In December's inevitable 2008 retrospectives, GTA IV will no doubt be heralded as the greatest game of 2008. Yet at the same time, for some hardcore gamers, Rockstar's magnum opus has become a victim of its own success.
T3.com polled a number of games magazine and website editor's recently, asking them their thoughts and opinions on where the Houser brother's and Rockstar North might go next with the 11-year-old series, after the launch of GTA: Chinatown Wars (DS) and the GTA IV DLC episodes early in 2009. And whether or not they thought GTA might be losing its 'edge'.
While most editors were sanguine about the latest outing in the series, NGamer editor Nick Ellis, did stick his neck on the line (Rockstar's PR department are fearsome!) and suggest that GTA IV was, at times, predictable and not really that edgy.
"It was always going to be about shooting up rivals and driving very fast around a large city," said Ellis. "There was nothing overtly controversial in the main game, and running over pedestrians rapidly gets boring, especially when you're busted for the umpteenth time."
Hype, substance, the future...
SPOnG.com's editor Tim Smith made the point that Rockstar is guilty, if anything, of over-promising, telling T3: "Take-Two's hype machine, fuelled brilliantly with hot air from the mainstream media [and] the collusion of the gaming press, lead to expectations far outstretching the reality."
In terms of the future of the GTA franchise, from a technical point of view, game designer Daniel Boutros opines: "If GTA 4 executed narrative AI; arguably the next major industry design innovation to come, that would've been the design leap proportional to that which GTA 3 achieved with the open-world structure that pretty much changed the entire business, much like Streetfighter 2 did way, way back in the day."
And what of future Grand Theft Auto storylines, settings and characters?
"In all likelihood, they'll mimic the Vice City to San Andreas leap of last-generation," thinks PSM3 editor Dan Dawkins, "since PS3 offers huge scope to 'reinvent' both locations."
Though Dawkins would rather see Rockstar take the game to London and "make a decent post-modern Guy Ritchie style gangster game, without the hammy east-end feel of Sony's OK'ish, but flawed, Getaway games."
NGamer's Nick Ellis wants the next GTA set in London, but heading back to Victorian times and dropping "all that laboured playing pool/getting drunk/going bowling with your mates stuff."
Head over to T3.com to read more on the future of Rockstar's mighty Grand Theft Auto series.