Grand Theft Auto V

Image source: GTA Wiki

It looks like GTA Online's infamous Vinewood Casino, a high-roller joint that's been in the game since it launch but has never actually been accessible, is finally opening its doors.   

The opening of the casino was actually rumored earlier this month: As reported by GamesRadar, GTA Online dataminer TezFunz2 dug up information revealing changes to an area near the casino, including changes to props that would make it appear as though the casino was under construction. Those changes, which included construction barriers and other equipment, became visible on June 6, according to the GTA Wiki.

Details on how the casino will work haven't been announced yet—as far as I've been able to tell, the tweet is the extent of the announcement so far—but I expect that more information will be forthcoming shortly. I imagine Joe will be paying it a visit in short order, too.

Grand Theft Auto V - (John Walker)

This week: Rude swears! Writing about more interesting games than the ones you boring people keep buying! And battle advice to people who’ve been dead 1,800 years! It’s some Steam Charts.


Grand Theft Auto V

Kazutoshi Iida designed and released three games in his career before changing paths, eventually becoming a game design professor at Japanese universities. The most famous of those games is probably Doshin the Giant, released in the west for the GameCube in 2002. In it you walk around a large open world as a friendly faced giant, terraforming the world to help humans build villages and make them happy. 

Like Doshin, Iida's other games were hard to classify, and when I spoke to him at the Japanese indie festival Bitsummit, it was clear he doesn't think about games just in terms of platformers or shooters or other typical genres. For example, in his first game design course, he doesn't teach students how to use Unity or build a basic Mario clone. He makes them draw.

"In the first year, I teach students about drawing, about how to observe things in the world, and how to recreate them on paper without using technology, because I feel that's a very important part of the game process," Iida said through an interpreter. "Not using words, but using images to copy things that you see. I want people to observe things and draw them, but also to view how unique their drawing is compared to others.

"If 10 people took this bottle of water and drew it, they would all be different. Each person would have their own perspective on this bottle of water. One way to do game design is to take a game you like and add to it. But if you do that, the game won't be very unique. So I try to teach the students how to have a unique core, how to build on their own ideas by first teaching them how to do these drawings."

Iida is clearly as thoughtful a teacher as he was a game designer. He really went against the grain when he was a designer, in an era where "art games" were all but nonexistent on consoles. I thought he'd have something especially enlightening to say when I asked him what what games he finds interesting today. But it turns out he loves Grand Theft Auto just as much as everybody else.

Iida speaking at Bitsummit

"Not a Japanese developer, but Rockstar Games is one of my favorites," he said. I pointed out that GTA is about as far away from Doshin the Giant (first released in Japan on the N64 in 1999) as you can get. 

"Doshin the Giant was kind of an open world game, and also the idea for a sandbox is kind of something that I think Doshin the Giant helped introduce to the world. And maybe not directly influenced Rockstar Games, but maybe kind of influenced them, at the same time. One thing I like about the games is that there's an open world environment, but that's not the only part of the game. There's way more to it than just a big open world."

It all comes full circle. Iida said that he likes GTA 3 and 4, but 5 had an especially big impact on him, because he could see how influences from tons of different mobster movies—Italian mafia, Japanese yakuza, American mob—were all combined. 

There's a lesson in that for his students that goes back to the drawings he has them do. Perspective and observation are important.

"Kojima Productions is probably trying to do this as well," he said. "I know Kojima personally and know Kojima really really likes movies. He watches an impossible amount of movies and has taken inspiration from some of them. That's definitely a way to create something unique: To observe things from movies or novels, or even just collections of pictures. But not just to watching them in a normal way. You have to be excessive about it. You have to watch every single movie you can watch, doing this one thing, so you can draw inspiration, a little bit here, a little bit there. That's one way to create something unique. He talked about drawing pictures, but it's also important to observe anything you can, whatever you can."

As for his favorite GTA character? For that answer, Iida didn't need an interpreter.

"Trevor," he said with a chuckle.

Grand Theft Auto V - (John Walker)

Good hello. Please, grab hold and sit, for this is some Steam Charts.


Grand Theft Auto V

A former Rockstar employee has come forward and shared their story of how they were sexually assaulted by a member of the studio's top executive team.

The incident, which occurred back in 2014 but has come to light now after a thorough Kotaku investigation, involves Jeronimo Barrera, who was Rockstar's vice president of product development.

Barrera quietly left Rockstar after 20 years last December, but during his time at the company he was feared by staff as a volatile boss happy to dole out threats of firings - and actual firings - on a whim.

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Grand Theft Auto V - (John Walker)

Hello person. This is the Steam Charts, the weekly round-up of the top-grossing PC games on the online store Steam. We write it cynically to collect your clicks, and then we take those clicks and we use them to poke innocent orphans in their stupid orphan eyes.


