Grand Theft Auto is a franchise driven by stories, with a massive cast of characters and nearly endless replayability. But the thing that most distinguishes one Grand Theft Auto from the next is Rockstar's glorious, subversive take on the game's setting. The cityscape of a Grand Theft Auto is often the game's most important character, shaping everything about the game from how you play it to the story that is told.
There's a really good chance we'll get at least an idea of where Grand Theft Auto V takes place when Rockstar releases the first official trailer on Nov. 2. Until then we're left guessing, but there are some tantalising clues and history that can make these guesses at least a little educated.
All we have to work with officially is that Grand Theft Auto V logo, so let's take a look. The font is pure Grand Theft Auto with two exceptions:
The letter V, or Roman numeral five, looks an awful lot like the art style and font used on U.S. currency. See the fine lines that give that capital letter its green shade. The V could stand for a city name, or just the number five. The font and art style could point to something money related or—and this is a stretch—maybe that V stands for the five dollar bill (which contains no roman numeral V, but does have a picture of the Washington Memorial on the back).
The word five is spelled out over the V in this logo. Grand Theft Auto IV's official logo doesn't use a different font for the Roman numeral IV. Nor does it bother to spell out the number four across that numeral. Both of these lend a bit of credence to the notion that the V in Grand Theft Auto V has more meaning than just as a number. (Or it could just be an opportunity to repeat the currency theme.)
Past rumors have indicated the next Grand Theft Auto will be set in California. We even had a casting call to back it up. Thing is, we're not entirely sure that codename Rush project is really for a Grand Theft Auto game, it just sounds like it is.
New York City: Every numbered Grand Theft Auto released, even the first unnumbered one, has been set in some form of New York City since the franchise's inception in 1997. Rockstar is based in New York City. New York City is home to Wall Street, protesting 99 Percenters, everyday turmoil and plenty of things worthy of interesting tales.
Los Angeles, California: Early rumours set V in a fictional Los Angeles studded with FBI agents, hippies and swingers. And it wouldn't be too hard to throw San Andreas, the game's take on San Francisco, into the mix for good measure. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas didn't get its own number, but it was one of the best games to hit the Playstation 2. Set in 1992, a lot has changes in the two decades since. Also, a two-decade later revisit to a infamous Grand Theft Auto setting does have its appeal.
Washington, D.C.: New York's not-so-close neighbour is rife with senatorial shenanigans, intrigue, a really bizarre city design and a vibrant culture. There's also nearby Baltimore, "the city of neighborhoods", television-adaptation worthy crime and amazing political corruption. D.C. and "Balmore" are both close enough to the city that never sleeps that Rockstar could maybe even shoehorn all three settings into one game. Let's not forget that the Treasury is based in D.C.
Las Vegas: It's the city of sin. There's gambling, organised crime, celebrity, excess, a sparking city and amazing vistas. Also, V could stand for Vegas, not just the number five.
London: The original Grand Theft Auto took place in the game's version of Miami, New York and San Francisco, but the two expansion packs sold for that wonderful top-down crime-spree romp were both set in London in the '60s. Rockstar North, the folks who actually create a bulk of what makes the Grand Theft Auto games, are based in relatively nearby Edinburgh, Scotland. Also, aren't we all getting more than a little sick of running around in fictionalized U.S. cities? They could even add other wonderful backdrops like Paris, Scotland and Frankfurt.
Dallas, Fort Worth: OK, I admit it, there really isn't anything pointing to a Grand Theft Auto set in Texas, not even in the twin cities of Dallas and Forth Worth. But can you imagine just how amazing that would be? You could throw San Antonio, El Paso and Houston in for good measure and create a modern western that would blend the best of Red Dead Redemption with the best of Grand Theft Auto. Evidence? Well, none. But between the drug cartels on the nearby Mexican border and the popularity of shows like Breaking Bad, it's not entirely crazy talk.
Miami: There's really not a lot of evidence pointing to a return to Florida. The state and almost all of its cities are prime settings for cooky, bizarre crime-laden stories, (Just ask Carl Hiaasen.) And it made for a solid outing in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. The thing is, nothing will ever beat out Miami in the '80s, so why return to the setting?
Vancouver, Canada: Why does every Grand Theft Auto need to take place in the U.S.? Why not in one of the most "liveable" cities in the world? You don't need to set a sprawling open-world game in a violent city to make it fun. You can corrupt the city, make it violent. Also Vancouver starts with a big giant V. There is also a huge beaver mafia, which would make a worthy adversary.
Those are our best guesses. What are yours?
In a year full of headlines about Apple, Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft, it's possible to think that the forces that shape the future of what we'll play and where we'll play it is now solely in the hands of the people who make plastic and metal boxes. More »