The GTA Series is one of the most played and loved series in gaming history. I’ll be reviewing every main console release since Vice City as this was the first one I played. It’s a series that has evolved from a very basic top down game, into a vast, complex, open world adventure. 16 years on from GTA III, the series continues to attract people for the same reason. A large open world, pushing the limits of the current console. A world in which you are free to choose what you do, follow the story or simply explore.
My first GTA game was Vice City. Well when I say mine it was actually my Dad’s, this was a game that attracted all audiences, as does every GTA. I spent most of my time just driving around doing nothing except listening to the music and exploring the map.
If you compare Vice City’s map to GTA V it is completely dwarfed, however for the time it seemed quite large. Probably not the greatest map from the modern GTA games however it is still excellent.
In Vice City you play as Tommy Vercetti an Italian mobster recently out of prison. He is one of the most loved protagonists from any GTA, an admiral badass whose main strategy is resorting to violence. He’s a funny and influential character to play as, which makes the game much more fun to play.
The one thing that really does it for me is the music. I am a huge lover of early 80s new wave music so Wave 103 is the perfect radio station for me. The best in GTA’s history in my opinion. My earliest memories of this game are driving down the Ocean Beach road, weaving through the trees, listening to Gary Numan – Cars.
Overall I’d give Vice City an 8.5/10. Personally I’d be tempted to give it a 10/10 but that might be more for nostalgic reasons.
San Andreas is probably the most loved GTA game of old. My memories of this game mainly come from the varied cheat codes that most people can still remember to this day. Circle, Right, Circle, Right, Left, Square, Triangle, Up, was probably my most used as I did like to commit frequent drive by shootings.
The map was truly magnificent in size, a huge step up from Vice City. The less populated areas provided a good break from the bustling metros in which we were previously confined to in GTA games.
The story in this game was brilliant. Set in the early ’90s you play as CJ (Carl Johnson) who, like Tommy, has just been released from prison. Gang warfare is what San Andreas is all about and you grow attached to your gang after playing for a while, like it is your own. A much more complex and captivating story than Vice City’s and the variety in missions mean you’ll seldom find yourself bored.
Music is quite a big part of GTA as you often spend time driving around the vast expanse of Los Santos. I’d say this is the part of the game that I enjoyed the least. There wasn’t really a station for me, I know they were trying to keep to a certain theme in the game but even so I feel they could have done better. However, this is my only criticism of an otherwise perfect game.
San Andreas added upon the success of Vice City with a lot more gameplay elements such as; planes, helicopters, skydiving, gang wars and minigames. You could customise your clothing, hair and tattoos. This made for an even more personalised experience which was fun to play around with. You could even make CJ fat or muscular depending on whether you liked to visit Burger Shot or the gym. Personally I’d never skip leg day.
San Andreas often crops up in “what is your favourite GTA game” polls as 2nd or 1st and for good reason too. A great map, a dramatic finale to a blockbuster of a story and much more to do than in previous GTA’s, cemented this as a fan favourite. Overall I’d give it a 9/10.
Set in modern day New York, GTA IV was the step into the present that many people sought after the last two main releases were set in the past. My memories of this game are exploring the huge area of Liberty City and playing online races. I can remember the very first time I played it. I was at a friends house and had not seen anything about the game, not even a screenshot. I was completely blown away by how much of a graphical step up it was from San Andreas. It looked so realistic and the mechanics of the game were groundbreaking.
There could have been no story at all to this game and I would still be in love with it. However it does have a story and it’s bloody brilliant. You play as a Russian man who goes by the name of Niko Bellic who has come to Liberty City to fulfil his “American Dream”. He is also persuaded to move by his cousin Roman who runs a cab company in Liberty City. This GTA has the darkest feel of them all and you fear for the pair who are under pressure by loan sharks, mob bosses and the government. The game has very dry humour often coming from your own characters nonchalant approach to some of the situations. It has the most dramatic twists from any GTA game and plays on your emotions. It is the one GTA storyline that I could really see being made into a film as it is that good. In my opinion, and in the opinion of many, this is certainly the best story of any the GTA games.
The mechanics of the game are outstanding which made the experience very realistic. I would even argue that they are better than GTA V’s mechanics. If you have never seen the video “GTA IV is better than GTA V” I would highly recommend it, it shows all the little features in GTA IV which makes it feel a lot more real than GTA V in my opinion. It was so fun to go on a rampage in this game mainly due to the amazing rag-doll physics and the intelligence of the cops who try to box you in or PIT manoeuvre you.
The music is really varied in this game and there’s something for pretty much everyone. My personal favourites are The Vibe, Radio Broker and Vladivostok from The Ballad of Gay Tony. The only let downs in GTA IV are the customisation and online features. You can’t really expect more from the online features though as this was the first GTA with them and I had a lot of fun with online. Racing was the main thing I did whether it be attempting serious racing or parking a big bus across the track and trying to kill people in the race. Online was a great addition to GTA IV but it could have been better if they’d added a few little customisation options to it.