Grand Theft Auto V

Ray tracing is the hot new thing in video game graphics - so hot in fact that Sony's already announced the PlayStation 5 will be capable of it. So we're starting to see existing games with the tech enabled - with impressive results.

Digital Foundry has already reported on Half-Life 2, Minecraft and Crysis with ray tracing enabled. But I wanted to point to a couple of videos that show what Grand Theft Auto 5 and The Witcher 3 look like with ray tracing.

First up we have Grand Theft Auto 5 with ray tracing. You can really see the improvement in lighting in Rockstar's open world epic, particularly with the car parked under the freeway. I also love what it does to the house interior - the tables look fantastic!

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Grand Theft Auto V

GTA Online has become an expensive game, in no small part thanks to the number of expensive vehicles that have been added since 2013. It takes a lot of time to grind for money and Shark Cards aren’t the best value proposition either. So what cars should you buy if you’re on a budget? I aim to answer that question below.

For the purposes of this discussion I'm going to set a hard limit of two million GTA dollars. If you’ve already invested heavily in the game and put all your effort into grinding money in the most efficient way possible, you could earn this in about 4-5 hours as we explored in my previous article on how to make money in GTA Online. However that does require the entirety of those 4-5 hours being spent grinding money rather than doing other more fun activities, and you need to have invested in certain businesses already to reach that hourly income. In most cases, doubling that first cool million is going to take some time, but it’s also not outside the realms of what most people will be able to achieve through a normal experience with the game.

This article will order things by importance, with the most useful cars first. There will be a heavy leaning towards cars that will allow you to compete in races and be quick in free roam, alongside more useful vehicles for missions and heists. These videos covering lap times and top speeds of every vehicle in GTA Online, as well as this document made by myself, will all be used to reach these conclusions. If you have any questions about any numbers quoted here, as well as what you should buy when you’re no longer on a budget, your answers will likely lie in those links.

If you want the raw fastest cars in GTA Online, we can help you with that, too. And if you're interested in GTA 5 cheats, we have those. 

Best cheap GTA Online cars: let's start with $2 million

Schafter V12 (Armored)Cost: $325,000Performance Upgrades: $52,250Seats: 4Class: Sedans (1st for Lap Time, 1st for Top Speed)

The armoured version of the Schafter V12 is a must have for anyone on a budget. At over half the cost of the armoured Kuruma, it’s an absolute steal when you consider that it will protect us from a few explosions and a number of bullets whether we’re in free roam or missions, in addition to taking three of our friends along for the ride. It’s also the quickest car in the Sedans class for both lap time and top speed, so if we ever find ourselves in a Sedan race we’ll be well equipped, and its top speed rivals most Supercars. Not much will be able to catch us in free roam with this, and if it does we’ll be well-protected. From a speed & usefulness vs price perspective, nothing beats the Schafter V12 (Armored).

Remaining Budget: $1,622,750

Elegy RH8Cost: $0Performance Upgrades: $165,550Seats: 2Class: Sports (4th for Lap Time, 33rd for Top Speed)

As long as you are registered on Rockstar’s Social Club, you can get one of the quickest sports cars in the game for free. Although it lacks a little in terms of top speed, a good driver will be able to use this car to great effect in Sports races. Until you have some money to spare to buy more specialised machinery, you can’t argue with the price to performance ratio of the Elegy RH8.

Remaining Budget: $1,457,200

Banshee 900RCost: $670,000Performance Upgrades: $165,550Seats: 2Class: Supers (37th for Lap Time, 5th for Top Speed)

The Supercars class is a difficult one, mainly because everything is expensive. And unless we’re going to fork out around $1.7 million for a Vagner we’re not going to be able to compete in a corner heavy race with anything else anyway. So we might as well focus on getting a good top speed for our money and rely on our skills in the corners to be better than any competitors. The Banshee 900R, which is a Benny’s upgrade to the Sports class Banshee, is king in this respect, having one of the highest top speeds in the entire game and being a fraction of the cost of other cars around it (and many cars slower than it). It’s a big hit to our budget, but it’s the smallest we could hope for with this class that is certainly the most expensive and most often raced.

Remaining Budget: $621,650

DominatorCost: $35,000Performance Upgrades: $114,525Seats: 2Class: Muscle (10th for Lap Time, 8th for Top Speed)

After Super & Sports class races, the next most common type of racing happens with Muscle cars, but since our budget is almost a quarter of what we started with the best option now is to simply get something that we can use to compete. The Dominator shines here, being in the top 10 for both lap time and top speed for the Muscle class while keeping a low price. It’s difficult to drive, but if you can handle it you’ll be able to do well. If you’re a returning player from old gen GTA, getting the Pisswasser Dominator instead is a no brainer—it’s significantly quicker and, being free, cheaper. That isn’t an option for everyone, though.

