Grand Theft Auto (GTA) is a long-running series of video games published by Rockstar Games and developed by subsidiary companies. The games are primarily developed by Rockstar North (formerly DMA Design).
Throughout its history, the series has always courted controversy due mainly to the mature content of the games, with all but one game being rated the local equivalent of Mature/Adult/R.
Grand Theft Auto held 10 world gaming records, including the Most Guest Stars in a Video Game Series, Largest Voice Cast in a Video Game (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas), Largest In-Game Soundtrack (Grand Theft Auto IV), and Most Successful Entertainment Launch Of All Time (Grand Theft Auto V). The Grand Theft Auto series has also been ranked 5 in the best-selling video game franchises of all time.
The Grand Theft Auto series, belonging to, and to some extent defining the genre of free-roaming video games called "sandbox games", grants a large amount of freedom to the player in deciding what to do and how to do it through multiple methods of transport and weapons. Unlike most traditional action games, which are structured as a single-track series of levels with linear gameplay, in GTA the player can determine the missions they want to undertake, and their relationships with various characters are changed based on these choices. The cities of the games can also be roamed freely at any point in the game, offering many accessible buildings and minor missions. There are exceptions: missions follow a linear, overarching plot, and some city areas must be unlocked over the course of the game.
The plot of the games generally allows the player to take on the role of a criminal in a big city, typically an individual who rises through the ranks of organised crime through the course of the game. Various missions are set for completion by the figureheads of the city underworld, generally criminal, which must be completed to progress through the storyline. Assassinations and other crimes feature regularly. Other activities like taxi driving, firefighting, pimping, street racing, or learning to fly fixed-wing aircraft are also involved as alternate adventures, which can be done at any time during the game, with the exception of the periods performing main missions.
With the exception of the London expansion/mission packs for the original game and The Cayo Perico Heist update for Grand Theft Auto Online, the games are set in a fictional, heavily satirical recreation of the United States of America with references made to the rest of the world. Gameplay takes place in settings ranging from the largest cities in the country to small towns and remote wilderness and desert areas.
There are currently sixteen games in the series, including two expansion packs for the original and two expansions for GTA IV and a dedicated multiplayer title. The games have been released for various platforms, including the PC, PSX, PS2, Xbox, PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, GBC, DC, GBA, PSP, DS, iPhone and Android with all but two of the games released on multiple platforms.
Individual games in the series have been categorized into three distinct parallel universes, officially named by Rockstar Games as the "2D Universe", "3D Universe" and the "HD Universe". Each universe is designed to be completely separate to each other so that no physically appearing characters or storylines would overlap.
In the 2D Universe, the graphics engines provided "top-down" gameplay in two dimensions with missions counting towards a score to unlock the next set of missions.
- 1. Grand Theft Auto (1997) - Whilst originally just called Grand Theft Auto, the first game become widely known as "GTA 1" for clarity. Available for the PlayStation, PC and Game Boy Color. Features the cities of Liberty City, San Andreas, and Vice City.
- 2. Grand Theft Auto (Mission Pack #1): London 1969 (1999) - An expansion pack, available for the PlayStation and PC, set in London; requires the original game.
- 3. Grand Theft Auto (Mission Pack #2): London 1961 (1999) - A further expansion to London 1969, available only as a free download for the PC; requires the original game and the previous DLC.
- 4. Grand Theft Auto 2 (1999) - Featured an improved graphics engine and a different style of gameplay. Available for the PlayStation, PC, Dreamcast, and Game Boy Color. The game is set in Anywhere City. GTA 2 is the only GTA game to have a digit in the title instead of a roman numeral. It is the only game to have a T rating.
The 3D Universe featured the first blockbuster GTA title, Grand Theft Auto III, and introduced a 3D game world and third-person perspective. The entire era contains interlocking storylines, and many characters appear across multiple games. Notably, games in this era were not released in chronological order, with the first game released being the last chronologically, and the last game released being the first chronologically.
- 5. Grand Theft Auto III (2001) - Set in the fictional Liberty City, based upon the real-life New York City. Multiplayer mode was removed, but other areas were much improved, namely the graphics, voice acting, and storyline with non-linear gameplay.
- 6. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002) - Set in Vice City, a city based on the real-life Miami. This sequel to GTA III is technically a prequel (set in 1986) to the game, and to GTA: San Andreas, which was released after GTA: Vice City.
- 7. Grand Theft Auto Advance (2004) - What was originally supposed to be a stripped-down port of GTA III for the Game Boy Advance turned out to be a completely original game, set a year before GTA III, in a slightly altered Liberty City. This game returned players to the "top-down" perspective graphically, although the setting was still the 3D Universe rendition of the city.
- 8. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004) - Set in the state of San Andreas, GTA: San Andreas featured three cities: Los Santos, San Fierro and Las Venturas, based on Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas respectively. The game is set in 1992, making it a sequel to GTA: Vice City and a prequel to GTA III. The game featured many customisation options for both the player and vehicles and a limited multiplayer mode exclusive to the PS2 version.
