July 9, 2013 at 11:41 AM ET
After months of feverish anticipation about "Grand Theft Auto V," developer Rockstar released the first gameplay trailer ton Tuesday.
The first full-fledged console title in the "Grand Theft Auto" universe since 2008, "GTA V" introduces a number of novel gameplay elements to what is gradually becoming a repetitive sub-genre of video games designed to give users unfettered access to wanton criminal activity in sprawling, life-like metropolises. For the first time in the series, players will control three different protagonists — each of which have their own unique quirks and appetite for destruction.
In the new trailer, Rockstar gives a glimpse into how this promising concept will work out in "GTA V." When you're just roaming around the city carjacking people or completing other miscellaneous opportunities, you can jump between any of the three characters at the press of a button, dropping in on one of them in the middle of, say, a frantic car chase with the cops. Turns out, its not just GTA players who act like sociopaths — the characters themselves do, too.
During the game's scripted narrative, Rockstar said that the three characters "will have to set up and pull of a series of increasingly audacious heists." In a move that makes the game sound more akin to a squad-based tactical shooter like "Mass Effect" or even "Rainbow Six," the developer added that players will be able to plan out how to conduct these heists beforehand, selecting which characters to bring along and ultimately acting out their best laid plans. It seems like "Grand Theft Auto's" story is finally becoming as open-ended and dynamic as its game world has always been.
"Grand Theft Auto V" will be released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on September 17 — just in time to steal the last free moments gamers have before the next-generation consoles are released in November. Watch the trailer below.
Yannick LeJacq is a contributing writer for NBC News who has also covered technology and games for Kill Screen, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. You can follow him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq and reach him by email at: email@example.com.