NEW DATA reveals the best games in the GTA franchise, with Grand Theft Auto IV earning the top spot.
The study, conducted by multiplayer card game site World of Card Games, analysed critic scores out of 100 and user scores out of 10 for the games and expansion packs in the GTA franchise; the scores were combined in order to determine the ranking. As well as this, the study examined the average time it takes to complete each game.
|Grand Theft Auto IV
|Grand Theft Auto V
|Grand Theft Auto III
|Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
|Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
|Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
|Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned
|Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony
|Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories
|Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories
Grand Theft Auto IV (2008) tops the list, with an impressive score of 106.1. Considered one of the greatest video games of all time, the story follows Niko Bellic, an immigrant who has arrived in Liberty City to realise his American Dream – but instead, he becomes embroiled in his dangerous cousin’s criminal underworld. In 2008, after the game was released, it won the ‘Gaming World Record of the Most Successful Entertainment Launch of All Time’. It takes, on average, 27.5 hours to complete.
Taking 31.5 hours to accomplish, Grand Theft Auto V (2013) is in second place, with a score of 105.4. Unlike previous GTA games, GTA V features three playable protagonists with interconnected storylines. Players can switch between three characters, allowing for a unique and dynamic gaming experience – Michael De Santa, a retired bank robber; Franklin Clinton, a street-savvy hustler; and Trevor Philips, a violent and unpredictable criminal.
Placing third, with a score of 105.3, is Grand Theft Auto III (2001), which takes 15 hours to carry out. This game is known for its introduction of the 3D open-world format to the series, allowing players to explore Liberty City freely. The narrative is more straightforward than later titles in the franchise, but it laid the groundwork for the immersive storytelling and open-world gameplay that are now trademarks of the series.
Taking the fourth spot is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004), with a score of 104.2. Set in the fictional state of San Andreas, the story takes 30.5 hours to achieve and follows Carl “CJ” Johnson as he navigates grief, gang warfare, and government corruption. The game received critical acclaim for its storytelling, characters, and the sheer scope of its open-world design.
In fifth place is Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002), with a score of 103.8 Notable for its vibrant 1980s setting, complete with a soundtrack reflective of the era, the story follows Tommy Vercetti and takes 18 hours to finish. The game received praise for its narrative, characters, and nostalgic depiction of the 1980s Miami-inspired environment. It is deemed a classic of the GTA franchise and the open-world action-adventure genre.
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (2009) takes the sixth spot, with a score of 100.8. Set in Liberty City, the narrative centres around Huang Lee, whose story is one of survival, revenge, and restoring his family’s honour. The game gained recognition for its top-down perspective, reminiscent of earlier GTA titles, and its successful adaptation to handheld gaming consoles. The story takes 9.5 hours to accomplish.
The seventh top-rated instalment of the series, and the top-rated expansion pack, is Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned (2009) with a score of 98, and it takes 6.5 hours to complete. The expansion pack focuses on the story of Johnny Klebitz who is a member of The Lost Motorcycle Club – a gang featured in the original GTA IV. The narrative provides players with a different perspective on the events occurring during Niko Bellic’s story in the main game.
Placing eighth is Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony (2009), another expansion pack for the original game, which has a score of 97.6 and takes 8 hours to achieve completion. Through the eyes of Luis Lopez, the episode completes the narrative puzzle of GTA IV by offering players another angle on the events that unfolded in Liberty City during the main game and the first expansion pack.
In ninth place is Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (2005), with a score of 96.2. The game, which takes 14 hours to finish, rejoins protagonist Toni Cipriani, who is a supporting character in GTA III. Set in 1998, Liberty City Stories takes place three years before the events of GTA III, providing players with a glimpse into the criminal underworld of Liberty City before the arrival of Claude, the central character of GTA III.
Rounding off the rankings is Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (2006) in the tenth spot, with a score of 94.4. The game is a prequel to GTA Vice City and explores the rise of Tommy Vercetti’s criminal empire. While originally released for the PSP, the game later became available on other platforms through digital distribution and takes 15.5 hours to complete.
Commenting on the findings, a spokesperson from World of Card Games said:
“The GTA franchise has achieved immense popularity and critical acclaim for several reasons: innovative game design, engaging storytelling, and groundbreaking technical achievements. If the success and quality of the previous instalments are anything to go by, then GTA VI will also be a technical, commercial, and critical triumph for Rockstar.
With the latest game having been released over 10 years ago, there is massive hype surrounding the trailer for GTA VI. Rockstar will be feeling the pressure to continue to prove its status as one of the most influential and enduring franchises in the history of video games.”