A page in a manual for the latest GTA game has prompted speculation about the setting of the next installment in the series: speculation we at Geeks Are Sexy are happy to engage in.
The page appears in the recently-released retail copy of GTA: Tales From Liberty City, which brings together two games previously available as downloadable content. It shows a torn apart heart containing the front cover of GTA IV, the words “Liberty City, It’s Over!”, a scrap of an image appearing to be a hilly terrain, and the phrase “Opens March Everywhere”.
Take those clues, mix them up with the online community’s speculation, and you’ve got claims that the next release will be GTA V, announced next March (it seems inconceivable it could actually be released then), and taking place in a location other than Liberty City. But where? Well, here’s our take on some possible candidates:
For: It would follow a logical pattern, being the sequel to Liberty City-based games on both the PS2 and the PSP. It was also a favorite setting of many players.
Against: The Vice City locations were arguably more about the 80s era than the physical location itself and it’s not clear if future GTA games will have historic settings. Even if they do, it could be argued the Vice City theme is played out.
For: Seemingly the most likely choice. It’s already mapped out so would need less new design. It’s also the largest GTA space so far and would lend itself to the greater scope available in next-gen and online gaming. The location would also lose much less in a transfer to a modern era setting than Vice City.
Against: It could be seen as unoriginal to revisit a previous setting at this stage.
For: The biggest real-life US city to use as an influence after New York and San Francisco/LA/Vegas.
Against: Would probably work better as a historical era setting, but the most obvious would be Prohibition era, which severely restricts the driving element of the game
For: Packed with landmarks to pastiche. Could also make for some intriguing storylines parodying the political world.
Against: Even by RockStar standards, portraying shooting sprees in the nation’s political heartland might raise taste issues. Could also be tricky to find the right balance between making the scenery recognizable without being so accurate it makes storylines difficult without causing offence.
For: The only real-world venue to have been used for a previous game. Arguably the most recognizable potential venue outside the US, with many landmarks and distinct neighborhoods. Has a wide variety of potential historical era settings.
Against: Left-hand drive would be needed for realism, but that would be a major learning curve for many players. The lack of coastline means that giving the game a natural geographic border or having a storyline reason to lock certain areas at the start could be tricky.
For: Could look absolutely stunning with today’s graphics. Might help sales in Japan.
Against: The language barrier could be an issue.
For: Driving over the Sydney Harbour Bridge with the Opera House in the background would be unforgettable.
Against: That’s pretty much it for landmarks. If you thought the Badlands missions in GTA: San Andreas were frustrating, wait until you discover there’s no trip skip to get to Ayer’s Rock/Uluru. Australian setting has already been reported and then exposed as an April Fool’s joke.
The whole world
For: Make the entire game on-line play, then hook up Google Earth and street view to a rendering machine. Drive anywhere, play anywhere, design your own missions anywhere and share them online.
Against: Aside from the near insurmountable legal and technical barriers, absolutely nothing.