Few video game franchises have been as successful over the past two decades as Rockstar Games' brilliant Grand Theft Auto. The game has been widely praised by both critics and fans, with the various GTA titles having shipped over 250 million units since the original Grand Theft Auto debuted in 1997. The game has evolved from the 2D platform car game of GTA to the massive 3D open-world extravaganza of GTA V, where players can play as three different characters and immerse themselves in the fictional state of San Andreas.
While there are many things to like about GTA, from the over-the-top missions, incredible gameplay, fantastic characterization, well-written storylines, top-level voice acting, and unbelievably life-like graphics, it's the actual GTA setting that helps make the games so great. Every incarnation of GTA has been based on a real-life city or state - Liberty City from GTA III represents New York, Los Santos, San Pierro, and Las Venturas from GTA: San Andreas is based on Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Las Vegas respectively - helping define the game and give fans new yet familiar worlds to explore. When you play GTA: Vice City you really feel like you're involved in the extra fun business of 80s Miami, or when driving through the suburbs in GTA: San Andreas it really feels like downtown Los Angeles.
It's been five years since GTA V dropped and fans are looking forward to the next game in the series, with many speculating about where the game could be set.
20 Go To: Tokyo
Top of the list of cities the GTA world should explore is Japan's Tokyo. A vibrant hub of culture that's like no other place on earth, Tokyo is the ideal location for the next game in the series. Forget what you saw in The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift, the Japanese capital is more than just fast cars and Bow Wow. Anyone who's played Sega's epic Yakuza video game franchise understands the city has much to offer in the way of locations and interesting missions and storylines. Tokyo is a sprawling metropolis connecting the old with the new where players could immerse themselves in the busy streets of Shibuya, get lost in the dizzying commercial center of Shinjuku, explore the seedy nightlife of Roppoingi, or wander off the beaten path and explore the surrounding countryside.
19 Avoid: New York
The hustle and bustle of New York should be left by the wayside for the next incarnation of GTA. As much as I love the city it's been done to death within the GTA world, along with a number of other successful video games. The fictional Liberty City that's based upon New York has been the setting of four official GTA games and it will be hard for developers Rockstar Games to improve on the fantastic GTA IV.
The only exciting way they could re-introduce New York would be to set it in the future and make it like a cross between Blade Runner and Escape From New York.
This way you could include all types of new technology and vehicles and have the city look completely different to what it does today. While this might take the series into more science fiction territory, it's the only way I can see them improving on the setting and creating another must-play game.
18 Go To: Miami
The setting for fan favorite GTA: Vice City, Miami is an exotic and colorful city that's another excellent location for the next game in the franchise. Trade the flashing neon and hair metal of Vice City era Miami for the trendy high fashion and hip-hop dominated Miami of today. Modern-day Miami combines the Cuban influence of yesteryear with the arrival of new wealth in the form of celebrities and musicians, particularly rappers. The likes of Rick Ross, DJ Khaled, Ace Hood, and Drake all own property in Miami and could be used to cameo in the game. It also allows storylines revolving around hip-hop, and as anyone knows, hip-hop has a history of shady characters, dodgy deals, and awful crimes that could all be intertwined into the main plot.
17 Avoid: Bangkok
As a city, Bangkok is a wonderful place to visit. A cultural delight, Thailand's capital is another city on this list that merges the old with the new in a bustling and highly populated location. There's much to love about Bangkok, from the tasty street food to the towering skylines and cheap markets, it's a wonderful holiday destination, but one that doesn't quite work in the GTA world. The biggest problem is the traffic. Sure, Rockstar doesn't have to fill the streets with vehicles but this takes away from the feel of what it's like to flirt with death every time you step foot in the streets.
16 Go To: London
Back in 1999 after the success of the first GTA Rockstar took things outside of the continent with two mission packs set in London. Both games took place in the swinging 60s and allowed players the opportunity to experience life in 2D London. Now with 3D capabilities and the advancements in gaming technology there seems no better time to head back to the land of fish and chips, cockney accents, and red telephone boxes.
London is a vast city with winding roads, numerous bridges and tunnels, and a massive underground transport network. The lack of a grid system means there would be plenty of small laneways and alleys for players to manoeuvre through.