A brilliant game in my opinion however by the majority crowd it isn’t seen this way. I don’t really know why. The only reason I can find is that it is too bleak. Personally I love this about GTA IV as it makes it even more immersive than playing in a vividly coloured world which you can’t really slip into. So quite a Marmite game but if you are reading this chances are you are really into games so you will love GTA IV for its brilliant story and amazing gameplay. Its lack of customisation and online features are the only the only reason this game doesn’t get a 10 from me. 9.5/10.
And so we reach the most current release in the GTA series.Released in 2013, I am still playing this game over 3 years later. This is because GTA V had the best upgrade we have ever seen from a previous title in its online mode. This was my most anticipated GTA game of the lot and I began watching GTA V speculation videos more than a year before its release. I built up such a high expectation for this game, was I let down? Absolutely not.
The thing with previous GTA titles is that there wasn’t too much replayability in them. This is not because they were repetitive but because they did not have any online features. GTA IV was the exception, however, that had limited online features as it was the first multiplayer GTA game. GTA Online is this games crowning achievement. You can take part in heists, racing, missions and lots more all with your friends. You can also buy apartments around Los Santos which have garages to store the cars you can buy and customise. It was what every GTA fan always wanted. With the unlimited opportunities in GTA Online you can buy this game now and will still easily find full lobbies in any game-mode you wish to play.
Even if you don’t have online this GTA really holds up well. The map is so big you just won’t explore every nook and cranny anytime soon. The detail is staggering. The city in Los Santos is roughly the same size as Liberty City from GTA IV however GTA V has a huge rural area above the city. This rural area, known as Blaine County, is around 3 times bigger than the size of Los Santos. Like San Andreas this is a big relief to some people who felt like the previous game, GTA IV, was too confined and wanted a large rural area for some variation. The map is one of GTA Vs best features where a large city expanse, a desert and a forest are all wrapped neatly into one map without it seeming forced.
The story for GTA V is different to any previous GTA game as you play not only one character but three. Two of these characters all took part in a bank job 9 years ago. The first is Michael, he is a family man living under witness protection. The second is Trevor who is living in a trailer in Sandy Shores, laying low after the bank job. The third player Franklin makes his way into the story early on as he works for Simeon, a car dealer. He makes Franklin repossess Michael’s son Jimmy’s car. The three character gameplay works really well as each character has a very different personality. The story allows you to pick certain choices which will lead to you doing different missions and the finale has a few possible endings meaning you can replay the game a few times to see every combination. The only let down is that I didn’t really feel attached to the characters as much as I had in previous GTA games. However the missions are even more varied than before and the story line itself is of high quality like all of the previous games in the series.
The music in GTA V is brilliant. Even more radio stations containing even more songs to suit a wider audience and keep you from hearing the same songs over and over. The customisation is on another level in this game. Hundreds of different clothing options and a wide variety in car modifications mean you can tailor the game to suit you. GTA Online has remained fresh by regular updates adding new features to the game every time.
So you may be thinking that this is the perfect game so far, however it has one let down, its mechanics. If you have never played GTA before and GTA V is the first one you play then you may be fine with the games mechanics, however, to anyone who played GTA IV you may be left disappointed. Like I have already mentioned in the GTA IV review, the game had so many clever mechanics which made the game feel real and made it more fun to play. For some reason GTA V took a step back in this department for a lot of things. GTA V doesn’t feel very welcoming, you stand on a street minding your own business when all of a sudden every character stands up and runs away and one or two may attack you. It is hard to get lost in the game when things like this happen. Again I could talk for days about all the things GTA V took a step back on so just watch “GTA IV is better than GTA V“. Of course GTA V added some mechanics that GTA IV didn’t have, but it’s a case of one step forward two steps back.
Overall GTA V is the most breathtaking of the lot to look at. Its map is simply staggering and the addition of first person mode really did put you in your characters shoes. GTA Online was the best addition we could have dreamt of and is now a must have feature of every future GTA game. GTA V is thought of by many as the best one of all time, however for me it has some glaring mechanical omissions which stain an otherwise brilliant game. I really do love this game though which is evident because I’m still playing it. You have to make a very special game for it to still be played as much as GTA V is, over 3 years down the line. 9.5/10.
Most people like each GTA game for something different. Personally I think some games did things better than the others, meaning it is quite hard for anyone to choose a favourite. In my opinion this is what each game does best:
Vice City – Music
GTA IV – Story and Gameplay
GTA V – Customisation and Map
Now I know what you’re thinking. What about San Andreas? Well I don’t think there’s a particular thing San Andreas did better than the other three, but I think overall it’s amazing. Whilst I had criticism’s for most of the others there’s nothing I disliked from San Andreas apart from its lack of music variety which is its only a minor flaw. It rightly goes down as many people’s favourite GTA game.
If someone were to ask me which is my favourite GTA game of all time it would be a really tough call as they are all fantastic. I did not start this post thinking I would list any one of them as my favourite, but after going through all of the games strengths and weaknesses, I can’t help but give the title to GTA IV. In my opinion, story and gameplay come above all else and this is my reason for choosing GTA IV as the best GTA I’ve ever played.