Preview GTA V EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW.

XPG Darkside May 2, 2013

  1. XPG Darkside

    XPG Darkside Eating cake.... Gold Subscriber Lifetime Gold
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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=KlapkZiKGUY

    It starts with a drop. Franklin - street hustler, getaway driver, repo man - is in the exit hatch of a helicopter, thousands of feet above the mountain ridges that divide Los Santos from the countryside of Blaine County.



    As he jockeys in the doorway, we grab our first glimpse of GTA V: forested hillsides, roads and trails snaking across open land, a river glinting in the sunlight, and, in the distance - immediately giving the world a vast sense of scale - the grey-blue haze of the city. It's basically the juiciest invitation you'll get all year: all of this is yours to explore - and all you've got to do is jump.

    So we jump. The freefall opens up our field of view: the game world is an island, hemmed in by an ocean beyond the city, and by a massive stretch of water - the Alamo Sea - behind us, to the north. Immediately to our right, on the west of the island, is a military base. Onscreen, there's an altimeter, giving us an idea of elevation, and three bars in the corner: green, blue and yellow. These are for your health, body armour and 'specials'. We'll talk more about that last one later on.

    Straight off the bat, it's hard not to be impressed. Incidental detail is king here: what looks like a cargo plane arcs up into the sky in the distance, having taken off from the military base; a mountain lion scutters for cover in the hillsides of Mount Josiah (in a GTA first, Chilliad is no longer the only peak in the series); a quad bike moves along one of the countless mud trails, and cars along the mountain roads; and, gradually, the river edges closer, shimmering in the sunlight, and we can see two people fishing on its banks, a Winnebago parked next to them. Laid across it all (again, for the first time in a GTA game) is evidence of one of the game's dynamic scores, a soft, ambient track that perfectly captures the serene nature of the descent.

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    Moments later, we land next to the Winnebago, and we get a close-up look at Franklin. We'll admit, guiding one third of the game's criminal triumverate into the tranquil beauty of an Elder Scrolls-like valley wasn't how we imagined our time with GTA V would start - but it makes sense. Rockstar claims its goal, from day one, was to create the ultimate open world, and what better way to show off the scale and geographical diversity of their achievements than by jumping out of a chopper? Descent over, our demoer tells us it's time to go and see what Trevor is up to.

    ZOOM WITH A VIEW

    The transition between characters is slick: you ascend into the skies, Google Earth-style, the screen fills with static (although you can still see the outline of your location) and then you zoom across the city, zeroing in on the character of your choosing. The closer, geographically, Franklin, Trevor and Michael are to one another, the quicker the transition; when you're using all three in a mission, for example, the change will be instantaneous. When they're miles apart, at separate ends of the map, the swap takes longer. It's a clever way to mask loading times.

    Before we make the leap, though, there are a couple of other things worth pointing out. The first is that each character is rated in a series of skill categories, viewable from the pause screen: Special, Stamina, Shooting, Strength, Stealth, Flying, Driving, Mechanic, Lung Capacity.

    Each characters' Special will be different, and unique to them. Franklin, an adrenalin junkie, has the ability to slow down time while driving. (Rockstar didn't expand on this, but it's a fair bet it'll come in handy when you're being pursued by cops and, say, need to take a last-minute, super-sharp corner to lose them.)

    Trevor, the game's crazy-eyed nutjob, has a frenzy mode, where he's able to do double damage, while taking only half in return. As a bonus, he also has a unique melee attack, yet to be revealed. And, finally, Michael - the career criminal - turns all Max Payne with his own version of bullet time. Special meters drain after use, and recharge slowly in the aftermath - but while activated, they're often the difference between success and failure.

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    The other skill categories all the characters share, and through missions, side missions, activities and more, their stats can gradually be improved. No matter how much flying Franklin and Michael do, they'll never be as good as trained pilot Trevor, but you can - over time - improve them, so they become easier to control mid-air, and more successful in getting from A to B (and, in grand GTA tradition, presumably destroying C on the way). The same will be true with, say, Franklin, the game's best driver. Michael and Trevor won't match him, but through iteration they'll come close.

