Rockstar’s first trailer for the next GTA shows a fictional Los Angeles similar to San Andreas.

Grand Theft Auto V will be the first numbered sequel in the series to be set in a new city. Both GTA3 and GTA4 kept to the New York City clone, while Vice City and San Andreas were representations of Miami in the 80s and Los Angeles in the 90s. The trailer released today on Rockstar’s website shows glimpses of modern-day Los Santos in the throes of recession.

The trailer is short on details but long on atmosphere. The voiceover is a male voice – so the rumors of a female protagonist are pretty much dashed – that describe the move out west as going “straight” and giving up the criminal life to settle down with a family. Images of the skyscrapers and graffitti of the city are cut with palm trees and beaches. But as a crop duster gasses some migrant field workers, the tone turns bleaker. Like all Rockstar joints, the trailer blends music, character and iconic images to evoke some pretty strong emotion.

All the talk of the new game made me pop in the disc for GTA4 and I was pleasantly surprised that the 2008 game still holds up as an excellent portrayal of the criminal underworld and the city of New York. More than a few of GTA4‘s images made me homesick for when I’d drive around Brooklyn in my 1988 Volvo station wagon.

I don’t have the same affection for Los Santos that I do for Liberty City, but this trailer has me extremely excited to get back into the atmosphere and open-world story-telling that Rockstar pioneered with the Grand Theft Auto series.

Rockstar and Take Two haven’t announced a release date for GTA V, but my money is on holiday 2012.

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