I know that the end of 2018 has revolved around Red Dead Redemption 2, but let’s focus on the other juggernaut from Rockstar. The first exposure I had to the GTA series was GTA III and it changed the way I looked at games. Being able to go anywhere around an open city like that and basically do whatever you wanted was probably the most overwhelming moment I’ve had in gaming. I’ve played every GTA game since and enjoyed them all. Now, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have some glaring problems.
This list is going to cover some of the problems the games have had over the years despite literally everyone enjoying these games. A good bit of this stuff will focus on games prior to GTA V because they fixed a good bit of problems there. Some of the mechanics I have issues with can be chalked up to the games being older and that the technology wasn’t there but some were clearly creative decisions.
I’m going to focus on the main series of GTA games because I know that most people have played those and can relate. I want to state that I don’t think any of these games are bad but they all have some bad parts to them. Thanks to the PS2 on PS4 games I have been able to play most of these games lately and the rough patches stick out even more now. With all that being said, let’s dig into the GTA series!
25 The Driving
I’ll say this: the driving in GTA IV and GTA V is pretty solid, but the PS2 era games have some really rough driving mechanics. At the time the controls weren’t odd, but going back to them now just feels wrong.
You use the face buttons for gas and brake.
The cars just had this wild nature to them and made them tough to control, especially the fast ones. There were so many missions I failed because I wrecked my car and ran out of time…so frustrating!
It seems that every GTA game has a few missions that require stealth and they’re all pretty poor at it! In the age of Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell games we have to have better stealth missions in games. You normally have to sneak for a good reason story-wise but man, I always hate doing them. Sticking to cover is tough and knowing if they can see you or not has always been a problem. Most missions end up failing if you get caught as well and ugh, they just aren’t fun!
23 Fall Damage
I know these games have always shot for real over normal video game physics, but it would cool if you could fall a bit longer and not take damage. It seems the older games weren’t as strict on this as GTA V is but it’s still there. I’m not saying they have to go all Saints Row, but maybe let me jump off a 10 feet tall thing and be good. It’s not a big deal on the surface but the more you play the more annoying it is.
22 Confusing Side Content
What I mean by this is that they don’t make it easy to see all the side stuff you can do, not so much the actual content. Seeing stranger missions is pretty clear but you pretty much have to stumble into everything else.
I’ve played GTA V about 4 times and still haven’t seen all there is.
I know that not seeing all the content can come across as a “Wow” thing but not to me. I want to play all the stuff and I’m actually a fan of how Ubisoft games do it showing the icons.
21 Older Games Have Rough Graphics
I remember looking in magazines around when Vice City was coming out and was drooling over how good the game looked, well…those games haven’t aged well. The PS2 on PS4 games are cleaned up a bit but they still look pretty rough.
The close-up textures look like they have Vaseline rubbed on them.
The main thing is the faces of the characters in cutscenes! The things going on can get decently serious and faces can look smeared and there’s no lip-sync.
20 Aiming Weapons
The aiming in GTA IV was the first time the games actually felt like competent shooters, but until then it was pretty rough. Free aiming was so difficult so depending on the auto-aim was what most people did and it was spotty. Up close it worked pretty well but rolling up to a group of dudes, you better be ready to do the mission over. There was no getting behind cover and picking people off back then. It was mainly poking out from behind a building or something. It’s hard to believe the combat was so rough back then!
19 Vice City Syndrome
To some people, Vice City is and will forever be their favorite game in the series and nothing outside of a sequel/remake will top it. There’s nothing wrong with that but it can make approaching a new GTA game a tad rough.
GTA IV got a lot of undeserved hate in my opinion.
Vice City is an amazing game and seeing more of it would be awesome, but not everything has to be around that game in the series. Scarface is one of my favorite movies so I get it, but GTA V is a better game!
18 Saving System
Playing GTA V you will notice that after a mission is complete that the game will autosave and you will be all good to turn the game off. Going back to the PS2 games, that was not the case at all! You had to go back to a few specific save point or the progress you made would be for nothing. It became a big pain when there wasn’t a safe spot close to the mission finishing. It was a system that we all just kind of ignored but thankfully we don’t have to worry about that anymore!
17 GTA Online
GTA Online launched a little while after GTA V came out and it was very broken! I remember trying to get in on the PS3 and it was a nightmare and wasn’t stable till it came out on the Xbox One/PS4.
Once it worked it was kind of a grind to play.
This is totally a personal thing, but I always looked at GTA Online as the reason we never got single-player DLC. They had story based dlc with this but not with the characters from the single-player.
16 San Andreas Is Too Long
Some people peg San Andreas as the best GTA game and I can respect that but it’s an extremely long game! GTA III and Vice City are both solid 20 hour games to complete the story but it legit takes around 50 hours to beat San Andreas. I have no problems with long games when they need to be, but this game felt like it was a bit bloated. There are a ton of crazy missions though so that makes up for all that for the most part.
15 Basically Playing As The Bad Guy
A problem some people have always had with these games is that, regardless what the main character may think, they’re basically the villains of the story. The main solution to most missions is to take life and most of the time it’s without remorse.
Trevor in GTA V is the prefect example of this.
He’s basically a psycho and the game forces you to play as him and do horrible things to people. I personally don’t mind this stuff but I know it’s a problem for a decent amount of people.
14 Vehicle Combat
I appreciate doing cool things in games but shooting out of a car is one of the most complicated things to do smoothly in a video game. You basically have to use all the buttons on the controller to do it. It got better in the latest games but still not where it needs to be. And look, it’s a really cool thing to do when you do it right but it’s a lot. I will say, the fact that windows could bust and this was even an option in the older games is impressive!
