There is no question that the Grand Theft Auto game series is on the more popular side. The Rockstar team has come a long way with this franchise. It’s their biggest seller, and they show no signs of slowing down.
No matter what GTA game, you play you will have fun; there are a number of side missions, but you can certainly go rogue and wreak havoc. Best of all, the game offers some great guns to use, awesome cars to drive, and vast worlds to explore. Grand Theft Auto has come a long way from the dated, top-down game that it used to be. GTA is always raising the bar and setting the standard. Now we just have to figure out which one deserves the top rank!
15 Grand Theft Auto
This is the OG of the action-adventure game, the one that started it all. So yes, we have it pretty far up on the list, but that is only because they have built on it so well. The original game featured six levels and three different cities. There is also more than one playable character.
So, as you can see, we mean what we say by the gameplay and the universe started out great and only got better. It takes place in 1997, and, as we know, the year or decade in GTA plays a significant role in the characters and the city.
14 Grand Theft Auto: London, 1969
In order to gain a web presence GTA: London, 1969 was released as a freeware mission pack kind of like an expansion pack for The Sims. At this point, there hadn’t been a new GTA game since 1997, so the 1999 release of the expansion was welcomed as much as it could be.
This version of GTA was the one that introduced “unlimited criminal opportunity”. However, even though the game offered more freedom, game players felt that Rockstar boasted about improved gameplay, new cars, and upgrades to the city but did not deliver.
13 Grand Theft Auto: London, 1961
Because they failed to deliver on the promise of better gameplay in Grand Theft Auto: London, 1969, London, 1961 was released. Again it was a freeware game, so another expansion. But, here is where rockstar began to tap into prequels and recurring characters.
1961 was meant to appease those who felt there was a lack of storyline in 1969 and not enough to do. Rockstar wanted game players to have a couple more missions and to become somewhat familiar with the characters that they wanted to highlight. This game was only available for download.
12 Grand Theft Auto Advance
Grand Theft Auto: Advance was made only for Gameboy Advance. It continued to follow all of the normal GTA gameplay. GTA: Advance was a prequel to Grand Theft Auto III and was set in Liberty City. The main character Mike teams up with his best friend to try to make enough money to leave the city.
A few of your favorite Liberty City gangs make an appearance like the Uptown Yardies, the Yakuza, and the Colombian Cartel. What makes this game one of our least favorites is that Rockstar had to adapt to the restrictions of Gameboy Advance. This meant no cutscenes, no voice actors, not even a radio. How boring it was just doing simple missions.
11 Grand Theft Auto III
In 2001, GTA III was released within a 3D universe. It followed the events of GTA Advance and picked up with a character we later know to be Claude and his girlfriend Catalina. The couple is robbing a bank, and he is double-crossed by his girlfriend and left for dead.
The game is essentially a revenge mission for Claude. This game, however, is pretty cool because it introduced GTA fans to the over-the-shoulder perspective of gameplay. The top-down perspective was fun for a moment but, the new angle enlightened fans in a whole new way. In addition to free reign over the city, fans were introduced to new territory and gangs to play around with.
10 Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
Released in 1999 and set one-year after the events of GTA IV the game focuses on the Triads and Huang Lee the nephew of Wu Lee. This game could have been way better, but let’s face it, the main objective of this game is to get a sword back. The Triads were a great focal point for the moment in GTA IV, but a whole game surrounding their “drama” was not necessary. Introducing the sword was a cool concept, but barely having any kind of time with it was annoying. The final battle and the revelation of a deep uncover agent wasn’t even enough to make this game a little more exciting.
9 Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned
The Lost and the Damned was part of the GTA IV universe and one of two downloadable content packs. The main character is Johnny who, along with the others in his biker gang, are being pressured to grow up.
The gang is known for petty crimes and spending most of their time at a bar that doubles as their clubhouse. This game has been compared to Robinhood. There is a lot of violence and refusal to see things for what they are. Johnny is the one who has to hold things together, even when the leader of the club makes drugged-induced decisions.
8 Grand Theft Auto 2
Released in 1999, GTA 2 is not connected to any other GTA game... as far as we know. Rockstar wanted to focus on releasing a game that was its own entity. We are not explicitly told what year it is. Some believe, after much researching, that it is set in 2013, but one of the radio hosts mentions “the millennium is coming,” which would place the game just before 2000. Some early 3D graphics were used, and Rockstar did not specify a city name.