    Perhaps the most interesting category, though, is Stealth, suggesting the game will play heavily on multiple approaches to missions, and in particular the main heists. Again, Rockstar wasn't ready to talk, but it did say you'd have to weigh up the best route to the end goal. To what level stealth will be implemented remains unclear, but it provides a potentially exciting new route for players who don't want to end up with a five-star Wanted level and the entire LSPD on their tail.


    If Franklin's section of the demo kicked things off with a classy descent into stunning countryside, Trevor's begins as he means to go on: he wakes up on a beach, next to the waters of the Alamo Sea, in only his pants and a pair of boots. Oh, and he's got blood all over his chest. Oh, and there are three members of The Lost lying on the sand around him. Oh, and they're all dead. (The west coast chapter of Grand Theft Auto IV's biker gang are engaged in a drugs and turf war with Trevor.) "Uurrrrghhh," Trevor says, as he stumbles to his feet. "Last one standing. Again."

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    Despite the carnage, this area is beautiful: the sand is ruffled, shaped by the lapping waters of the sea, sun winking in its water-slick surface, while the wave physics are some of the best we've seen in any game this generation. Once we climb aboard a nearby Zodiac - a small, special forces-style boat (which may tie into Trevor's ex-miltary background) - things get even tastier.

    Remember that screenshot of Del Perro Pier, with the lightning carving out of the sky? Well, we didn't see any weather effects in this demo, but you can instantly get a sense of how they might work. Even with clear skies and calm seas, the waves buffet the boat, its rubber hull thumping against successive waves as it - and the boats and jetskis out on the water around it (this is a popular holiday spot, after all, despite the dead biker gang) - really starts to get choppy.

    The thought of high winds and thunderstorms, and how they might change the dynamics altogether, and ramp up the difficulty, are an exciting (and, we'll admit, slightly terrifying) thought.
    Finally, a couple of minutes later, Trevor reaches a point off the coast where he drops anchor. Tucked away on the Zodiac is scuba gear. Not all boats will come equipped with gear, but the Zodiacs always will, so donning wetsuit, flippers and tank, we take a dip in the brine.

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    OCEAN'S A HEAVEN

    It's hard to judge just how big a part the underwater sections will play in the game as a whole, and equally difficult to get a sense of how its scale compares to that of the world above. But our trip below the surface, although brief, was exhilirating. When Rockstar promised a full eco system, it wasn't joking: the sea is teaming with fish, with plenty of sharks too (their taste for human flesh toned down for the demo), and there's an immediate and impressive sense of 'immersion': this place is quiet in a way the land environments aren't, just the gentle suck of our breathing equipment and the gurgle of water for company as we head down towards a wreck.

    The wreck belongs to an old cargo ship, lying dormant on the sea bed now, its containers spilling off into the sand and coral. As we head towards it, we can see other divers out ahead of us, Rockstar pointing out that you won't be the only ones trying to find hidden treasure in this giant industrial skeleton. The reason? The game rewards exploration (even, it seems, if you're an NPC) with wrecks - and, we're willing to bet, cave systems too - hiding long-forgotten loot.

    Intriguingly, this is an area of the game where you won't be given any help whatsoever. There's no Tomb Raider-style signposting. No 'HIDDEN TREASURE HERE!' You head down with no idea what you might find. Because of that, the world beneath the waves will likely prove a compelling and productive part of your time in GTA V, with the reward system an incentive to repeatedly dig out your scuba gear. Dives won't come with the major-league paydays of the game's tentpole heists, but they will help grease the wheels, and in a game about money - and especially in a game where there's so much to spend your money on - deep sea diving will be tough to resist.

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    As we return to the surface, the game's watery secrets safe for another day, we switch back to a view of the sun-kissed Alamo Sea coast, and - after a couple of seconds of watching shark fins, rather ominously, circling Trevor's head - we return to the character selection wheel.

    The wheel is divided into four equal triangles: Franklin, Trevor, Michael... and a slot for your multiplayer avatar. Rockstar wouldn't be drawn on further details, promising a multiplayer reveal for another day, but clearly there's a more symbiotic relationship between offline and online play than in GTA IV, and with a simple press of Down on the d-pad, you'll be able to drop in and drop out of multiplayer at will. (Other theories on multiplayer? There's a ton in this episode of our weekly show, GTA V O'Clock.) Now? It's time to head to Los Santos and meet Michael.