Iconic locations such as Big Ben, London Bridge, and Buckingham Palace could all be represented while the main plot could be a mixture of classic UK gangster flicks, such as Snatch, Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, and Get Carter.
15 Avoid: Venice
If you've never been to Venice be sure to put it on the top of your list of places to visit. Built on more than 100 small islands, the water logged city is a fascinating construction that defys logic. Walking through the many cobbled streets and archways takes you back in time while the multiple canals running through the city can be explored by gondola or various watercraft. While this is great if you're on foot, Venice doesn't translate well to a game that involves driving. Sure, players could use water vehicles or motorbikes but the lack of four wheel vehicles would be disappointing. Another downside of Venice is the city isn't that big. GTA players are used to ever expanding maps, with GTA V covering an entire state.
14 Go To: Rome
Rome is one of the most remarkable and historic cities in the world. From ancient landmarks such as the immense Coliseum, beautiful Trevi Fountain, and the world famous Pantheon, through to delights of Italian food and drink, Rome is the lifeblood of Italian culture and a great place to set the next GTA game. Being able to drive like a manic through Rome's busy streets while exploring ancient ruins and famed buildings is just one of the many activities players could experience. Imagining a final showdown in the Coliseum or chasing down bad guys through the Roman Forum.
The city itself provides classic architecture for players to gaze upon while Rockstar would no doubt incorporate a heist mission involving Mini Coopers like the classic Micheal Caine film The Italian Job.
13 Avoid: Paris
The city of love is another mesmorising European city full of impressive architecture, incredible monuments, and ancient landmarks. Although it does provide the opportunity for some breathtaking scenery and awesome mission ideas (breaking into the Louvre or scaling the Eiffel Tower would be awesome) the use of Paris as a unique location has already been done before by a variety of similar first and third person games.
12 Go To: Mexico City
The capital city of Mexico is a densely populated region with a rich history that is slowly turning itself into one of the most attractive tourist destinations.
As the city is located in a valley, a complex underground water system is in place to keep Mexico City from flooding, giving players another area to explore.
Add in the ancient Aztec ruins scattered throughout the landscape with little mythology and supernatural elements throw in, and Mexico City becomes an intriguing mix of urban splendor and ancient architecture providing a great world for a new GTA game to exist.
11 Avoid: Las Vegas
If Rockstar reveals the next GTA game is to be set in Las Vegas I imagine this would please many gamers. The setting could enable players to cruise the strip in fancy cars and tackle missions involving robbing a casino or dealing with the local mafia, while also showcasing the seedy side of old Las Vegas where it all began. The downside of a GTA game set entirely in Las Vegas is it's been done before. Moreover, the size of Vegas would also be a problem, as compared to the majority of major cities in the world, it's quite small. Rockstar are best leaving Las Vegas as a side mission and concentrating on a new location they've never ventured too.
10 Go To: Edinburgh
For the picturesque beauty alone, Edinburgh is worth Rockstar investing time in for the next GTA game. The capital of Scotland is a stunning city full of cobbled streets, abnormal architecture, and plenty of pubs. Edinburgh Castle itself is home to Scotland’s crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny, used in the coronation of Scottish rulers, and would be the ideal location for a heist. While the city is wonderful to look at and appears nice and clean, like many capitals there is a dark underbelly to it. Imagine the drama of a GTA game set in the underbelly of a lovely place like this. Moreover, players could venture outside the city and go on the hunt for Loch Ness or explore the bountiful countryside that Scotland is renowned for.
9 Avoid: Sydney
The continent contains vast deserts, lush rainforests, sandy beaches, and everything in between. It's home to some of the world's most iconic animals and creatures and is one of the few countries whose most populated cities - Sydney and Melbourne - aren't the capital. Sydney might seem like a great place to set a GTA game considering well-known landmarks such as the Sydney Bridge and Sydney Opera House are located there, but as a city itself Sydney would be a disappointing choice.
Sydney's inner city roadways have no real structure and it's a massive pain trying to navigate through the streets.
The major monuments are also far apart, making it hard to cover any distance quickly. Also, like setting a game in London, players would have to get used to driving on the opposite side of the road, which could cause some frustration amongst players.
