Chris Schulz is the deputy head of entertainment for the New Zealand Herald.

Fans get first look at Grand Theft Auto V's gameplay (+video)


Play a game of tennis, go sky diving off a cliff, or rob a bank by jumping off a helicopter, crashing through a window and taking a customer hostage.

Welcome to Grand Theft Auto V, the hotly anticipated new edition of the massively popular crime saga that's expected to top everyone's Game of the Year lists come December.

Rockstar Games have promised the fifth instalment of the game will be the biggest open world game they've made, larger than Grand Theft Auto 4, Red Dead Redemption and GTA: San Andreas combined.

Set for a September 17 release on the Xbox 360 and PS3, fans had their first look at the mechanics of Grand Theft Auto V in the first gameplay trailer, released today.

It showed what the narrator called "a sprawling satirical reimagining of modern southern California covering mountains and oceans, expensive stores and strip malls, urban decay and untouched wilderness, beaches and backwaters, the sublime and the ridiculous, greed and hypocrisy".

As was shown in previous trailers, the biggest change from Grand Theft Auto IV is that gamers take control of three characters - a trio described as "dangerous thieves".

They include successful former bank robber Michael who went into witness protection and is now a bored family man, street hustler Franklin who works as car repo muscle, and the bumbling Trevor, a former military pilot now living as a drug addict in a trailer park.

The gameplay trailer shows players can switch between characters with the touch of a button - a necessity when completing some of the game's more complicated crime-based missions.

In order to survive, the trailer's narrator says, the trio "have to set up and pull off a series of increasingly audacious heists".

It details a bank robbery, a tower shootout, a jewellery heist, police car chases, bashings, explosions and plane, train and boat rides. If successful, money earned from these missions can be used to buy tattoos, new cars and clothes, or invest in real estate or the local stockmarket.

If that gets too much, players can take time out by customising their characters and cars, playing a game of golf or tennis, heading out on an ocean diving expedition, go hunting, mountainbiking or skydiving. There's even a yoga retreat.

Fans of the series were quick to embrace the trailer online.

"This is the ultimate game. Nothing compares with this one," wrote Algol1988 on YouTube.

"EPIC! Can't wait and the story looks so good!" wrote ColossalSquirt.

"I'm never leaving my room when I get this," wrote Azza Bazza.

Some questioned why the game was being released on the PS3 and Xbox 360, just months before next-generation consoles PS4 and Xbox One were being released.

Others asked when a PC version of the game would come out.

An online component to the game, called Grand Theft Auto Online, is hinted at at the end of the trailer, and would be "shown properly soon".

* What do you think of the trailer? Post your comments below.


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Chris Schulz is the deputy head of entertainment for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Schulz has interviewed some of music's biggest names during his career writing for various entertainment publications in New Zealand. He is a Herald and TimeOut feature writer who covers music, movies, TV and games both online and in print.

Read more by Chris Schulz

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