10 Best Grand Theft Auto Games, Ranked By Metacritic – CBR – Comic Book Resources

Metacritic’s ranking of Grand Theft Auto games mostly follows what fans can expect of the iconic gaming series.
Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto franchise is the best-selling console franchise of all time. Just Grand Theft Auto V alone has sold more copies than entire other franchises. The series has spent years offering an experience players simply can't get anywhere else. Grand Theft Auto is one of the few franchises where players can travel anywhere and do anything that comes to mind, and the world encourages that behavior.
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At the same time, that's not the only reason the series has sold over 300 million copies. Rockstar has ensured that the quality of Grand Theft Auto is superior to nearly every other franchise on the market, and sets a standard that few other franchises have dared to reach.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories was originally released on the PlayStation Portable in 2006. Taking place two years before Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Stories put players in the role of Victor Vance. Vance's goal was to create a criminal empire, and the gameplay fits into that.
One of the main aspects of Vice City Stories is a focus on creating a literal criminal empire, sometimes by taking what's already been built from rival gang leaders. Though Vice City Stories came when the industry suffered from a deluge of GTA titles, the game was still a major success, selling 4.5 million copies. People didn't see Vice City Stories as a meaningful upgrade, but it was designed well enough to garner high reviews overall.
The last time Grand Theft Auto tried to go portable was with Grand Theft Auto Advance, which didn't end well. So it was surprising that their second effort, Liberty City Stories, was so well received. In this game, the focus is on Toni Cipriani, a mobster who comes to Liberty City for the chance to become a big shot in the Leone crime family. In addition to a robust single-player mode, the PSP also allowed for multiplayer to invite friends into the game to get into further trouble.
Liberty City Stories became the best-selling game on the PlayStation Portable, selling over eight million copies. The game found its way to the PlayStation 2 a year later, but it wasn't nearly as well-received, scoring only a 78 on Metacritic.
Grand Theft Auto is the rare franchise where even its downloadable content performs better than most full games. In this title, players take on the role of Luis Lopez, the bodyguard of nightclub owner Tony Prince.
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Tony's in a lot of debt with mafia people trying to run his clubs, so most of the game focuses on Luis trying to keep Tony alive. For an expansion to Grand Theft Auto IV, the game includes tons of new side missions, and wraps up a plot line from the original game. It's the kind of expansion fans wanted for GTA V, only to lose single-player expansions for GTA Online.
The Lost and Damned was one of the expansion stories released for Grand Theft Auto IV in 2009. The story takes place at the same time as the main storyline in Grand Theft Auto IV; this time centered on Johnny Klebitz, one of the main ringleaders of The Lost MC. In addition to a lengthy campaign focusing on The Lost MC's part in GTA IV's diamond storyline, Lost and Damned offers a pair of new side jobs.
The first is Gang War, where Johnny can battle against other gangs for dominance in the city, which grants more money and stronger weapons for missions. The second is Bike Races – races where everyone involved can attack other racers to knock them off their bikes. Though this expansion is rarely talked about with the same excitement as Ballad of Gay Tony, it managed a 90 on Metacritic for the Xbox 360 version.
Grand Theft Auto made a home on every console they could in the 2000s, with Chinatown Wars coming to the Nintendo DS in 2009. The last GTA game on a Nintendo console was GTA Advance, and the less said about that game, the better. But Chinatown Wars made up for that game several times over, with a unique story centered around the Triad gangs of Liberty City.
Perhaps what impressed reviewers the most was how Rockstar worked both within the Nintendo DS's graphical limitations to create a good game. And not just a good game, but one that properly used dual screens of the console.
Released in 2004, San Andreas took the world of Grand Theft Auto to another level. San Andreas took place on the West Coast in the early '90s, during the height of inter-gang warfare and the drug epidemic; in other words, the perfect setting for a game like GTA ,that focuses on the seedy side of life.
In the role of CJ, players return to San Andreas for their mother's funeral, only to be dragged into a world of violence and crime they thought they'd left behind. San Andreas is a drastic expansion from Vice City, adding three cities in Los Santos, San Fierro, and Las Venturas for players to explore and carry out missions. San Andreas also has some of the best cheats, letting players get in as much trouble as they want.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was Rockstar's way of saying they were here to stay in the gaming industry. Sequel to the popular Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City introduced a ton of new changes. Taking place in the eponymous Vice City, this game focused on Tommy Vercetti and his goal to get revenge after he was ambushed during a drug deal.
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A tale of violence and betrayal awaits the player within the sleek, brightly colored world of 1980s Miami. Fans were in love with this game, leading it to sell 17.5 million copies, while many rushed to crown it as one of the greatest games of the PS2 generation.
When Rockstar dropped Grand Theft Auto V, no one could have predicted the astronomical success of the title. It's the most expansive GTA yet, with a focus on three separate protagonists the player can switch between freely. Of course, that's not what turned this into a game so popular that Rockstar hasn't even bothered to release a new one in roughly a decade.
No, that honor goes to GTA Online, where Rockstar has provided neverending content that's kept players hooked. The ability to not only do story missions in the world but compete in heists, races, and more with players globally has made this a must-play for GTA fans everywhere.
While Rockstar had been making Grand Theft Auto games before, GTA III made the series take off. This game introduced the idea of the modern open world, with Claude exploring Liberty City after being double-crossed by his girlfriend. Grand Theft Auto III's world was unlike anything people had ever seen before; players were allowed cause as much chaos in the world as they wanted.
It seems quaint these days, but the freedom presented within this first game was groundbreaking at the time. The game sold over 14.5 million copies at last count, and was a significant part of the PlayStation 2's early dominance.
Grand Theft Auto IV was GTA's first attempt at a title for HD consoles. Considering it's tied for the second-highest Metacritic score ever, they did pretty well for themselves. GTA IV's focus was on Niko Bellic, a man from Eastern Europe who sought a new life in the crime-ridden streets of Liberty City.
Fans found themselves entranced by the sheer breadth of things available to do in this game, combined with how beautiful it was for its era. GTA IV was also the last game that could balance having an online mode with actual post-launch support for fans of single-player content. Ballad of Gay Tony is still considered among hardcore fans of the franchise.
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Staff Writer for CBR, Sage Ashford has also written for Comicon as well as other sites such as The Gamer, and has been doing freelance work since 2014, and been working for CBR since 2017. His focus is primarily on spreading the word on obscure anime, comic books, and games whenever possible. Follow him on Twitter @ sageshinigami, or on Twitch @ sageshinigami.


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