Above is the first trailer for GTA IV. Remember that? It came out at the end of March 2007 and answered questions about the next GTA, even as it raised a bunch of new ones. It showed graphics that shamed its contemporaries, revealed Liberty City (aka New York City) as the location and introduced us to the captivating lead character Niko Bellic.
Now, we're on the verge of the next big GTA trailer, giving us the first official details of the next big game.
Next week's GTA V trailer is probably going to show where the new game is set, and we are feeling good about our reporting that it's going to be in Los Angeles or a fictional version thereof. But surely there are other questions this trailer could answer. I've got five...
1) Will the outrageousness be back? GTA: San Andreas closed out Grand Theft Auto's tenure on the PlayStation 2 with the most outrageous game in the series. If you explored enough you could find a jetpack, blow up a dam, beat people up with a sex toy, fly to a city featured in a different GTA, ride a motorcycle out of a cargo plane and more. The next GTA, the big GTA IV pulled back on the insanity and presented, at least relatively speaking, a more mature and restrained game. Which means: you could have shootouts in museums, blow up cars and even fly an attack chopper, but you weren't being that nuts about things and the writing had a new emotional gravitas that made GTA not just a great game, but a great text. The episodic additions to GTA IV first added more intense firefights (and full frontal male nudity), and then added the stealing of subway cars, the ravings lunatic rich people and playable base jumping. So the question is: does GTA V go even wilder and get back to the flavor of San Andreas? Or exceed it? Or go in some other excellent direction?
2) Can I keep my guns, please? If this gets answered in the trailer, I'll be shocked, but if there's a design decision I've long objected to with this series, it's that I lose a gun when I use up its bullets. What's the fun of keeping one bullet left in the chamber just so you can keep the arsenal stocked? Let me keep my guns, please.
3) How multiplayer will this game be? Rockstar was proud of the multiplayer in GTA IV, a mode that still pops up on the Xbox Live activity charts. It's no Call of Duty or Halo in terms of popularity, but it's stuck around as just about nothing else has. It was number 9 last month on the week Gears of War 3 came out. That's more than three years since GTA IV debuted. Rockstar's tried even harder with multiplayer in Red Dead Redemption and, unless they've had a sudden change of heart, would seem primed to do more multi for GTA V. Trailers for this series don't usually get feature-specific, but if Rockstar wants to convey how different the new game might be, a trailer that signals there multiplayer is a significant aspect would do the trick.
4) Platforms? Xbox 360, PlayStation 3... anything else? Look for logos at the end of the trailer, though, again, if the original GTA IV teaser is anything to go by, we won't see it. Still, there are theories and possibilities.
5) Why a number and not a subtitle? Rockstar has said that they put numbers on the GTAs that are an especially big deal... on the ones that change things. Would multiple playable characters justify that? Graphics beyond anything we've seen before? Something else?
You know what? I don't think the new trailer is going to answer many of those questions after all, but here's hoping. What questions would you like the new trailer to answer?