The Grand Theft Auto series of video games is one of the most popular and controversial gaming franchises in history. The game follows an open-world format, allowing players to explore cities like New York and San Francisco while they complete missions.
GTA has been around since the late 90s and continues to be a dominant franchise, but what order should you play them in? We’ve sorted them from oldest to newest so you can see how the game has changed over time.
1. Grand Theft Auto (1997)
The first game in the series, GTA (Grand Theft Auto) was released on PlayStation and PC. It was a top-down view that allowed players to control a criminal character who could steal cars and cause as much mayhem as possible.
The player takes on the role of Claude Speed, who murders his cousin while trying to escape from prison. After breaking out, he begins working for Catalina, an ex-girlfriend and former lover of his brother’s who is now involved with gang leader Lance Vance. The story follows these characters’ attempts to stop a rival mobster known as 8-Ball from stealing their money and killing them both.
2. Grand Theft Auto 2 (1999)
One of the most revolutionary games in the series, GTA 2 was the first game to introduce 3D graphics and a large open world with multiple cities. It also introduced several features that would be used in subsequent titles:
The ability to change vehicles in the middle of a mission, allows players to switch from cars to motorcycles or boats.
The ability to customize vehicles by changing their paint job and adding accessories like bulletproof tires would come back with greater prominence in later games.
3. Grand Theft Auto III (2001)
The first game to introduce the main character as an antihero, 2001’s Grand Theft Auto III was set in Liberty City and took place in a 3D environment. It was also released on PC and Playstation 2, making it the first game in the series to be released on multiple platforms.
It paved the way for later GTA games by introducing players to new locations and characters that would continue throughout other installments of the franchise.
4. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002)
Vice City is the second game in the GTA series, set in 1986 Miami. The game introduced several new elements to the series: you can swim and fly planes, drive motorcycles and hire bodyguards. It also introduced being ability to buy the property and use the internet.
5. Grand Theft Auto Advance (2004)
Originally released for Game Boy Advance, Grand Theft Auto Advance is set in Liberty City and was the first game in the series to be set there. It also marked the onset of a new era: from this point on, all subsequent titles would take place around or within Liberty City. The game also marks itself as a milestone for being one of the last GTA games to feature San Andreas as its setting (the next title would be Vice City Stories).
6. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004)
Some of the most memorable moments in San Andreas involve doing things that you’re not supposed to do: stealing a tank, piloting a submarine, and even flying an airplane. This game also introduced new features like multiple protagonists with different personalities and backgrounds.
For example, you can play Carl “CJ” Johnson, who wants to get revenge on his mother’s killer; or Woozie, an Asian-American club owner who wants to take down the Grove Street Gang; or Cesar Vialpando (Kendl’s brother), someone who is constantly trying to protect his sister from harm; or Mike Toreno (the government agent), who needs CJ’s help in fighting against some corrupt government officials.
It made it fun for players to have more than one character available at once because all of them had their own plots going on throughout the storyline but weren’t directly related except through their connection with CJ himself – so sometimes it felt like we were playing four different games instead of just one!
7. Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (2005)
Liberty City Stories is the third game in the GTA games and was released in 2005. The game takes place in Liberty City—a fictionalized version of New York City—and plays like GTA3, with a few improvements. For example, you can now customize your character. And there’s a new protagonist named Toni Cipriani who comes from Italy via Liberty City streets; he’s looking for work as a low-ranking member of the Leone Family crime syndicate. When Vincenzo Civaly —a high-ranking member of the Leone Family—is killed by internal infighting, Toni finds himself tasked with avenging his death by killing all those involved in his murder (which will eventually lead to his becoming head honcho).
8. Grand Theft Auto V (2013)
This is the latest in the long-running series, and it’s been a big hit. The game was released in 2013, and it got an M rating for mature audiences because of its violence, blood, and gore. It takes place in Los Santos (a fictional version of Los Angeles) and Blaine County (a fictional version of San Diego). It was released on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One as well as Microsoft Windows systems like Windows 8/8.1/10
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