The Grand Theft Auto (GTA) series is one of the most successful video games series. The series has sold around 200 million units worldwide, with GTA V selling 140 million units alone.
GTA’s popular open-world sandbox has resonated with fans from across the spectrum, with the series leading the way in terms of open-world immersive gameplay.
The non-stop carnage and mayhem franchise has captured fans’ imaginations since the first GTA game was released in 1997.
As with many open-world games, fans speculate the lore behind the games, with players wondering the order of the GTA games. This article will outline the GTA games in order.
GTA Games in Order (Chronologically)
- GTA London 1961
- GTA London 1969
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
- Grand Theft Auto 1
- Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories
- Grand Theft Auto Advance
- Grand Theft Auto 3
- Grand Theft Auto IV
- Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
- Grand Theft Auto 2
- Grand Theft Auto 5
1. GTA London 1961
GTA London 1961 is the first game in the series chronologically. Originally released in 1999, the game is set in Manchester in the UK. The game is set in 1961 and follows a group of nefarious individuals as they cause mayhem on the streets of the UK.
The game expanded the original GTA London 1969 and included new vehicles and missions for players to take on. GTA London 1961 was set eight years before GTA London 1969 and thus the first GTA game in order.
As the first game in the series, GTA London 1961 started it all, laying the foundations for future installments in the franchise.
Interestingly the GTA franchise never went back to its London Roots after GTA London 1969. It is likely in the future. The franchise might take us back to Manchester or other cities in the UK, which is likely considering Rockstars UK heritage.
Overall, GTA London 1961 reviewed well with critics and fans alike, starting one of the greatest video game series of all time.
2. GTA London 1969
Set eight years after the first game, GTA London 1969 was released in 1999 as one of the first games in the franchise.
The first game in the series to be based in London and had players taking on various criminal tasks to take over the famous capital city while dealing with betrayal and strife.
GTA London 1969 was released in 1999 on PC and PlayStation 1 and paved the way for future installments in the franchise. The game is the second GTA game in order.
GTA London 1969 carried on from where GTA London 1961 left off, taking players back to the UK capital city of London, having players tackle its underworld. The game was received well by fans and critics, expanding on the previous GTA London 1961.
3. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories
When you think of GTA, for many, GTA Vice City will spring to mind. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories was released in 2006 but was based in 1984, chronologically over ten years after the last game making it the third GTA in order.
The game follows Victor Vance as he tries to make money in the criminal underworld. Vice City was the second game released on the PlayStation Portable and the second in the Vice City Saga.
The game added many new features to the franchise, such as swimming and an empire-building mode. GTA Vice City Stories was a fantastic game and perfectly suited the PlayStation Portable.
The handhelds’ perfect size and power allowed Vice City Stories to not only run smoothly but look great. The games on the PlayStation Portable helped to build GTA lore and expand what we love about GTA.
It also made the GTA games more accessible to players, with not every player having to spend hundreds of dollars on the next big console.
Essentially Vice City Stories was a pocket edition of the main series GTA games, helping to pave the way for future installments on the PSP and other handheld consoles. Critics received GTA Vice City Stories well, scoring an 86 from critics and an 8.2 from users.
4. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Vice City was the first game in the Vice City saga released in 2002 as the fourth GTA game in order; the beloved game came two years after Vice City Stories, set in 1986.
The game follows Tommy Vercetti, an ex-prison convict who quickly finds himself back in the action as he tries to make his way up the criminal ladder by taking out enemies, making shady deals, and being an all-around bad guy.
The game was released on the original Xbox, PlayStation 2, and PC and had several mobile ports. The game also included features such as the ability to buy safe houses and even fly. The game was the fourth game in the franchise chronologically.
Overall, GTA Vice City was a landmark game for the series on console; features such as safe houses have become commonplace within the GTA franchise, Vice City helped cement these features into the franchise.
As a result, without GTA Vice City, the franchise would look very different. A remaster of the classic game is expected in 2022 with the GTA Trilogy: Definitive Edition release, making a great game even better.
Overall, GTA Vice City scored a critic score of 95 on Metacritic and a user score of 8.8, making it one of the highest-rated GTA games ever.
5. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was the fifth GTA game in order based in 1992. San Andreas was released in 2004 for the PlayStation 2 and is one of the biggest GTA games, featuring a never seen before the open world, dwarfing previous games in the series.
San Andreas puts you in control of Carl Johnson, an ex-criminal who seeks to save his family from corrupt cops and criminals. For the time, San Andreas was revolutionary, changing the open-world sandbox genre of games.
San Andreas not only gave the GTA franchise a much improved open-world Sandbox but reimagined the action genre. GTA San Andreas helped redefine open-world action games, setting the bar for what you can do with action games.
The game helped inspire other action open-world games such as Saintsrow. However, the game wasn’t the first game in the series to introduce an open world, it heavily improved on GTA 3, showing what the franchise can do when it comes to open-world gameplay.
