I’m sure that like me you have all pored over Rockstar’s debut trailer for GTA V. Rewind, play, rewind, slow-mo, it’s all part of the fun of trying to decipher any clues left in the background for us. So here’s the Past the Pixels official list of observations and screen captures. Oh, and in case you’ve been unconscious these past few hours, here’s the trailer to get you up to speed.
WARNING: Yes, some of this is wild speculation based off of a single frame. But that’s what us videogame fans do, we love the anticipation, guesswork and thrill of the surprises that only GTA can do. So let’s just let our imaginations run wild and go through the trailer.
So, obvious observation first, San Andreas is back! Now onto what you might not have spotted.
The first scene displays a sandy beach at what is perhaps sunrise. Straight away I was thinking “OMFG VICE CITY!”, but that notion was soon tempered. There’s a dog running around with the couple, perhaps (that word may appear a lot in this article) there will be more animals than just dogs? If San Andreas has a zoo then I’d definitely like to go visit that with my character. Not too sure PETA would like me shooting up giraffes, but whatever.
Also, there’s a surfboard leaning against the beach hut. We’ve had many mini-games and different methods of transport in the GTA games through the years, who’s to say surfing the shores of San Andreas won’t happen? maybe not, but even some paddle boarding would be a cool activity.
Cut to the boardwalk. Well there’s joggers, harassing them will be fun. From the banner tied to the railings we can see he name of the pier is the ‘Pleasure Pier’, and there’s a ferris wheel and roller coaster. I wanna ride the roller coaster and snipe people from the top of the ferris wheel please. There’s also some huge hills in the background, our first indication of a diversion from the industrial-based Liberty City seen in GTA IV. There’s a “no fishing zone” sign behind the runner in the pink shorts, shame. And that guy in the purple shirt is wearing a scarf, in the sun. He needs shot.
The iconic “Rockstar Games presents” screen, with very few exceptions this is almost a stamp of quality in itself. Not too much to snoop for in this scene. There’s a helicopter, the palm trees and sunshine make it feel a bit Californian, especially after seeing the boardwalk. And there’s some huge skyscrapers, one of which is still under construction.
So it’s a golf course, not a lot else to tell really. Yay golf carts! After the driving range mini-game in The Ballad of Gay Tony it’s fair to assume that Rockstar North may take things a step further with a fully playable 9/18 holes? Tried my best to squint and zoom in on the board but I just can’t make out the name of the course (it’s a par 3 and 169 yards though in case you’re interested). Also, there’s a blimp in the corner of the scene, I want to fly that.
So obvious thing first, there’s a jet ski. Cranes in the background, lots of ’em, chance of there being a substantial docks district then. The name of the jet ski is a “SPEEDOPHILE 2000”, and yes I laughed just as much as you did.
If there was one thing my Twitter feed had been buzzing with in the run up to the trailer, it was people wanting more wilderness and less city to play in. Well that wish may have been answered if the scale of those mountains is anything go by. Lady on the left is sporting a ground mat under her bag, let’s go camping! Hey if it’s good enough for John Marston…
Look the roofs folding into the trunk, that’s pretty cool. There’s another couple of cars in the scene too and, oh, yeah that girl getting that guy’s attention as she walks past. Look beyond the flirting though and you can see a real attention to detail, cardboard boxes, chipped paint on walls and pillars, empty cardboard boxes on the pavements. As the camera angle changes the overturned bin can be seen with its contents strewn across the pavement. It’s little things like that which show off Rockstar’s excellent attention to detail.
That is one large wind farm, gives a sense of scale and another clear nod to more variety of locales than city streets. The truck/car driving up the dirt road has some pretty nice looking dust effects coming off of it. Can’t quite make out the logo on the side of the turbine in the foreground sadly. It is number 78 though, that’s a lot of turbines.
Wow that’s a really nice house. Note the contrast between the orderly, organised upper level of the house with its telescope (usable?) and table and chairs, to the trashed lower level. Looks like there’s been a bit of a party on the floor below with what looks like a speaker in the bottom-right corner having been knocked over, and some glasses left on the coffee table. The house in the background’s foundations show these houses are built on a hillside, perhaps the superstar mansions of Vinewood Hills?
Street signs are always an easy way to try and work out locations. Here we’ve got two, Los Puerta Freeway and a turn off to Little Seoul. Puerta is Spanish for door, so yeah, I got nothing to give you on that one sorry. Little Seoul sounds like San Andreas’ own Korea Town.
So it’s an outdoor gym called Muscle Sands. In San Andreas we had to pump iron to keep CJ’s muscle definition, there’s a possibility this is what gyms around the city could be used for. The Muscle Sands sign also tells us that this is on Vespucci Beach, so that could be the same beach we saw in the opening seconds of the trailer. What is it with the bins? Every one has been overflowing with rubbish, is there a public services strike in the city?
Cannot not mention that ridiculous jumper/trousers/shoes combination this chap is sporting, at least they’re using the full colour spectrum. Sign on the left partially torn off says “going out of business sale”, another nod to economic recession. The texture detail in the streets, walls and posters is stunning. And there’s that guy from the boardwalk sauntering along with his purple shirt and scarf on, still nobody has shot him.
So it looks like the Mile High Club is under construction, note the name of the contractors is STD Contractors, I lol’d. The crane to the left has a ladder attached, every chance it’ll be scalable and usable. Trying to pick up random cars with a crane and drop them from a great height would be fun. That huge building towering over all in the background? That’s a bank, the red symbol in the middle looks possibly Chinese/Japanese.
