Because of the recent Battlefield 3 DDOS attacks, the double XP weekend was pushed to a new date. Today EA revealed the new date: May 23-27 — a full 96 hours of double XP.
The Double XP will work as usual, with player’s scores doubling at
the end of each round. It’s a great way to quickly earn some new weapon
and vehicle unlocks if you haven’t already unlock everything.
The double XP weekend is open to all Battlefield 3 players, not just Premium members.
Theft Auto 5 (or Grand Theft Auto V, to give it its correct roman
numeral-flavoured moniker) is unarguably the most anticipated game of
the year. With front-page exclusives, multi-storey murals and millions
of web clicks for the slenderest of cut-scene-encrusted trailers, Rockstar Games' September-set new sandbox for Xbox 360 and PS3 is the hottest of gaming properties.
Indeed, GTA V's delay from spring to autumn suddenly feels all the
crueler now that spring is actually in the air and not just a word
printed on a schedule. It's so close our joypad-calloused hands can
almost touch it.
We say "almost" with a heavier heart than most, too, because T3 has had
an up-close, behind-closed-doors live demo of its inner workings, the
gameplay behind the cinematic trailers; our eyes have gorged on Los
Santos's spectacularly detailed locales and multifaceted heist
potential, yet said hands stayed firmly controller-less the whole time.
GTA 5: Characters
Yet what we've seen has our mitts itching undeniably for a joypad or
two, as Rockstar has rethought the mechanics of GTA more than the overly
familiar, wise-cracking trailers suggest.
The new three-pronged structure has you jumping between Henry
Hill-esque bank robber-turned-witness protection case Michael, car repo
man Franklin and war-vet trailer-dweller Trevor with a push of a button,
a character wheel jumping up at the bottom right.
This split-personality disorder doesn't just act as a quick way round
when exploring the frankly intimidatingly sized city (three and half
times the land mass of Red Dead Redemption, reads the post-show fact
sheet). It's also used as a strategic device throughout missions, to,
say, cover all vantage points or execute actions in different locations
In fact, there are three different types of switch options at play:
auto, as some individual missions require completion by a certain
character; cut-scene, in which you're prompted to change persona to
advance the central plot; and free choice, where you can use any
character you wish, dependent on personal taste. We're told there will
be plenty of all three.
Interestingly, we notice the character wheel has four divisions, not
three, the last one greyed out suggestively. Naturally, we ask why, and
are told it's to do with multiplayer, which isn't being discussed.
We can but hypothesise that a co-op campaign with a mate helping you
out in heists would be all kinds of ace. Like the second Kane &
Lynch's Fragile Alliance multiplayer, but, y'know, good. Well, that's
GTA 5: Gameplay
In fact, we have a hunch co-operative heists are going to spawn a
whole new genre of brag video on YouTube this year. We realise we keep
saying heists a lot, and that's because GTA V has taken its
predecessor's much-loved Three-Leaf Clover mission not just for its
action set-pieces but much of its narrative.
Sure, there's loads of other stuff to do on your own, as ever. One side
mission sees Michael outrun the paparazzi to rescue an A-lister from
their prying zooms (was the $150 tip necessary, though? Doesn't she know
who I am?).
There are even self-contained hunting and base jumping mini-games, among
others, and we spied a Blazing Tattoos, ink fans. Yet the story is
pushed forward by these bringing togethers of the three protagonists.
We're promised the full Reservoir Dogs routine: hiring goons by skill
set (up to 12 a team), location scouting, escape planning, getaway car
stealing and costume sourcing (bagsy the Ex Presidents masks), even Joe
Cabot's ageing whiteboard.
Do you pick an all-round strong team, or select a talented weakling who
can crack a safe but get offed in gun fire so you can make off with a
heftier cut? In our mind we're planning a devilish Dark Knight-esque
scheme of last-man standing, but Rockstar won't confirm if this will be
possible. Go on, you know it makes sense.
