FAST cars, speedboats, heli- copters and guns – the next instalment in the most successful gaming franchise of all time looks unmistakably GTA.
But what’s this — a female character in the starring role?
That’s new, and a welcome departure for a brilliant video game series whose Hollywood-beating thrills and biting satire are often overshadowed by outrage over its violence and accusations of misogyny.
A decade after the launch of GTA 5 — which has generated £6BILLION so far, making it the most profitable entertainment product ever — the long-awaited trailer for GTA 6 has been rushed out early by makers Rockstar after it leaked online.
Last night Guinness World Records said it was the most viewed video game reveal on YouTube within 24 hours, clocking up 86million views and counting.
The introduction of Lucia, the female protagonist in GTA 6, is a landmark in gaming.
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This isn’t Lara Croft swinging through jungle ruins in a tight T-shirt.
We can expect Lucia to have depth and great dialogue.
The 90-second clip, featuring Lucia and male partner-in-crime Jason, doesn’t give away much about the plot.
But the soundtrack of Tom Petty song Love Is A Long Road, with the lyric, “There was a girl I knew, she said she cared about me”, suggests a love story.
Presumably after a jailbreak (or is the opening prison scene clip from the story’s finale?), we see Lucia and Jason holding up a store at gunpoint.
It looks more Bonnie & Clyde than Natural Born Killers, offering a different dynamic to the three male anti-heroes of GTA 5.
The game, said to have cost $2billion to make, sees a return to Vice City, based on Miami and introduced in GTA’s 2002 incarnation.
The ten years that have elapsed since the most recent game have thrown up new phenomena to endear GTA to a new generation.
The trailer features a TikTok-style social media platform showing footage of hard-partying Vice City in all its sleazy glory — rooftop parties, neon lights, strip clubs and, er, an alligator wandering into a store.
The visuals look breathtaking, making full use of the super- powered PS5 and Xbox Series X/S consoles for which the initial release will be available (there’s no mention yet of a PC version, but that usually comes a few months later).
The bad news is that the game is not out until 2025 — meaning we can expect a long year of hype, excitement and debate.
For if gaming is the new rock ’n’ roll, GTA is the Sex Pistols.
The nation shrieked in disgust when the punk band’s guitarist Steve Jones swore on the Bill Grundy TV show in 1976, but times were changing and now the band are held up as anti-establishment icons. Grand Theft Auto launched in 1997 with rudimentary 2D graphics and a simple, unusual and anarchic premise — we played as the baddie.
We stole cars, robbed banks and drove on the pavement from the safety of our armchairs.
We had thrilling car chases with cops, always with a perfect soundtrack.
The cartoon violence was far tamer than that in revered TV shows such as The Sopranos, which launched soon afterwards.
But as technology and graphics evolved, later versions of the game got more realistic.
GTA’s open world became vast and seedy, and the criticism snowballed, especially over its depiction of women, rarely more than bit-part annoyances who generally met a terrible fate.
The critics had a point there.
Although the game is clearly rated 18, any child who stumbled across GTA 5 in dad’s PS4 expecting to play Fifa would have seen inappropriate and upsetting content, some of it sexual.
But GTA has often been unfairly maligned — violence and sexual content are as much a mainstay of BBC drama as they are of 18-rated video games.
The inclusion of badass Lucia should go some way to silencing the game’s critics.
The trailer for GTA 6 opens with her in prison and being asked why she ended up there.
“Bad luck, I guess,” she replies, and we’re left with a firm impression we’re going to like this outlaw.
UNVEILED by Rockstar just before midnight on Monday, the eagerly anticipated trailer is YouTube’s No1 trending video and had last night clocked up a staggering:
81 million views
8.3 million likes