Remaining Budget: $472,125

Schafter V12Cost: $116,000Performance Upgrades: $52,250Seats: 4Class: Sports (24th for Lap Time, 5th for Top Speed)

In the absence of any cars within our budget that would be suitable for Sports Classics class races, we turn back to the regular Sports class. If you’re finding the free Elegy RH8 a little down on top speed, you can diversify with the relatively cheap non-armoured version of our first recommendation. The regular Schafter V12 is a shade quicker for both lap time and top speed than its armoured brother and can be used in both Sports and Sedan races. With four seats, too, it will be a nice car to use for transporting friends if you’re not worried about enemies, and you’ll have two cars to choose from for Sports races depending on the type of track (corner-heavy vs long straights).

Remaining Budget: $303,875

BF400Cost: $90,000Performance Upgrades: $158,500Seats: 2Class: Motorcycles (19th for Lap Time, 3rd for Top Speed)

While the inclusion of the BF400 may not seem to make sense given our final vehicle, it must be noted that, in addition to being one of the bikes with the highest top speed in the game when pulling a wheelie (beating out every non rocket powered car and bike), it can also be used in Off-Road races. This is key, because when used in that way it essentially becomes the quickest vehicle in the “Off-Road” class. Any normal Off-Road class vehicle will be beaten by the BF400, which technically isn’t in their class but can race against them anyway. The utility of this bike is staggering, which is why it has been included despite this being a list focusing primarily on cars.

Remaining Budget: $55,375

Bati 801Cost: $15,000Performance Upgrades: $45,700Seats: 2Class: Motorcycles (5th for Lap Time, 4th for Top Speed)

You’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d not be able to get any kind of useful vehicle with only $50k in GTA Online, and you’d be right if the Bati 801 didn’t exist. While its upgrades do push us around $5k over our budget, that’s a pretty inconsequential amount of money. And for a bike that is so high up the order in terms of lap time and top speed for not only the Motorcycles class, but for all land vehicles in the game, you can’t go against the price-to-performance ratio of this machine. With a better lap time and top speed than every non rocket powered car, this is the ultimate way to go fast for a small price.

Remaining Budget: -$5,325

Oh snap, we went over budget!

If we want to remain strictly under budget, not getting the brakes upgrade for the Bati 801 leaves us with $1,675 of our initial $2 million, and in the process we’ve managed to get competitive cars and bikes in the most commonly raced classes in addition to some very useful machines for missions and free roam. For sure a successful spending spree, that is probably more useful than those you might see on YouTube for tens of millions of dollars more.

If you have $2 million and follow this guide, you’ll have a garage full of vehicles that will certainly get the job done in most situations, and allow you to start accumulating wealth for some bigger purchases later on down the line. And with GTA Online only getting more and more expensive, perhaps buying cheap but useful and waiting to see what you really want is a good overall strategy.

Grand Theft Auto V

There's something beautifully pure about Downtown Los Santos. For me, it's the most intriguing urban snapshot of Grand Theft Auto 5's San Andreas map—with its clumsy network of neon-scarred thoroughfares, volatile nightcrawlers and cops so crooked they could swallow nails and shit out screws. 

In Downtown LS, you live and breathe the city's seedy underbelly. Its traffic is louder, its alleyways darker, and its people tastier. Hang on. What? Admittedly, my GTA 5 roleplay adventures have entered dark territory before, but vampirism is a cut above the rest. And the worst thing about it? I got really into it. 

Like, really into it. Like, standing behind my girlfriend in my real-world kitchen and trying to work out, hypothetically of course, the best angle I'd adopt to get the drop on her exposed neck. 

Like, changing my eight-month old daughter's nappy and thinking: her wee leg is quite chubby, I bet the blood-thirsty vampire dude I've been roleplaying in GTA 5 would get stuck right into that. 

Like, trying on those fake plastic fangs that you get at Halloween and thinking I genuinely looked better. Sexier, even. Wow.  To my family and the strangers I set my nashers on in-game over the last few weeks, I am truly sorry. I've created a monster.    

Before embarking on my latest Grand Theft Auto 5 roleplay adventure, I was less certain of the slant I wished to pursue. One of the most exciting things about cultivating stories within FiveM's modified GTA world, is that interesting tales can be instigated without too much planning. 

Having an idea, sowing the seeds among other roleplay enthusiasts, and then watching the pantomime unfold is often how each fable begins—and then it's up to you how much you lean into the fantasy, or how much you strive to steer it in a different direction. 

This blood-thirsty tale, started with a meagre GTA: San Andreas comparison. 

“I remember, years ago,” pondered one roleplayer I happened upon at Legion Square. “When San Andreas had Cluckin' Bells, Burger Shots and Well-Stacked Pizzas lining every corner.”

