1998 saw the release of an unexpected title that would soon be made into one of the most popular series in gaming history. The game, simply titled Grand Theft Auto, brought with it a new outlook on the world of gaming. Operating from a 2D bird’s-eye-view, you played as a typical criminal out to cause some mayhem in the dirty streets of Liberty City. It wasn’t a very creative story considering the fact that it just wasn’t all that original, and most people seemed to get bored with it quite fast. However, the gamers who could recognize Grand Theft Auto for what it truly was, were the ones who grew addicted to this series right from the start.
It wasn’t the story or the violence that drove gamers to the streets of Liberty City. Instead, it was the gameplay, and the gameplay consisted of something that all gamers desired: freedom. Grand Theft Auto revolutionized the whole concept of ‘free-roaming’, and it definitely shows even to this day. Today, more and more games are taking the foundation set by the Grand Theft Auto series and incorporating it into newer games that we like to call “GTA clones”. These ‘clones’ involve the same type of ‘free-roaming’ style of gameplay that has been displayed so perfectly in the Grand Theft Auto series.
Grand Theft Auto’s success gave itself an expansion pack entitled Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 and a full sequel simply entitled Grand Theft Auto 2. All of which were released just a year after the original game and both built upon the revolutionary gameplay of their predecessor. As we all know, this popular series didn’t end there. Mid-2002 shocked us with a new sequel that dropped the crude graphics of the original game to favor a more lively 3D Liberty City in Grand Theft Auto III. Upon the third sequel’s release, popularity of the series grew even more and Rockstar North just couldn’t ignore the fans. That’s why in 2003 they gave us Grand Theft Auto: Vice City which gave us new freedoms and a trip back to the ’80s.
Now, in 2005, we’re anxiously awaiting the release of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas which is set to hit store shelves in June. While we wait in anticipation, we can reflect back on the game that made this series, and many other games possible: the original Grand Theft Auto. From what was a much unexpected game, emerged a huge series that has driven its way onto most major platforms and continues to thrive on the PC which is where it was first created.