Saturday, 28 January 2012

Grand Theft Auto: From The Beginning - Part 2/2

In Part One of this feature we looked over every GTA game from it's Playstation/PC debut to the underwhelming Grand Theft Auto Advance.
Now, here we are in Part 2 where we'll be going over every game from San Andreas to the upcoming GTA V!

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Year: 2004/2005
Formats: Playstation 2, XBOX, PC

Just days after the very average Grand Theft Auto Advance, San Andreas was released and made everyone forget about the GBA game.
The game was released in October 2004 only on Playstation 2 and got great critical acclaim. It was later ported to XBOX and PC in June 2005.

The game put you in the previously unseen state of San Andreas during the early nineties, and also with three cities to explore. Each city in the game is fictional, but they each had small links with real American cities. Los Santos was linked to Los Angles, San Fierro to San Francisco and Las Venturas to Las Vegas.
The gameplay was largely similar to that of GTA III/GTA: Vice City, only with slight improvements and alterations, e.g. New vehicles, more RPG elements etc.
Following in the footsteps of previous games, in San Andreas there are 11 radio station with a huge amount of songs. If this wasn't impressive enough the XBOX and PC versions supported a 12th station that could be customized with user-imported MP3's.

The game sold by the bucketload, as of 2009 the game had sold 17.5 million copies on PS2 alone making it the best selling PS2 game ever. As if this wasn't enough, across all formats the game has sold a total of 21.5 million copies making it the 3rd best selling game ever!

Controversy was fast becoming a part of this series though, this time in the form of the "Hot Coffee" mod. Sex had been implied in the series before, but this time round you could even play a sex minigame. This was thanks to modder Patrick Wildenborg, also known as PatrickW. He made the Hot Coffee mod and later released it as a patch.
Then came the controversy.
From concerned parents, from American politicians - there was a lot of pressure on Rockstar to do something. Many retailers pulled the game from shelves. The game then lost its MA15+ rating in Australia meaning the game could no longer be sold there.

"Hot Coffee"

In the end Rockstar released a "Cold Coffee" patch, and re-released the game with the Hot Coffee scenes removed.

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories

Year: 2005/2006
Formats: Playstation 2, Playstation Portable (PSP)

Liberty City Stories was GTA's second attempt at going handheld. This time round Rockstar chose a more capable console - Sony's PSP. Due to the added processing power, GTA: LCS was the first portable GTA game to be in 3D. Plus, it was also much better reviewed than GTA Advance, with Liberty City Stories receiving an impressive 88/100 on Metacritic.
Gameplay-wise, LCS was a prequel to GTA III, and so a lot of the city was similar and so was the gameplay - again there were slight tweaks and improvements. Things like motorbikes (that weren't permitted in older games) and a new multiplayer mode allowing up to 6 players to play via WiFi.

As I said before the game was well received, but it also sold quite well - another thing GTA Advance failed to do. By 2007 the PSP version of the game had sold 1.83 million copies!

The game was ported to PS2 the next year (2006), although this version was missing the aforementioned multiplayer and also got less positive reviews, with only a 78/100 on Metacritic - 10 less than the PSP version. But it also still sold well, with 1.32 million copies sold by 2007. And by 2008, Rockstar announced that the game had sold a huge 8 million copies across both formats.

It became clear that when it came to portable GTA, the PSP was the console for the job.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories

Year: 2006/2007
Formats: PSP, Playstation 2

GTA: Vice City Stories was basically a sequel to LCS. It was first launched on PSP and was another prequel - this time for the original Vice City.
Apart from the different setting the game had very similar gameplay and reception. The single-player in the game had the usual third person action, and this game also had multiplayer for up to 6 people.
The game, like its predecessor got good reviews with a Metascore of 86/100.

Like LCS, the game was ported to PS2 a year later in 2007. Again this version was missing multiplayer and was generally considered not as good as the PSP version with a Metascore of 75/100.
The game sold well on both systems, and by 2008 had sold 4.5 million copies.

Grand Theft Auto IV

Year: 2008
Formats: XBOX 360, PS3, PC

Grand Theft Auto IV left what was known as the GTA III era behind and instead brought GTA into the new generation. It was first released on XBOX 360 and PS3 in April 2008, and then was ported to the PC later in the year. It is also one of the most critically acclaimed GTA games yet, receiving a score of 98/100 on Metacritic!

