Grand Theft Auto Retrospective

On the literal eve of GTA V‘s release, we should be celebrating what came before that laid the path for the new GTA games to exist.


Grand Theft Auto

Release Year: 1997

Platform: PlayStation, Microsoft Windows, Gamboy Advance & Color, MS-DOS

The original Grand Theft Auto was released in 1997 when the original developers DMA Design, were going through a transition period. While DMA Design created the original GTA for PC, a neighboring developer, Visual Science, converted the game to the PS1 version. This allowed the original idea of taking control of any car in the top to bottom 2D formation.


Grand Theft Auto II

Release Year: 1999

Platform: PlayStation, Microsoft Windows, Gameboy Color, Sega Dreamcast

Although DMA Design became Rockstar North, the name is still maintained in the game designers column. GTA II is a classic example of the same game amplified in terms of gameplay and some small extras. This would be the last GTA with a top to bottom view.


Grand Theft Auto III

Release Year: 2001

Platform: PS2, Xbox (PSN, Mac OS X, Android, iOS)

GTA III was the beginning of the most popular version of sandbox, third person gameplay. Personally, it took me one look at my girlfriend’s younger brother taking a bat to a hooker and I was hooked (no pun intended). This title was the diamond that Rockstar squeezed out of coal and by far the entry that opened the doors for the current titles. GTA III’s ‘new’ game engine RenderWare opened the doors for an immersed gameplay that third person shooters hadn’t seen before.

Due to the violent nature of the game and the tragic events on September 11th, 2001, Rockstar Games fell under an enormous amount of scrutiny. This caused a delay in the game’s release and a few changes to the gameplay itself.


Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

Release Year: 2002

Platform: PS2, Xbox (Mac OS X, Android, iOS, PSN)

GTA: Vice City was another good example of a polished version of a popular title. If GTA III‘s 3D sandbox gameplay couldn’t have been better, now they add deeper gameplay, the option to purchase houses, new weapons and new cars. Incidentally, one of the coolest options in this game the player didn’t have in GTA III was the ability to swim. This, paired with the 80’s theme and deep story lines, boosted the popularity of the franchise.


Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Release Year: 2004

Platform: PS2, Xbox 360 (PSN, Mac OS X, Andriod, iOS)

GTA: San Andreas has been touted by many as the most popular title in the franchise. Set in 90’s fake Cali, Los Santos was a haven for gang violence and territory driven gameplay. This entry used the other three sections of the map as different cities (San Fierro and Las Venturas), and elaborated on the use of personal belongings. San Andreas added customization to cars, more use of airplanes and the fan favorite jet pack.


Grand Theft Auto IV

Release Year: 2008

Platform: PS3 and Xbox 360

GTA IV was the first title on the new consoles with a new Euphoria engine which made the game look really fluid and more simulated than arcadey. The expectation was high for this title since Rockstar Games hadn’t produced a console title in 4 years. Ultimately, it lived up to its expectations.

Two expansions were created off of this title which eventually were combined to be released as Episodes of Liberty City.


Every GTA title that has come before has paved the way for bigger and better things. Expect big things from GTA V.

GTA V drops TONIGHT at midnight!