[Note: The following article contains no spoilers for Grand Theft Auto V]
Open world, redefined.
Earthquakes are a peculiar phenomenon. As a natural disaster, their strength can almost always be directly paralleled with their frequency. Either they occur so often that they barely register on the Richter scale, or, after amassing a significant reserve of kinetic energy, they strike once in a generation with intense, pent-up force. In a sense, this tectonic activity can be correlated with the video games industry and its varying release schedule. Annualised franchises such as Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed, for instance, can become nondescript due to their regular recurrence. Like echoes reverberating around a cave, their impact and significance are almost undermined – particularly with the latter series, with Ubisoft’s open-world title proliferating onto umpteen platforms recently.
On the other end of the Richter scale, though, Rockstar Games have operated under their own uncompromising development cycle since the first Grand Theft Auto in 1997. Originally titled ‘Race & Chase’, the studio had paved the foundations of an open world franchise that would go on to reinvent the genre as we know it. After sixteen years and fourteen unique iterations across different console generations, we arrive at the fifth numerical entry in the series: Grand Theft Auto V. Spending four years in development and tethered with a reported budget of $265 million, Rockstar’s latest, and arguably greatest entry into the billion-dollar franchise arrived early last week to seemingly unanimous approval.
The criminal tale of Michael, Trevor and Franklin – who serve as the game’s playable personas – has undoubtedly been one of the most anticipated games of the year. In fact, since its release, GTA V has gone on to become the fastest selling title in UK history with close to 1.57 million sales. Not only that, in terms of worldwide retail figures, Rockstar’s crime opus amassed $800 million during its first day on the market. To put that into perspective, Grand Theft Auto V earned a greater sum of money in 24 hours than Iron Man 3 managed during its entire theatrical run. It’s clear, then, that the launch of a new Grand Theft Auto game is an event in and of itself; one with enough seismic activity to validate the five year hiatus since Grand Theft Auto IV.
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