The Grand Theft Auto series has come such a long way since its first release in 1997. What used to be a crude top-down cat-and-mouse car chase game has become a fully immersive open world adventure series that packs a punch with its on-the-nose satires and ridiculous characters.
This is the perfect time to think back on each and every one of those stories and decide which ones are better than the rest.
A Definitive Ranking Of The GTA Games From Worst To Best
Before we start, I just want you all to know that every single #GrandTheftAuto game is a masterpiece in its own right. But every game can't be the best and that's okay! With that in mind, here are the masterpiece #VideoGames of the Grand Theft Auto series ranked from worst to best!
14. 'Grand Theft Auto: The Lost and Damned'
Release Year: 2009
Best Quality: Handlebar moustaches, I guess.
Worst Quality: Hm... handlebar moustaches.
I imagine the thought process on this story, one of the two Episodes from Liberty City, was something like "It'd be cool if we made an episode about biker guys."
Guess what, Rockstar? It wasn't that cool.
13. 'Grand Theft Auto'
Release Year: 1997
Best Quality: It's the first game in the series!
Worst Quality: The best quality is the only quality worth mentioning.
Though this is the game that started it all, I find that it's aged poorly and doesn't have a ton going for it in retrospect. While I wouldn't say it's the worst game ever, you'd probably fare better playing the next one on this list.
12. 'Grand Theft Auto 2'
Release Year: 1999
Best Quality: It's not as bad as Grand Theft Auto.
Worst Quality: The super riveting side plot war between the Hare Krishna and Russian factions in the game.
Grand Theft Auto 2 is essentially a better version of Grand Theft Auto. It's got better graphics, gameplay and sound. But, it's also pretty much the same game which is why it's just one notch above being even with the original.
11. 'Grand Theft Auto: Advance'
Release Year: 2004
Best Quality: The cars didn't have full songs for the radio, just instrumental loops.
Worst Quality: I mean, are you seeing the screenshot?
I just felt like I couldn't put this one ahead of Grand Theft Auto V, you know? I'm not a monster.
10. 'Grand Theft Auto V'
Release Year: 2013
Best Quality: Selfies.
Worst Quality: The youngblood known as T.P.
#GTAV boasts one of the biggest worlds in gaming. It's got cool cars, barbershops, strip clubs and three complete dingleberries for protagonists! Why is it ranked so low? After a while it gets a bit difficult to look beyond the fact that your character is actually dirt with blood made of blended garbage.
Honorable Mention: GTA Online! Because it's really no better or worse than the main game and it's just as stale. You can add all the cars you want, Rockstar, but there's still not a lot to do around Los Santos except shoot stuff.
Add the ability to adopt a dog and I might change my mind. Less characters, more dogs.
9. 'Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 & Grand Theft Auto: London 1961'
Release Year: 1999
Best Quality: The irony of this being developed by Rockstar's Canada team—not the UK-based Rockstar North.
Worst Quality: It's literally Grand Theft Auto set in London which means that the game itself is relatively unchanged.
Some would argue that the change of location makes this the most interesting game in the series. I'm inclined to agree.
Other than that, there isn't a whole lot going for it.
8. 'Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories'
Release Year: 2005
Best Quality: Implementation of combat controls from GTA: San Andreas.
Worst Quality: You can't even crouch in this game.
Despite the fact that this game holds the title of being one of the earliest handheld Grand Theft Auto games released in the 3D Universe, it was released after Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas making it one comparatively disappointing step backward.
7. 'Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars'
Release Year: 2009
Best Quality: Set the standard for many features we enjoy in the latest GTA games like replayable missions and checkpoints.
Worst Quality: Honestly, it's probably the top-down camera.
After the release of games like San Andreas and Vice City, there were a lot of players out there who skipped out on the handheld titles because they seemed to be lite versions of the more interesting console games.
However, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars actually did not suffer from the unbearable liteness of handheld #GTA games. It had a wealth of well-designed missions, side quests and interactions that put it right on par with the console games.
6. 'Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories'
Release Year: 2006
Best Quality: Swimming in Vice City is a dream come true!
Worst Quality: The initial PSP release of this one kept a lot of people from getting in on the fun.
While it was relegated to a handheld-only release, Vice City Stories brought us back to the city we knew and loved with expanded character background and an adjusted map. All of that great stuff is paired with even cooler empire-building and gang war mechanics that sort of set the standard for crime-based games to follow.
Something that I really loved about this one is that your character isn't a scumbag by nature. He didn't set out to commit crimes, he ends up committing crimes in order to help people. While the end result is the same, it's a likable character-type that repeats itself with Luis in the Ballad of Gay Tony.
5. 'Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas'
Release Year: 2004
Best Quality: Cluckin' Bell.
Worst Quality: The tired PoC gang tropes that this game is filled with.
In terms of world size, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was the GTA V of the aughts. San Andreas felt huge. Your protagonist, CJ, was also heavily customizable—an aspect that continues to be unique to this entry in the series. Too much food and too little exercise left you with one teddy bear of a gang member.
Aside from keeping CJ nice and fit, you had the opportunity to experience a true sandbox game. In San Andreas you could be dating, Hot Coffee-ing, BMX-ing or virtually anything else you felt like you needed to be doing.
In the next GTA game, all of that would disappear... except for the dating of course.
4. 'Grand Theft Auto IV'
Release Year: 2008
Best Quality: Online Dating.
Worst Quality: All of Niko's clothes were horrible and I hated how you couldn't make him date a guy.
While oh-so-serious Grand Theft Auto IV marked the removal of a number of interesting elements from GTA:SA, it signaled Rockstar's shift into its HD universe. Though it wasn't nearly as colorful as Vice City, Liberty City in HD became a living and breathing entity complete with towering skyscrapers and web cafés.
GTA IV also featured more natural combat mechanics which really makes the difference in a game that revolves around gunplay.
3. 'Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony'
Release Year: 2009
Best Quality: More interesting characters/story than the main game.
Worst Quality: Should've been the main story.
GTA: The Ballad of Gay Tony really satisfied the taste for the ridiculous that wasn't really taken care of by GTA IV in the main story. Luis was a pretty cool guy and it was hard not to like him after all was said and done. He's almost as good as the silent protagonist from an even better GTA game.
2. 'Grand Theft Auto III'
Release Year: 2001
Best Quality: You can run around Liberty City without having to hear the protagonist talk.
Worst Quality: I think that the inability to swim is a valid answer here for any of the swim-less GTA games. Driving your car into water is more common than you think.
While Grand Theft Auto III is no technical masterpiece, it's difficult to do a list like this without honoring its place as the first title in the 3D Universe. The graduation from top-down to polygon pool left a lasting impression that continues to inspire nostalgia during every replay.
Without GTA:III there would be no GTA: San Andreas or...
1. 'Grand Theft Auto: Vice City'
Release Year: 2002
Best Quality: Soundtrack.
Worst Quality: I think this is kind of the worst and the best at the same time.
A large part of what made GTA: Vice City great was the atmosphere. Neon colors, an impeccable selection of music and rollerblading pedestrians made this version of Miami a truly immersive and unforgettable one.
Though the various mobile and console ports of the game have left us with less of the soundtrack than we'd like, the classic film references and all-around creativity of the script and missions keep us coming back for more.
That's it. Now you can stop wondering which Grand Theft Auto game is the best, right? Almost all of these can be played right on your phone too—so, hop to it!
Which Grand Theft Auto game was the best one for you?