- See also: The Introduction
- 9. Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (2005) - A prequel to GTA III set in Liberty City in 1998. Originally for the PlayStation Portable, a PS2 port was released in June 2006 without multiplayer.
- 10. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (2006) - Vice City Stories is set in Vice City in 1984, two years before the original GTA: Vice City. It was released in October 2006 for the PSP. A PS2 port was released later without multiplayer in March 2007. It is the final game of the 3D Universe.
The HD Universe featured Rockstar's RAGE engine, also used in Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis. The gameplay did not change dramatically from the successful 3D Universe formula. This era features:
- 11. Grand Theft Auto IV (2008) - Set in 2008 in a redesigned Liberty City, with new game mechanics, a multiplayer mode, and with protagonist Niko Bellic trying to start a new life. GTA IV was released for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on April 28th, 2008, with a PC release on December 2nd, 2008.
- 12. The Lost and Damned (2009) - A standalone downloadable episode released in February 2009 for the Xbox 360. TLAD is set in the same Liberty City as GTA IV, with events and characters overlapping with GTA IV. The protagonist is Johnny Klebitz, vice-president of The Lost MC. It was also available as part of the Grand Theft Auto: Episodes From Liberty City disc released on PC (Games for Windows - LIVE) and PlayStation 3 in April 2010, which includes The Ballad of Gay Tony.
- 13. The Ballad of Gay Tony (2009) - A second standalone episode for GTA IV released in October 2009, the last DLC for GTA IV. The protagonist is Luis Lopez, a part-time hoodlum and full-time assistant to legendary nightclub impresario "Gay" Tony Prince. It was released on PC (Games for Windows - LIVE) and PlayStation 3 in April 2010 along with the Episodes From Liberty City combination disc with The Lost and Damned.
- Note: All three GTA IV games were later combined into Grand Theft Auto IV: The Complete Edition and from April 2020, following the demise of Games For Windows Live, this is the only version available to purchase now for PC. Owners of physical or digital copies of any of the three standalone games can upgrade to The Complete Edition for free with patch 1.0.8, however this removes the multiplayer component and several radio stations are significantly changed due to the expiry of music licenses.
- 14. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (2009) - Set in 2009 and focusing on the Liberty City Triads. The protagonist, Huang Lee is the son of a murdered Triad boss who comes to Liberty City. It is set in the same Liberty City as GTA IV (excluding Alderney, but scaled down for the Nintendo DS). PSP, iPhone, Android and Kindle Fire ports were released later, the PSP version including new missions and characters, and all new versions including new radio stations and improved graphics.
- 15. Grand Theft Auto V (2013) - Set in 2013 in a redesigned Los Santos. According to Rockstar, Grand Theft Auto V is their biggest open-world game to date. The game concentrates on "the pursuit of the almighty dollar". For the first time since the 2D Universe, the game features more than one protagonist, with three playable protagonists: Michael De Santa, Franklin Clinton, and Trevor Philips.
- 16. Grand Theft Auto Online (2013) - It is considered by Rockstar to be the series' first dedicated multiplayer title. Set in Southern San Andreas in the United States and the island of Cayo Perico in the Caribbean region of Colombia, the player assumes the role of a silent protagonist, with the focus of the game being heavily centered on money and criminal businesses. The game's original content was originally set shortly before the events of Grand Theft Auto V in 2013. However, as the game released updates, the game's setting advanced in real-life timing, with characters later mentioning past events that took place in GTA V. Grand Theft Auto Online was released on October 1, 2013, two weeks after Grand Theft Auto V.
The Fan Base
Grand Theft Auto has one of the largest fan bases of any game franchise. There are many unofficial fansites about GTA games, providing the latest news, download databases, and often an online forum for the GTA community. Thousands of GTA fansites exist, ranging from small one-person news blogs to community-edited wikis (like this one) to massive download databases to forums with hundreds of thousands of members.
This is a list of some of the most popular fan sites, some of which were even acknowledged by Rockstar:
- GTA Forums
- GTA Legende.com
- The GTA Place
- GTA Net
- Planet GTA
- GTA Warehouse
- GTA V.Net
An activity popular with fans is modding - creating new vehicle models, skins, re-texturing objects, and tweaking settings in the games' configuration files. These modifications are made freely available on fansites for anyone to download and install into their game.
Another popular pastime (since GTA III) is stunting - the act of performing wild stunts with vehicles, which are produced into compilation videos.
Another activity popular with members of the community is writing Fan Fiction - stories based on events which follow on from, or are based around events which happen in the games, but these are not to be considered canon.
Note that modified games and fan-fiction are not to be documented here on the GTA Wiki.
- Grand Theft Auto series
- Grand Theft Auto: Double Pack
- Free download of Grand Theft Auto, Wild Metal and Grand Theft Auto 2 (no longer an active offer)
- Wikipedia sources
- "Grand Theft Auto Community Update" - Rockstar Newswire
- GTA San Andreas Manual: SOME OF OUR FAVORITE WEBSITES