Grand Theft Auto, more commonly referred to as GTA, is a series of action-adventure games that were developed by Rockstar Games. The gameplay in these games mainly focuses on open-world exploration along with missions for the player to complete to progress the storyline. Most of the gameplay consists of driving and shooting with occasional stealth and role-playing elements. There are various side activities as well for the players to take part in.
The series began in 1997 with the release of Grand Theft Auto and has since received many expansion packs and stand-alone sequels. As of 2022, there are 16 titles in this franchise with the latest ones being Grand Theft Auto V and GTA Online. The series has been critically acclaimed by notable figures in the gaming industry and has been ranked among both the greatest as well as best-selling video games. The GTA series has sold more than 370 million units which makes it the fifth-best-selling video game franchise. The franchise has also seen lots of controversy for its adult nature and violent themes.
Every title of Grand Theft Auto has let us dive into the fascinating and entrancing personality of a unique protagonist, with GTA V giving us triple the excitement. Players have always been impressed with what Rockstar has to offer and never seem to get bored. Everyone is just as excited for GTA 6 which seems to be a new point of revolution and renaissance for the Grand Theft Auto franchise.
Let us quickly take a look at every title in the franchise leading up to our main focus, Grand Theft Auto V.
List of GTA titles
The first ever Grand Theft Auto title, known simply as Grand Theft Auto was released in 1997. This game was developed by DMA Design (now known as Rockstar North). It gave players an option to choose between 8 characters on the PC version with many more characters available in the Game Boy color version. The names of the PC version characters were Bubba, Divine, Katie, Kivlov, Mikki, Travis, Troy, and Ulrika. It was initially released on 28th November 1997 for MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows with the following releases on PlayStation and Game Boy Color in December 1997 and October 1999 respectively.
Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 is the first-ever expansion pack in the franchise. It was released on 29th April, 1999 for Windows and PSone. 32 new missions were added with this pack with 30 new vehicles based on the location, London. It used the same game engine used by Grand Theft Auto with a London-based theme. Even the voice that says “Grand Theft Auto” when the game loads, has a British accent in Grand Theft Auto: London 1969.
Grand Theft Auto: London 1961 is the second expansion pack in the Grand Theft Auto franchise. To play this, both the original game and the first expansion pack (GTA London 1969) have to be installed. This game is a prequel to the first expansion pack, with new missions and 22 new vehicles. It also has a Deathmatch mode based in the UK's Manchester city.
Released on 22nd October, 1999 on PlayStation, GTA 2 is the sequel to the first game in the franchise. It came with slightly improved graphics and a similar gameplay style. There were shadows with a new look for the character and the dynamic camera zooming improved with new vehicles and weapons. It was developed by DMA design now known as Rockstar North. There are seven gangs in this game and missions are of three difficulties which are taken from payphones around the city.
Grand Theft Auto III is the third main installment, the fifth overall installment in the GTA franchise, and the first Grand Theft Auto game with 3D gameplay. This game was developed by Rockstar North and was initially released on 22nd October 2001 for PlayStation 2. Its release was delayed due to the September 11th attacks to make a few changes in the game. It uses the RenderWare game engine. The protagonist of this game is Claude and the game is set in Liberty City.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was initially released for PlayStation 2 on 29th October, 2002. It was developed by Rockstar North using the RenderWare game engine, the same as Grand Theft Auto III. GTA Vice City has minor improvements in graphics from the past game. It received major recognition and became more popular and liked by players all around the world. It is based in Vice City which is based on the real-world city of Miami. Tommy Vercetti, the protagonist of this game, finds himself in a tight situation after a drug deal goes sideways, and has to repay some money to some very powerful people.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is the fifth main title and the seventh overall installment in the Grand Theft Auto franchise. It was initially released on 26th October 2004 for PlayStation 2. Developed by Rockstar North using the same game engine RenderWare, this title is deemed to be the best game of Grand Theft Auto’s 3D universe. With an amazing story and loads of characters, this game stood out among players. It is based in the fictional U.S state of San Andreas which consists of Los Santos (inspired by Los Angeles), San Fierro (San Francisco), and Las Venturas (Las Vegas). The protagonist of this game is Carl Johnson aka CJ who belongs to the Families gang from Grove Street. The gameplay and graphics of GTA: San Andreas evolved as compared to the previous title.
Grand Theft Auto Advance was released on the same day as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, on 26th October, 2004. This game was developed by Digital Eclipse and published by Rockstar Games only for the Game Boy Advance. GTA Advance had a similar style to the first two titles in the franchise with the top to down view, but not completely 2D. This game belongs to the 3D universe of the Grand Theft Auto franchise and is set in Liberty City as a prequel to GTA III. The protagonist of GTA Advance is a guy named Mike who wants to avenge the death of his partner Vinnie.
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories is the 9th overall installment in the Grand Theft Auto franchise. It was released for PlayStation Portable(PSP) on 24th October 2005. Set in Liberty City before the events of GTA III, it is the story of Toni Cipriani and how he made his way up the ranks of the Leone family. It was developed by Rockstar North and Rockstar Leeds using the same RenderWare game engine with Image Metrics for facial animation. Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories went on to become the best-selling PSP game with over 8 million copies sold as of 2008. It was released as a port for the PlayStation 2 in 2006 and later for Android in 2015, and iOS and FireOS in 2016.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories is another title that was exclusively released for the PlayStation Portable(PSP), on 31st October, 2006 and developed by Rockstar Leeds and Rockstar North. It was later released for PlayStation 2 as a port in March 2007. The same PS2 version was released for PlayStation 3 in 2012. This game is a prequel to Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and is also based in Vice City. Victor Vance, an ex-soldier is the protagonist of GTA: Vice City Stories. This is the second best-selling game for the PSP with over 4.5 million copies sold as of March 2008.
