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Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto series is one of most well known and controversial across the gaming landscape. Known for its over-the-top violence and commentary on politics and pop culture, the series has grown and evolved over the years from a top-down 2D game to one of the biggest and most robust experiences that gaming has to offer. With Grand Theft Auto V set for release on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S in March 2022--following a recent delay out of 2021-- and rumors of Grand Theft Auto 6 after that, we're taking a look back at the series by highlighting the best GTA games. Below, we've ranked the Grand Theft Auto series from worst to best. Let's dig in.
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10. Grand Theft Auto
The game that started it all. Grand Theft Auto, which was developed by DMA Design before Rockstar was formed, was released in 1998 for PC. The gameplay involved hijacking cars and zipping around the city, causing as much mayhem as possible and then attempting to escape the law. The game was presented in a top-down perspective, something the series would move away from in later entries. While not exactly fondly remembered by critics, it sold well and its core ideas--being a criminal in an open world with the ability to go anywhere and do anything--proved to be popular with fans.
2005's Liberty City Stories is a prequel to GTA III that was originally released for PSP, and it's remembered for being the first 3D entry in the series for a portable console. Also set in Liberty City, Liberty City Stories was designed to take advantage of the PSP's hardware. And in our review at the time, we said the game succeeded in factoring in "what made the 'big' GTA games so memorable." The story follows a mobster named Tony Cipriani, who is trying to make a name for himself in the criminal underworld. The game continued the franchise's tradition of non-linear, open-ended gameplay--and of course the prime directive being to shoot first and ask questions later. Overall, we said in our review that Liberty City Stories was a technical marvel for being able to include so much of the GTA console experience into a handheld package.
The long-awaited follow-up to GTA: San Andreas, 2008's Grand Theft Auto IV is beloved by many upon its release for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It ushered in a new, more realistic presentation of Liberty City, which was modeled after New York City. The size and scale of the world was stunning, giving players even more freedom to explore on a bigger stage. The story followed the immigrant Nico Bellic and his troubles making his new life in America. Here at GameSpot, we scored GTA 4 a 10/10 and one of the best of 2008. In addition to its compelling campaign, GTA 4 laid the groundwork for GTA Online with its own multiplayer mode, letting players duke it out or work together in an online environment. This would go on to pay dividends with GTA Online enjoying runaway success years later. GTA 4 also introduced cover-based mechanics, another feature that Rockstar would employ again in Red Dead Redemption years later and GTA 5 after that. What's more, GTA 4 moved the franchise forward by introducing new systems like allowing players to make choices that affected the story.
And who could forget the constant phone calls to go bowling. GTA 4 is also remembered fondly for its expansion packs, The Ballad of Gay Tony and The Lost and Damned, which were much loved. They were also representative of a bygone era, as the Rockstar of today tends to put a lot of its focus in online modes like GTA Online and Red Dead Online instead of opting for traditional expansion packs, much to the chagrin of some fans of the series.
2009's GTA: Chinatown Wars represented a departure of sorts for Rockstar, as the Nintendo DS and later PSP game was the first since Vice City Stories designed specifically for portable devices. And with the DS specifically, the game made use of the system's touchscreen and second screen to offer a presentation style and setup no previous game could. The game takes place once again in Liberty City, and puts you into the shoes of Huang Lee, a Triad gang member. The game also broke from tradition with its cel-shaded art style and its top-down perspective that harken back to the original days of GTA. Here at GameSpot we loved Chinatown Wars and praised it specifically for how it didn't feel like a scaled-down portable version of GTA, but instead a game that felt meaningful and worthy, pushing the franchise forward with new features.
A prequel to Vice City, Vice City Stories debuted in 2006 for PSP before coming to PlayStation 2 the following year. Set in the year 1984 (two years before Vice City), the game follows the story of Victor "Vic" Vance and his efforts to develop a criminal empire in Vice City. Vice City Stories definitely improved upon some elements of Vice City--notably, it infused more personality, many critics said--and it offered players another fun romp with the freedom to cause mayhem. We said in our review at the time that Vice City Stories didn't exactly take the GTA series into new territory, but it translated the trademark GTA experience nicely into a portable experience.
