The eagle has landed, ladies and gentlemen. We have now lain eyes on working builds of Grand Theft Auto 5, and can confirm that it is a game of considerable promise. For our digested thoughts, check out this GTA 5 video preview. For the most important new developments since we published our original, enormous GTA 5 info overload, scroll down the page. And for pretty pictures, hit up our gallery of the latest GTA 5 screenshots.
1. What it feels like to play
Well, we haven't actually played it yet - we had to watch a Rockstar rep do it. But it's recognisably the same tech that powered GTA 4, and given that it's still got to fit into the ageing Xbox 360 hardware it's unlikely to be dramatically different in how it handles it streams its vast world into your TV. But Rockstar says that it has got more pedestrians onto the streets this time, and the different environments make for craftier tricks with the draw distance.
Parachuting over the countryside shows the world stretching off over the horizon, with distant god rays breaking over the city's skyscrapers and the regimented shape of the military base further along the coast. The engine does a great job of showing the game's vast scale, and while it might be that the tech shows its limitations when you're in one of the newly-added jets, drifting down to earth it looks great.
The biggest difference is up close, in the facial details and animations. They aren't quite LA Noire level, but they're close, and a huge improvement over the slightly wooden expression of Niko Bellic. The movement seems a bit crisper, too - from what we saw, there's no longer the MotoGP-style lean whenever your character runs round a corner.
You'll recognise the vehicles from GTA 4, too. Many of the same models return, joined by new helicopters, trucks and sports cars. The handling doesn't seem all that different, from a casual glance - a quick trip in a high-end convertible, returning a movie star to her home while paparazzi give chase, suggests there's still a weight and heft to vehicles that makes driving them a bit more of a challenge and thus more satisfying than other open-world roller-skates.