I haven’t had a really substantive post in a while, so I thought I’d write a quick one on the best GTA games. I’ll link to reviews when I have them.
Not listed: Grand Theft Auto, Grand Theft Auto: London, GTA: Chinatown Wars, GTA: Advance. — I never played any of these.
Honorable Mentions: GTA: Liberty City Stories, GTA: Vice City Stories — I only had these a couple of weeks before my PS 2 died and I got my first PS 3. I don’t feel I can really judge these on such a short time.
7. GTA 2.
While immensely fun, the story was completely nonexistent. The gang framework, first introduced in this edition, would make a big impact on the later editions. Not particularly graphically impressive; the top down format worked, kind of, but the controls were semi-wonky. It’s not a bad game, by any means, and is one of the better PC games I played in high school; it’s just not the best example of GTA.
A very solid edition to the series, but nothing really new was offered. The story often falls short of quality GTA standards — you can pretty much guess what will happen within about ten minutes of the intro. A great value if purchased on the single disc; not as good if you bought it separately.
5. GTA 3
A fundamental reboot of the series; my PC at the time struggled to run it, particularly with high draw distances. Very interesting story, particularly if you listen to the credits all the way through. Liberty City is very well done. However, it is also the most difficult of the series, largely because targetting doesn’t work. The vehicles do not handle particularly well. They keep the gang dynamic from GTA 2, which is to their credit. However, the game does show its age, and there are serious frame rate problems even today, with a much better computer.
4. GTA Vice City
An absolutely phenomenal voice cast. The first game to introduce motorcycles, a welcome addition to the franchise. The vehicles are a little fast and loose in this version; it seems an over-correction from GTA 3. The story is really well done and very over-the-top. The missions occasionally get repetitive, and some are VERY frustrating, but the reproduction of Miami is quite well done. One of my favorite music tracks to any video game — I actually bought the V-Rock and Emotion 98.3 CDs, and I’d probably get Flash and the Wave if I would have bought them today. There’s something surreal about slaughtering police officers while listening to “99 Luftbalons” auf Deutsch.
3. GTA IV
A much darker and grittier game than any preceding or following. Niko is a very complex character and the storyline reflects this; most of the other characters in the series revel in violence, but Niko is more conflicted. The first PS 3 entrant, it looks awesome even in standard def and mind blowing in HD. The cellphone and internet were wonderful editions that I hope will continue throughout the franchise (unless they revisit an older period). It did drop the RPG elements that helped add texture to San Andreas, but Liberty City is actually the biggest culprit here — despite all the extra interiors, it feels very small, particularly compared to San Andreas. Some of the missions are just too long.
The character development from GTA IV reappears here. The reintroduction of parachutes makes the game much more enjoyable, as does the checkpoint system (although a relic from the Lost and the Damned). Luis and Tony are terrific characters, and while they seem much less dark than Niko, they are still both very complex and show very believable emotions. In the review, I called it GTA 4.5, and I repeat that here — again, Liberty City is the real weakpoint.
You can probably guess the best of all time, but here’s a gratuitous fold anyway. (more…)