Grand Theft Auto (abbreviated as GTA) is a series of multi-platform action-adventure video games created and developed primarily by the British developer Rockstar North (formerly DMA Design) and published by Rockstar Games.
2 The Games
2.1 GTA 1 Era
2.2 GTA 2 Era
2.3 GTA III Era
2.4 GTA IV Era
3 The Fan Base
4 Official Sites
The games allow people to take on the role of a criminal in a big city, typically an individual who rises through the ranks of organised crime through the course of the game. Various missions are set for completion by the figureheads of the city underworld, generally criminal, which must be completed to progress through the storyline. Assassinations, and other crimes feature regularly, but occasionally taxi driving, firefighting, pimping, street racing, or learning to fly fixed-wing aircraft are also involved as alternate adventures, which can be done at any time during the game, with the exception of the periods performing main missions.
The Grand Theft Auto series, belonging to a genre of free-roaming video games called "sandbox games," grants a large amount of freedom to the player in deciding what to do and how to do it through multiple methods of transport and weapons. Unlike most traditional action games, which are structured as a single track series of levels with linear gameplay, in GTA the player can determine the missions they want to undertake, and their relationships with various characters are changed based on these choices. The cities of the games can also be roamed freely at any point in the game, offering many accessible buildings and minor missions. There are exceptions: missions follow a linear, overarching plot, and some city areas must be unlocked over the course of the game. Although you can explore the entire city or state even it is locked (but there are limited time to explore some city because some may trigger a 4-wanted level) and ignore the missions.
Individual games in the series can be categorized into different 'eras', mostly dependant on the storyline and graphics engine used. The start of a new era is indicated by a new number after Grand Theft Auto, e.g. "GTA III".
GTA 1 Era
In the GTA 1 Era there is the original game, and the subsequent two expansion packs featuring missions in 1960's London. Whilst originally just called '"Grand Theft Auto", the first game and era have become known as "GTA 1" for clarity.
Grand Theft Auto (1997), available for the PlayStation, PC and Game Boy Color. Features the cities of Liberty City, San Andreas and Vice City.
Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 (1999), an expansion pack, available for the PlayStation and PC, set in London. London is the only playable city in the series with a real name.
Grand Theft Auto: London 1961 (1999), a further expansion to London 1969, available only as a free download for the PC.
GTA 2 Era
The GTA 2 Era contains just GTA 2, which featured an improved graphics engine and a different style of gameplay.
Grand Theft Auto 2 (1999), available for the PlayStation, PC, Dreamcast, and Game Boy Color. The game is set in completely fictional Anywhere City. GTA 2 is the only GTA game to have a digit in the title instead of a Roman Numeral. It is the only game in its era and the only one to have a T rating.
GTA III Era
The GTA III Era featured the first blockbuster GTA title, Grand Theft Auto III, and introduced a 3D game world and a third person perspective. The entire era contains interlocking storylines, and many characters appear across multiple games. Notably, games in this era were not released in chronological order.
Grand Theft Auto III (2001), set in a fictional Liberty City, based upon the real life New York City. Multiplayer game mode was lost, but other areas were much improved, namely the graphics, voice acting, storyline with non-linear gameplay.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002), set in Vice City, a city based on real life Miami. This sequel to GTA III is technically a prequel (set in 1986) to the game, and to GTA San Andreas, which was released after GTA Vice City.
Grand Theft Auto Advance (2004), what was originally supposed to be a cut-down port of GTA III for the Game Boy Advance, turned out to be a completely original game, set a year before GTA III, in a slightly changed Liberty City.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004), set in the state of San Andreas, featured three cities, Los Santos, San Fierro and Las Venturas, based on Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas respectively. The game is set in 1992, making it a sequel to GTA Vice City, and prequel to GTA III. The game featured a lot more customization options, for both players and vehicles.
See also: The Introduction
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (2005), a prequel set in Liberty City, 1998. Originally for the PlayStation Portable, a PS2 port was released in June 2006 without multiplayer.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (2006), announced on May 10th during E3, is based in Vice City, 1984, two years before the original GTA Vice City, featuring Lance Vance's brother Vic as the protagonist. It was released in October 2006 for the PSP. A PS2 port was released later without multiplayer in March 2007.
It is generally believed that the GTA III Era has been completed, and there will be no more official expansions on the characters, storylines or engine. However Modifications and Fan Fiction continue to build on these.
GTA IV Era
The GTA IV Era features Rockstar's new RAGE engine, also used in Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis. This era features
Grand Theft Auto IV (2008) - Set in 2008 in a redesigned Liberty City, with new game mechanics, a multiplayer mode, and with protagonist Niko Bellic trying to start a new life. GTA IV has been released for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.
The Lost and Damned (2009) - a downloadable episode released in February 2009 for the Xbox 360. TLAD is set in the same Liberty City as GTA IV, with events and characters overlapping with GTA IV. The protagonist is a biker, Johnny Klebitz, of The Lost Brotherhood biker gang. It is also available on a disc Episodes From Liberty City which includes The Ballad of Gay Tony also. It was released on PC (Games for Windows - LIVE) and PlayStation 3 in April 2010.
The Ballad of Gay Tony (2009) - A second episode for GTA IV released in October 2009, the last DLC for GTA IV. The protagonist is Luis Lopez, a part-time hoodlum and full-time assistant to legendary nightclub impresario Gay Tony. It was released on the same day as Episodes From Liberty City disc. It was released on PC (Games for Windows - LIVE) and PlayStation 3 in April 2010.
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (2009), set in 2009, a year after GTA IV and the two DLCs with a story focusing on the Liberty City Triads. The protagonist, Huang Lee is the son of a murdered Triad boss who comes to Liberty City. It is set in the same Liberty City as GTA IV (excluding Alderney, but scaled down for the Nintendo DS. A PSP and iPhone port were released later, including new missions, characters and radio stations and improved graphics.
The Fan Base
Grand Theft Auto has one of the largest fan bases of any game franchise. There are many unofficial Fansites about GTA games, providing the latest news, download databases, and often an online forum for the GTA community. Thousands of GTA fansites exist, ranging from small one-person news blogs to community-edited wikis (like this one) to massive downloads databases to forums with hundreds of thousands of members.
One activity popular with fans is modding - creating new vehicle models, skins, re-texturing of objects, and tweaking settings in the games' configuration files. These modifications are then made freely available on these fansites for anyone to download and install into their game. Another popular pastime (since GTA III) is stunting - the act of performing wild stunts with vehicles, and producing compilation videos.
Some of the more creative members of the community enjoy writing their own Fan Fiction - stories based on events which follow on from, or are based around events which happen in the games. These are not considered to be canon, but
The List of GTA Forums attempts to list all of the large communities, and demonstrates just how big the community as a whole is.
These are some of the most popular fan sites:
The GTA Place