1999's GTA II followed up the 1997 original and once again plopped players into a fictional city with the aim of causing the most havoc and mayhem possible. Presented from a top-down perspective, GTA II followed the same format as the original. Rockstar's big focus on storytelling in modern times was not the same back then, and instead players were called on to live out the relatively basic fantasy of being a budding young criminal who wants nothing more than to commit wanton acts of violence and destruction. The visuals were improved in GTA II, making cars and other elements look better. The camera system was improved, too, and GTA II added a multiplayer mode that allowed up to six people to compete on maps designed specifically for multiplayer. GTA II would mark the end of an era of sorts for the franchise, with the series moving into a 3D open world with its subsequent releases.
2001's Grand Theft Auto III represented a major shift for the series, which was still under development at DMA Design at the time. GTA III moved the series into a 3D world for the first time, following the 2D top-down perspectives of the earlier games. Set in a fictional version of New York City called Liberty City, GTA III was praised for pushing the series into an exciting new direction with its more ambitious open-world with non-linear gameplay. The game was massively influential and helped propel the gaming industry at large toward embracing non-linear open-ended sandbox games that have since become ubiquitous. In GTA 3, there was an astounding (for the time) variety and volume of activities to partake in, it had an excellent soundtrack including an original comedy channel called Chatterbox, and it marked the franchise's first foray into using Hollywood talent for voice roles (Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Madsen are two of the stars that appeared in the game in voice parts).
Rockstar delayed the game by a few weeks due to the September 11 terrorist attacks and made some slight changes like changing the flight path of a plane so it didn't look like it could crash into a building. One mission that referenced terrorism was also removed. We said in our original review that "GTA III reinvents the series, updates it for a new generation of consoles, and manages to keep every single positive aspect from the two previous games."
Released just a year after GTA III, 2002's Vice City took players back in time to 1986. Set in Vice City, which was modeled after Miami, the story focused on the misadventures of Tommy Verceitti, with its narrative making obvious nods to Scarface and the TV series Miami Vice. Rockstar Games improved upon the open-world, non-linear structure of GTA III in Vice City, expanding on features and systems in the earlier releases and introducing new abilities, items, and mechanics. We said at the time that Vice City was one of "most stylish and most enjoyable games ever released." It remains one of only a few GTA games to set its story in the past, and many are wondering when Rockstar may return to a period setting for a new GTA game.
2004's GTA: San Andreas ranks highly on our list because it was a groundbreaking open-world experience when it was released on PS2 and Xbox. Set in a massive open-world based on Los Angeles and other areas, the game puts you into the role of Carl "CJ" Johnson. GTA San Andreas improved upon earlier entries by doing away with loading screens between locations, introducing swimming to the mix, an RPG system of sorts where you put on weight when you eat and need to exercise to stay trim and for offering what was, at the time, a gorgeous world to explore filled with all manner of activities. In our review at the time, we said when a game tries to do many different things, it can become stretched thin, but San Andreas moves from strength to strength to create an especially powerful package overall. The characters and dialogue are smart and well-delivered, and the sound design was praised, too. Not everyone loved GTA San Andreas, though, as many may recall the discovery of the Hot Coffee mod that caused a stir with politicians like Hillary Clinton who pushed for an inquiry. San Andreas' legacy would live on, with Rockstar electing to use the same setting for its most popular game in the series so far, GTA V.
Grand Theft Auto V makes the top of the list because it is the pinnacle of the series from a design, storytelling, and technical perspective. Released in 2013, the game has stood the test of time and remains immensely popular to this day, thanks in part to its GTA Online mode. The game's narrative took a unique approach for the series by featuring three playable protagonists. Michael, Trevor, and Franklin each came from distinct backgrounds and offered their own unique perspectives and gameplay opportunities, which kept the experience fresh. And the stories tied together in what felt like a satisfying way in the end. Set in a fictional version of Los Angeles called Los Santos and the surrounding area known as Blaine County, GTA V dropped players into an expansive world teeming with life and things to do, places to explore, and people to meet.
