Sequels aren't just about expanding the previous game's remit; they're also about clarifying things, cutting away the unnecessary so the necessary can shine. Grand Theft Auto 5 is said to be as large as Red Dead Redemption, GTA IV and GTA: San Andreas combined, but it doesn't follow that everything you encountered in Liberty City is present and correct. Here are a few things that haven't made the final cut.
1. No characters from the PS2 era - er, except B-Dup
"The five PS2 games are one universe, and this is the high definition universe, so they don't co-exist," Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser told Game Informer in a mega-preview published yesterday. We're a bit confused by that, given that rapper Jayceon Terrell Taylor has claimed he's on-board to voice an HD version of Mark 'B Dup' Wayne.
2. No celebrities playing the main characters
If you're dreaming of controlling Bruce Campbell in GTA (and I'm aware that for some of you, controlling Bruce Campbell in some form is a key life milestone), take a break. "We've done two or three movie shoots for this game spread out through various three week shoots," Houser explained to GI (via CVG). "I don't think there would be many celebrities that would be available even if we wanted to spend the money on them for the amount that we've used them for."
Houser also feels that the presence of a big name can be creatively counter-productive. "When we went to PS3 and 360 I think it would become a distraction if you were like, 'well, that's a famous person.' Suddenly these characters start to feel like they were alive a lot more and you need that to sell them. As long as you have good actors, not knowing them actually is an advantage in terms of bringing the game to life. I can't see us moving past that for major parts in the game".
3. No RPG-style player customisation
You can buy clothes and improve nine character traits by performing the associated actions (hint: swim more to improve your lung capacity), but full-on unlockable moves and skills in the vein of, say, Batman are off the menu. There's no need to eat and no need to exercise.
4. No property-buying or territory mechanics
Last time we visited San Andreas, the city was a hotbed of contention split into different gang territories. As CJ, you could overrun another gang's territory by venturing within, starting a fight and taking out a few waves of reinforcements. It was also possible to buy individual properties. GTA 5 has abandoned these ideas, presumably with a view to focusing on the story, though we suspect rival Saints Row: The Third's exploration of the territories concept may have influenced the decision-making here too.
5. No romance
Given the scale of GTA 5's ensemble story, which sees main characters Trevor, Michael and Franklin pursuing complementary agendas, Houser has decided to withhold the possibility of player-initiated romance. For the moment, at least. "I don't think [we'll have romance], simply because of the nature of the characters," he reflected. "We weren't sure it would work, and we're definitely doing lots of other new stuff. We definitely would bring it back in the future. It just felt like it would be overly complex."
For more on what's made it into the box, read our feature GTA 5 - six reasons it's unlike any GTA ever made.