The first game in the HD universe of the GTA franchise, Grand Theft Auto IV was released on 29th April, 2008. It was developed by Rockstar North and Rockstar Toronto using three game engines- Bullet Physics engine, Rockstar Advanced Game Engine, and Euphoria. This game is the sixth main game and the eleventh overall installment in the GTA franchise. Its initial release was for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in April 2008 followed by a PC release in December of the same year. The game sold an estimated US$310 million worth of copies on its first day and US$500 million in its first week. The open world and graphics impressed a lot of players worldwide and the game was critically acclaimed. However, it was also criticized for a few things regarding R-rated gameplay and features in the game. Niko Bellic is the protagonist of GTA IV. This game is based in an upgraded Liberty City with the neighboring state of Alderney based in New Jersey.
Grand Theft Auto: Episodes From Liberty City is an expansion pack consisting of two DLCs for Grand Theft Auto IV. This pack includes The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony. Both these DLCs are set in Liberty City during the events of GTA IV. This pack was released exclusively for Xbox 360 on 29th October, 2009. It was later released for PC and PlayStation 3 in April 2010.
The Lost and Damned is one of the two DLCs released for GTA IV. It was first released on 17th February, 2009 for Xbox 360 and in April of 2010 for PC and PlayStation 3. It was developed by Rockstar North in the Rockstar Advanced Game Engine. Johnny Klebitz of The Lost MC motorcycle gang is the protagonist of this episode. This DLC is also based in Liberty City and Alderney state. This game was available to download for owners of GTA IV via Xbox LIVE or PlayStation Network. It was also bundled along with its successor, “The Ballad of Gay Tony” in the Episodes of Liberty City disc-based title along with the main GTA IV game.
The Ballad of Gay Tony is the second DLC released for GTA IV after The Lost and Damned. It was released for Xbox on 29th October, 2009 and for PC and PlayStation 3 in April 2010. This is the fourth expansion pack in the series. It is set in Liberty City and revolves around a character named Luis Fernando Lopez who is the bodyguard and best friend of Anthony “Gay Tony” Prince. The story is about Luis’ journey in helping his best friend overcome his problems related to drugs and disputes and also getting away with attempts on both their lives. The reviews and ratings for this game were very positive and it was also considered the best expansion pack for a game ever. It was also part of the Episodes of Liberty City disc-based title along with The Lost and Damned.
Grand Theft Auto V is the latest title by Rockstar Games in the Grand Theft Auto franchise. It was released for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on 17th September, 2013. It was later released as an enhanced version for PS4 and Xbox One in November 2014 and for PC in April 2015. This game was developed with the Rockstar Advanced Game Engine by Rockstar North and was published by Rockstar Games.
GTA V earned around $800 million on the first day and around $1 billion worth in the first week. It went on to become the fastest-selling entertainment product in history and broke multiple records. As of 2018 it has earned over $6 billion in worldwide revenue and is still counting.
This game is set within the fictional state of San Andreas, which is inspired by South California. The story follows three protagonists: Michael De Santa, Franklin Clinton, and Trevor Phillips, all of them being playable characters. The story follows these three characters and their attempts to commit heists while under pressure from powerful criminals and a corrupt government agency.
San Andreas in GTA V consists of two main regions, Los Santos and Blaine County. Los Santos is the main city with tall buildings and urban areas based on the real-world Los Angeles. Blaine County is more of a countryside that is closer to nature. It consists of farmlands, hills, peaks, a huge lake called the Alamo Sea and highways running all around the map. This map of San Andreas is not the same as the one from the previous title Grand Theft Auto San Andreas but is an updated version with many changes and very few similarities.
This game has won multiple awards including the VGX Game Of The Year award, British Academy Games awards, and even BAFTA awards with 12 wins and 29 nominations. It set a standard for all action-adventure games concerning gameplay, graphics, mechanics, and every other aspect that makes a game complete. It received a 10/10 from IGN, 9/10 on Steam, and 81% on Metacritic.
(The map of San Andreas in Grand Theft Auto V)
Grand Theft Auto Online is the multiplayer component for the Grand Theft Auto franchise released on 1st October, 2013 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It was released a year later on 14th November, 2014 for PS4 and Xbox One. It is set in the same state of San Andreas as GTA V with a custom-created protagonist that can be unique for each player. Grand Theft Auto Online is regularly updated even now as of 2022 and has a lot more to bring to the table in the coming years. New weapons, vehicles, missions, heists, etc. are introduced with updates. There are multiple criminal careers that a player can choose from and do missions for the same. GTA Online allows up to 30 players to explore its open world and play together at a time.
The eighth main title by Rockstar Games was confirmed by Rockstar Games on their website through a post on the Rockstar Newswire page. It said that the game is in development and more details will be shared with everyone through the official site when Rockstar is ready to reveal more. This title is most likely said to be set in Vice City based on the real-world Miami City and from the previous game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Leaked information suggests that there are two protagonists this time and their names are possibly Jason and Lucia with Lucia being the first-ever female playable lead character in Rockstar history.