The GTA Online mode is a treasure unto itself, offering a virtual playground with all manner of quests and activities to take part in such as heists, races, PvP, and countless other challenges. The phenomenon that is GTA V is set to continue in March 2022 on the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S, where players can expect better visuals and an improved experience overall. When it's released on those new platforms, it will be the third generation of consoles that the game has been released on, which is highly unusual but not surprising given the game remains a top-seller every month and has sold an astonishing 150 million copies to date.
Hasbro Appoints New Leadership for Wizards of the Coast
Cynthia Williams Joins from Microsoft to Lead Wizards of the Coast and Digital Gaming Business
Tim Fields Joins from Kabam as Senior Vice President and General Manager of Digital Gaming
PAWTUCKET, R.I.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb. 2, 2022-- Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ: HAS) today announced that Cynthia W. Williams has been appointed President of its Wizards of the Coast and Digital Gaming division and that Tim Fields has been appointed Senior Vice President and General Manager of Digital Gaming, both effective February 21, 2022.
Cynthia Williams - President, Wizards of the Coast and Digital Gaming (Photo: Business Wire)
Ms. Williams joins Hasbro from Microsoft, where she most recently served as General Manager and Vice President, Gaming Ecosystem Commercial Team, and most notably drove the expansion of Xbox Gaming and the acceleration of game-creator growth. Prior to joining Microsoft, Ms. Williams spent more than a decade at Amazon, where she led the global growth of their e-commerce direct-to-consumer business Fulfillment by Amazon.
Mr. Fields joins Hasbro from Kabam Games, one of the most successful mobile gaming studios in North America, where he served as CEO for the past five years. Under his leadership, Kabam developed and operated numerous AAA games, including Marvel Contest of Champions, Disney Mirrorverse, Fast and Furious and Transformers: Forged to Fight. A 26-year veteran of the video game industry, Tim has held a range of leadership positions at major publishers, including Capcom, Microsoft and Electronic Arts.
Chris Cocks, current President and Chief Operating Officer of Hasbro’s Wizards of the Coast and Digital Gaming division, said: “We are extremely pleased to welcome Cynthia and Tim to the Hasbro family. They join at an exciting and dynamic time, and Wizards of the Coast – as well as all of Hasbro – will greatly benefit from their skills and experiences. Cynthia brings a deep understanding of technology and e-commerce, along with cloud and console-based gaming. She has a proven track record, across both Microsoft and Amazon, of scaling businesses to drive profitable growth. Her experience is highly complementary to Tim’s, who brings to Wizards unmatched production experience and a demonstrated ability to accelerate the growth of brands in mobile gaming.”
“I am extremely proud of our team and the great successes we’ve had across our Wizards of the Coast and digital gaming business over the last five years, and also of the IP we’ve created to attract top talent in our space,” Mr. Cocks continued. “As I transition into my new role as CEO of Hasbro later this month, I am excited to partner with Cynthia and Tim, working together to expand our fan base, deliver across the Brand Blueprint and activate our significant investments in the business to become the world’s leading fantasy-inspired gaming publisher on all platforms.”
Ms. Williams said: “Joining the team whose passion and imagination created such iconic games as MAGIC: THE GATHERING and DUNGEONS & DRAGONS is a dream come true. With best-in-class developers, designers and producers, the opportunities at Wizards of the Coast for creative storytelling and innovative game play are limitless. I look forward to working with Chris, Tim, Hasbro and the entire Wizards of the Coast team to build on their incredible momentum and deliver exciting new experiences for our fans globally."
Ms. Williams will succeed Mr. Cocks, who will assume the role of CEO of Hasbro on February 25, 2022. As the head of Wizards of the Coast and Digital Gaming, Ms. Williams will lead the strategy for two of the biggest names in gaming, MAGIC: THE GATHERING and DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, while driving continued global growth for the division and leading new fan and story-led tabletop and digital experiences. She will build and expand on the outstanding foundation laid by Mr. Cocks, under whose leadership Wizards of the Coast doubled its revenue from 2018 to 2021.