13 Lack Of Fast Travel
I’m one of those people that thinks fast travel is one of, if not the, most important things about an open-world game but I guess Rockstar feels differently. There is no traditional fast travel in any of the games and that’s something that should be, but never gets talked about.
You can take a cab if you pay and that acts as the fast travel.
It does make sense to keep the realistic vibe going but this is ultimately a video game and the worlds are all big!
12 The Wanted System
Getting the cops after you in these games is something that is going to happen even if you just stick to the story missions. GTA V gave the cops cones of vision on the map but the PS2 games just had them have superhuman sight and you had to get out of an area to get away! It was so annoying to be completely hidden from them but since you were still in a certain area they knew exactly where you were. For a game trying to be realistic, this always bothered me!
11 Next To Impossible Achievements/Trophies
This will only be a thing for people like me who go after achievements/trophies but they have some extremely tough ones to get. GTA V has one where you have to get gold on every mission in the game and that basically means you have to replay them all and do them perfect!
Half of them are for GTA Online and that’s annoying.
So it pretty much comes down to this, if you are an achievement/trophy hunter you might just want to play these games for what they are.
10 Aircraft Controls
San Andreas introduced being able to fly in planes and choppers and I remember being super excited for that…but then I got in one. I’m going to be straight with my opinion here, flying in the GTA games is terrible! For some reason, they decided that you need to use the shoulder buttons to balance out the plane when flying and it feels so darn awkward! There’s a mission in San Andreas that is a flying school and it’s so tough strictly because of the controls. GTA V didn’t fix the controls by the way!
9 Lack Of Popular Pop Music
I used to hate pop music but as the years have gone by I’ve come to really appreciate it but I guess Rockstar is still me from high school. They do have some pop music but it seems that classic rock and metal music are the main staples of the franchise now.
The Xbox One/PS4 release of GTA V added more music and it was mainly pop.
Vice City is probably the game that has had the most pop music in it and that’s because it’s based in the 80s.
8 Easy Mission Fails
Some missions in these games have very easy methods for failing them, so let’s dive into it a bit more. It’s so annoying when you are depending on the A.I. and they go down and you fail the mission when you were doing things right. The early games also loved to put missions in them that had you trailing someone and getting spotted was pretty easy and that was an instant fail! I also want to shout-out a mission in GTA V where you parachute onto a roof and if you miss it it’s a fail, super fun!
7 Overall Weak Stories
I love the GTA games and they all have very memorable characters but all of the games suffer from the overall story not being amazing. They all focus on crime and they all borrow from popular movies.
I would argue that GTA IV has the best story.
Vice City is basically Scarface and GTA V is pretty much a Martin Scorsese movie. Seeing what all the characters do throughout the games is very interesting but they all have endings that are just kind there. GTA V has an ending that felt very rushed and anti-climactic.
6 Lack Of Female Characters
Something that people have wanted for a while, myself included, is to have a female playable character because the female characters in these games are very secondary. GTA IV and GTA V got better about having female quest givers and heist members but it still wasn’t enough. Sadie in Red Dead Redemption 2 is probably the best female character that Rockstar has ever made, and we need more like her. I think with GTA VI they need to go ahead and pull the trigger and make the main character female or do what Assassin’s Creed Odyssey did and let us choose.
5 Mission Checkpoints
This is strictly just dealing with the PS2 era games cause man, failing a mission in those games lead to the most frustrating moments in gaming for me! There were no mid-mission checkpoints until GTA IV and it was a Godsend. Some of the missions in San Andreas were super long and you would lose like 45 minutes of progress when you would fail them. Keep in mind, with the shooting being rough, failing missions happened pretty often! It’s crazy that they made three games on the PS2 without mission checkpoints!
4 Racing Stinks
For a game series called Grand Theft Auto you would think that the cars would feel good and maybe the racing would be cool…nope, the racing isn’t good! I’ll give them credit that you are normally only required to do one racing mission in the game and it’s usually easy.
Franklin’s ability in GTA V does make racing pretty fun.
It just seems like the vehicles in these games weren’t meant to be in races, yet they put side missions with races in all these games.
3 Some Missions Are Bad
Most missions in the GTA games are fun and you are doing cool stuff, and doing cool stuff is what I like to do in games! Well, sometimes there are missions in these games like the Dodo mission in Vice City and they make me want to throw my controller! Also, any mission when you have to drive a specific vehicle to a certain point without it taking any damage is super annoying! And really any mission where you have to get into a shootout in the PS2 era games is annoying!
2 Odd Controls
Something that has plagued this series since GTA III has been the awkward controls they went for. Even though I think GTA V is one of the greatest games ever made, the controls are still weird.
You pretty much have you use every button on the controller.
I will say that the modern games did add using the triggers to aim weapons finally and that was nice! There’s just something about the way the characters move that just feels off to me and I’m guessing that has to do with them wanting a realistic feel, I’m not sure.
1 Causing Mayhem Doesn’t Make Sense
To me, having the characters going nuts and cause mayhem in the city is something that has never made sense. I get that it’s a game but most of the characters are trying to get out of the life but they seem to all enjoy taking out waves of cops.
Niko Bellic in GTA IV is the perfect example of this.
He is trying to reform his life but is cool doing a ton of crime and going on sprees! Trevor in GTA V was finally a character that existed that causing chaos made sense with!