Revving up for the latest Grand Theft Auto release

It’s always one of the most-anticipated games releases of the year. It’s one of the most controversial franchises of all time. But it has met with critical acclaim, winning a whole host of awards.

Yes, we could only be talking about Grand Theft Auto. And fans clambering to get their hands on the latest incarnation of the game will be thrilled to hear details of Grand Theft Auto V have been released.

The news on what to expect from the new game was revealed by Game Informer which has given a rundown on changes fans will see when they buy the popular video game.

Grant Theft Auto V is expected to be based in a fantasy version of Los Angeles, which will include an ocean floor that you can explore.

Developed by DMA Design, which is now Rockstar North, and published by Rockstar Games, it represents a return to home for the series, which was also set in Los Angeles in 2004.

Three new characters are set to be introduced, which are all playable – car salesman Franklin who works for a bunch of Armenian gangsters, retired bank robber Michael and career criminal Trevor, who has a military background. In a departure from previous versions where once you’d chosen a character, you had to stick with them all the way through, players will be given the option to switch between who they play as at any time.

Grand Theft Auto V is also expected to be more challenging than predecessors, with the focus set on heists and big set pieces but you can also choose to simply explore for a while, or play mini games.

“If we’ve done a good job,” said Dan Houser, co-founder of Rockstar and co-writer of the Grand Theft Auto titles since GTA London, “the shoot-outs are fun but so is cruising through the world in a car you really like, listening to music. If these elements feel somehow consistent with each other, then we’re on the right path to something cool.”

Inspired by Rockstar’s successes with Red Dead and Max Payne, missions will no longer be accompanied by radio play, but by an interactive score.

But the game will miss the lucrative Christmas market, hitting the shelves in March 2013.

Whether Grand Theft Auto V has the ability to shock in the same way as its predecessors remains to be seen, but the whole franchise has been controversial because of the sexual and violent content it features.

The series focuses on the attempts of protagonists to rise through the ranks of the criminal underworld.

More than 120 million units have been sold so far, with film veterans such as Michael Madsen, Ray Liotta, Burt Reynolds, Dennis Hopper and Samuel L Jackson lining up to voice major characters. And Guiness World Records has awarded the series several records including Most Successful Entertainment Launch of All Time, for Grand Theft Auto IV, a title which has since been eclipsed by Call of Duty: Modern Warefare 2.

The series has, however, been beset by huge controversy since 2001 when it launched, with crime victims claiming it encourages violence in real-life.