Is there a larger video game franchise than Grand Theft Auto? Actually, is there a larger entertainment franchise than the money-making behemoth that is GTA?
All of the mainline GTA games are good in their own way. Even the top-down games from the early days of the franchise are fun enough.
We decided to take a trip down memory lane and rank all of the Grand Theft Auto games from worst to best. We’re only looking at the main games in the franchise, so any side games, DLC, or portable games aren’t included today.
7. Grand Theft Auto
This is where one of the biggest entertainment franchises in the world got its start, and it looks nothing like the game we know and love today.
Rather than the third-person action and deep cinematic cutscenes we’re used to, the original GTA featured a top-down view and simple text for missions.
Despite all that, the core of GTA is there: mayhem, murder, crime, and all that good stuff make appearances in the original GTA.
6. Grand Theft Auto 2
Grand Theft Auto 2 builds upon the foundation laid down by the original, but it makes some big improvements that make it a little better. It has better weapons, improved physics, and plenty of other small tweaks that make it more fun to play.
If you want a nice throwback to where GTA got started, this is definitely the one to play.
5. Grand Theft Auto III
This is the game that changed everything for Grand Theft Auto. Rockstar Games decided to completely change the game for the franchise, and for video games as a whole, with this release.
Instead of a top-down camera angle, the developers switched to a third-person view. This brought players close to the action and allowed players to explore an open world in a way we never imagined.
Nothing will live up to the feeling of exploring Liberty City for the first time in GTA III, and while the later 3D games in the franchise expanded on the concept and were ultimately better, this one built the foundation.
4. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
How could Rockstar possibly follow up on the masterpiece that was Grand Theft Auto III? Apparently, it wouldn’t be too hard, as Vice City came along and took the incredible base built by III and improved every aspect of it.
Basically, you get to live out a Vice City fantasy as you explore the titular city, committing every top of atrocity you can fathom. Even in 2020, Vice City is still totally playable, which is no small feat when you consider that the game came out in 2002.
3. Grand Theft Auto V
When it comes to legs, Grand Theft Auto V most certainly has stuck around the longest thanks to its deep online mode. It changed up the formula in the single-player mode by having the player switch between three different main characters.
Each character brought something interesting to the table, though it did make it harder to get the same level of attachment to them as you did in previous games with single protagonists as we did with Niko Bellic and Carl “CJ” Johnson.
2. Grand Theft Auto IV
While Grand Theft Auto III completely reinvented the franchise with the move to 3D, GTA IV completely reinvented the look and feel of a 3D Grand Theft Auto.
The density of IV’s Liberty City was like nothing we’d ever seen in video games. It’s as close to driving around in a real city as any video game had achieved at the time.
Add that with the interesting story of Niko and his struggle to make it in a new country, and you have an absolute masterpiece of a video game.
1. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Choosing the best Grand Theft Auto game feels like a bit like a parent being forced to choose their favorite child. I would love to just make them all number one, but that’s not an option.
So when it comes down to it, I have to go with San Andreas. It’s such an ambitious game that it’s actually hard to believe that it was originally released for the PlayStation 2.
You’ll be exploring three metropolitan cities as you kill and maim anyone who gets in your way.