Our interest is certainly piqued at this strategic, Football
Manager-esque take on the crime underworld, the return of San Andreas'
upgradeable stat system adding another layer of RPG-esque depth and
mission ownership underneath the action (a brief foray into scuba-diving
shipwrecks amid sharks explaining why you would ever max out "lung
capacity"). But unsurprisingly it's action our eyeballs are given.
GTA 5: Combat
We're thrust straight into the heat of one particular heist, straight
out of, er, Heat (the old "block the road with a big van and ram them
with another big van" routine), weapons of choice some dust trucks,
boiler suits and a set of horror-film masks. Apparently it's a "Blitz
Play", not an actual "Heist" – they are differentiated in- game by the
amount of planning required and the size of the payoff – but it looks
Rather than played for japes as the cut-scenes suggest, though, the
tension builds like a scene from Drive, all pulsing bass lines and light
blurs, an atmospheric '80s-esque soundtrack rising and falling
contextually. We can only guess how affecting it will be when you're not
only controlling it, but have personally planned all aspects of the
heist you're executing.
With the security van blown and goods commandeered, it's into a police
stand-off. Michael has scarpered with the package, so the remaining two
fight off the fuzz from in and around industrial estate architecture,
environments exploding around them.
The use of the character-switch button becomes apparent immediately, the
player skipping between their perspectives smoothly to first fend off
and eventually corner enemies, effectively controlling both team-mates
at once. The toggled-off character turns to AI support act when not
controlled, hiding and firing in cover in self-preservation.
Noticeable firefight refinements show a wider field of vision when lining up a mark over your shoulder, a handy Max Payne 3-esque
combat roll for evading an onslaught, and an even handier little 'X'
appearing over the reticule to signify a dead enemy. Any clarification
we can get in the heat of battle is gratefully received, thank you very
Just when we think the police may be taking control, the player switches
to Michael, now miles away with a very good quality sniper scope in his
possession, and takes out the remaining coppers. For a finishing touch,
the old-reliable rocket launcher comes out to destroy the chopper
overhead. It's a classic GTA moment re-imagined, and it's exhaustingly
good entertainment, even as a viewer.
GTA 5: The World
Throughout our hour-long demo, Los Santos feels truly alive, whether
you're paragliding above dirt tracks coursing with ATVs as adrenaline
junkie Franklin, grabbing an abandoned speedboat, Far Cry 3-style,
as Trevor after waking amidst a passed-out throng of familiar biker
gang The Lost, or just being over-run by night-walking weirdos on
Vinewood Boulevard. These feel like lives being lived; over-the-top,
occasionally homicidal lives, but lives all the same.
Unusually, the entire city is available from the start, rather than held
back for you to unlock, showing confidence in its confines, a want for
it to be explored and enjoyed as a realistic space.
Similarly, your smartphone is again the natural hub of much of your
non-action activity, but this too is ramped up. Your iFruit (ho ho) can
now access the internet directly and take photos, popping up organically
on-screen for a snap that can be shared on Rockstar's Social Club
instantly as you would any real-life social-networking app (take that,
PS4 Share button).
Sure, we're inevitably thrust back into "game" world with talk of
"special abilities" that can be built up for each character, but even
these have a touch of heightened reality about them.
War vet Trevor can dish out and take more damage than anyone (fair
dues), speed demon Franklin can slow time when in cars for last-minute
U-turns (makes sense), while Michael indulges in a familiar bit of a
bullet time gunfire-dodging (because, well, he looks a lot like Max
While you expect depth from a developer who's made creating sprawling
virtual cities its living, GTA 5 hints at more. Not just in sheer size,
but in interaction, the random residents and oddballs that send you off
on sub- mission tangents less scripted diversions, more part of the ebb
and flow, each of the three-amigo protagonists' lives moving on
dramatically while you're choosing to control another.
GTA 5: Verdict
Yet these are still just hints, small tasters of what Rockstar has
under the hood, and all our strained peepers can garner in a 60-minute
sitting. Hopefully in the coming months our hands will be able to join
in the fun and we can judge whether the most anticipated game of the
year is on its way to being the best. But our eyeballs say it's looking
GTA 5 release date: 17 September 2013
GTA 5 price: TBC