it just makes sense.
- RDR’s ambient events did so much to make that world feel alive; I know that an urban environment makes that a bit tougher to pull off, especially when the 3 characters are not exactly the sorts of good samaritans that would be inclined to help out strangers, but it’d be nice to see something along those lines.
- Similarly, not that GTA games have ever needed help getting the player off the linear path, but the challenges in RDR opened up the world and the gameplay and encouraged exploration; for me, the treasure hunting and survivalist challenges are still absorbing and compelling, even all these years later. If GTA V has something along those lines, I’ll be very, very happy.
- Max Payne 3’s combat took the cover system and controls of RDR and made it super-tight and focused; I always felt in total control over every bullet I fired. Now, granted, MP3 is specifically focused on combat, and the bullet-time tactic is an integral part of the experience; I don’t expect GTA V to have that kind of thing. But the tightness of MP3’s controls are tough to beat, and it would be really nice to see a GTA game with decent combat for once.
- An improved navigation system; while RDR’s corner map with highlighted route worked just fine, I’ve grown very accustomed to Saints Row’s on-road arrow system. I would never expect GTA to go that far in terms of change; they’d never alter the physical environment just to make it easier for you to see where you were going. Still, though, I’d like to see something to make it a little easier to find my way around.
- Would LOVE to be able to save anywhere I wanted. I grew very tired of having to find a safehouse every time I need to save. Now, I seem to recall there being sort of automatic save system after every completed mission in The Ballad of Gay Tony – but I’d still prefer the option to make a hard save whenever the urge strikes me. (As a parent of a 5-month old baby, needing to save at a moment’s notice is very, very important.)
I think that should cover everything. I’ll be posting impressions at every possible opportunity this week, though I fully expect nobody to be reading. See you guys online in a few weeks!