Mr. Fields said: “As a lifelong gamer who has been playing DUNGEONS & DRAGONS and MAGIC: THE GATHERING since I was a child, I am thrilled to be joining the Wizards and Hasbro family to develop the next generation of AAA digital games. Working alongside such a talented team and under Cynthia’s leadership, I look forward to bringing the love of these brands to millions more players around the world.”
Mr. Fields will report to Ms. Williams. As Senior Vice President and General Manager of Digital Gaming, he will be responsible for all digital gaming, including internal and external development of Wizards’ growing portfolio of story-led projects.
Hasbro (NASDAQ: HAS) is a global play and entertainment company committed to making the world a better place for all children, fans and families. Hasbro delivers immersive brand experiences for global audiences through consumer products, including toys and games; entertainment through eOne, its independent studio; and gaming, led by the team at Wizards of the Coast, an award-winning developer of tabletop and digital games best known for fantasy franchises MAGIC: THE GATHERING and DUNGEONS & DRAGONS.
The company’s unparalleled portfolio of approximately 1,500 brands includes MAGIC: THE GATHERING, NERF, MY LITTLE PONY, TRANSFORMERS, PLAY-DOH, MONOPOLY, BABY ALIVE, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, POWER RANGERS, PEPPA PIG and PJ MASKS, as well as premier partner brands. For the past decade, Hasbro has been consistently recognized for its corporate citizenship, including being named one of the 100 Best Corporate Citizens by 3BL Media and one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere Institute. Important business and brand updates are routinely shared on our Investor Relations website, Newsroom and social channels (@Hasbro on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.)
Hasbro Forward-Looking Statements
Certain statements in this press release contain "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements may be accompanied by such words as “anticipate,” “believe,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “forecast,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “potential,” “project,” “target,” “will” and other words and terms of similar meaning. Among other things, these forward-looking statements include statements related to the potential to further build and grow the Wizards of the Coast business. Hasbro’s actual actions or results may differ materially from those expected or anticipated in the forward-looking statements due to both known and unknown risks and uncertainties. Specific factors that might cause such a difference include those risks detailed from time to time in Hasbro’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The statements contained herein are based on Hasbro’s current beliefs and expectations and speak only as of the date of this press release. Except as may be required by law, Hasbro does not undertake any obligation to make any revisions to the forward-looking statements contained in this press release or to update them to reflect events or circumstances occurring after the date of this press release. You should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements.
Become a GO Battle League Legend with Advanced Techniques
Balance, count, and plan your way to victory in the Great League, Ultra League, and Master League.
Mastering the Pokémon GO Battle League isn't as easy as one, two, three, but you might be surprised by how far a little counting can get you. Now that you've learned how to get started in the GO Battle League and to use Charged Attacks and Fast Attacks effectively, it's time to explore more advanced techniques. From balancing energy per second and damage per second to counting your opponents' Fast Attacks, there's a lot you can do to sharpen your strategy.
Balancing Damage Per Second (DPS) and Energy Per Second (EPS)
Choosing a Fast Attack might seem simple: pick the Fast Attack that deals the most damage per second (DPS) and start battling, right? However, it's important to note that Fast Attacks also generate energy to power up your Charged Attacks. A Fast Attack that generates more energy per second (EPS) will allow you to utilize your Charged Attacks more quickly. Many Fast Attacks deal high DPS but generate low EPS, and vice versa, so it's important to find the right balance between the two.
For example, Swampert is an extremely popular Pokémon in the GO Battle League, finding success at all levels. It has two available Fast Attacks: Mud Shot and Water Gun. At first glance, it seems that the attacks are mostly the same, each dealing 5 damage. However, Water Gun deals slightly higher DPS while Mud Shot generates slightly higher EPS. So it's not just a question of whether you want a Water-type attack or Ground-type attack, but also whether you want to focus on dealing damage or powering up Charged Attacks.
There are plenty of factors to consider when balancing between DPS and EPS, such as attack types and the order of Pokémon on your team. For example, it might make sense for your lead Pokémon to use a Fast Attack with high EPS, allowing it to use Charged Attacks as quickly as possible to get your opponent to use up their Protect Shields.
