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The Everything Guide: Grand Theft Auto V

The first trailer for Grand Theft Auto V debuted last week, causing no shortage of discussion, debate, and speculation regarding the next installment of Rockstar Games’ record-breaking franchise. Even after we got our first look at the game’s teaser, questions still surround the project – chief among them being “When will we get our hands on it?”

While we don’t have any answers for you on that, we do have lots of ways for you to prepare for the game’s arrival, get into a Grand Theft Auto state of mind – all perfectly legal, we assure you – and get up to speed with the franchise that has left an indelible mark on both the gaming industry and pop culture as we know it.

What to watch

When it comes to the tone of the Grand Theft Auto games, there’s no better film to watch than Brian DePalma’s 1983 classic Scarface. Starring a young Al Pacino as Cuban immigrant Tony Montana, the film follows his rise to power in the early ’80s Miami underworld – a journey that will feel awfully familiar to fans of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Along the same lines, watching some old episodes of Miami Vice will certainly echo the Vice City vibe, and offer a great reminder of how surreal the ’80s were in games, music, and television.

While the 1983 version of Scarface isn’t available via Netflix streaming video (though it is available via their DVD service), there are a number of other films you can check out to recreate that Grand Theft Auto vibe. For example, the original Scarface was a 1932 film set during the Prohibition Era that followed a similar narrative as DePalma’s film, and was the basis for Pacino’s memorable role. Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs and Jackie Brown both spend ample amounts of time in the seedy underbelly of urban society, and feature characters whose motivations are – like the Grand Theft Auto protagonists – less than a pure. Go ahead and sift through the “Crime Drama” and “Action-Packed Crime Stories” categories in Netflix, and you’re sure to find a few films capable of scratching your Grand Theft Auto itch.

Of course, part of the reason Grand Theft Auto is so popular is the controversy that tends to surround each installment of the series. If you’re looking for a refresher course on the mainstream media frenzy that helped make GTA what it is today, you need look no further than the ‘net for some of the epic political debates regarding the game – many of which involved disbarred attorney and moral crusader Jack Thompson.

Here’s a classic from the 2004 release day for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas that features Thompson on the NBC’s Today Show with the editor-in-chief of Sync magazine:

Conduct a quick video search for “Jack Thompson on video games” and you’ll find much, much more – including a few funny spoofs of Thompson’s frequent legal battles with game developers. Still, maybe the guy has a point – I mean, we wouldn’t want kids thinking they can run around using cheat codes to blow up sports cars with bazookas.

On that note, there are also a lot of great Grand Theft Auto parodies you can watch online, including a few with familiar actors offering their real-life takes on the GTA universe. Here’s Dave Chappelle’s Grand Theft Auto spoof:

What to play

Among the existing Grand Theft Auto titles, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas offered fans their first look at Los Santos, the California region that looks to be one of the primary settings for Grand Theft Auto V. It will be interesting to see how the area has changed between the events of San Andreas and GTA V, so a return to that 2004 title could be in order.

On top of that, RockstarGames just announced plans to release Grand Theft Auto III on iOS and Android devices this year in celebration of the game’s 10th anniversary. During our hands-on preview of the remastered GTA III, we were impressed with how well it played on the devices – and how fresh it felt in its new incarnation. While it hasn’t been released yet, it should be available before the end of the year – so that’s another project to keep an eye on for some Grand Theft Auto V pre-gaming.

Oh, and if mobile gaming is your thing and you haven’t tried out Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars yet, it’s one you can add to your iPad or iPhone cart right now.

What to listen to

One of the recurring, fan-favorite elements of the Grand Theft Auto franchise has been the radio programming on the various stations that broadcast throughout Liberty City, Los Santos, and the rest of the GTA world. Every gamer has their favorite station, it seems, and the Rockstar team has made the habit of getting into a car and turning on the radio as much a part of GTA’s virtual environment as it is in our real-world routines.

If you want to get a fix of GTA radio between now and the arrival of Grand Theft Auto V, you can pick up the Grand Theft Auto soundtracks on iTunes, Amazon, and elsewhere online. If you do decide to cruise around listening to one of the GTA stations, make sure to keep in mind that knocking over lampposts and running over pedestrians is not only frowned up in the real world, it could land you in jail. (And you’ll be in there so long you’ll miss the release of Grand Theft Auto V – and GTA VI andVII, for that matter.)

Where to go

We can’t speak for the West Coast approximations, but it’s no secret that Grand Theft Auto IV modeled much of its in-game scenery and geography on New York City. If you’re in the Big Apple between now and, well… whenever Grand Theft Auto V hits shelves… why not drop by some of the real-world locations that inspired the game?

You can check out a comprehensive list of some of the NYC locations that inspired GTA IV at the Serious Eats blog, but we can personally vouch for the Steinway Beer Garden – er, The Bohemian Beer Hall – in Astoria, NY.

Don’t worry, there’s significantly less warm beer and misogyny in the real-world version of the beer garden.

And there you have it, folks – everything you need to get primed for the arrival of Grand Theft Auto V. Sure, waiting is the hardest part when it comes to high-profile projects like this, but now you have more than enough things to do between now and your return to Los Santos and the GTA universe.