Grand Retrospective GTA Games

All GTA Games in Order of Release Date – A Grand Retrospective

Welcome to the ultimate nostalgic journey through the Grand Theft Auto (GTA) franchise! Prepare to embark on a thrilling ride through time, exploring the humble beginnings, groundbreaking innovations, and legendary moments that defined each entry in this iconic series. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down all the GTA games in chronological order, delving into the compelling narratives, evocative settings, and unforgettable characters that have captured the hearts of gamers worldwide. So buckle up, and let’s hit the road!

Before we continue, this article pairs well with our guide to the most popular crossplay games for PC and PS platforms.

1. Grand Theft Auto (1997): The Crime Spree Begins 

Grand Theft Auto (1997) - The Crime Spree Begins 

Platform: PC, PlayStation, Game Boy Color 

Release Date: October 1997

Our journey starts with the game that laid the foundation for the series – the original Grand Theft Auto. Released in 1997, this top-down action-adventure game placed players in the role of a small-time criminal making their way up the ranks in three fictional cities: Liberty City, Vice City, and San Andreas. 

Despite its simple graphics and limited technological capabilities, the game’s open-world design, vehicle-based gameplay, and controversial themes quickly garnered a dedicated fan base and set the stage for the monumental series that would follow.

2. Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 (1999): A Swinging Expansion 

Grand Theft Auto - London 1969 (1999)

Platform: PC, PlayStation 

Release Date: April 1999

Taking a creative detour, Rockstar Games ventured across the pond to bring players the first GTA expansion pack: Grand Theft Auto: London 1969. 

Set in the psychedelic era of swinging London, this standalone expansion introduced a new city, vehicles, and a distinctly British vibe. Players once again took on the role of an aspiring criminal, navigating through a series of missions in a bid to conquer the city’s underworld.

3. Grand Theft Auto 2 (1999): The Futuristic Crime Odyssey

Grand Theft Auto 2 (1999)

 Platform: PC, PlayStation, Dreamcast, Game Boy Color 

Release Date: October 1999

GTA 2, the direct sequel to the original game, marked the series’ entry into the new millennium with a futuristic setting and refined gameplay mechanics. The game retained the top-down perspective but took place in the sprawling metropolis of “Anywhere City,” a dystopian urban landscape divided into three districts. 

GTA 2 introduced several innovations, such as side missions, gangs, and a more elaborate respect system, all while keeping the core gameplay elements that made its predecessor a hit.

4. Grand Theft Auto III (2001): A Revolutionary Leap 

Grand Theft Auto III (2001)

Platform: PlayStation 2, PC, Xbox, iOS, Android 

Release Date: October 2001

Arguably the most revolutionary installment in the series, GTA III marked a turning point not only for the franchise but also for the entire gaming industry. The game shifted from a top-down perspective to a fully realized 3D open-world environment, immersing players in the gritty, crime-ridden Liberty City. 

With a captivating story, a complex cast of characters, and groundbreaking mechanics, GTA III changed the landscape of gaming forever and solidified the series as a cultural phenomenon.

5. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002): A Neon-Soaked Spectacle 

Grand Theft Auto - Vice City (2002)

Platform: PlayStation 2, PC, Xbox, iOS, Android 

Release Date: October 2002

Bathing players in the vibrant neon hues of the 1980s, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City transported fans to the sun-soaked streets of a Miami-inspired metropolis. With its iconic soundtrack, diverse cast of characters, and an engaging storyline, Vice City was an instant hit, expanding on the foundations laid by GTA III. The game’s protagonist, Tommy Vercetti, has since become

a legendary figure in the gaming community, as he fought to conquer the city’s criminal underworld and leave his mark on the vibrant, vice-filled Vice City.

6. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004): The West Coast Saga 

Grand Theft Auto - San Andreas (2004)

Platform: PlayStation 2, PC, Xbox, iOS, Android 

Release Date: October 2004

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas took the series to new heights, both literally and figuratively, as players were introduced to an expansive map that encompassed three major cities and vast, diverse landscapes. Set in the early ’90s, San Andreas told the story of Carl “CJ” Johnson, who returned to his hometown to find his mother murdered and his family in shambles. 

The game introduced a plethora of new features, including character customization, RPG elements, and a wide variety of vehicles, while delivering a gripping narrative that explored themes of family, loyalty, and the pursuit of the American Dream.

7. Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (2005): A Familiar Turf with New Tales 

Platform: PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2, iOS, Android 

Release Date: October 2005

Originally released for the PlayStation Portable, Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories marked the series’ foray into handheld gaming. Set in Liberty City, the game served as a prequel to GTA III, exploring the events that shaped the city’s criminal landscape. 

Players assumed the role of Toni Cipriani, a loyal member of the Leone crime family, as he navigated the treacherous world of organized crime and sought to rise through the ranks. The game maintained the core gameplay elements of the series while adapting them for the portable platform, offering a new perspective on a familiar setting.

8. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (2006): The Rise of an Empire 

Grand Theft Auto - Vice City Stories

Platform: PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2 

Release Date: October 2006

Following the success of Liberty City Stories, Rockstar Games returned to the vibrant shores of Vice City with another prequel, this time focusing on the meteoric rise of Victor Vance. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, once again released for the PlayStation Portable and later ported to the PlayStation 2, expanded on the lore of the beloved Vice City while refining gameplay mechanics and offering new features, such as empire-building and an enhanced targeting system.

9. Grand Theft Auto IV (2008): A Darker Shade of Liberty 

Grand Theft Auto IV (2008) - A Darker Shade of Liberty

Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC 

Release Date: April 2008

The highly anticipated Grand Theft Auto IV took players back to Liberty City, now reimagined with stunning detail and depth, powered by the RAGE engine. The game introduced a darker, more grounded narrative as players followed the story of Niko Bellic, an immigrant from Eastern Europe seeking to escape his troubled past and build a new life in the land of opportunity. GTA IV pushed the boundaries of what an open-world game could be, with its realistic physics, dynamic weather system, and unparalleled attention to detail.

10. Grand Theft Auto: The Lost and Damned (2009): The Biker’s Journey 

Grand Theft Auto - The Lost and Damned (2009)

Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC 

Release Date: February 2009

The Lost and Damned, the first of two episodic expansions for GTA IV, introduced players to the world of biker gangs as they stepped into the boots of Johnny Klebitz, the Vice President of The Lost Motorcycle Club. This gritty expansion delved into the criminal underbelly of Liberty City, offering a fresh perspective on the city’s complex power dynamics and adding new gameplay elements tailored to the biker lifestyle.

11. Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony (2009): Glitz, Glamour, and Guns 

Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC 

Release Date: October 2009

The second episodic expansion for GTA IV, The Ballad of Gay Tony, traded the grit of The Lost and Damned for the glitz and glamour of Liberty City’s high-stakes nightlife. Players took control of Luis Fernando Lopez, the right-hand man of nightclub mogul “Gay” Tony Prince, as they navigated a world of power, money, and betrayal. 

This expansion provided a stark contrast to its predecessor, offering high-octane missions, thrilling new vehicles, and a colorful cast of characters that added another layer to the intricate tapestry of Liberty City.

12. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (2009): A Handheld Powerhouse 

Platform: Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, iOS, Android 

Release Date: March 2009

Proving that the series could thrive on any platform, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars brought the action-packed world of GTA to the Nintendo DS and later to the PlayStation Portable, iOS, and Android devices. 

The game featured a unique blend of top-down and 3D graphics, offering a fresh visual experience while retaining the core gameplay elements that fans adored. Players took on the role of Huang Lee, a young Triad member seeking to avenge his father’s death and reclaim his family’s honor in a treacherous underworld.

13. Grand Theft Auto V (2013): A Triple Threat in Los Santos 

Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC 

Release Date: September 2013

Arguably the most ambitious entry in the series to date, Grand Theft Auto V transported players to the sun-soaked, sprawling metropolis of Los Santos and its surrounding countryside. GTA V broke new ground by featuring not one but three playable protagonists – Michael, Franklin, and Trevor – each with their own unique storylines, skills, and motivations. 

The game’s massive open world, intricate heist missions, and unprecedented level of detail cemented its status as a gaming masterpiece, while the introduction of Grand Theft Auto Online offered an expansive multiplayer experience that continues to evolve and captivate players.

Closing Thoughts

From its humble beginnings as a top-down action-adventure game to its evolution into a cultural phenomenon, the Grand Theft Auto series has consistently pushed the boundaries of what’s possible in the gaming industry

Each entry in the series has built upon the foundations laid by its predecessors, introducing innovative mechanics, unforgettable characters, and gripping narratives that have left an indelible mark on the hearts of gamers worldwide. 

As we eagerly await the next chapter in this illustrious franchise, we can only imagine what Rockstar Games has in store for us. Until then, we’ll continue to cherish the memories and celebrate the legacy of this groundbreaking series.