Grand Theft Auto Key Art

Grand Theft Auto: From The Worst Game in The Series To The Best

The anticipation surrounding Grand Theft Auto 6 is skyrocketing, fueled by its enduring status as one of the world’s most beloved franchises. Over the course of numerous decades and multiple generations of gaming consoles, the series has captivated fans worldwide.

From its captivating locations and memorable characters to groundbreaking gameplay that forever changed the open-world genre, Grand Theft Auto has left an indelible mark. In order to channel and manage this mounting excitement, we have compiled a list ranking the GTA games, from the least favoured to the most cherished. It is important to acknowledge that opinions may vary, considering the diverse experiences offered by the older titles. As we pay homage to the franchise and the narratives it has delivered, we embrace and respect differing viewpoints.

#13. Grand Theft Auto Advance (GBA, 2004)

Grand Theft Auto Advance In-game Screenshot
Grand Theft Auto Advance In-game Screenshot

The development of GTA Advance for the Game Boy Advance posed a setback due to its inferior technology. Despite being released in 2004 after the successful titles of GTA 3 and Vice City, its limitations were somewhat overlooked. One crucial aspect to consider is the absence of cutscenes, which greatly diminished player immersion.

Unlike its predecessors, which consistently introduced new features, GTA Advance failed to deliver in this regard. Although it shares similarities with GTA 1 or 2, it pales in comparison to the other choices available at the time of its release. Additionally, the game lacks a memorable protagonist, which can be attributed to the absence of engaging cutscenes.

#12. GTA London 1961/1969 (PC & PS1, 1999)

GTA London – In-game Screenshot

Two expansion packs were released for Grand Theft Auto 1: 1969 for PS1 and 1961 for PC. While they do provide a decent amount of additional content, they fail to match the original game’s strength. The storyline lacks the same level of intrigue, and the limited number of missions allows players to complete them quickly.

Due to the game’s age, the controls are sensitive, and the top-down view scrolling struggles to keep up with the player’s movements during driving sequences. Rockstar Toronto’s development team aimed to create standalone content that could enhance the game, but unfortunately, it falls short of the high standards set by the original Grand Theft Auto, despite its potential as an add-on.

#11. Grand Theft Auto (PS1, 1998)

Grand Theft Auto 1 - In-game Screenshot
Grand Theft Auto – In-game Screenshot

Despite being an older game, Grand Theft Auto 1 is strongly recommended for players to experience the roots of the series and understand its evolution. The game comes alive through its in-game radio, diverse locations, and a wide array of objectives to complete, laying the foundation for the open-world genre. However, it does reveal signs of its age with its mission structure and dated controls for combat and driving.

Although lacking a gripping narrative, its distinct charm and status as one of the pioneering entries set it apart from other instalments. It offers a unique and worthwhile experience that should not be missed.

#10. GTA 2 (PS1, 1999)

Grand Theft Auto 2 In-game Screenshot
Grand Theft Auto 2 In-game Screenshot

Released one year after its predecessor, GTA 2 expanded upon the successful formula established by the original game. Notably, the game enhanced car handling, combat mechanics, and sound quality, particularly with regard to the vehicles.

The storyline focused on the protagonist becoming entangled in a violent gang war, involving factions such as the Russian Mafia, Yakuza, and fictional entities like the Zaibatsu Corporation. The player’s choices and actions during missions had a significant impact on faction relationships, either fostering positive alliances or creating negative repercussions.

#9. Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars (Nintendo DS, 2009)

Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars - In-game Screenshot
Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars – In-game Screenshot

Despite its release in 2009, Chinatown Wars was perceived as a step backward for the franchise following the highly acclaimed Grand Theft Auto 4. Rockstar’s intention was to venture into the portable gaming market, building on the success of Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories. However, the game’s camera design reverted to a top-down view, which may have hindered its reception, considering the prevalence of third-person perspectives in previous titles.