    Emerging from the front entrance of the Von Crastenburg Hotel, Michael is the total antithesis of Trevor: smartly dressed, clean cut, monied. Except, in reality, Michael's utterly miserable: his wife hates him, he has no relationship with his kids, and he spends his days drinking whiskey, sitting on his shrink's couch, and watching old Vinewood action movies. (This last one is a nice touch by Rockstar, for reasons we'll outline on page 4, when we talk about the mission we saw.)

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    As he takes the steps down to the sidewalk, we're struck by how different all three characters are, not just in terms of the way they look, but how they move, and how their characteristics come across so subtly: Franklin's a big unit, broad, strong, but he's smart too, and ambitious; Trevor's lean, wiry, ratty, the kind of guy who'd, quite literally, stab you in the back as soon as you looked the other way; while Michael's every inch the middle-aged made man, with his slower, more considered movement, and his fortysomething paunch. As the sounds of Vinewood fill the air - roaring engines, car horns, countless pedestrian conversations - we head left.

    WRECK THE MIKE


    Rockstar is promising five times as many pedestrians in GTA V as there were in Grand Theft Auto IV, and although the world isn't fully populated yet, it's still buzzing. The section we're shown is set at night, all low rise buildings and neon-splashed sidewalks, and what's clear from the off is that the development team have absolutely nailed the look of L.A. Plainly, the game is a massive technical step up from GTA IV, something we've already documented in Franklin's mountain parachute ride and Trevor's beachside alarm call. But, at this point in our 30-minute demo, it suddenly seems more overt: everything is jammed in tighter, every space occupied by shops and people and vehicles and noise. Here, the density of this world is really driven home.

    As Michael winds his way towards a four-way junction, there are hundreds of businesses and stores, in all directions. Straight off the bat we zero in on Up N Atom, Tsunami, the Doppler Cinema and billboards for Sprunk, but there are tons more. After stopping to listen to Pamela Drake, a forgotten film actress, who begins babbling about her years as a Vinewood mega-star (pointing subtly towards one of GTA V's over-arching themes: faded celebs and economic uncertainty), we continue our walking tour and head onto Vinewood Boulevard.

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    The crazy level of detail continues: tourist buses are parked up (which, if you climb aboard, can give you a tour of Vinewood's celebrity homes), film posters are plastered on the walls (including '***** in the Trunk' - as in, a dog, in a trunk), and then, finally, men in comedy costumes try to corner you outside the Cathay Theatre, including the Superman-like Impotent Rage - who has his own show on the in-game TV station - and Master Chief riff, Space Ranger.

    Here we get a glimpse at the game's reimagined phone - or, at least, its camera. Taking snaps with the iFruit is simple, and once we'd zoomed in, framed the shot, and got a picture of Space Ranger in the bag, further possibilities open up: in the final game, you'll be able to upload your pictures to Rockstar's Social Club - or your own our social media page. (It seems a near-certainty that you'll be able to record short videos too - check out the guy in the background at 0.31 in Trevor's trailer, released this week.)

    But the camera isn't your only option.
    Although Rockstar didn't want to go into too much detail, there were a total of nine apps on your cellphone display: camera, internet, contacts, social media, a calendar, and an option to go back and replay individual missions. That leaves three others it wasn't prepared to talk about.

    Well, actually, in truth it wasn't prepared to talk much about the other six either, but while camera, internet, contacts and social media all seem relatively self-explanatory, as does the replay mission option, why would you need a calendar? Our take: if you're planning super-dangerous, super-detailed heists, you're going to need to do prep work. We reckon the calendar will be used as part of the planning process, for reminders about meetings, addresses and times.

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    From here, for the first time in the demo, we get to see one of the game's hundreds of side missions in action. It's short and relatively simple, but it gives a good idea of the type of ambient activity available in the world. Appearing as a question mark in the mouth of an alleyway opposite the Cathay, we head across the road and see two paparazzi camped out, either side of the alley, with long-lens cameras. They're waiting for something. Or someone.

