Best GTA Games of All Time (Ranked)

I believe that Grand Theft Auto (GTA) is one of the best things that could have happened to open-world games. Yeah, I know we have other spectacles like Red Dead Redemption or the Spider-Man games. But to me, nothing comes close to the freedom GTA offers. This virtual crime phenomenon started in 1998, and we are inching close to another major launch from Rockstar. With an estimate for the GTA 6 release now with us, I decided to sit down and rank all the GTA games.

As Rockstar introduced additional spinoff series to all the main story games, it is worth mentioning the spinoff, prequel, and sequels too. That is why I have included all the additional games that came with the original lineup, such as Liberty City Stories or Vice City Stories. However, I won’t include DLCs that are available and exist in the story of the original games. With that said, let’s begin!

10. Grand Theft Auto 2

Grand Theft Auto 2
Image Courtesy: Rockstar Games
  • Released: 25 October 1999
  • Platform(s): PlayStation (Original), PC, Dreamcast, Game Boy

Starting our list with a game that did not deliver on its promise. After the first-ever top-down view open-world game, GTA 2 needed more than just a little visual upgrade. The gameplay felt clunky and was generally insufficient in following up the chaos the original brought.

As usual, there was no proper storyline to follow. I believe GTA 2 could have done way better if it had taken a bit more time and added enough upgrades worthy of a sequel.

9. Grand Theft Auto

Grand Theft Auto (GTA 1)
Image Courtesy: Rockstar Games
  • Released: 28 November 1997
  • Platform(s): PC, PS1, Game Boy Color

The original that started it all. As mentioned, there weren’t many differences between the Grand Theft Auto and its follow-up. Despite that, if we didn’t have this game, then nothing would have followed at all.

GTA was a classic game where you created so much chaos, and it was all about having fun. Being a game released in 1997, Grand Theft Auto became a trendsetter and made its mark as the first genre shift.

8. GTA: Liberty City Stories

GTA Liberty City Stories
Image Courtesy: Rockstar Games
  • Released: 24 October 2005
  • Platform(s): Android, iOS, PC, PS2, PS3, PS Vita, PSP

The first prequel of the GTA 3D era did not disappoint. Liberty City Stories made you invest in GTA 3 more with its compelling storytelling. Despite having some technical and visual glitches, the game delivered. It had all the right plot developments and some solid story progression.

All these plus playing a 3D open-world game on a handheld PSP for the first time? That was quite the revolution. GTA Liberty City Stories remains one of the finest prequels that exists in the original trilogy of the GTA franchise and deserves a place on this list.

7. GTA: Vice City Stories

GTA Vice City Stories
Image Courtesy: Rockstar Games
  • Released: 31 October 2006
  • Platform(s): PlayStation 2, PSP

Following the success of Liberty City Stories, Rockstar applied the same formula to another spinoff, but this time with the Vice City. Vice City Stories expanded on the gameplay mechanics of the already-hit Vice City and made it different in some ways.

The story focuses on one of Vice City’s characters and sets up the events in the following game. The strategic gang wars and the criminal empire-building system were much more fun. With less emphatic additions but solid improvements, Vice City Stories is always worth a try for any open-world game lover. Let us also not forget the multiplayer mode (up to 6 players) that let you engage in different game modes together.

6. GTA: Chinatown Wars

GTA Chinatown Wars
Image Courtesy: Rockstar Games
  • Released: 17 March 2009
  • Platform(s): Nintendo DS, PSP, Android, iOS

GTA Chinatown Wars would have easily made it to my top 5 if not for its top-down view. Despite the visual limitations, the game offered a lot for its time. As a game made for handheld devices, the experience and gameplay were something to applaud.

GTA Chinatown Wars delivered a nice combination of strategy with the thrills of open world we’ve come to love. By implementing multiple touch controls and creative mechanics, Rockstar did not miss. Unfortunately, GTA: Chinatown Wars is still underrated and only talked about by loyal GTA fans.

5. Grand Theft Auto 3

Grand Theft Auto 3
Image Courtesy: Rockstar Games
  • Released: 22 October 2001
  • Platform(s): PS2, Xbox (Original), PC, macOS, Android, iOS

GTA 3 was Rockstar’s first sincere attempt to make the jump from 2D to 3D while delivering good storytelling. The fact alone that GTA 3 had such a beautiful 3D structure from its time separates it from the lot for me. Combine that with a story about betrayal and revenge, and GTA 3 makes its way into my personal top five.

