The internet was set ablaze on November 2nd, following the release of the debut trailer for Grand Theft Auto V. And just as we thought it was everything and nothing at the same time, it seems as though the video was cleverly targeted in a way that it would get GTA purists’ (those missing the days of San Andreas) blood pumping with the promise of a return to the sunshine state as well as some series favorites such as planes and mini games. At the same time it seems that much of the game’s location and perhaps overall theme was completely thrown out there for the taking — it was all a matter of decoding it. I think that I’ve managed to have done just that.
Whenever Rockstar sets up a title they tend to use historical references, or symbolic dual meanings when naming the locations and cities in their titles. Liberty City in Grand Theft Auto IV is a great example of that. The game’s equivalent to Manhattan was named Algonquin which happened to be the name of the Native American tribe that at one point inhabited the Island — the same tribe that eventually traded it in exchange for a sack of beans to the Dutch. Even across the river we had the game’s version of New Jersey in “Alderney”, which just so happens to be the name of an island in the English Channel next to… you guessed it, the Island of Jersey. Coincidence? Not in the slightest.
When you sit down and take a look at even the game’s different neighborhoods you’ll learn that even those aren’t named at random. All of these things help Rockstar tell little stories within a story. The trick is being able to catch and understand all of the off-shoot and subtle references being thrown at the player, but when there’s so much to do in all of these titles, too often this level of detail flies under most people’s radar.
Rockstar sent out an official press release following the trailer announcing the series’ return to Los Santos, the GTA equivalent to Los Angeles, except this time around it would take place in modern-day. While the world let out a collective “duh” after having watched the trailer 4.6 million times (on YouTube as of this writing) I was busy trying to figure out what would be the “bold new direction” that the series would be taking.
What I came up with is that we’re going south of the border. That’s right, Mexico or whatever will be its GTA equivalent, here we come. And hey, what’s more bad ass than an international criminal, right?
The key was a short snippet from the trailer (see above) where the driver is headed North on “Los Puerta Fwy”. So why is this significant? Well for starters the road is definitely heading into Los Santos from the south and we know that because of the “Little Seoul” (what will undoubtedly be the GTA version of Koreatown in LA) sign being a clear indicator of that. The other significant piece of information here is that it’s Interstate 5, which in real life runs all the way down from Oregon, through Los Angeles and down to San Diego where it ends at the Mexico-United States border.
When you translate Los Puerta, or more importantly “Puerta” it means door or entry way in Spanish. San Diego and its surrounding hills just so happen to be a door for illegal aliens to make their way from Mexico and into the United States. Besides people though, you know what else makes it’s way through? A whole lot of drugs.
Rumors have circulated that this title’s overall story will revolve largely around drugs. Nothing helped to solidify that more than the section of the trailer which showcased a plane spraying pesticides on “crops” that were being tended to by what appears to be field workers. I have a strange suspicion that they weren’t picking fruits — but it does help re-enforce the idea that we will be visiting Mexico (or it’s equivalent) in one capacity or another.
Another important piece of information that RockStar is indirectly telling us is just how broke people are. While there’s some shots of the rich and well-off jogging on the boardwalk or playing golf, the trailer is for the most part filled with depressing shots of home foreclosure, the homeless and the hopeless. As of today, California has the highest unemployment rate in the country, just short of 12%. It safe to assume that Rockstar will be using that backdrop to set the table as to why the protagonist (narrator) from the story won’t be getting that early retirement he had hoped for.
One thing that people tend to do more when the going gets tough is abuse alcohol and drugs. In times of need, while other industries are struggling and businesses start shutting down, people still have that need to feel good. It’s because of that the story in GTA V will likely revolve heavily around the international drug trade. From production (the crops), to transportation, to how it hits the streets is something that players will probably delve into in the upcoming title.
As of this writing, a Twitter user by the name of @torontojack233, who claimed to have worked on the title (and seems a bit disgruntled) decided it be funny to break his NDA and release a screen of the Los Santos map (above). And while the details that have been getting thrown around about how big the GTA V version of San Andreas is already, I think it would be silly to assume that this game would NOT feature multiple cities. Any less than the number that was in San Andreas, no matter how big or expansive, would be a step in the wrong direction.
After looking back at Rockstar’s history and being a fan of the series and the directional style the studio normally takes, everything that I stated above is all within reach. And although the trailer left a lot to be desired, it did manage to set the table as to what to expect — you just had to really be looking for it. Now don’t be surprised when you find yourself on a corner in Los Santos slinging fresh Mexican dope when Grand Theft Auto V releases sometime next year (hoping it releases next year of course).