GR: By the end of GTA IV, did you feel like you had a good idea of where the downloadable content might go, story-wise?
RS: I think... there is, you know, Niko, he hasn’t ascended to any unassailable position by the end of the game, so I think there’s a lot of opportunity for extended content, whether it’s detail within the world or it’s as pieces that plug on at the end. Because many of his situations and issues are still as relevant come the end of the game as they are at the beginning. So that exploration could go on indefinitely, for sure.
GR: What's the story progression like? The way Rockstar's been describing it, you don’t get missions in the traditional sense - you meet new friends, and they eventually give you jobs. Does that give the story a more organic feel, like it could have gone in kind of any direction at any time? Or does it still feel like there’s a linear progression, like you meet Person A, they give you a job and that leads you to meet Person B?
RS: Yeah, you never really know where those missions are going to take. And actually, it was pretty interesting to see who it was that would progress [the storyline], because you might have three, four, five people who you could call on your cell phone for missions, and not be entirely sure if that was just something you were going to do for fun, or for money, or because they were a nice guy and you liked them when you chatted - or if it was part of the critical path to the end.
So it really was kind of varied in the way that you approached that. If you choose when you start the game to say, "I just want to blaze through this critical path," it won’t be obvious who takes you there. So you’ll have to try a lot of new things, and you will get people coming in that make you go, “OK, well, I like what you’re saying to me, I think you can help me, I’ll go down this path.” But it won’t necessarily be part of the critical path.
GR: Was there anything you missed from previous GTA games in this one, like swimming underwater or planes?
RS: I didn’t really miss planes. There are helicopters, so you do get aerial. And I think it’s really important as well, because... seeing the city look like it does from altitude like that is pretty awesome. It's just fun to fly around, and you can take a helicopter tour. You can actually go down to a helipad and just choose a tour, and they’ll fly you around, and you know it’s cool because there are landmarks to see, and sights to see. And there are helipads on top of a lot of buildings, so you can just sort of fly over and land on something and, you know, look out from there, because there are some elements of gameplay that make going up on the roofs worthwhile.
GR: Going back to the story, Rockstar has hinted that you’ll have some control over the choices Niko makes. Was there ever a time when you felt like you were making a decision that was actually influencing the direction of the story?
RS: Several. Some really critical ones. Without giving anything away, you do make a conscious A or B choice, and that... can be something that you’re not entirely sure what the outcome is going to be. It’s not instantly apparent, because of the vagaries of who you’re dealing with and what their reactions will be. But yeah, you’ll definitely feel like you’re making choices that have an impact on the way the story goes.
GR: So those decisions, do they leave you wanting to go back and load a save file, just to see what happens when you choose the other way?
RS: That’s what I’ve been doing, to sort of see what happens when you do it this way. Fortunately, [Official Xbox Magazine Managing Editor] Corey [Cohen] played as well, so we actually tried to coordinate. And he did it one way and I did it another, and so we actually found out what a couple of the decisions were.
GR: And did it dramatically alter the course of the story?
RS: No, it doesn’t dramatically alter the course. It does alter, or it can alter, some of the things that you do, get and see. So, Corey had- because of a decision he made -something that I didn’t. And couldn’t get. Never got. Not a path that was suddenly closed off, but just sort of how that... opens up options. It was just cool to know that difference was there. But there are a few places where in making those decisions, you’ll have to sit and think for a moment before doing whatever it is that you choose to do.