This was, of course, a non-meta, in-character RP nod to GTA: SA's Eating system, whereby food was not only the 2004 game's primary health source, but also a basic necessity. Eating too much would cause your character to become overweight; not eating enough would cause them to lose fat, muscle mass, and ultimately, their life. 

In Grand Theft Auto 5 and GTA Online, though, feeding is reduced to commodity-like snacks that can only be purchased from convenience stores. Which begged the question: if I were to properly survive in a reality-reflecting RP world, what would be my main energy resource, beyond Ego Chasers, P's & Q's and cans of ECola? 

Humans. It was always humans. 

But you can't just start chowing down on unsuspecting players in GTA RP. Unlike the wild and chaotic murder-grounds of Rockstar's no-holds-barred official servers, the roleplay spectrum plays by strict rules. Crimes as innocuous as jaywalking can get you banged up in the slammer, and the server's volunteer police force rarely need much convincing when it comes to slapping on the cuffs. 

The server I played on during this particular adventure was not equipped with last year's After Hours update, therefore the only accessible nightclub on the map—FiveM uses NewTheft's Open All Interiors mod—was the functioning but abandoned Bahama Mamas West in Del Perro. 

My thinking here was simple: what better way to get close to people under the cover of darkness than within a smoke-filled club? 

Bahama Mamas West. 

Innumerable ways, probably. But this was my plan and I was sticking to it. Getting players inside the empty building would be my biggest challenge, so I started out preying on AI NPCs around the dancehall's perimeter. 

A chubby man here, a skinny woman there. Security guards, business folk, young, old, I didn't discern. I studied the NPCs' movements. I worked out the best ways to incapacitate, making as little noise as I went. I got in, I got out, I made that ‘nom, nom, nom' slurping-meets-grunting noise cartoon characters make when they eat. I stood over my motionless victims. I watched them squirm.

In RP terms, I burst necks like pinatas. But in realistic, in-game terms, I'd merely punch a harmless bystander on the back of the head, before squatting down beside them. In turn, I let my real self and my imagination do the leg work. 

“NOM, NOM, NOM,” I cried aloud in real-life, with the same unsettling vigour as Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter. 

“JOE, WHAT THE F***K ARE YOU DOING UP THERE?” cried my girlfriend from downstairs, but I daren't let her in on it. 

My first actual roleplayer mark was a success, who I snared at Legion Square. I went full-on obnoxious PR, promising the world of my totally-not-empty club that was absolutely equipped with free entry and a free bar. 

Problem was, I didn't have any money, so I had to shuttle my unsuspecting victim on the back of a rented pedal bike. I got in his face and sang the virtues of a venue that in reality had no DJ, no guests, no VIP area, no discernible entertainment value. I was less English Dave, more Glasgow knave. 

But he came all the same. Upon arrival, I marched ahead to the back room. I hid behind a door. I waited. And waited. And waited… And pounced! Screams! Fists! Death! Blood, glorious blood!

It was too easy. And yet this poor bastard would be my first and last proper kill. 

Nowadays, not much is known about Bahama Mamas West in Del Perro. High-brow establishments such as Gefängnis, The Palace and Omega have long replaced the dusty dancefloors of old, and talk of the club that once promised so much has been reduced to whispers and murmurs in and around Downtown. 

Bahamas is still accessible via FiveM's pre-After Hours servers. It's still as empty as it ever and its neon spotlights shine relentlessly into the night. I've since put the vampire life behind me, and I've pushed the memories so deep into my soul, that I hope they never again surface. 

The world has moved on. I have moved on. But the Los Santos Police Department's audio logs never forget.

May 18, 2019, 3.07pm: Botched double murder attempt

May 18, 2019, 3.38pm: Police attend suspected gun fight

May 18, 2019, 3.40pm: Wounded man provides eye-witness statement. Strangely, denies being a vampire

May 18, 2019, 3.42pm: Police aid wounded man

May 18, 2019, 3.45pm: Man gives full statement, continues to deny vampire likelihood

May 18, 2019, 3.49pm: Man attempts to eat police officers, is a vampire. Police officers ponder on-stake burning

May 18, 2019, 3.52pm: Vampire man restrained and arrested, teeth extracted

It's all over. And do you know what? All that listening has made me a wee bit peckish. Old habits die hard, I suppose. 

Oh, crap. Pray for my family. 

Grand Theft Auto V - (Alice O'Connor)

Our former John (RPS in peace) has vanished in odd circumstances, last heard claiming he’ll be flying through the sky in a big metal snake, so I’m taking over this week. Not even an employee anymore and he’s still making work for me.

Join me for a stroll down the hit parade to inspect last week’s top-selling games on Steam.



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