Nevertheless, one notable strength lies in the game’s story and its protagonist, Huang Lee. Motivated by vengeance for his father’s murder and his own near-death experience in Liberty City, Huang embarks on a quest to restore his family’s control over the Triads and seize power in the city.

Furthermore, Chinatown Wars introduced a GPS system to facilitate player navigation and boasted a distinctive cartoon style, setting it apart as the only GTA title to feature such graphics.

#8. GTA: Liberty City Stories (PSP/PS2, 2005/2006)

Grand Theft Auto Liberty City Stories - In-game Screenshot
Grand Theft Auto Liberty City Stories – In-game Screenshot

Regrettably, Liberty City Stories, the first 3D Grand Theft Auto game for handheld devices, fell short in many aspects. Despite the immense success of its predecessor, GTA San Andreas, LCS struggled to leave a lasting impression with its lacklustre storyline featuring Tony Cipriani as the protagonist, who failed to stand out compared to the characters in GTA 3.

Both versions of the game returned to the gameplay mechanics of GTA 3, depriving players of the ability to fly vehicles and rendering them unable to swim upon entering the water. This marked a stark contrast to the expansive player experience offered by San Andreas, released in 2004. While still part of the franchise, LCS was overshadowed by its predecessor by a considerable margin.

#7 GTA: Vice City Stories (PSP/PS2, 2006/2007)

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories In-game Screenshot
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories In-game Screenshot

Vice City Stories, a prequel to GTA Vice City, was considered the superior of the two “stories” games. Assuming the role of Vic Vance’s brother, players embark on a journey to establish their empire and seize control of the city. The game successfully reintroduces elements missing from Liberty City Stories, such as the ability to swim and fly helicopters.

Additionally, it introduces an engaging empire-building mechanic that allows players to select and develop specific businesses, ultimately gaining dominance over different locations. While the feature is welcomed, it can become repetitive after multiple playthroughs.

As customary in the series, guest voice actors make appearances, and Vice City Stories boasts the presence of acclaimed 80s musician Phil Collins. A standout moment in the game involves a recreated in-game concert where Collins performs his iconic hit “In The Air Tonight.” It’s an unforgettable experience that even I hold dear.

#6. Grand Theft Auto 3 (PS2, 2001)

Grand Theft Auto 3 In-game Screenshot
Grand Theft Auto 3 In-game Screenshot

Despite lacking certain mechanics found in later games and the presence of a silent protagonist, GTA 3 remains a groundbreaking title that revolutionised the GTA series by introducing a fully realised 3D world.

The game captivates players with a compelling narrative, following the protagonist’s journey to seek retribution for a betrayal that stems from a fateful robbery. Notably, GTA 3 boasts a diverse array of vehicles and offers unique vehicle-based missions like Vigilante and Paramedic. Breaking new ground for the series, it incorporates cutscenes and features a talented voice cast comprising actors renowned for their roles in mob movies.

Moreover, the game’s exceptional music selection spans various genres, from 80s pop to rock. GTA 3 marks the inception of a new era in gaming, introducing concepts that would become staples in future open-world games.

#5. Grand Theft Auto Vice City (PS2, 2002)

Grand Theft Auto Vice City In-game Screenshot
Grand Theft Auto Vice City – In-game Screenshot

The first time I laid eyes on Vice City is etched in my memory. As my inaugural GTA experience, the moment I heard “Billie Jean” on Flash FM while taking in the neon-lit streets, I became immediately enthralled. It fueled my desire to immerse myself in everything the series had to offer.

Rockstar fully embraced the 80s aesthetic, drawing inspiration from iconic movies like Scarface and Carlito’s Way. Tommy Vercetti, masterfully portrayed by the late Ray Liotta, delivers a standout performance, truly embodying the essence of Vice City.

The game boasts one of the series’ finest soundtracks, an eclectic mix of 80s delights. Nevertheless, the game’s age becomes evident in Tommy’s somewhat clunky movements and less refined gunplay compared to later instalments. However, Vice City remains an absolute must-play, an essential experience for any gamer, much like the subsequent entries in the series.

