Some of the multi-character jobs also introduce player choice in how to approach them. A stealthy strategy might require stealing a submarine beforehand, for example, while an all-guns-blazing plan might necessitate the acquisition of more firepower. Henchmen can also be hired to drive a getaway car or hack security systems, with the size of their cuts depending on their relative skills. It adds up to a fresh new way to play a GTA game that adds to the narrative and the action.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, there’s still more in store when Rockstar Games Social Club goes active upon the game’s release (it’s not testable before Sept. 17). Among the additional features will be Snapmatic, an Instagram-like app on the characters’ phones that let them take pictures – including character selfies – in the massive game world and share them in the real world, online.
Another feature that wasn’t available before launch was the iFruit smartphone and tablet app, which adds second-screen functionality to the game. The app will allow players to customize their vehicles and teach Franklin’s dog Chop some new tricks.
GTA V’s two stock exchanges, the LCN and BAWSAQ are also set to soon go live, allowing players to manage shares of 40 listed companies, whose fortunes will be governed by how the game is played by community members. If players around the world are spending a lot of money buying and customizing weapons, for example, shares of the in-game gun store Ammu-Nation will go up. On top of it all, Grand Theft Auto Online – the massive multiplayer mode – goes live on Oct. 1.
The online features are all bound to be extra frosting on what is already an incredibly sweet cake. Grand Theft Auto V represents both a technical and artistic pinnacle in the video game medium and is the perfect bookend to the current, outgoing generation of consoles.
As the respective launches of the Xbox one and PlayStation 4 get closer, the question isn’t really whether GTA V is the ultimate game of this generation, but rather how long it will take developers to match it on the new consoles? Despite their heftier horsepower, it may be some time yet before anyone achieves this level of technical and artistic virtuosity.