    Hidden behind an SUV halfway down is Lacey Jonas, an upcoming movie star in the Lindsay Lohan mould (before her hardcore Colombian sherbert years). She doesn't want her picture taken, but her high-end motor is parked further down the alley, and if she heads for it, the paps will snap her. So, we venture down the alley, get the car, drive it back up the alley and collect her, then put our foot through the floor and leave the paparrazi trailing in our wake!

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    Er, except we don't. Seconds later, we're being pursued, and from there the mission becomes about A) losing the paps, and B) getting Lacey safely home. It's not too demanding, borne out by the fact that you earn yourself a relatively paltry $150 once you've returned her to the Vinewood Hills. One nice thing, though: as Lacey heads inside her swanky mansion, more lovely detail emerges, moths flying around your head and insects buzzing in the half-light of evening.

    HOMELAND SECURITY VAN

    The sense of tranquility doesn't last long, however. Finally, in the last quarter of our demo, we're transported into the heart of an actual mission, entitled 'Blitz Play'; a kind of pint-sized heist.

    Remember how we said Michael spends his days watching old Vinewood action movies? Turns out that that's actually a super-clever way for Rockstar to beg, steal and borrow every classic scene from every classic real-world cinematic heist. As the three men are brought together for the first time, we're told that the mission will involve stealing a boatload of security bonds from an armoured van.

    Although this isn't one of the game's big heists, and doesn't require anywhere near the level of planning those will (the pay-off is way smaller, for starters), the strategy for taking down the van - by blocking the road with a dumptruck, and then ramming it with another vehicle - is based on a movie Michael saw. Or, rather, a movie Rockstar saw. And that movie is Heat.


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    For the purposes of the demo, the three men - after Michael briefs them - appear in matching boiler suits, and different masks - monkey, hockey, skull - but in the main game, this type of 'mini heist' will be much more of an education in the art of prep, leaving you to secure vehicles yourself, outfits, masks, as well as the getaway vehicle and locations for dumping potentially damaging evidence like the dump truck. The idea is that, as the game builds up to those big, standout heists, these smaller ones will be a way to learn what works - but, more crucially, what doesn't.

    In the big ones, there can be no mistakes: you need the right weapons and gear; you need to choose the right approach, whether it's brute force, or stealth, and plan out your tactics via a pre-mission corkboard; and you need to have hired the right crew for the right job - that's crew in addition to Michael, Franklin and Trevor. Choose to pay less and you get less qualified personnel; pay more, and you get more reliable drivers, gunmen and technicians - but they take a bigger cut. It's a balance, and it's through missions like 'Blitz Play' that you find your best approach.

    What's immediately obvious is how multiple playable characters change the dynamics of the traditional GTA mission. You can switch between Franklin, Trevor and Michael in a variety of ways - during a cutscene, manually, or automatically when the AI takes control for you - and as our demo level plays out, we see evidence of all three. Michael must drive the dumptruck to the pre-determined location and park it across the street;

    Trevor will head for the rooftops to act as lookout; Franklin needs to lay in wait, in a tow truck, ready to ram the security van once it's forced to stop. That much is clear - how you interact with the trio, to what extent you use each of them, and how much you switch yourself or let the computer do, is entirely up to you. (Although, it's worth noting that, if you die, the mission returns to the last saved checkpoint; and even if two of the three characters are under AI control, they can still be killed off with enough damage.)


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    So it begins. As Michael makes his way to the location, the game's score kicks in (this time less ambient, and more like Hans Zimmer's opener for The Dark Knight). After following the truck for a while, we head to where Trevor is surveying the scene through a pair of binoculars. Michael asks him if everything looks okay. When Trevor gives him the nod, we switch back to Michael and a 'Block the road' prompt appears.

    We jack-knife the truck, get out of the cab and retreat to a safe distance - before the game switches to a dynamic camera angle, following the Gruppe 6 security van as it advances on the parked truck. Once the security van is in place, it's Franklin's turn.

    Switching to the tow truck, we accelerate out of the alley we've been hiding in, and smash into the side of the security van, toppling it instantly. Michael places plastic explosive on the rear doors, they explode open, and two shaken security men stumble out of the back. As they shuffle around, dazed and confused, Michael grabs the security bonds - but there's some bad news. There was a panic button inside the van - and they hit it before exiting. The Los Santos PD are on their way.

