Improved in-game radio features stations curated by celebrities.

This week marks one of the most highly anticipated launches in video game history with the release of Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V) by Rockstar North. Every aspect of the game, which is renowned for the absolute freedom it grants the player, is present with careful attention to detail. It captures southern California perfectly, from its culture to its scenery. Central to all of this is the soundtrack, which provides an auditory backbone to this beauty.

“What was important for us was to capture that feeling of L.A. and California,” said soundtrack supervisor Ivan Pavlovich in Rolling Stone. “We approached the radio stations as the musical soundscape [you experience] as you fly into L.A. One of the things we’ve never done in a GTA game before is a pop station; exploring that made so much sense in the context of L.A.”

Great, well-rounded soundtracks have become a tradition for the series, yet GTA V’s iteration has certainly upped the ante. The game’s original score was composed by the Alchemist, the Beverly Hills hip-hop producer most commonly known for his work with Detroit rapper Eminem, and legendary crafters of film soundtracks Tangerine Dream. However, the musical delight does not end there, as arguably the best part of the GTA universe flushes out in the rest of the game: the radio.

Radio in GTA has always been enough to encourage the dedication of countless hours spent not progressing in the game, but just bumping around town in a stolen vehicle. This is even more so the case in the game’s newest rendition, which includes stations featuring a jaw-dropping amount of star power not confined to the songs they play, but also to the DJs who present them.

The stations range from  a classic rock station playing everything from Billy Squier’s “Lonely Is the Night” to some Phil Collins, presented by DJ Kenny Loggins, and the experimental IDM steeped FlyLo FM, lovingly put together by Flying Lotus himself. “A mix to carry through the Los Santos freeways at top speed,” its playlist is dominated by Flying Lotus’s own music but includes some Outkast and Tyler, the Creator.

It’s not only the music that makes GTA radio special. Throughout the series there has been a trend of hilarious social commentary on the various talk radio stations. Instances like an ancient Norse god giving self-help advice and a witch doctor drilling holes in his fellow guests on a liberal talk show all make it impossible to get anything done in-game, simply because the average player never wants to get out of a car.

The Rockstar North team have captured multiple aspects of L.A., from its angst in Nate Williams and Stephen Pope of Wavves’s Vinewood Boulevard Radio, to its history on the West Coast Classics station. The personality of southern Cali really shines bright in every way, as the game allows the player to fashion it into whatever L.A. they would like.

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