Grand Theft Auto, commonly referred to as GTA is a series of action-adventure games that have taken the world by storm since its inception in 1997.
With its unique blend of open-world exploration, compelling storytelling, and dynamic gameplay, it has captured the hearts of millions of fans worldwide.
In this comprehensive blog post, we will delve into the fascinating history of the GTA series, taking you on a journey through all the main games and expansions in order of their release dates.
Whether you’re a die-hard fan or new to the franchise, this post will provide valuable insights and deepen your appreciation for the legendary series.
Grand Theft Auto 1
The game that started it all, Grand Theft Auto (GTA 1), was released in 1997. Developed by DMA Design, now known as Rockstar North, it introduced players to the top-down, open-world concept that would become synonymous with the series.
Set in three fictional cities inspired by New York, San Francisco, and Miami, players controlled a small-time criminal rising through the ranks of the underworld.
Grand Theft Auto: London, 1961
GTA: London, 1961 was the first expansion pack for the original GTA, released in 1999. Set in London during the swinging sixties, this free-to-download expansion featured new missions, characters, and vehicles, all with a distinctly British flavor.
Grand Theft Auto: London, 1969
Later in 1999, Rockstar released another expansion pack for GTA 1, GTA: London, 1969. Like its predecessor, this expansion took place in London, with new missions and characters set against the backdrop of the late 1960s.
Grand Theft Auto 2
Also released in 1999, Grand Theft Auto 2 (GTA 2) took the series to new heights with improved graphics, a more detailed game world, and a new reputation system. The game was set in the futuristic metropolis of “Anywhere City,” and introduced players to the concept of working for multiple gangs, which would become a staple of the series.
Grand Theft Auto 3
In 2001, Rockstar North changed the game with the release of Grand Theft Auto 3 (GTA 3). This groundbreaking title moved from a top-down perspective to a fully 3D open-world environment.
Set in Liberty City, a fictionalized version of New York City, the game introduced a cinematic narrative style and a wide variety of missions that allowed players to truly immerse themselves in the world.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Released in 2002, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City took players to a vibrant, sun-soaked metropolis inspired by 1980s Miami.
With its memorable characters, an engaging storyline, and an iconic soundtrack, Vice City became an instant classic and is still regarded as one of the best games in the series.
Multi Theft Auto
Multi Theft Auto (MTA) is a multiplayer mod for GTA 3 and Vice City, first released in 2003. The mod allowed players to engage in various multiplayer modes, including racing, deathmatches, and free-roaming. MTA paved the way for the official multiplayer component of the GTA series in later titles.
Grand Theft Auto Advance
In 2004, Rockstar released Grand Theft Auto Advance for the Game Boy Advance. This top-down, 2D game featured a new story set in Liberty City and was designed to complement the release of GTA: San Andreas.
GTA San Andreas
Set in a sprawling, fictionalized version of California and Nevada, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was released in 2004. It introduced a new protagonist, CJ, and allowed players to explore an expansive map encompassing three major cities, as well as rural and wilderness areas.
San Andreas also introduced several gameplay mechanics, such as character customization, gang wars, and vehicle customization, which further deepened the immersive experience.
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories
In 2005, Rockstar released Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories for the PlayStation Portable (PSP). This prequel to GTA 3 brought players back to Liberty City and followed the story of Toni Cipriani. The game was later released for PlayStation 2 in 2006, allowing more players to experience the gripping narrative and refined gameplay mechanics.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories
A year later, in 2006, Rockstar released Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, another prequel, this time for GTA: Vice City.
The game was initially released for the PSP, followed by a PlayStation 2 release in 2007. Vice City Stories followed the story of Victor Vance and his rise in the criminal underworld of Vice City.
Grand Theft Auto IV
In 2008, Rockstar North released the highly anticipated Grand Theft Auto IV (GTA IV). Set in Liberty City once again, the game introduced a new protagonist, Niko Bellic, and featured a more realistic and detailed game world, as well as improved gameplay mechanics.