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    While 'Blitz Play' is certainly reminiscent of missions from GTA past, the character-switching gives it a markedly different slant, as you zip between Michael and Franklin on the ground - holding off waves of LSPD - and Trevor up on the rooftops, taking care of SWAT teams as they try to get a bead on the other two. (And then - with a flourish - Trevor also destroys a chopper, thanks to a handily-placed rocket launcher.)

    When you switch is largely up to you, although the game gives you a steer, through dialogue, at vital points: when Michael and Franklin are being overwhelmed by snipers, for example, Michael might ask for Trevor's help; or when Franklin is being advanced upon by cops - out of sight, behind him and to the side - Michael will tell him.

    Small but notable combat mechanics have improved firefights as well: a combat roll gives you a faster route between cover, you now have a better view of oncoming targets thanks to a wider, Gears of War-styled field of vision, and you can run and gun - in third person - while still maintaining control of the reticule. (Which has also seen a couple of tweaks: it switches from white to red to identify an enemy now, and a tiny 'X' flashes over it when an enemy is dead.)

    In fact, it's often in the smallest details that GTA V shines. Like when Michael machine-guns an LSPD squad car, it goes up in flames, and then a cop stumbles out of the burning interior - on fire - and rolls around on the floor, screaming. Still on fire. And trying to put himself out. It's a fantastic moment for everyone but that poor policeman; a tiny, incidental second or two in a sprawling five-minute shootout, that shows to what level of refinement this game is operating. Then finally, as the three men clear the last of the boys in blue, the screen goes black and the demo is over.

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    GRAND THEFT AUTO MORE

    And yet there's still more to tell. Afterwards, as we quiz Rockstar, the game's biology emerges further. Pay N Sprays now double up as mod shops, and your cars can be given paint jobs, new wheels, window tints, grilles, spoilers, plus you can upgrade suspensions, engine and brakes - handy if you've pinpointed, say, an Infernus that you think could be a useful getaway vehicle.

    You can customise weapons too, adding laser sights, scopes, silencers, and high capacity magazines. This is particularly relevant during the prep stage: you might find one weapon is good for clearing rooms, or another better for stealth, and as you earn more cash, you can develop and improve that weapon so that - by the time you head into the key heists - you have best, most specced-up firearm available for the job. Oh, and just to round things off, you can customise yourself as well, with haircuts and new clothes, or by dropping into a tattoo parlour between missions. (We spotted one on Vinewood Boulevard, close to the Chinese Theatre.)

    It doesn't stop there. You can pick up hitchikers, do stunt jumps and flying challenges, take part in yoga, golf, tennis or bike races, and - despite Rockstar being coy on this up until now - buy property too. Houses, garages and businesses can all be snapped up, providing a useful, additional revenue source that drip-feeds cash over time. Rather neatly, there seemed to be the suggestion that the men would remain true to their characters too: twentysomething Franklin will like the idea of buying a nightclub more than Michael, who might fancy investing in a marina.

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    In truth, it's hard to see where it ends. Rockstar promised a land mass three and a half times the size of Red Dead Redemption, a play area five times as big - equal to the size of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, GTA IV and RDR combined - the largest selection of vehicles it had ever committed to the series, and the most amount of weapons.

    It promised the entire map - rivers, lakes, mountains, military bases, farmland, city, desert and ocean - would be open from the start. It assured us there would be hundred of activities and side missions, it talked in vague terms about customisation, it avoided any chatter about property acquisition at all - and yet everything's here.

    Plainly, we only got a sniff in our thirty-minute demo (we'll have to wait for another day to complete that in-game triathlon), but we saw enough: even for GTA, a series hellbent on bigger, better, more, this is a game of unprecedented, borderline-insane ambition. But, like the hero in one of Michael's Vinewood action movies, Rockstar might just be crazy enough to pull it off.

    SOURCE CVG
     
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  2. aspey2012

    aspey2012 Newbie
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    Than you very much pal
     
  3. Wallsch

    Wallsch Gold Member Gold Subscriber Lifetime Gold
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    If you get the option to upload photos to social networking sites in game I wonder if the police track me down if I upload pictures of people I kill in different ways.
     

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