When comparing two Fast Attacks with differing DPS and EPS, it's important to note how big the difference is. If the DPS for one Fast Attack is substantially higher while the EPS is only marginally lower, it might be worth choosing it over the other attack. Ultimately, whichever Fast Attacks you choose need to complement your broader strategy, but understanding the roles that DPS and EPS play is vital to success in the GO Battle League.
Count Your Opponent's Fast Attacks
Counting your opponent's Fast Attacks will allow you to make more educated decisions about when to use a Protect Shield, when to switch out your Pokémon, and when to use your own Charged Attacks.
Each Fast Attack must be used a certain number of times to charge up a Charged Attack. That number depends on how much EPS that Fast Attack generates and how much energy a Charged Attack requires. You'll also have to consider the two Charged Attacks an opposing Pokémon could know and how many attacks it takes for that Pokémon to charge them up. For example, Swampert commonly uses the Fast Attack Mud Shot and the Charged Attacks Earthquake, Hydro Cannon, and/or Sludge Wave. Swampert needs to use five Mud Shot attacks to power up Hydro Cannon and eight to power up Earthquake and Sludge Wave. By counting the number of Mud Shot attacks the opposing Swampert does, you could switch out your Pokémon for one that will take less damage from one of these Charged Attacks. As you continue to face off against different commonly used Pokémon in the GO Battle League, try to note how many Fast Attacks they take to charge up their Charged Attacks, allowing you to make better decisions on when to switch Pokémon or use Protect Shields. This might seem like a lot of information to memorize at first, but once you have experience in the GO Battle League, you'll quickly learn the paces of commonly used Pokémon. Don't forget to pay attention to how your own team's timing works so you can apply it to your rivals!
Plan Your Team
Choosing Pokémon to include in your battle lineup is the most important decision in GO Battle League. One effective way to start building your dream team is to consider the Pokémon you'll commonly face off against in a given league.
While Pokémon GO's tagging system does provide some organizational structure, if you really want to get strategic, grab a pen and paper or create a document or spreadsheet. You're eventually going to need three sets of lists—one for Great League, one for Ultra League, and one for Master League—as the Pokémon you're likely to face in each are different.
Your notes don't have to be crazy detailed. Start simple! You can begin by jotting down a list of the Pokémon you most frequently encounter within a league. The more Pokémon you include on this list, the more information you can use to make your team. Next, list out those Pokémon's weaknesses. The example list below includes some commonly used Pokémon in the Master League as well as their weaknesses.
Next, take note of which types that appear the most frequently on this list.
Then, go through your Pokémon and find the ones that would make the best counters to the Pokémon listed above. In this case, you'll want to focus on Pokémon that know Ground-, Fighting-, Ice-, and Dark-type attacks and particularly Pokémon of those types. If you need to break ties, prioritizing your higher CP Pokémon isn't a bad idea. Here's some commonly used Pokémon in the Master League that match the type requirements in this example.
Can Counter: Metagross, Rhyperior, Dialga, Melmetal
Can Counter: Dragonite, Metagross, Rhyperior, Dialga, Giratina, Melmetal
Can Counter: Mewtwo, Metagross, Giratina
Can Counter: Metagross, Rhyperior, Dialga, Melmetal
Can Counter: Rhyperior, Dialga, Melmetal
Can Counter: Dragonite, Mewtwo, Metagross, Giratina
Can Counter: Mewtwo, Metagross, Giratina
Then, choose three of these Pokémon that provide overall coverage against the commonly used Pokémon listed earlier. For example, Mamoswine, Excadrill, and Yveltal would be a good team that could counter all of the listed Pokémon. As you encounter different Pokémon in the GO Battle League, you can build on your list and modify your teams accordingly.
If you want to go even further, track your opponents' lead Pokémon and watch for patterns you can exploit. If most leads are Dragon-type Pokémon, for example, lead with your best counter to Dragon-type Pokémon.
You can also keep the document handy if you're still memorizing type vulnerabilities and strengths. And as you transition between Great League, Ultra League, and Master League, the document can be a nice refresher about which Pokémon you used and why.
Most importantly, keep playing, keep learning, and keep having fun!