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Feature: Grand Theft Auto: Our Favorite Games in the Series

Posted by Dave Letcavage

Nearly 16 years of crime-spree goodness to choose from

It’s September 17th, and you know what that means, right?

(Grand Theft Auto V is officially upon us)

To celebrate the launch of the year’s biggest game, members of our staff have each selected their favorite entry in the GTA series, and written a bit about why that particular game is so special to them. From the original PC release to the pocket-perfect mayhem that infiltrated the Nintendo DS, no entry was off limits, regardless of what console it was released on. So join us as we indulge in guilty pleasures and share with you our most criminally good times spent in the world of Grand Theft Auto.

Ken Barnes

Grand Theft Auto III

For my money, Grand Theft Auto III was the first game to make you feel as if you were actually a part of a living, breathing city. Other titles attempted it, but generally ended up still feeling like the standard level-based games that you'd expect, only there was a bit of location traversal in place to break things up. GTA III made you feel as if you could do anything at any time. Almost as if you could just give up the mobster life at any time, get a flat, and go and take on a more standard type of work. Incidental parts, such as the radio stations and somewhat realistic weather effects, all helped to add to that feeling, too. The original Grand Theft Auto was revolutionary, and GTA III is the only title since then that has truly shaken things up. Vice City, San Andreas, and GTA IV were all great games of course, but GTA III is absolutely unforgettable.

Runner-up: Grand Theft Auto IV

Dave Letcavage

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

You don’t need me to tell you that Grand Theft Auto III was a revelation. When it was released I remember dedicating hours upon hours to aimless exploration and rampant destruction, completely losing track of time; but for some reason I didn’t invest much of myself in the missions. All of that changed with Vice City. I’m not sure if it was the contrast between crime and 80’s flamboyancy, the silly cast of characters, the comforting soundtrack of the decade’s popular tunes, or simply the tropical setting….Vice City was like a drug that grabbed hold and wouldn’t let go. Who am I kidding? I think the actual reason I enjoyed this one so deeply could be summed up in two words: Gary Busey. It’s that kind of crazy that I need in my Grand Theft Auto experience. So if what we’ve seen of GTA V so far is any indication, it’s Trevor’s Johnny-Knoxville-meets-Jack-Nicholson level of insanity that may capture my heart and lead a new GTA to the top of my list. Here's to hoping.

Runner-up: Grand Theft Auto III

Anthony Bacchus

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

It's hard to go wrong with any of the games in the Grand Theft Auto series. It's also extremely difficult to nail down a favourite (I tend to jump around) but there's something to be said about the unflinching ambition of San Andreas. It was the first time Rockstar brilliantly pieced together a seamless world without any interruptions, aside from cutscenes and in-door environments. Currency in the franchise usually didn't have much of a purpose but in San Andreas, you could customize CJ with a plethora of clothing items, tattoos, hairstyles and more. You also had to remember to make sure he exercised after eating fast food for a whole week or he'd get fat, physically altering his appearance, which at the time, I hadn't seen before in a video game. I remember being completely blown away by the sheer size of the city and spent an unhealthy amount of hours occupied with various side-missions and quests. San Andreas wasn't designed to revolutionize the sandbox open-world game as much as GTA III did, but it practically refined it to a near perfect level with better storytelling and improved gameplay mechanics. With an almost seemingly endless amount of content to see and do in the game, San Andreas was the most fun I had playing a GTA game.

Let's just say my expectations are ridiculously high for GTA V, especially since they're bringing the playground back to Los Santos.

Runner-up: Grand Theft Auto III

Josephine Johnson

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (DS)

I've never been a fan of the GTA series. It's just not my style of game, so it was only my obsessive collecting that led me to pick up Chinatown Wars on release. However, the cartoonish art style and top down view lent some charm to the game that I always felt was missing from its grittier predecessors. Hotwiring cars with the stylus and touchscreen felt very natural and there was something wonderful about playing such an adult title on what is generally regarded to be a very 'safe' console. Then I discovered the drug dealing and I was HOOKED. I still have fond memories of the hours (days...) I spent driving from one end of the city to the other trying to get the highest margin on ecstacy, coke and weed. Humourous, charming and innovative, Chinatown Wars is not only my favourite game in the series, but also easily one of my favourite DS games.

Gary Durston

Grand Theft Auto

The original and best, in my opinion. Revolutionary and controversial in equal measure, the original GTA took the practically unheard of concept of an open world setting and almost perfected it in its first attempt. It also set the foundations of one of the most un-PC franchises by turning the usual cops versus robbers scenario on its head by giving you control of the villain, able to gun down police and pedestrians alike, and let's not forget the extra point bonus for mowing down a line of Hare Krishnas in one go - Gouranga! Large maps, plentiful missions and a cracking opening theme song, GTA was near perfection when it first appeared back in 1997. Despite its top-down setting, many of the features still prevalent in today's roster of GTA games first began in this fun, original beauty, which is still very playable to this day. There are more attractive GTA games on offer, but Grand Theft Auto on the PlayStation will always hold a place in my heart as one of the most enjoyable and beloved things from my childhood (despite the 18 certificate :D).

Runner-up: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

Now it's your turn to share with us. What's your favorite entry in the GTA series? Let us know in the comments below.

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User Comments (6)



Tasuki said:

Vice City has always been my favorite. I played III alot when that came out and I have played the first one, San Andreas and IV as well, but for some reason Vice City is one that I can play over and over again. I dont know if its the setting (I am a big fan of anything 80s) the characters or the fact that I went to five stores on the day it came out just to get the oh were sorry but we are sold out saying before I finally grabbed the final copy at one store the next town over from me. Even to this day, Vice City is one of the reason I want another PS2.



Gamer83 said:

GTA III was outstanding and was the game that really got me thinking about my decision to stay strictly with a Gamecube (I was a bit of a Nintendo fanboy right up through my senior year of high school). San Andreas was great, I really liked both GTA IV tie-ins, and though I'm not terribly far into it I'm really loving GTA V. But Vice City is my favorite GTA and probably always will be. The gameplay doesn't hold up as well today and wasn't even really perfect at the time but there was so much to do and there was that fantastic 80's setting. I've been gaming for more than 20 years and I'd put Vice City in the top five games I've ever played. It was the main reason I bought a PS2, which turned out to be probably the best game-related investment I ever made, but even if Vice City had been the only PS2 game I ever bought, it would've been entirely worth it. There's always a scene or two, or a gameplay segment that makes you feel like you're playing something truly special and for me, it was the Yacht scene where you could just tell all the hard work that was put into the game and it was that moment where I felt like I was at the start of something awesome.



DRL said:

Lots of Vice City love going around lately. I like it. :)



Its good but boils down to drive from point a to point b

lots of filler chit chat to take your mind of the boredom between locations, but still a good game. just not as good as all the gushing on metacrtic...



Tasuki said:

@DLR: I have to say I played a few hours of GTA V last night and it looks like this might take my favorite GTA award away from Vice City. I still have to play some more to see but its looks that way.

I honestly hope that the next GTA game (GTA VI maybe) will be Vice City. I would love to go back there.



Anthinator said:

I'm really glad our staff has such differing opinions on which game is best. Just goes to show the qualities and strengths of this franchise.

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