And now it gets very interesting. Who is this man? Twitter buzz suggests an older Tommy Vercetti. With Tommy being such a loved character (and also the protagonist of my favourite GTA game) it may be a nice bit of fan-service to see him return. The skyscraper under construction here looks like the same one that can be seen in the distance of the boardwalk scene.
The crop duster from GTA: San Andreas makes its return. In the original game the pesticide released served no real purpose, but from the coughing of these workers it looks like you’ll be able to take the plane a joy ride and spray people. The vineyard location shows yet again more variety in locales.
So here we have a man in a boiler suit and gas mask, sporting an assault rifle and a bag. This lad is definitely on the rob. He looks very much like the gentleman who was on the balcony earlier in the trailer, his hairline is pretty much identical. The gas mask is one to contemplate, could merely be to conceal his face, but perhaps it will also be a defence against tear gas and suchlike in combat. Note the weapon is silenced, they don’t want to make too much noise it seems. I don’t recall silenced weapons in GTA IV, maybe a stealth element to missions will be an option? From the glass display cabinets and decor that can be seen as the door is kicked open, it appears this is a jewellery store and not a bank.
Lovely looking convertible here, license plate (like all I’ve seen) registered to San Andreas. Can once again see the attention to detail in the backgrounds, so many signs and posters speed past. There’s a for rent sign with what appears to be Wolf’s Property Co on it, I can’t recall any Mr or Ms Wolf in any of the previous games.
Again we see the contrast between the rich and poor with unemployed/homeless men standing idly as sports car drive past in the background. Also in the background are skyscapers encased in windows, it wouldn’t be surprising to find out the financial district is at the end of the drive through this impoverished area. And again litter and cardboard boxes are strewn around the pavement.
The post truck driving past the man hammering a foreclosed sign into the ground. The “we aim not to lose it” slogan could be taken as a message from Rockstar North to both its fans and competition as a declaration of intent, the GTA games certainly have “it”. That intangible factor that describes quality, fun and all those other positive adjectives in one. The foreclosure outside the house again highlights that disparity in wealth, coming right off the previous scene.
Booze and hookers, now we know for sure it’s a GTA game! My buddy and fellow journo Nick Simberg had an interesting insight into this scene: “DON’T PICK UP THOSE HOOKERS! THEY’RE ACTUALLY DUDES IN DRESSES!” He makes a fair point though, transexual/gay hookers would be something new and show a bit of sex equality in a weird way. The whole argument is a mine field so I’ll leave it at that. Yet another liquor store featured, these places and grocery stores are almost the only shops not closed down in the trailer.
That sports car went past ridiculously fast didn’t it? If you look frame by frame at one point it looks like the driver is the same man from the jewellery store robbery and the balcony earlier, it’s the hairline that gives it away. Notice the shop sign in the background reads “Glory Holes” again with the lols Rockstar.
Anyone else think this looks like an older, homeless Niko? Poor guy. So his sign says he wants cash for beer dope/dex and I think hookers. Then it states “At least I’m not bullshitting U!” I appreciate the man’s honesty. Street signs over his shoulder point to the East Perro Freeway and East Los Santos.
Yep that is most definitely a fighter jet, with missiles too. It flies past at a crazy speed, the size of this map must be impressive to be able to fly about in one of these. Anyone who complained about a lack of tanks and other serious military hardware in GTA IV can feel just a little bit happier seeing this.
The bouncer here is throwing a patron out of the Tequi-La-La bar/nightclub out on his ass. In the Ballad of Gay Tony we had to do some crowd control as Luis Lopez. Nice superbike in the foreground too. At the very end of the scene, and I mean the last few frames, two men can be seen running from behind the tree towards the downed man.
This shot really gives a scope of just how vast the area in this game will be. In just one still we can see the city and its surrounding countryside, as well as the hills. Notice the solitary blimp hovering above the city, it’s featured a few times throughout the trailer, can’t help but think it somehow plays a part in the game.
Next we see some more police chase action. In the brief look at the car chase the words “Obey & Survive” are written on the police car next to the Los Santos PD badge. Protecting and serving never have been high on the police agenda throughout the series. This guy trying to outrun the cops is dressed similarly to what CJ carter of GTA: San Andreas dressed like, that may be deliberate or not.
Following the chase we see a burned out car on the freeway with an ambulance in the background. Before cutting to this iconic Vinewood sign with what looks like a private jet flying past. Commercial airline travel between airports may well be a feature. And then the screen fades to black as the jet flys off, again that blimp is sitting in the scene! We’re left with the GTA V logo and a gnawing feeling of “I really wish I knew when this was coming out”.
Overall from this trailer there’s a real sense of this being an area right in the middle of a recession. In the trailer we’re shown obscene wealth one second, and urban decay the next. We all know the GTA games like to have their own take on real-world happenings. With the foreclosure sign, the homeless on the underpass, and the sheer volume of litter on the roads, there is definitely a nod to the economic recession we’ve all been battling through in our own lives. How that conflict or contrast between rich and poor plays out in the game’s storyline (if it does at all), motivations of its characters and so on, remains to be seen.
There’s so much going on in the trailer’s 84 seconds that I’ve managed to rack up over 2,500 words talking about it. And I’ve not even gone into detail on the Small Faces song playing, or the narrator and the content of what he said! No doubt millions more words are being spilled onto message boards and IM chats right this moment poring over every detail and sign. So if you’ve found something I missed or I’ve perhaps misinterpreted something, leave a comment and let’s get this discussion started.