Grand Theft Auto series
Group DescriptionGrand Theft Auto (usually abbreviated GTA) is a series of games that incorporate driving and action gameplay styles. Created by the British developer Rockstar North, GTA games are set in vast, predominantly urban "sandbox" environments, and feature protagonists involved in organized crime. The distinguishing feature of the games is the possibility to hijack and drive most vehicles encountered in the game world. With the exception of the expansion packs to the first Grand Theft Auto, which are set in London in the 1960's, all GTA games are set in the USA, in fictional cities modeled after real-world locations such as New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and others.
ThemesThe first Grand Theft Auto (1997) and its sequel were done with top-down 2D graphics, and put the player into the role of a criminal performing tasks for various organized crime lords and advancing in their ranks. Subsequent games also followed this structure, but notable enhancements were made to story-related content. The two initial games were nearly devoid of narrative and lacked characters with distinct personalities. This has changed with the advent of Grand Theft Auto III (2001), the series' first fully 3D installment, which introduced storyline and characterization, and also set the gameplay template used in subsequent releases. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002) further emphasized narrative, increasing the series' tendency towards satire, social and political critique, parody, and black humor. Later releases became more focused on morally ambiguous heroes (compared to the entirely ruthless protagonists of earlier installments), adding personal and dramatic elements to the storytelling.
Structure and gameplayA typical GTA gameplay experience consists of exploring a virtual city in a vehicle or on foot, triggering story-advancing missions by navigating the protagonist to specific locations. The mission structure in the games has a fair degree of non-linearity, i.e. the player can often choose the order in which he/she wishes to undertake the missions. The player is usually required to complete most of the given missions in order to trigger new ones, eventually leading to the conclusion of the narrative, though optional missions are also present.
Most missions involve driving a vehicle to a specific destination, which often leads to a shooting sequence. However, many missions in GTA games have mini-game-like structures, with varied tasks including (but not limited to) racing against time or an opponent, drive-by shooting, sniping, navigating vehicles other than cars (motorcycles, helicopters, boats, airplanes, and others), stealthy following of an opponent, and so on.
Outside of the missions, the player can engage in various activities. Money can be earned by working as a taxi driver or delivering sick people to hospital in an ambulance car. Different kinds of firearms and body armor can be purchased in shops. In most later installments, the protagonists can also buy and change clothes, engage the services of prostitutes, and purchase apartments and houses. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004) added more activities, such as dating female characters, increasing stamina in gyms, eating, and changing hair styles. It also included rural environments in the setting and introduced the ability to swim and dive.
InfluenceGrand Theft Auto III has had considerable influence on video game development, leading to increased interest and production of games with similar thematics and gameplay mechanics. The popular term "GTA clone" refers to story-driven, 3D action games set in open-ended urban environments, usually incorporating violent and criminal themes, in which players are given the ability to drive any vehicle and attack any characters. Among the series influenced by GTA are Mafia, The Getaway, True Crime, and others.
RecordsThe 2008 edition of Guinness World Records named Grand Theft Auto the Most Controversial Video Game Series. Over 4,000 stories news stories have been published about it, with accusations ranging from glamorized violence, alleged connection with real-life crimes, and the presumed corruption of gamers. Numerous lawsuits have also been leveled against the publisher Rockstar Games.
SalesIn November 2012 Take-Two Interactive announced that the Grand Theft Auto series reached 125 million units shipped. In September 2011 that number was 114 million.
For records established by specific GTA installments, please see the trivia section of the corresponding game entries.
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Front cover for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Front cover for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Front cover for Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony
Front cover for Grand Theft Auto 2
Front cover for Grand Theft Auto: Director's Cut
Screenshot from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Screenshot from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Screenshot from Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony
Screenshot from Grand Theft Auto 2
Screenshot from Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City