One of the biggest moments in gaming this year – the release of Grand Theft Auto V – is less than a day away. For those blinded by the hype and hyperbole, GTA V might seem like just another virtual mayhem simulator, but it could be a genre and medium-defining experience. Buckle up for 10 reasons why GTA V is the ultimate game changer.
1. This might be the best GTA soundtrack ever.
After a few tunes leaked, Rolling Stone sat down with Rockstar's soundtrack supervisor, Ivan Pavlovich, to learn more about the 240 licensed songs that make up GTA V's persistent playlist. Bootsy Collins, Kenny Loggins and Pam Grier serve as the DJs for three of the game's 15 radio stations, which cover a range from rock and pop to Mexican electronica (a real thing).
2. You can discover what's in the shed.
When the first video gameplay of GTA V hit the web, Internet sleuths spotted an innocuous looking structure on top of a mountain. Needless to say, it sparked just a little bit of interest in the gaming community. And in less than 24 hours, millions of gamers will be jacking the nearest dirt bike and ascending to the mystery cabin that's captivated a nation.
3. There are aliens.
Leaked GTA V achievements reveal a UFO-related accomplishment. Whether it's all a drug-induced hallucination, non-canonical Easter egg or full-blown extraterrestrial invasion like Saints Row. . . well, you'll just have to play to find out.
4. There are sharks.
And they definitely won't be a hallucination. While the GTA games have always been rife with fun little details, underwater environments have never been a thrilling universe to explore. . . until now. GTA V promises submarines, flora, deadly fauna and an underwater kingdom for players used to just scratching the surface.
5. It cost over $130 million.
While a high cost doesn't equate high quality (Chinese Democracy cost $13 million), it would be hard to imagine that a video game that cost more to make than most Hollywood blockbusters wouldn't deliver some serious bang for that kind of buck.
6. There are three main characters.
That you can switch to on the fly. And if you're taking control of Michael, Trevor and Franklin will continue on with their lives, meaning the next time you jump into an alternate character, you could be in the middle of a street race or just coming home to the family.
7. PC And PS4 versions are in the works.
Console pirates have had their criminal hands on copies of the game for a few days and, if certain screen grabs can be believed, next-gen versions of GTA V could be coming sooner rather than later. GTA IV famously took forever to get a port to PC, and when it finally appeared, it was poorly optimized. But even with a less than stellar port, the PC version of GTA IV was eventually modded into a work of art. If leaked copies of GTA V reveal code already written for PC and PS4 versions, it could be a good sign that new (read: better) releases of GTA V are coming sooner rather than later.
8. It's not getting spoiled.
GTA V developer and publisher Rockstar Games is going after every YouTube channel, video stream, SoundCloud file or anything else that's revealing gameplay or story features. Cease and desists are flying just as fast as preorders (the game has already recouped its development cost before a single copy officially goes on sale).
9. It could have the most interesting multiplayer of any GTA.
Or any game ever, for that matter. GTA V's multiplayer won't be released until a few weeks after the single player, and it sound like it's going to be an entire stand-alone game featuring new characters and story lines. You and up to 15 others (!) will populate a server filled with races, joint missions, death matches and real estate you can buy and pimp out – it's a virtual community in a virtual city filled with virtual criminality of unparalleled fun.
10. It's this console generation's last hurrah.
In less than two months, the Playstation 4 and Xbox One will start replacing the increasingly obsolete current crop of consoles. The greatest games tend to come at the end of any system's lifespan, when developers have explored every nook and cranny and learned to exploit the hardware for everything it can possibly do. GTA V looks like it will push the Xbox 360 and PS3 as far as either system can possibly reach. This is literally as good as console gaming will ever get – until we get our sweaty paws on the systems of the future.