The mere mention of those three fabled words "Grand Theft Auto" sees the hype barometer sky-rocket. Wild theories and excitable yapping noises follow in their wake. Leave it to us, then, to sift through the static and provide the authoritative guide to GTA 5's Los Santos, its surroundings and the skies above...
More details have been released following the publication of this piece. For a verdict on the game's campaign, read our GTA 5 Xbox 360 review and this list of 45 things to do in GTA 5. You can read all about the game's multiplayer in our guide to Grand Theft Auto Online, which will be activated two weeks after the game itself goes on sale.
#01 Meet Michael
Star of the first trailer, Michael is a former bank robber who's living in luxury after signing a witness relocation deal. Despite his elegant pad and fast cars, however, he's bored. His wife hates him, his kids are going off the rails and his money is running out. Time for a free-form crime-spree?
#02 When can you start?
The sprawling GTA V map covers an area the size of GTA: San Andreas, GTA IV and Red Dead Redemption put together - presumably so Rockstar North can cram in all manner of fighter jet hi-jinks. Returning areas include the Vinewood Hills, the muscle gyms of Vespucci Beach, Mt. Chilliad and a lot of rugged San Andrean scenery.
#03 Tune in to Weazel
As ever, you can expect a full roster of radio stations and TV channels to tune into - hopefully featuring the stirring return of Republican Space Rangers and Vinewood [Expletive Deleted]. Oh Rockstar, how we've missed you...
#04 Three is the magic number
GTA V lets you control three characters. There's Michael the (semi) retired career criminal, Trevor the psychotic military veteran, and Franklin - a fast guy trickster climbing up the ranks of the Los Santos crime ladder. You can leap into control of them at any time, taking them over while they go about their daily business elsewhere on the map.
A Google Earth-style camera zooms down onto their bodies - whether they're driving around down-town, or sitting around watching Weazel News. When the three unite for heist missions, meanwhile, you can flick between them as they carry out their criminal duties. You can take on the role you'd rather play, and rely on your fellow crims' AI to pull off their own capers. It's a three-way buddy movie, where the scenery ignites even more than usual...
#05 Slight return
GTA V is set in the same world as GTA IV in terms of characters and events, but nothing that came before - so don't expect to see San Andreas' CJ. That said - familiar brands Cluckin' Bell, Burger Shot and Ammu-Nation are here to stay.