8 Go To: Sao Paulo
Rockstar Games have already been to the vibrant Brazilian city of Sao Paulo with Max Payne 3. This city would be the ideal location for the next GTA game with players being able to cruise the busy streets of the financial district or explore the multilevel favelas where trouble can be found at every corner. Sao Paulo is home to some of the tallest buildings in the world that sit alongside centuries-old cathedrals and broken down homes, giving the environment an interesting contrast. The fascinating difference between the old and the new gives the city another dimension.
7 Avoid: Berlin
As a city Berlin is steeped in history and culture — Berlin is a complex and diverse multicultural city offering something for everyone. While this may be the case, it doesn't work that well in terms of a video game in the mold of GTA. Like many European cities Berlin can be an absolute pain to navigate by car, with the bicycles and the underground subway system, known as the Berlin U-Bahn, the easiest method of travel. Similar to New York, Berlin never sleeps, and the all-night rave culture and experimental scene lends itself to a game set in a futuristic world ... but maybe not one set today.
6 Go To: Hong Kong
A multitude of games have been set in the city, with the two most notable being the GTA-esque Sleeping Dogs and John Woo produced Stranglehold. Both games involve undercover cops and themes of redemption and revenge and give players a look at the underbelly of Hong Kong, and while playable, I've no doubt Rockstar Games could do an even better job by basing the next GTA game there.
Hong Kong is an overpopulated urban center oozing with culture and charm. The city has a number of different hubs - the chaotic financial zone, towering business district, and busy Port of Hong Kong - where numerous storylines could evolve and give players a taste of what the real Hong Kong has to offer.
5 Avoid: Boston
So this one might rile a few feathers but I don't see the point of setting the next GTA in Boston. The capital of Massachusetts is one of the oldest cities in the country and boasts a picturesque city center that includes the winding Charles River and iconic Fenway Park, but there is little more on offer in regards to Boston as a video game setting. As a city, Boston is too small, with the Greater Boston area not exciting enough for a video game that requires exotic and exciting locations like GTA. Anyone who has seen the Ben Affleck starring flick The Town would no doubt love the opportunity to pull off the type of heists seen in the film in a Boston set GTA, but it's the type of mission that would work in multiple cities with much greater geographic diversity.
4 Go To: Amsterdam
When it comes to writing the plot for a new GTA game no city offers more interesting backstory than Amsterdam. The Netherland's capital has a rich history and is a go-to for any tourist who has a love of fine art, architecture, and world history. But there's also another side to Amsterdam that's much more sinister. These activities give writers the chance to create an interesting, interconnecting story for players to follow along with an assortment of bad guys to interact with. Don't forget Amsterdam is also a beautiful looking city and with the assortment of canals flowing through the center means players could travel by boat, car, and bike.
3 Avoid: Chicago
Scrolling through online forums and message boards and it's clear GTA fans would love the next game to be set in Chicago. Considering Chi Town's history, it makes sense why fans want to see this city replicated in the video game world. Chicago is a place with dynamic diversity and each of the neighborhoods surrounding the city center has their own unique personality. The hip-hop culture is widely present in Chicago, with Rockstar able to intertwine this in the narrative while providing a soundtrack chock full of current hip-hop tunes.
The main drawback of using Chicago is the fact it's been done over and over again in popular culture. Watch Dogs gave video gamers a gorgeous looking Chicago to explore while the Mafia series of games have given players an idea about what really went down in Chicago during its heyday. There's also been a host of television shows and films set in and around Chicago, so if Rockstar were to set the next game there, they don't have much to work with that hasn't already been seen before.
2 Go To: Washington DC
If Rockstar decides to keep things in the same country with the next game in the franchise, there are few better candidates for the setting than Washington DC. Politics aside, Washington is also the home to a lot of incredible landmarks. The surrounding areas, including a variety of suburbs and national parks, gives players many different terrains to navigate and explore. There's no doubt that a GTA story set here would be absolutely incredible — even if it meant things got a bit more serious.
1 Avoid: Cape Town
The port city of South Africa, Cape Town has become a must-see tourist destination over the past decade thanks to the amazing scenery and bustling city center. Situated below the imposing Tabletop Mountain, Cape Town is the jewel in South Africa's crown, with the cities boundaries a gateway to wildlife parks, dangerous slums, and all manner of interesting folks. It would be cool to see Grand Theft Auto really step out of its comfort zone, but this probably isn't the right place to do it.