With GTA 5 releasing this spring, it’s never too late to speculate on how the newest entry in the Grand Theft Auto franchise will impress and innovate. Though Rockstar has only announced the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of GTA 5, an online petition for a PC version has reached over 100,000 signatures. Suffice it to say, any gamer who doesn’t get to play the newest GTA on their platform of choice will feel left out.
But what about handheld owners? GTA: Chinatown Wars was an extremely well received entry in the franchise and since its release in 2009, the PS Vita and 3DS have come into the market. Another entry in the Chinatown Wars designed with the handhelds in mind would be a hit; but is there any chance of GTA 5 appearing in some form?
The PS Vita’s multiple “cross” functions with the PS3 could make Sony’s struggling handheld perfect for a unique GTA 5 experience. The company has claimed the union of the the two systems rivals what Nintendo has accomplished with the Wii U and an extension of GTA 5 for the PS Vita would be the prime opportunity for Sony to back up their claim.
First and foremost, if GTA 5 were to appear on the Vita it should not be a port or even a standalone version of the game. The last thing the Vita needs is a mediocre port with touchscreen controls and Rockstar wouldn’t allow one to be released in the first place. Instead, the game would be better suited as a way to supplement the PS3 version.
At the most basic level, GTA 5 on the Vita could act as a separate controller with a mini-map or other HUD elements displayed on the screen similar to the upcoming Guacamelee. One of the best uses of the Vita for GTA 5 would be in how it takes advantage of the three playable characters. The potential for two player co-op can’t be ignored. A mission demoed for the press described how all three characters are used in different ways for a mission. Two friends could play together to wreck havoc across Los Santos.
Perhaps a more intriguing use of the Vita is how it can operate as a second screen and what it could show gamers not visible on their televisions. In GTA 5, players have the ability to switch over to any three playable characters on the fly. Just because the other characters aren’t being used doesn’t mean they don’t do anything. They might be in the middle of stealing a car or eating food when control is resumed. A clever use of the Vita would be to use its screen as a kind of monitor to observe the other characters just “living their lives.” Instead of having to navigate through a menu, the player could have everything at their fingertips. A few swipes could change viewpoints, change characters, and change the experience.
The PS Vita is definitely capable of running some aspects of GTA 5, if not the full game. Smart use of the handheld’s strengths would actually create a better experience than a simple port would. Yes it would be nice to set nav points on the map or select weapons through the touch screen; but an ambitious game like GTA 5 should strive for more. Rockstar has always innovated with each new Grand Theft Auto game and using the Vita could open up a lot of new potential. It might even help improve the Vita’s reputation in the coming year.