Here is the final part of my retrospective of the GTA franchise where I offer my own personal views on the main games in the series and share hopes for the franchise in the future.
GTA as a whole has been one amazing and thrilling journey, from playing the original back in 1997 to getting lost (in a good way) in GTA V today. Seeing the evolution of this series has been as rewarding as it has been exciting.
From humble beginnings in the original GTA with it’s simplistic gameplay to today’s efforts and their much deeper and involved stories, characters and style. GTA has had plenty of ups and downs over the years.
Lets start at the beginning…
GTA: Back in 1997 when I first played the original GTA, it was a gaming experience that left a lasting impression on me. The game was very unique for the time with allowing us gamers to be a bad guy. But there was also that open world aspect giving us freedom to do whatever we wanted within the game world. It was not the first open world game…but it was one of the best and most detailed.
I still think GTA has some great gameplay even today and should rightfully be remembered as the game that started a worldwide popular franchise.
GTA 2: This was pretty much more of the same, but with a few bells & whistles. The gameplay remained pretty much untouched as did the (now dated) graphics. GTA 2 never really impressed me as much as GTA did, but I still found it a great game overall.
GTA III: Probably the game that most people will remember playing. When GTA dropped the 2D sprite based graphics and went 3D for the first time, people began sit up and take notice. Not my personal favourite game in the franchise, but it is the one that made the gaming world take notice and set in place the future of open world games from that point on.
GTA: Vice City: Still to this day this my own personal favourite of the franchise so far. It just seemed to have nailed everything. From it’s awesome 80’s soundtrack, timeframe and attitude. To it’s glorious sun kissed city that was a stark antithesis to that of GTA III’s grittier Liberty City. The characters felt like they were right out of a cheesy 80’s TV show. The plot was a simple “rise to the top” inspired by Scarface. GTA: Vice City got it all right out of the box.
GTA: San Andreas: Often cited as the big “fan favourite”, but for me…not the best. This is where Rockstar seemed to have lost their way and just decided to go for a “bigger is best” attitude. While I did enjoy this game, for me it never felt like a true GTA game and more like someone trying to copy Rockstar’s style. I thought the map was too big and often lifeless and the writing was just flat. It was an ambitious idea, but I think the technology just was not there to make GTA: San Andreas the game it deserved to be.
GTA: IV: I recall the backlash from fans when they found out that not only would there be only 1 city after GTA: San Andreas had 3, but also the fact it was going to be Liberty City…again. Even I felt a little “cheated”, not by the 1 city thing as that did not bother me. But more by the fact the game was to be set in Liberty City…again. However, my worries soon disappeared when I played the game. GTA: IV was a work of genius and just what the franchise needed after the overblown GTA: San Andreas. GTA: IV was not only a palate cleanser, but it also grew in terms of writing with a more grounded style after the OTT GTA: San Andreas. Just like GTA III before it, GTA: IV showed the franchise evolve and grow.
GTA: V: There really is not much I can say that has not already been said about GTA: V. If GTA: Vice City is my favorite of the franchise so far, GTA: V is really not too far behind. With it’s immersive and detailed world GTA: V brought the very best gaming environment I have experienced so far. It’s characters were well written, acted and even believable. GTA: V seemed to have merged to more “grounded” elements of GTA: IV with the more fun aspects of GTA: San Andreas and made them work to perfection.
But what is left for the franchise?
After 15 years and 15 games in the series (including spin offs and DLCs), I still think there are plenty of scenarios and characters to explore. GTA always has been such a diverse franchise that Rockstar could delve into.
But I hope they keep to the more “grounded” reality of GTA: IV and GTA: V, and I would really like to see them play around with different timeframes as they used with GTA: Vice City and GTA: San Andreas. I think my biggest complaint about the latest generation of GTA is that they have played it safe and stuck to the modern era. Why not got back to the 80’s again? Maybe even a 60’s set Vegas inspired GTA, or even a 1930’s/40’s classic gangster Chicago concept. The possibilities are endless.
Another notion I enjoyed was the multi character angle from GTA: V and hope to see this return and expanded on in future titles. Or even include and advancing timeline where you play over years within the narrative of the game and see characters and the environment age and alter.
I hope the GTA franchise continues for many years to come, as long as Rockstar keep churning out quality titles as they have done for the last 15 years…I’ll keep on playing.
I simply can not wait to see what the next generation of GTA will bring, but if GTA: V is anything to go by then we are in for a thrilling and interesting 4th generation of GTA.
Thank you for reading my retrospective of the GTA franchise, I know it’s been a long read but I hope you enjoyed it.
Please feel free to send me comments/feedback and hope you’ll join me in my next retrospective soon.