#4. Grand Theft Auto San Andreas (PS2, 2004)

San Andreas: Rockstar Games Key Art

When Rockstar unleashed San Andreas, players were curious to see how they could surpass the success of Vice City. Much to their delight, Rockstar exceeded expectations by transporting players to a virtual rendition of Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and San Francisco.

This expansive new setting introduced a plethora of exciting gameplay elements, including intense gang wars, physical fitness activities, exhilarating plane flights, and even daring casino heists. The game’s instant popularity was undeniable, captivating players from the very beginning. Even to this day, its remarkable array of activities continues to receive high praise. The game’s gripping storyline was another triumph, impressing not only with its writing but also with its length, offering a truly immersive experience.

The inclusion of renowned actor Samuel L. Jackson as one of the antagonists only added to the game’s allure. All in all, GTA San Andreas remains an absolute must-play for all, standing as an iconic masterpiece in the gaming world.

#3. GTA: Episodes from Liberty City (Xbox 360/PS3, 2009)

Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City in-game Screenshot
In-game Screenshot

The DLC for GTA IV offers a highly enjoyable experience. It presents two distinctive storylines set in Liberty City. In Lost and the Damned, players delve into the thrilling adventures of a biker gang known as the Lost, navigating intense conflicts with rival factions and internal club disputes.

Conversely, Ballad of Gay Tony adopts a more glamorous theme, as players aid their club-owner friend in tackling issues involving crime families within the city. The DLCs also introduce a range of new vehicles and weapons to the online multiplayer mode, providing players with additional choices for chaotic mayhem.

While these DLCs undoubtedly enhance the game, it is worth noting that the original GTA IV protagonist, Niko Bellic, retains a greater depth and an exceptional storyline. Sometimes, nothing can surpass the appeal of the original.

#2. GTA IV (Xbox 360/PS3, 2008)

Image Credit – Cnet

GTA IV distinguished itself from its predecessors with its notably dark and gritty tone. The game’s controls were also refined, delivering a more seamless and immersive gaming experience than previous Grand Theft Auto games. Its gripping storyline explored profound themes such as war, PTSD, and the challenges of starting afresh in an unfamiliar place. This fresh concept for the series was executed masterfully, capturing players’ attention.

Beyond its compelling single-player mode, GTA IV introduced its own online multiplayer component, which garnered positive reception from players. This multiplayer feature allowed for free-roaming exploration of the city alongside friends or engaging in exhilarating pursuits with adversaries.

Although it may lack some of the advancements introduced by its DLC counterparts, GTA IV laid the groundwork for numerous mechanics utilised in its expansions as well as in GTA V. As such, it deserves its place as a formidable contender for the second spot in the franchise.

#1. GTA V (Xbox 360/PS3, 2013)

Protagonists L to R: Franklin, Trevor, and Michael

GTA V stands as an undeniable masterpiece crafted by Rockstar. With its three protagonists, each with their own compelling storyline, the game keeps players engaged and captivated throughout. Notably, the heists feature an intricate and thrilling planning mechanic that adds a layer of excitement to the gameplay.

The visuals are nothing short of stunning, showcasing impressive attention to detail, such as the realistic formation of puddles on the streets after rainfall. The game exemplifies excellent game design, with the sprawling world of Los Santos feeling vibrant and alive, reminiscent of modern-day Los Angeles.

Furthermore, the online component, GTA Online, has become a sensation, attracting a massive player base and allowing individuals to live out their criminal aspirations in the game’s virtual world. Even after a decade since its release, GTA V continues to thrive, with its 10-year anniversary approaching this fall. Undeniably, GTA V deserves its rightful place as the number one contender in the franchise.

Our conclusion highlights the strengths and notable aspects of each game discussed, showcasing the evolution and impact of the Grand Theft Auto series. We absolutely can’t wait for GTA 6. Do you agree with our list? Leave a comment below!