Another game series spanning over two decades. Influencing hundreds if not thousands of new games and amassing more than one hundred million sales. That’s the famous Grand Theft Auto series. From its first infamous 2D game to the popular GTA V, the series has always been one of the fan favourites. While the attention to the series increasing day by day due to news about the next game of the series, GTA 6, I thought a ranked list was needed.
In this list, all seven main games of the series and four expansion packs will be ranked from the bottom to the top. Before starting, as it is with my other lists, the ranking depends solely on my opinion, therefore it may be different for you. You are more than welcome to state your opinion regarding the ranking.
A disclaimer before we start, four games released for handheld devices are not included in the list. With that being said, Chinatown Wars was a popular game released for Nintendo DS and PSP platforms and received very good reviews upon its release.
11. Grand Theft Auto: London 1961 (1999)
London 1961 deserves the lowest place in my list because it was a sequel to the first expansion in the series. Simple logic states that sequels should improve or add to the predecessor. However, that was not quite the case with London 1961.
1961 was designed to place the player who felt London 1969 lacked some elements in the story and there was not enough to do. Rockstar wanted players to have a few more quests and get more acquainted with the people in the game. Yet, the missions added to the game was not worth it. At least, it was offered free of charge to the players.
10. Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 (1999)
The second-lowest place goes to the first expansion of the series. There are actually two reasons why this expansion is so low. First, it did not age well. Its successors are not even comparable with it. I know that all games should be judged according to their time’s circumstances, yet some parts cannot be overlooked. Like the fact that this game was an expansion to a 2D game.
Secondly, London 1969 was the one which featured “limitless crime opportunities.” Despite the game providing more freedom, however, players thought that Rockstar advertised better gameplay, new cars, and city improvements. Yet, it did not achieve to deliver the Rockstar’s promises.
9. Grand Theft Auto (1997)
The original one, the one that started it all. With all due respect, I must say I am actually not comfortable with its place in this list. However, the original one fell behind due to the relative superiority of its successors. When it was first released, it immediately gathered the attention of the players. It was a new, original concept. The new toy per se. Moreover, the game offered six playable characters in three different cities.
However, as I said before, it was betrayed by the rapid development of technology.
8. Grand Theft Auto II (1999)
The second game of the series takes the next place in my list. From the graphics to characters GTA II is more impressive than the original one. Memorably, in GTA I, you could kill Hare Krishna leaders, but in its successor, they’re a gang in the game fighting against the Russian Mafia.
That’s almost the all difference between the first two games of the series. Notwithstanding the craziness, GTA II is simply an embellished GTA I. It has better graphics, mechanics, and sounds, however, nothing else changes much.
7. Grand Theft Auto III (2001)
The top-down perspective was arguably fun in its own way but, it cannot be denied that over-the-shoulder and 3D look increased the realism factor tremendously. Fans were also introduced to new territories and gangs to play with, and the complete freedom in the city.
GTA III’s story is relatively more centred and has a faster pace. The game is also full of unforgettable missions and characters, such as Toni Cipriani and his annoying “ma”. Relative to next GTA games, missions can be a bit dull, however, they retain the characteristic fun of the series.
6. Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost And Damned (2009)
Sixth place goes to the third of four expansion in the series. While its story is a fresh look and one of the first games, if not first, to have and focus on biker gangs.
The main character is Johnny who is forced to mature alongside everyone else in his biker gang. The gang is renowned for minor offences and spends most of its time in a pub that serves as its headquarters. Johnny is the one who must hold their stuff straight, even though the gang’s leader makes drug-induced choices and makes everything more complicated.
To some, this game was like Robinhood, a stealth RTS game from 2002. There is a lot of action and an inability to see stuff for what it really is. Overall, it is worth the time, considering this is an expansion.
5. Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony (2009)
The last expansion of the series ranks the highest among all others. The Ballad of Gay Tony introduced many new elements that became staples in many players’ experience, such as parachutes, sticky bombs, golf, mission scoring, and large weapons of military-grade.
In addition to that, The Ballad of Gay Tony lightened the mood. Moreover, The Ballad of Gay Tony took the already-excellent GTA IV music and filled it with something that can be simply called party spirit. In short, it was a nice touch-up to GTA IV. If I may be so bold but I think it set the model for how every expansion should be.
4. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002)
Set in Miami-based fictional Vice City, the game tells the story of Tommy Vercetti after leaving prison. After being caught in an ambushed drug deal, he seeks out those responsible. While doing that, he establishes a criminal empire and seizes power from other criminal groups in the city.
The plot is fast-paced like its predecessor. Also, Vice City offers the chance to meet some of the strangest characters in the series (looking at you Pastor Richards). You can also run your own side hustle, which will eventually bring in money on its own.
Ray Liotta voices Tommy Vercetti, and more cameos are made by celebrities. The gameplay as a whole provides random chances to go into gang wars, gain respect, and make a ton of money. In short, it has all the characteristic ingredients of the GTA series.
3. Grand Theft Auto IV (2008)
GTA IV tells the story of immigrant Niko Bellic. In the fourth game of the series, Niko attempts to survive in Liberty City, a fictional American town. One of the main things about this instalment that was different was that Rockstar emphasised Niko’s sense of right and wrong. The players had the ability to make decisions that might potentially come back and affect them later as the story goes on. Additionally, players were given the choice to decide whether to save or kill someone. This was made in a way that it could be a weakness for Niko.
The game also focused on Niko as a character who was commenting on the social aspect of American life through an immigrant’s eyes. The game was basically about the struggle that striving for that elusive American dream causes. It also included nuances that made the game more realistic. These were things like the opportunity to run a business or driving while intoxicated. In a nutshell, GTA IV offered so much and excelled itself by showing it was more than an empty shell filled with action.
1. Grand Theft Auto V (2013)
The latest game of the series may be the best game in the series due to the opportunities its time offers. Therefore, I decided to rank two games as the first in my list.
Based in San Andreas’ fictional state located in Southern California, the one-player story follows three criminals. Players navigate through their attempts to execute heists under pressure from a state agency and strong criminal characters. The open-world allows players to roam freely the open landscape of San Andreas and the classic fictional city, Los Santos.
All of the three main characters have their pros and cons which contributes to the experience greatly. The gameplay is enjoyable even without the missions. There are a lot of things to do, like challenging a fitness-maniac, or parachuting while watching the sunset, or trying to rob a gun-shop. GTA V might be arguably the best game if you are into the realistic open-world experience.
1. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004)
The other first game in my list is a personal one. San Andreas was the first GTA game I have ever played. I have finished it with trial and error over countless hours because I did not know English at all. Then came the mods. Then came the Bigfoot hunt. In short, San Andreas kept offering more for a long time.
The game is set in the fictional state of San Andreas, mainly based on California and Nevada. San Andreas State is made up of three large cities: Los Santos, San Fierro, and Las Venturas. The story follows Carl “CJ” Johnson, a former gang member who returns from Liberty City back home to Los Santos after the murder of his mother. Carl finds his old “family” in chaos, and throughout the story, he tries to revive his old gang, fights with corrupt cops and slowly starts to unravel the truth behind the murder of his mother.
It included equipment, such as tanks and bicycles. Players could have multiple girlfriends, get tattoos, have their own business. There were almost limitless possibilities to play for the players to choose from. From my personal experience, I will disagree with what most lists say and say that San Andreas is better than Vice City.
You can check out the latest news about the next game of the series, GTA 6, here.