Overall, GTA San Andreas scored high with critics with scores of 93 and user scores of 89. Like GTA Vice City, Rockstar will remake the game in 2022 with the GTA Trilogy: Definitive Edition release. San Andreas was a benchmark game in the series and one of the best.
6. Grand Theft Auto 1
Grand Theft Auto or GTA 1 was the first game released and the sixth GTA game in order chronologically set in 1997. When GTA 1 was released in 1997, the game changed video games for good.
The game introduced players to an open world, including areas such as San Andreas and Vice City. It gave players freedom as they drove around in million-dollar cars, causing mayhem.
The original GTA is a classic game that any fan of the series should play; despite its dated look, it still has the same level of fun and destruction as the newest titles in the series.
GTA 1 set the foundations of GTA games and, although very different from the latest games in the series, helped set the stage for future titles, using similar gameplay mechanics.
GTA 1 was reviewed well when released in 1997 and is still highly sought after by the GTA fan community.
7. Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories
Liberty City Stories was the first game released on the PSP and followed the story of Toni Cipriani, who seeks to clean up the criminal underworld of Liberty City.
The game was released for PSP in 2005, with in-game events occurring in 1998, making it the seventh GTA game in order. The game added new features to Liberty City, including riding a motorcycle. Liberty City stories were later released for the PlayStation 2 in 2006.
As highlighted, GTA Liberty City Stories was the first game of the PSP series and helped establish GTA on handheld platforms. Liberty City Stories was a tester for the developers, Rockstar, to see whether GTA games would work on handheld devices.
Liberty City Stories passed the test, with the games receiving critical acclaim and gained an avid fan-based when released in 2005. Overall, the game received an 88 from critics and a user score of 7.7 from users.
8. Grand Theft Auto Advance
Grand Theft Auto Advance was the first and last game to be released on the Gameboy Advance. Originally released in 2004, the game took inspiration from its predecessors, using top-down gameplay mechanics.
The game was set in 2000, making it the eighth GTA Game in order, introducing players to Mike, an ex-criminal who wants revenge for his brother’s death.
Interestingly, GTA Advance was the first and the last game to release on the Nintendo Gameboy, showing that the developers, Rockstar wanted to experiment with new games on other platforms.
Although another game on the Gameboy was never released on the console, Chinatown Wars can be regarded as the spiritual successor to GTA Advance, with the game releasing on the Nintendo DS years later.
Nevertheless, it is interesting that RockStar decided to release a game on the Gameboy, considering its limited power capabilities. Thus, showing the developer’s willingness to experiment with the series and the series fondness with its top-down action roots.
Grand Theft Auto Advance is one of the most overlooked GTA games and should be played.
9. Grand Theft Auto 3
Grand Theft Auto 3 was set in 2001, one year after Grand Theft Auto Advance’s events making it the ninth GTA game in order chronologically and released in 2001.
GTA 3 introduced third-person viewing mechanics to the franchise, giving the game a 3D look. The game follows protagonist Claude as he seeks to exact revenge on his girlfriend and make his way up in the criminal underworld.
The game transformed GTA, pushing the boundaries of the PlayStation 2, PC, and the franchise with its vast open world. GTA 3 was the first game to introduce an open world and revolutionized the GTA franchise.
You could run around and cause havoc on the streets in a fully immersive open-world for the first time. At the time, GTA 3 was one of the first games within the action genre to introduce such a large and vibrant open-world sandbox.
The game set the GTA standard of open-world action games and created a template and blueprint for future games in the series.
GTA 3 moved the franchise away from top-down action and toward 3D third-person action, flipping the series on its head and changing the franchise for good. The game not only changed GTA but the whole genre of open-world games.
Thus, despite its dated look, the game will always be remembered as one of the franchises’ very best games. You would not have a GTA 5 or even GTA 6 without GTA 3.
As a result, for that reason alone, the game is one of the all-time greats. When the game was first released in 2001, fans and critics reviewed the game well for the very reason outlined above.
GTA 3 is fondly remembered as one of the best GTA games and has a fond place in many people’s hearts. Next year, the game will be remastered for next-generation consoles with the release of the GTA Trilogy: Definitive Edition, adding a fresh coat of paint to an old game loved by so many.
10. Grand Theft Auto IV
GTA IV or GTA 4 was released in 2008 as the tenth GTA game chronologically set in 2008, seven years after GTA 3. The game was released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
The game is once again set in Liberty City and introduced players to Niko Bellic, who travels to Liberty City in the hope of achieving the American dream. He quickly finds out this won’t be happening anytime soon, becoming involved in the criminal underworld.
Like GTA 3, GTA IV was also a landmark game in the franchise, introducing new gameplay features and, of course, a flurry of new weapons, open-world locations, and an expansive reimagining of the much loved Vice City open world SandBox.
For the time, GTA IV was a groundbreaking game on the third generation of consoles, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It pushed both consoles to their limits due to GTA IV’s excellent graphics and smooth gameplay.
GTA IV made the series refined and more polished, helping to establish the GTA series as a household name. Whereas GTA 3 and Vice City expanded and developed GTA’s lore and open-world capabilities, GTA IV refined them, making them expansive, refined and looking good.
