GTA: A Complete Historical Overview. - 14 August 2010 - Grand Theft Auto IV
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GTA: A Complete Historical Overview.
The Grand Theft Auto series has come a very long way since its beginnings back in 1997 - with the first Grand Theft Auto game's while featuring semi 3-D worlds, the characters themselves were 2-D sprite's. Now though, we see fully realistic 3-D worlds and characters which themselves act very realistically in the environment of which they are in.


Grand Theft Auto


The first game of the Grand Theft Auto series to be released. Grand Theft Auto was released in 1997/1998 for the PC as well as the original Playstation and though other games for the time were much better looking; Grand Theft Auto introduced the concept of the player (that's you) controlling the game as opposed to you being controlled by the game. At the time; this 'new' concept allowed the player to do pretty much anything in the game world and progress through the story at your own pace. The concept of exploring didn't really become apparent until later instalments of the series due to the relatively crappy looking visuals.





The setting of Grand Theft Auto was three fictional cities; Liberty City, San Andreas and Vice City - each offering two different storylines each.

In 1999, two expansion packs to the original Grand Theft Auto were released; Grand Theft Auto: London 1961 and London 1969. Both expansion packs never really expanded the game play concept only adding new storylines and weapons as well as a new city to explore.


Grand Theft Auto 2

In the same year as the release of the Grand Theft Auto Mission Packs - we were greeted with the next full instalment of the Grand Theft Auto series; Grand Theft Auto 2. Grand Theft Auto 2 was originally released for the PC and the original Playstation and is set in the city known just as "Anywhere City USA" sometime in the near future. Though the game features sharper visuals and even more structured game play; Grand Theft Auto 2 never really revolutionised the Grand Theft Auto series as its successor did due to it still being in a 'semi 3-D' world where other games at the time were being created featuring fully-3-D worlds.




However, with that being said; there were some very major improvements over the original - the game features a gangs, a feature that would become a staple of the storylines for virtually all future Grand Theft Auto games and the main protagonist now follows a more structured storyline.


Grand Theft Auto 3

Though the past two games in the Grand Theft Auto series were revolutionary in themselves - it was obvious to the fans and developers alike that with the production and release of new technologies, especially with the pending release of the Playstation 2 and the original Xbox, it was time to move on into greater things. In 2001, Grand Theft Auto fans from around the world were greeted with what is said to be the revolutionary game in the Grand Theft Auto series; Grand Theft Auto 3.

For the first time ever, the Grand Theft Auto series is set in a fully 3-D environment; set in a more modernised Liberty City which is based off of New York City. Also, for the first time; there is a day-night system and Grand Theft Auto 3 also features full weather effects including rain and fog. Also for the first time, storyline characters are all fully voiced now to speak full sentences as oppose to the gibberish they spoke in the original Grand Theft Auto games, and once more for the first time, the Grand Theft Auto series features full cutscenes which really add a good sense of personality and humour into the game.




Grand Theft Auto 3 was just the first in a series that would see record high sales, a fully in-depth storyline and a fully 3-D world to explore. Grand Theft Auto 3 was also the first game in the series for which you really wanted to explore the game world.


Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

If we thought that Grand Theft Auto 3 was a pretty damn good game, which it was, then many Grand Theft Auto fans would think that its successor, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, was even better! For the first time; the main protagonist has a (certain) name and a backstory. The main protagonist is Tommy Vercetti with the game being set in 1986. Tommy Vercetti, a mobster sent by his old boss from Liberty City along with lawyer Ken Rosenberg to set up a criminal empire in Vice City - however, Tommy soon finds out that his 'boss' is only using him for his own personal gain.




Released in 2002, about a year after the release of Grand Theft Auto 3, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City kept the same winning formula of Grand Theft Auto 3; adding in new features including aircraft (including helicopters) and moterbikes. There were also many tweaks including more structured missions and characters, including the main protagonist; presenting more personality and humour. Some interior environments were also made accessible to the player; a first for the Grand Theft Auto series at the time.


Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

If we thought that by the release of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City that they could never beat it in terms of scope and gameplay; then we were most definitely wrong. In 2004, we were given the third instalment in the Grand Theft Auto 3 era; Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Again, the main protagonist has a name and backstory; you play as Carl Johnson - who has been living in Liberty City for the past five years, returns to his home city of Los Santos apon hearing news of his mother's murder. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is seen by many fans as the best Grand Theft Auto game of all-time and is the best selling Grand Theft Auto game of all time.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas pretty much goes all out here; Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas features three very distinct cities; Los Santos, San Fierro and Las Venturas - with countryside and rural areas and townships in-between them. The cities are incredibly large, with each individual city being around the size of Vice City and they are also very diverse with each city having a main theme centring around it. Los Santos with its gangs and ghetto neighbourhoods; San Fierro with its friendly and its arts-inspired communities; and Las Venturas with the glitz and glamour of its casino's. Each neighbourhood in these cities also varies from the other.




Many things were improved in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas over Grand Theft Auto: Vice City; there are several new vehicles included and the flight system that was implemented in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was completely overhauled; including a number of planes and new helicopters, each varying in control and speed and the player now has the option of flying to the main cities via the airports.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas also features a number of new features; including the addition of more statistical information which assists in the customisation of your character; giving the game a more role-playing game feel. The game also has a much bigger emphasis on gang activities with the ability to partake in gang wars now an option throughout much of the game and gangs themselves acting and behaving much more realistically. There is also the ability to enter a large number of interior environments for which the player can get involved in various activities. Interiors include clothes shops, gun stores, casino's and fast-food restaurants. The ability to swim has also been added to the game for the first time.

There is just so much to be done in San Andreas and it really pushes the then-current technology that powers it to its limits and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas would be the last major instalment of the Grand Theft Auto series for the next four years - between that time, a number of 'minor titles' would be released.


Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories & Vice City Stories

In 2005 and 2006; Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories were released respectively. These two games were the first fully 3-D games that were released exclusively to a portable gaming system, the Playstation Portable - later ported to the Playstation 2. These two games never really changed the gameplay, often backtracking to its older style of 'point A to B' missions in Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories returns back to the more complex mission style adding in more gameplay features and side missions.


Grand Theft Auto IV, Episodes From Liberty City & Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars

Come 2008, it had been around two years since a Grand Theft Auto release and four years since what is considered the last major Grand Theft Auto instalment. Grand Theft Auto fans around the world were eager to see what Rockstar had in store for the series and the result, released world-wide on the day of April 29, 2008; was Grand Theft Auto IV! But does it beat Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas? Some say so, others don't.




Grand Theft Auto IV is seen as a fresh start for the Grand Theft Auto series and a new start on a new generation of consoles; the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 - with it being set in a completely redesigned Liberty City but also with it being stripped of many gameplay features and keeping the bare essentials. Grand Theft Auto IV is also run on a new physics engine; RAGE and Euphoria, making the environment and character reactions far more realistic then ever before. Vehicles also drive more realistically, with more realistic handling and ability. Vehicles can also take far more damage from gunfire.

Released later in the year and the following year included two expansions - Grand Theft Auto: The Lost and Damned & The Ballad of Gay Tony. Each though still being set in Liberty City, feature many new gameplay features and completely new storylines. The two episodes were originally released as downloadable content exclusively for the Xbox 360 but were later ported to the Playstation 3 and PC on disk.

Around a year later, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, also set in Liberty City was released to the Nintendo DS; marking the first ever modern-Grand Theft Auto game on a Nintendo system. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars was later ported to the Playstation Portable and to the iPhone.

Now we have gone back to the past - now we wait to see what the future of the Grand Theft Auto series takes us! Check back soon as we will post the next instalment of this series - getting in-depth with the design and graphics of the Grand Theft Auto series!
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