Earlier today Rockstar Games released the second trailer for Grand Theft Auto 5, the next installment in their beloved, open-world crime franchise. Reaction to the trailer thus far has been overwhelmingly positive — with gamers praising everything from the story set-up to the choice of music (Stevie Wonder’s “Skeletons”) — but the real standout quality has been the improved visuals.

Unlike past GTA games, Grand Theft Auto 5 is reportedly maximizing all that current consoles can offer in terms of horsepower and graphical capability. However, despite some really shiny new textures and some very detailed animations, many gamers will still be left wondering why GTA 5 wasn’t a next-gen release.

Thankfully, Rockstar’s Dan Houser has provided some insight into that decision, and his reasoning is pretty solid. Essentially, as Houser explains, “Now is the best time for Grand Theft Auto 5.”

What Houser means is that Rockstar has learned so much about the Xbox 360 and the PS3 over their years developing for those consoles that it was time to put all those lessons to work. He even admits that development on Grand Theft Auto 4, the only other GTA game developed for this current generation of consoles, was “seriously difficult” during the earlier stages.

Now, however, Rockstar “knows what the hardware’s capable of,” and therefore “it’s become a lot easier to move things along and a lot more fun too.”

Houser likens the perceived late lifecycle release of Grand Theft Auto 5 to that of San Andreas, which “came out at the peak of the PlayStation 2’s cycle.” More or less, Houser believes that all of the best games release at the end of the lifecycle.

Whether or not that will prove true for this cycle is yet to be determined, but there’s no denying that Grand Theft Auto 5 appears to be a major step up from its predecessors in a few key areas.

But for gamers who are interested in seeing what GTA 5 could have looked like on the next gen, there is still the inevitable PC release of the game, which typically, if Rockstar stays true to form, will release a few months after the major console versions’ spring 2013 release. Couple that in with a strong mod community bent on taking the visuals even further — and sometimes screwing with the physics — and there’s still the potential of seeing what Grand Theft Auto 6 might look like.

What do you think of Dan Houser’s claims that the best titles release at the end of a lifecycle? Should Rockstar have kept Grand Theft Auto 5 for next-gen?

Grand Theft Auto 5 is targeting a spring 2013 release for the PS3, PC, and Xbox 360.

Source: Famitsu (via Polygon)