Although GTA IV does not get as much credit as its bigger brother GTA V, the game is fantastic and helped establish the franchise on mainstream consoles as a fully triple A-game.
When released in 2008, the game was critically acclaimed, scoring a 98 from critics and a user score of 7.7 on Metacritic.
Regardless of whether you think GTA IV is worse than GTA V, from reviews alone, GTA IV is one of the best GTA games of all time and one of the best action games ever created.
11. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars was the first game to be released on Nintendo DS. Chinatown Wars followed protagonist Huang Lee as he sought to unite the triads of Liberty City under his family’s name, using a sword left behind by his deceased father.
The game had overhauled top-down graphics and revamped the wanted level system. Furthermore, Chinatown Wars was the first game to use touch controls, using the Nintendo DS bottom touch screen and the only game to have top-down 3D graphics.
GTA Chinatown Wars took the franchise back to its 2D roots, with the game looking and playing like the original GTA Advanced on the Gameboy.
From this perspective, GTA Chinatown Wars introduced a fresh but familiar take on the GTA franchise, introducing playing to a brand new story, characters, and completely new underground criminal organizations such as the Triads.
Although many people may have never played GTA Chinatown wars, it is like the original GTA games and the latest installments in the series. In effect, it is the mishmash of both new and old games in the series, making this game one of the best GTA games.
Chinatown Wars was released in 2009 and based in 2009, making it the eleventh GTA game in order chronologically. It is a great game that anyone should play if they enjoy GTA and handheld games.
Overall, the game reviewed well when released in 2009, scoring in the low 90’s from critics, with a high user score.
12. Grand Theft Auto 2
Surprisingly, GTA2, released in 1999, is based in 2013, making it the twelve GTA game in order. Like the first GTA, the game involves top-down action gameplay that allows you to steal cars, start fights, and create mayhem.
The game is based in a city called Anywhere USA and had players take control of protagonist Claude Speed as he makes his mark on the town.
GTA 2 expanded significantly on its predecessor, such as the inclusion of more guns and added health. It is not known why the developers decided to take the series into the future with GTA 2.
Nevertheless, the game was still great, improving much on previous games in the series, introducing players to new features and weapons. GTA 2 is not very well remembered but is still a great game that any fan of the series should play.
13. Grand Theft Auto 5
Grand Theft Auto 5 was the last game released in the series and also the last game chronologically. The game was set and released in 2013 and introduced players to Los Santos and protagonists Michael, Trevor, and Franklin.
The game has a gripping story, excellent gameplay, and stunning graphics. GTA 5 is one of the best-selling games, selling around 140 million units worldwide.
The game also introduced new features such as GTA online.GTA 5 is considered by many to be one of the greatest games of all time and the best action game ever, and there’s no doubt why.
The game saw the full realization of a fully immersive open-world experience that the GTA franchise was building and introduced players to the biggest and most immersive GTA game ever.
There is no other game on this list that comes close to GTA 5’s popularity. To this day, millions still play the game, scoring around a 97 on Metacritic and a user score of 8.4.
✅Frequently Asked Questions
(Q) What are all the games in the Grand Theft Auto series?
The list of GTA games in order includes GTA 1, GTA: London 1969, GTA 2, GTA III, GTA: Vice City, GTA: Auto Advance, GTA: San Andreas, GTA: Liberty City Stories, GTA: Vice City Stories, GTA IV, GTA: The Lost Damned, GTA: Chinatown Wars, GTA: The Ballad of Gay Tony, and GTA V.
(Q) What are the top games among the GTA franchise?
Among the different GTA games, Grand Theft Auto: London 1969, GTA: Chinatown Wars, GTA: San Andreas, and GTA: Vice City are considered the best games.
(Q) How much does it cost to get GTA V?
One has to spend around Rs 2k to get Grand Theft Auto V.
(Q) Which GTA game is the most expensive ever made?
Grand Theft Auto IV, which came out in 2008, cost around $100 million. It was among the most expensive games ever produced.
This article has covered the GTA Games in order. As shown, the GTA series is complex, with deep lore and backstory. The games showcase the very best of action games and what the genre of action games can do.
It also shows the genre’s evolution, going from top-down, more restricted gameplay as demonstrated in GTA London 1961 to more open-world expansive action games such as GTA 5.
Likewise, this article has highlighted the diversity of the GTA franchise, with titles releasing on powerful generation 4 and 5 consoles and on less powerful handheld systems like the Nintendo 3DS, without showing a dip in quality.
Across the board, the GTA franchise has shown to be versatile and of top quality, with rich lore, expansive stories and worlds you can get lost in.
The GTA series is special and is likely to get even better with the generation 5 remakes of Grand Theft Auto 5 and the newly announced GTA Trilogy Definitive Edition, which encompasses classic games on this list such as GTA Vice City, GTA San Andreas, and GTA 3.
Similarly, fans of the series can also look forward to the eventual release of GTA 6 on next-generation consoles, elevating the series to whole new levels. It is a great time to be a GTA fan, and it is about to get a whole lot better.