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Grand Theft Auto 5's massive Los Santos designed to accommodate flying, 'more extreme' missions

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Rockstar Games calls Grand Theft Auto 5's Los Santos "the biggest open world Rockstar has created to date," dwarfing the geography of past games like Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Rockstar co-founder and Grand Theft Auto series writer Dan Houser says the game's huge landmass is partly a result of the game's flying missions.

"We're making a game," Houser tells The Guardian in an interview. "You have to understand the medium. On an obvious level we wanted somewhere big so you can fly properly — we have a lot of missions that involve flying, in helicopters or whatever, it was logical."

The Grand Theft Auto series' most recent major entry, Grand Theft Auto 4, had aircraft of its own; mostly helicopters, not the jets and biplanes of San Andreas. Grand Theft Auto 5 will see the return of the jetfighter, business class jetliners and parachutes.

Houser says the bigger, more geographically expansive world of GTA 5 opens up new opportunities for new types of missions.

"We're using the environment to let us have toys we couldn't have had otherwise," Houser says. "And equally, we're using the story and environment to introduce missions that can be more extreme. In some ways we wanted the game to have a larger-than-life Hollywood feel; the stories we heard in LA, we wanted to capture them in the game. If the place isn't informing what we're doing, we're not using it correctly."

Houser says GTA 5's big open world will be unlocked and available to players from the get-go, likening the virtual playground to a "digital holiday."

Grand Theft Auto 5 is expected to release on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in spring 2013.

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