There’s a question that comes up more than any other in the Gameological feedback bin: “When is the Grand Theft Auto series going to feature tennis?” Now, thanks to a new trailer released by Rockstar today (seen above), we can definitively answer, “Probably soon, as long as they don’t take it out before the game is released.”
The Grand Theft Auto series has long been regarded as a middle-tier entry in the gaming echelon, held back from the upper reaches of critical regard by its lack of tennis. The country-club furor over GTA reached its height in 2005. A report in Women’s Wear Daily fueled rumors that Grand Theft Auto IV would feature a Nico Bellic dream-sequence mission in which Nico wins the finals at Wimbledon. But the sequence was ultimately cut from the game in favor of a mission where you shoot guys and then drive away really fast—like, REALLY fast.
In 2006, Rockstar even acknowledged the fans’ longtime pleas for a tennis mode, in the studio’s trademark fuck-the-world manner, by releasing Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis. Intended as a winking joke, the ploy “backfired” on Rockstar, as Table Tennis went on to become the best-selling video game in world history, surpassing that game where you play as the red spot in the 7-Up soda logo.
When Grand Theft Auto V screenshots surfaced earlier this year depicting players on a tennis court, it was assumed to be another Rockstar tease. “It’ll probably just end up being a mission where you shoot all the people on the tennis court,” said Michael Pachter, the perennially quotable industry analyst. He later called back to add, “Oh, and then you’ll drive away really fast. I’m talking SO fast.” But Pachter’s gift for prognostication appears to have betrayed him, because this new trailer features Actual Gameplay Footage Of Gameplay in which two people play tennis.
The footage in question runs from 3:26 to 3:26-and-a-half in the above trailer. It depicts two people on a tennis court that appears to be a hard-surface court, although I hasten to add this is unconfirmed as of yet. (The Gameological Society has multiple calls in to Rockstar.) The man in the clip uses a tennis racket to hit what appears to be a tennis ball (unconfirmed) over a net to the opposite side of the court, as is the custom in tennis.
There are countless pieces of subtext to draw out of the trailer, discernible only to the expert video game commentators on the Gameological staff. The two players are named “Michael” and “Jordan” (confirmed), possibly hinting at a heretofore-unseen basketball mode, as if anybody could ever want that. Also, the tennis clip is followed by a clip of people riding bicycles. Does this mean that you’ll be able to play tennis while riding bicycles? Yes.
Other features are also mentioned in the trailer.