With each passing day, hype builds over the release of Grand Theft Auto 6. Rockstar hasn’t given fans of the series a new entry since 2013, with the company not having released a new game since 2017’s Red Dead Redemption 2. No other franchise in the industry carries the same excitement and anticipation. However, the optimists are hoping for some details on a possible sequel later this year – especially given how time is dragging on.
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So with that the case, it’s time to take a look back at previous standalone titles. GameSpot have reviewed every installment so far and it’s worth looking back to see what they said at the time in their reviews.
It’s not exactly to see the first-ever Grand Theft Auto game come bottom of the list. While the franchise has gone from strength to strength ever since it came out back in October 1997, it didn’t exactly set the world alight initially. Set in New York City, it prompted much debate at the time with its violent nature, inevitably, coming under scrutiny.
GameSpot gave it a score of 6.4 overall, which is still nothing to be sniffed at. The graphics are labeled as plain but the soundtrack, radio stations and sound effects all earned it plaudits. With popularity high in the end, a sequel was always going to be on the cards…
9 Grand Theft Auto 2: 6.8
Grand Theft Auto 2 is a bit unusual. Instead of being set in a named location such as Los Santos or Liberty City, it’s left unspecified. And it’s a similar story regarding its time period, initially claiming to be anywhere between ‘three weeks in the future and the year 2013’.
It scored only slightly higher than its predecessor due to the fact it wasn’t vastly different. The soundtrack and sound effects were still the standout features, while its visuals remained disappointing. Fortunately, Rockstar was determined to improve their games after release a slew of top-class installments.
8 Vice City Stories: 8.4
With the original Vice City being a huge hit, Rockstar decided to return to the fictional setting for 2007’s Vice City Stories. It takes part in 1984 and is actually a prequel to the original title, allowing players to step into the shoes of Corporal Victor “Vic” Vance, who gets involved in a life of crime after deciding to help his corrupt superior Sergeant Jerry Martinez.
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Originally released as a PSP exclusive, it earned a respectable score of 8.4. Phil Collins became the first musician to physically appear and its soundtrack and glossy graphics impressed, with a Playstation 2 version then following down the line.
7 Liberty City Stories: 8.6
Scoring slightly higher than Vice City Stories was Liberty City Stories, which was released one year previously. Set in a city akin to New York City, it was enough to keep fans tied over until the release of Grand Theft Auto IV three years later. Fans were able to play as Leone mobster Antonio “Toni” Cipriani, with events taking place in 1998.
It’s a gritty mobster story and sees players rise up to become the city’s kingpin. The PSP version scored 8.6 with Gamespot but the PlayStation 2 didn’t match that, instead being ranked at 7.1. For that review, it was claimed ‘the whole package is significantly less interesting’ and issues within were ‘easy to overlook when you could carry Liberty City around in your back pocket.’
6 Grand Theft Auto 5: 9
It feels inevitable that Grand Theft Auto V would come towards the top of the list. But, in a twist, Rockstar’s latest title hasn’t come close to being the best in GameSpot’s eyes – despite arguably being the best value for money of the lot.
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The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 both defied console constraints to release epic titles, while the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 took things up a notch. Another port of the title is scheduled to hit the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 later in 2021. Speaking recently, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick claimed it wouldn’t just be a simple rehash. Instead, more things are to come.
5 Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars: 9.5
Rockstar really did seem to enjoy releasing their games on handheld consoles during the 2000s and early stages of the 2010s. And an original exclusive for the Nintendo DS was Grand theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. It embraced past titles by being set from more of a bird’s eye view perspective and its decision to throw things back ultimately paid off.
GameSpot scored it highly at 9.5 and scooped the award for Best Handheld Game at the 2009 Spike Video Game Awards. GameSpot nominated it for Game of the Year, Action Game of the Year, and DS Game of the Year at its awards – with the game later scooping the latter. All in all, this was a gamble that paid off and took the series in a different, bold direction.
4 Grand Theft Auto 3: 9.6
Scoring an impressive 9.6 on Gamespot, Grand Theft Auto 3 took the industry by storm. A fully 3D world was created for the first time, giving it unparalleled realism. Criticism of the visuals in previous games were blown away, with Rockstar delivering something shiny and new.
It became the best-selling video game of 2001 and has sold over 9.1 million copies since. Its success ultimately paved the way for the regular releases that took place later on, with Grand Theft Auto: Vice City coming out the following year.
3 Vice City: 9.6
Matching the same high score as its prequel, Vice City took fans to a brand new location. Fans who had been treated to cities were given something new in a fictional version of Hawaii. Skyscrapers and offices were out, while beaches and shopping malls were in. Furthermore, it had a stellar cast with Tommy Vercetti voiced by Goodfellas star Ray Liotta.
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Set in 1986, it also boasts an astonishing soundtrack – with Michael Jackon’s Billie Jean even heard on the radio in an iconic mission. GameSpot claims it “expands on the themes and concepts found in Grand Theft Auto III, fixes a few of the minor issues in the last game, and adds a lot of new abilities and items to play with.” High praise indeed.
2 San Andreas: 9.6
Taking the silver medal is 2004’s Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. When it comes to scope, this may just be the biggest of the lot. Players can do just about anything they want, the story is brilliant, the map is massive and virtually impossible to see all of and, to top it off, it contained some pretty captivating mysteries that are still being debated to this day.
The game sold a mega 17.33 million copies on the PlayStation 2 around the world, more than the likes of Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec, Gran Turismo 4, and Vice City. It has become the stuff of legend ever since and it’s still worth a playthrough even now.
1 Grand Theft Auto IV: 10
Scoring a perfect 10 is Grand Theft Auto IV, which came out in 2008. It was the big industrial event of the year, breaking all sorts of records. Set in the gritty Liberty City, Niko Bellic proved to be an entertaining deep protagonist. Side characters Roman Bellic, Packie McReary, and Brucie Kibbutz were also iconic, all having their pros and sons within the enthralling story.
GameSpot describes it as ‘a game with a compelling and nonlinear storyline, a game with a great protagonist who you can’t help but like, and a game that boasts a plethora of online multiplayer features in addition to its lengthy story mode.’ Whether Grand Theft Auto 6 can beat it when it releases one day is something only time will tell…
NEXT: GTA V: 5 Ways The Game Has Changed For The Better Since Launch (& 5 Ways It’s Gotten Worse)
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