4. GTA: Vice City

GTA Vice City
Image Courtesy: Rockstar Games
  • Released: 29 October 2002
  • Platform(s): PS2, Xbox (Original), PC, iOS, Android, macOS

We weren’t even over GTA 3, and just a year later, Rockstar dropped another masterpiece. This time, it was the story of Vice City and its crime syndicate. For starters, Vice City replicated much of the real-life Miami City in the game. We also got a ton of mini-games that were arcady and fun. But the key highlight and selling point remained the rich story and peppy music.

At more points than one, it felt like Vice City was a cinematic masterpiece that Rockstar cooked up. The only downside was the gunplay and mechanics, which felt too casual for my taste. However, the experience of exploring the islands still has my heart. Overall, the game makes you groove and enjoy every part of it. Even on a gloomy day, Vice City can make your life colorful or, at times, too bloody.

3. Grand Theft Auto 5 (+GTA Online)

Grand Theft Auto 5
Image Courtesy: Rockstar Games
  • Released: 17 September 2013
  • Platform(s): PS5, PS4, PS3, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC

After GTA 4, Rockstar made fans wait five long years to give us an upgrade. But what an upgrade it was. Grand Theft Auto 5 turned out to be the most spectacular step up to the series. Be it visuals, music, storytelling, or the action gunplay, everything was perfect.

That was then followed up by GTA Online, which changed the scene even more. GTA Online was the multiplayer mode introduced in Grand Theft Auto 5 and broke the momentum of how Rockstar used to deliver good DLC or spin-offs.

The success of GTA Online quickly helped Rockstar divert its attention from story progression DLC, prequel, or sequels. Despite these disastrous decisions, the original storyline and gameplay of GTA 5 are still one of a kind and deserve to be in the top 3 on the list of best GTA games. GTA 5 paved the way for the new generation of open-world games with high-end enhancements. I still wonder where we would have been if the scrapped DLCs of GTA 5 existed.

2. GTA: San Andreas

GTA San Andreas
Image Courtesy: Rockstar Games
  • Released: 26 October 2004
  • Platform(s): PS2, PS3, Xbox (Original), Xbox 360, PC, macOS, iOS, Android

20 years later, and I still miss having a character like CJ and his adventures in San Andreas. This iconic game launched in 2004 is arguably one of the most enjoyable games from the GTA franchise for multiple reasons. This was the last enjoyable 3D universe game from the GTA franchise. We did get games like Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories later, but San Andreas set our expectations way higher.

The real-time simulation mechanics, along with various activities, gunplay, gang wars, and driving were so much fun. San Andreas also added a ton of variety besides main missions that made it feel more like an RPG adventure. With a compelling story that kept me on the edge and a great arcade experience, San Andreas deserves to be close to the top of our list.

1. Grand Theft Auto 4

Grand Theft Auto 4
Image Courtesy: Rockstar Games
  • Released: 29 April 2008
  • Platform(s): PC, Xbox 360, PS3

When Rockstar started its Grand Theft Auto franchise, the game’s key focus was to create an open-world environment. However, that was not what made them noteworthy. It was always the classic plots and sheer storytelling.

This is the primary reason I choose Grand Theft Auto 4 as my top pick for this list. Niko Bellic’s tale, both equal parts sad and exciting, was original and did not resemble anything I had seen during that time. Rockstar not only gave us that but injected chaos and cinema to make it an all-around package.

Grand Theft Auto 4 furthered that with unique driving physics that is still missing in GTA 5. Despite being the first HD universe game for the GTA franchise, the fourth iteration nailed when it comes to realism.

Overall, GTA 4 was already a flawless game with barely any missing elements. With the introduction of short but impactful DLCs like Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony and Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned, Rockstar hit a homerun. As the game deservedly gathered multiple Game of the Year Awards as a standalone and with the DLCs, it is high time we respect the best GTA game of all time(for now). For its release, GTA 4 was way ahead of its time and still holds that reputation.

Honorable Mentions:

It is worth mentioning the GTA Advance game for its unique way of approaching the 3D style. It is also the only top-down view game from the 3D universe of GTA franchise.

And that concludes our list of best GTA games of all time. Do you think we messed up ranking these games? Let us know your opinion in the comments down below!

comment Comments 0
Leave a Reply