The core gameplay of GTA IV was largely similar to previous games. Your character (who this time round was Niko Bellic) is viewed in a third-person perspective and left to explore an open-world environment - Liberty City in this case.
Again, there were slight changes made - e.g, a cover system, multiplayer etc, But it was largely the same gameplay.

The music in GTA IV was awesome again, with many popular artists like Kanye West, Ne-Yo and Queen featuring on the games numerous radio stations. There was also the ability to purchase real MP3's to play in game via a deal with

GTA IV was also one of the most controversial yet.

Prior to and since the release of the game, it has been subject to a great deal of controversy, as was the case with previous Grand Theft Auto titles. Figures including George Galloway, Jack Thompson and Hillary Clinton have criticised the game, as have organizations including New York City officials and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
MADD requested ESRB to change the rating of the game from "M" for ages seventeen and up to "AO", for "adults only" due to the player's ability to drive under the influence of alcohol.

Much like previous games in the series, GTA IV had trouble when it was released in Australia. Like other games in the franchise it had to have content removed to allow the game to meet the requirements of the Australian classification system.
Meanwhile in New Zealand, the game was resubmitted to the New Zealand OFLC by Stan Calif, a 21-year-old student who was unhappy that New Zealand received an edited version of the game as a result of Australian censorship laws. The unedited version was subsequently given an R18 rating and cleared for sale in New Zealand.


Here's 2 videos I found that give you one, not-at-all-one-sided, news report from a delightful man called Glenn Beck:

Wasn't that nice? What Glenn and co. don't seem to understand is something they said themselves - 70 million copies of the series had been sold when they aired that show. That number has now gone up to over 124 million. The fact that there have only been a few crimes committed that people like Glenn can link to GTA shows that these people are wrong. GTA IS A GAME. If there are people out there who get obsessive about it, or who can't bridge the gap between a game and reality then that is sad. But to repeat my point: 124 million copies sold - probably less than 100 GTA-related crimes.

Glenn's back in this "insightful" report. Although this time Cheryl K. Olson joins the conversation, and she seems to actually understand videogames - maybe she actually played GTA!

Videogame bloggers are losers? The only loser here is the middle-aged man who believes the world should share his opinions.

Despite Glenn's best efforts GTA IV sold over 22 million copies and won many awards.
There were two major expansion pack's released first as DLC, these were: The Lost and Damned, and The Ballad of Gay Tony. Both were critically acclaimed and were collected in the Grand Theft Auto: Episodes From Liberty City, retail game that was released on X360 in 2009 and then on PS3 and PC in 2010.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars

Year: 2009/2010
Formats: DS, PSP, iPhone/iPod Touch, iPad

GTA: Chinatown Wars was first released on the Nintendo DS in March 2009 to great critical acclaim, unlike it's distant relative GTA Advance!
The game had a different presentation to previous games in the series. It didn't have a third person view, nor was it top-down. Instead, Chinatown Wars uses a fully rotatable camera angled down at the action.

But while critics loved it controversy came knocking on the door once more. This time it was because of a drug-dealing minigame which made protesters believe GTA was glamorising the use of drugs/drug-dealing. I think that's a slight over-reaction, but whatever...

The game was ported to PSP later in 2009. This version had updated graphics, and minigames more like QTE's due to the lack of a touchscreen. It also featured extra missions and exclusive radio stations not found in the DS version. This version of the game also received good reviews.

Finally, in 2010 the game was ported to iOS devices (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad). This version had on-screen controls and a custom radio station that uses your iPod library - as well as the largest amount of radio stations of all versions of the game. It also had good reviews, although people criticised the lack of NPC sounds, leaving many people saying Liberty City sounded "silent."

Despite all the good reviews Chinatown Wars didn't sell as well as Rockstar had hoped. Both the DS and PSP versions failed to make much of an impact.
The combined total sales of the PSP and DS versions are just over 2 million copies - not great.

Grand Theft Auto V

Year: TBC (possibly 2012)

And here we are. The recent announcement of GTA V left the gaming world excited for what's to come. If you haven't seen the trailer yet then shame on you. Luckily you can watch it below:

It's been a controversial 14 years for GTA. But whether your a lover (the critics), or a hater (Glenn Beck), you can't deny how successful the series has been, or the things it has accomplished.
With the upcoming 14th game in the franchise looking to be just as great as the others, this series is one that's going to be with us for a while - whether you like it or not.


Well that's it. 14 years of GTA covered. Phew! If you liked/disliked this feature let us know! We enjoy your feedback - but try to be as constructive!
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