The Grand Theft Auto games have always held a special place in my heart, as it does with many gamers out there, and I’m always excited when a new entry to the series comes out. I personally hope we return to Vice City for the next GTA, but as we wait for whatever the new Grand Theft Auto may be, I thought it’d be fun to rank the current games in the series. I’ve decided to leave out the 2D entries (GTA 1 & 2, GTA Advance, etc.) because most of them just don’t hold up and would probably be at the bottom of the list anyways. So, with that being said, let's begin!
7. Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (2005)
I don’t remember Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories that well, since it came out only a year after the fantastic Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, but one thing I’ll always remember is being able to play a game like this on the go with the PSP. Despite it not being as great as the other entries in this list story-wise or gameplay-wise, I thought Liberty City Stories was still good for what it was, which was essentially Grand Theft Auto III on the go.
6. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (2006)
Now my memory of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories it quite the opposite because, despite it being portable as well via PSP, it was equal in quality to the console entries coming out at the time. I loved the world they originally showed off in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City back in 2002, so returning to it alone was a treat. It also added a bunch of features that appeared in San Andreas but were absent in the original game. So, gameplay-wise this game is superior to GTA: Vice City, but I enjoyed the story in Vice City so much more.
5. Grand Theft Auto III (2001)
Grand Theft Auto III is a weird one for me because my first exposure to it – and to Grand Theft Auto series really – was the double pack on the original Xbox that also came with Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. I didn’t care much for GTA III at the time because of how much I loved Vice City, but later in my life, I picked up the Grand Theft Auto collection on Steam during a sale and decided to give it another shot, and boy am I glad I did. GTA III holds up pretty well story-wise, introducing some really memorable characters, but the gameplay not so much, which is understandable considering when it was released.
4. Grand Theft Auto IV (2008)
Grand Theft Auto IV was the first time I’ve ever been to a midnight release at EB Games to get a game because the hype was real. Some didn’t enjoy the direction they took with the game, but I really enjoyed it and might play it again someday. I’ll never forget the journey I took with Niko Bellic – the protagonist – and his cousin Roman, as well as an entire cast of memorable characters. The entire gameplay overhaul was great, everything felt really good and more grounded compared to previous entries, and the world felt more alive than ever before. It was also the first time we got a GTA Online component that was basic compared to what we have now, but awesome to see at the time. My only issue with GTA IV is the lack of cheat codes, which is one of my favourite parts of these games.
3. Grand Theft Auto V (2013)
There is no doubt that Grand Theft Auto V is one of the greatest achievements in gaming, whether you’re talking about the game itself or how much money it has made since its 2013 release (spoiler: it’s a lot). I personally wasn’t a huge fan of switching between different playable characters, but it was cool regardless. Everything else regarding GTA V I thought was fantastic and really brought this franchise to new heights with the world, graphics, animations, etc. It’s truly fantastic what Rockstar Games achieved with this game and it makes me even more excited for the future of the franchise, especially if we return to my number two spot.
2. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002)
As previously mentioned, I love the world the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City gave us with its bright neon pinks and blues with palm trees and beaches everywhere. Driving around that Miami Vice-esque world listening to the hilarious radio stations that had – arguably – one of the best selections of music in any GTA game formed some great memories and the story/characters are something that has stuck with me ever since I played it the first time. Tommy Vercetti, Lance Vance, Ricardo Diaz, I remember all these characters so well I could probably draw them from memory. Unfortunately, like GTA III, the gameplay is lacking compared to the new entries, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go back and enjoy this masterpiece for its time. I wish that one day we will get a remake of this game along with a remake of my number one pick.
1. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004)
GTA: Vice City is a very close second, but Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is a game that might even qualify to enter my top 10 videogames of all time. It just took all of what made GTA: Vice City awesome and improved upon it in every way imaginable. The combat and shooting are exceptionally better, the driving was vastly improved, the world is much bigger while being visually better, and they gave us all that along with another fantastic set of characters in my personal favourite GTA story yet. Despite wanting a remake, it would mainly be for visuals because GTA: San Andreas still holds up to this day. Carl Johnson aka CJ – the protagonist – is such a well-written character along with the entire cast of characters you meet throughout the story of the Grove Street Families. Hopefully, a remake will come in my lifetime so I could replay this masterpiece with updated visuals, but even if it doesn’t, you’ll probably catch me replaying this game multiple times throughout the rest of my life.