Before GTA V: Ranking Best To Worst Grand Theft Auto Games

Very few video games have existed for so long and had such mainstream success as the entire Grand Theft Auto…

Sam Tuchin


Very few video games have existed for so long and had such mainstream success as the entire Grand Theft Auto series from Rockstar Games. It has consistently received critical acclaim and done what it has set out to do – be fun, addicting, and controversial.

Since the very first GTA game, parents and organizations have been up-in-arms about Rockstar’s releases. Grand Theft Auto games have been the focal point of criticism and lawsuits for years – and Rockstar loves it. If they didn’t, why would they continuously do it?

The series has held the title of being revolutionary, breaking out from the norm of video games and creating a genre previously unseen. Rockstar essentially created open-world gaming, developing the foundation for what later would become one of the most diverse genres in the industry – introducing games like InFamous, Just Cause, Saint’s Row, and Fallout.

But now is the time to figure out how good these games stack up when they’re compared to each other. As with any list that ranks the GTA games, there are going to be readers that agree and readers that call me an ignorant fool. Regardless, as a well-versed gamer and somebody who has played virtually every GTA game to date, I rank the series based on first-hand experiences.


1. Grand Theft Auto

The very first. The original. The best.

If it was not for this 1997 ground-breaking release, we would not have been blessed with the phenomenal series that we so often take for granted.

Rockstar North (DMA Design at the time) released this game with Take-Two Interactive, and caused more controversy than perhaps any other Grand Theft Auto game. It gave players the freedom to do virtually anything, and rewarded them for the more heinous crimes they committed. Nothing offered more points, however, than completing missions for local crime syndicates.

The game did exactly what it was supposed to do – depict a crime-ridden “America” parody. And if you look at what was actually included in the original Grand Theft Auto, you can understand why Rockstar sticks so close to certain settings.

The original Grand Theft Auto was set in three different cities – Liberty City, Vice City, and San Andreas. To proceed through the story and cities, the player had to earn a set amount of points (money). To do this, they had to commit crimes – in and outside of missions.

There were two expansion packs released for the game in April and June of 1999, which were London, 1961 and London, 1969 respectively.

Grand Theft Auto set the scene for all the following GTA games. It brought the video game industry a never-before-seen style of game that, to this day, is unparalleled.