GTA IV was critically acclaimed for its engaging narrative, immersive environment, and multiplayer features.
Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned
The first of two expansion packs for GTA IV, The Lost and Damned was released in 2009. The expansion focused on the story of Johnny Klebitz, a member of a biker gang, and introduced new missions, vehicles, and weapons, as well as a darker, grittier tone.
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
Also released in 2009, it was a departure from the main series, with a top-down perspective reminiscent of the early GTA games. Developed for the Nintendo DS, it was later released on PSP, iOS, and Android devices. Chinatown Wars followed the story of Huang Lee as he navigated the dangerous criminal underworld of Liberty City.
Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony
The second expansion pack for GTA IV, The Ballad of Gay Tony, was released in 2009. This expansion followed the story of Luis Lopez, a nightclub manager, and added new missions, vehicles, and weapons. The Ballad of Gay Tony brought a more light-hearted tone to the series, with a focus on the glitz and glamour of Liberty City’s nightlife.
Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City
In 2010, Rockstar released Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City, a standalone compilation of the two GTA IV expansions, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony. This release allowed players to experience both expansions without needing the base game of GTA IV.
The most recent main installment in the series, Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V), was released in 2013. Set in the sprawling metropolis of Los Santos, a fictionalized version of Los Angeles, the game introduced an innovative three-protagonist system, allowing players to switch between Michael, Franklin, and Trevor.
With its vast open world, engaging narrative, and impressive attention to detail, GTA V received critical acclaim and became one of the best-selling video games of all time.
Grand Theft Auto Online
Released alongside GTA V, Grand Theft Auto Online is the multiplayer component of the game, which allows players to create their own characters and explore the world of Los Santos together.
GTA Online features various game modes, missions, and heists, and continues to receive updates and new content, keeping the game fresh and engaging for its dedicated player base.
GTA Online: Gunrunning
In 2017, Rockstar introduced the Gunrunning update for Grand Theft Auto Online. This significant expansion allowed players to delve into the world of illegal arms dealing, with new missions, vehicles, and weapons.
Players could also purchase underground bunkers and customize them to their liking, further expanding the possibilities in the already vast online world of Los Santos.
Are there any mobile or handheld GTA games available?
Yes, there are several games available for mobile and handheld devices, including Grand Theft Auto Advance for the Game Boy Advance, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars for the Nintendo DS, PSP, iOS, and Android devices, and mobile ports of GTA III, Vice City, and San Andreas.
Can I play the GTA series on modern consoles and PC?
Many of these games are available on modern consoles and PC, either as direct ports or through backward compatibility.
Grand Theft Auto V, for example, is available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC. Additionally, several games from the series have been re-released as part of the GTA: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition, which includes remastered versions of GTA III, Vice City, and San Andreas for modern platforms.
What is the ESRB rating for the Grand Theft Auto games?
The Grand Theft Auto series is known for its mature themes and content, and most games in the series have received an ESRB rating of “M” for Mature (17+). This rating indicates that the games contain intense violence, blood and gore, strong language, and mature humor, among other elements.
What can we expect from the future of the Grand Theft Auto series?
While Rockstar Games has not officially announced the next installment in the series, it is widely expected that a new game is in development. In the meantime, the company continues to support and update Grand Theft Auto Online, providing new content and experiences for players.
Additionally, the recent release of Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition has introduced a new generation of gamers to the classic titles in the series.
From its humble beginnings as a top-down, open-world game in 1997 to its current status as one of the most successful gaming franchises of all time, the Grand Theft Auto series has come a long way.
Over the years, Rockstar has consistently pushed the boundaries of what an action-adventure game can be, with each installment introducing new innovations and captivating narratives.
With its expansive worlds, unforgettable characters, and dynamic gameplay, the GTA series has left an indelible mark on the gaming industry and continues to inspire and entertain players worldwide.
As we eagerly anticipate the next installment in the franchise, it’s the perfect time to look back on the series’ storied history and appreciate the evolution of this iconic gaming phenomenon.