However, the main characters name is Claude, as is the main character in GTA III. The crazy thing is, GTA refuses to confirm or deny if it is the same Claude in both. There was even a movie based on the game with Claude as the protagonist. He wears the same clothes we see him in GTA III, so we can only assume there is a connection.
7 Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories
This is the ninth game in the franchise. Released in 2005, the game was set in 1998. The main character is Toni Cipriani, an enforcer type who works for the mafia. Toni recently came out of four years of hiding for killing a made man. He's now back at the bottom of the ranks and working for the man who replaced him when he disappeared.
The gameplay was great and the familiar characters were ones that you either loved or hated. This version of Liberty City features a new area to explore, new gangs, and you can now take a ferry to get across town instead of driving the wrong way on the highway for hours.
6 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
CJ returns home to what looks to be a Compton-like neighborhood. He is there to find out who murdered his mother and to bring his gang the Grove Street Family back together. CJ tries to blend back into the crew, he takes on local missions and deals with other street gangs, but he finds that his old crew was shady.
The game features a new location, that being San Andreas, which fans have compared to Los Angeles, and it featured vehicles like bicycles and tanks. Fans were able to have multiple girlfriends, get tattoos, own business, and explore two other cities: San Fierro and Las Venturas.
5 Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony
The Ballad of Gay Tony came out around the same time as LATD. The second downloadable content pack for GTA IV. Fans get to follow Luis Lopez assistant to nightclub owner Anthony “Gay Tony” Prince. He completes missions and errands on Tony’s behalf.
Both Tony and Luis are broke and in debt to many people, so the game focuses on trying to claw their way out of debt, but also trying to stay loyal to themselves and one another. It doesn’t make a significant dent in any one GTA IV story. It truly acts as a filler for those waiting for the next installment of the game.
4 Grand Theft Auto IV
The 11th game in the series, GTA IV follows immigrant Niko Bellic as he tries to navigate his way through the fictional American town of Liberty City. Some of the main things that were different about this GTA was that the creators played up Niko’s moral compass. The players were able to make decisions that could possibly come back to bite them in the butt later, and choosing to spare or kill someone could be Niko’s downfall.
The game also focused a lot on Niko giving social commentary on life in America. Essentially the game was about thriving for that sought-after American dream. Some features that stood out to players was that Niko could set up shop in internet cafes, he could drive drunk but inform us the player that he shouldn’t be doing so.
3 Grand Theft Auto V
The latest installment of the franchise really stepped it’s game up. Rockstar provides players with three interchangeable players (depending on the mission). The game takes us back to a fan-favorite location, San Andreas. Where each mission is meant to get one of the three players closer to their ultimate goal.
The game didn’t really have any new features besides the interchangeable gameplay. Typical missions, gunplay, fooling around in the city, and, of course, various levels of fun depending on who you are playing as at the time. The overall gameplay is exciting with many things to do if you are not about that missions life. For those of you who only get these games for the freeplay, this is one of the best ones for that.
2 Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories
Vice City Stories was less exciting than Vice City. That being said, it was an exclusive game for PlayStation Portable, so this could be why they toned it down a bit. The game took place in 1984, a short two-years before Vice City.
Fans get to follow Lance Vance’s brother, Victor Vance. We know Lance from his traitorous behavior in Vice City, but here, we follow him and his brother as they try to take over the city and make a lot of money. What makes this game so fun is that it has all the elements that Vice City had, including the same characters. The truth is, the characters are what makes Vice City and Vice City Stories some of the best in the franchise.
1 Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
It could be the 80s inspired backdrop, the music, or just Tommy Vercetti himself. Regardless, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has the funniest, most interesting storylines in the entire series. It offers up great side characters, fun missions, awesome ways to make money, and, most importantly, an easy to navigate city. The storyline is fast-paced, and you certainly get to meet a number of wacky characters. You even open your own side businesses that eventually generate money on their own.
Tommy Vercetti is voiced by Ray Liotta, and a number of other celebrities make appearances. The overall gameplay offers random opportunities to get into turf wars, earn respect, and, again, make a lot of money. So, basically, everything that most people would want in real life.