Last week I posted another preview for Grand Theft Auto V. After basking in the new trailer I am more excited than ever for Rockstar's upcoming game in the (in)famous series. With this latest (and I predict greatest) installment of Grand Theft Auto approaching, I've thought about the games that brought it to where it is today and my personal relationship with them. What follows is my love letter to the GTA games. There will be some (constructive) criticism, but mostly this is exploring how the series has evolved over the years and the experiences I have had playing several of them.
|You could run down the sidewalk with an assault rifle and body armor from the very beginning. Grand Theft Auto (1997)|
|Exploding cars was a class back in "old school" too. Grand Theft Auto 2 (1999)|
|Aerial views, animated frames for cut-scenes, and touch controls. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (2009)|
|You play as silent protagonist Claude on the streets of Liberty City. Grand Theft Auto III (2001)|
|A look at the cluttered interface on the iOS port of Grand Theft Auto III (2001/11)|
|Tommy Vercetti, reporting for duty Vice City. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002)|
|Runnin' and gunnin' through South Central. Grand Theft Auto: San Andrea (2004)|
It seems to me that San Andreas is one of the more divided games in the series. Some felt there was too much going on that distracted from what these games were initially about. However, if I had to choose a favorite of the GTA games this may be the one. There is so much to do in the game that is spread out over three full cities and all the countryside in-between. All the car-stealing, mob-hunting and racing you've come to expect from the series is in tact if you want it, but I see the dozens of other activities (from basketball to base jumping) as more toys in the sandbox that are there if you want them. San Andreas even brought some Sims-like light-RPG elements to the table where you had to keep an eye on your body fat for example.
|The Liberty City skyline in the richest detail yet. Grand Theft Auto IV (2008)|
With impressive physics and tight controls (including the long-needed cover mechanic) this game continued the tradition in improving upon what had come before it. Many extracirricular activities from San Andreas were shed, though more true-to-life elements were added: a usable cell phone, email, and a vastly improved relationship system. Those who were just looking for a good action-packed time found these to be annoyances as well. Regardless, I think anyone who has experienced any of the game's vast multiplayer modes is thankful for its addition.
|Bicycles return in a gloriously looking Los Santos. Grand Theft Auto V (2013)|
In these months before the game, I will publish more posts about the series here on These Things We Call Video Games. Besides previews, reviews and other features, the Grand Theft Auto games themselves will surely be referenced in explorations and analyses of open-world/sandbox games. This may very well be my favorite variety of game and GTA put that "genre" on the map. Furthermore, there is much to discuss about morals in video games. Has GTA gotten a bad rap over the years? Yes, but in many ways it merits and calls for that status. More on these pertinent topics to come, though you may have already sensed whispers of them in this post.
Words by J.S. Lewis