Grand Theft Auto (series)





Grand Theft Auto is an action-adventure video game series created by David Jones and Mike Dailly; the later titles of which were created by brothers Dan and Sam Houser, Leslie Benzies and Aaron Garbut. It is primarily developed by Rockstar North (formerly DMA Design), and published by Rockstar Games. The name of the series references the term used in the USA for motor vehicle theft.

Most games in the series are set in fictional locales modelled on American cities, usually either Liberty City, Vice City, or San Andreas, which are stand-ins for New York City, Miami, and the state of California, respectively. The first 2D titles encompassed three fictional cities, while 3D and HD titles tend to emphasise a single city and its outlying areas. Gameplay focuses on an open world where the player can choose missions to progress an overall story, as well as engaging in side activities, all consisting of action-adventure, driving, third-person shooting, occasional role-playing, stealth, and racing elements. The series also has elements of the earlier beat 'em up games from the 16-bit era. The series has gained controversy for its adult nature and violent themes. The series focuses around many different protagonists who attempt to rise through the ranks of the criminal underworld, although their motives for doing so vary in each game. The antagonists are commonly characters who have betrayed the protagonist or his organisation, or characters who have the most impact impeding the protagonist's progress.

Video game developer DMA Design began the series in 1997; as of 2014 it has eleven stand-alone games and four expansion packs. The third chronological title, Grand Theft Auto III, was widely acclaimed, as it brought the series to a 3D setting and more immersive experience, and is considered a landmark title that has subsequently influenced many other open world action games and led to the label "Grand Theft Auto clone" on similar games. Subsequent titles would follow and build upon the concept established in Grand Theft Auto III. Film and music veterans have voiced characters, including Ray Liotta, Burt Reynolds, Dennis Hopper, Samuel L. Jackson, Debbie Harry, Phil Collins, Axl Rose, and Peter Fonda. The series has been critically acclaimed and commercially successful, having sold more than 150 million units, as of September 2013.

Titles


Grand Theft Auto (series)

Games

Main series

The Grand Theft Auto series is considered by Rockstar Games to be split into separate fictional universes, named after the primary level of graphics capability used in each era. The original Grand Theft Auto, its expansions and its sequel are considered the "2D universe". Grand Theft Auto III and its prequels are considered the "3D universe". Grand Theft Auto IV, its expansions and Grand Theft Auto V are considered the "HD universe". Each universe is considered separate with only brands, place names and background characters shared between them.

Grand Theft Auto, the first game in the series, was released for Microsoft Windows and MS-DOS in October 1997, ported to the PlayStation in 1998 and the Game Boy Color in 1999. Grand Theft Auto 2 was released in 1999 for Microsoft Windows, later receiving ports on the PlayStation, Dreamcast and Game Boy Color.

The PlayStation 2 also featured three instalments of the main series, all of which have been re-released on several platforms; a deal between Take-Two Interactive and Sony Computer Entertainment resulted in their timed exclusivity on the PlayStation 2, before receiving ports to Microsoft Windows and the Xbox. The 2001 title Grand Theft Auto III moved away from the two-dimension (2D) graphics used in the first two games to three-dimension (3D) computer graphics; the game features polygonal characters on pre-rendered backgrounds. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was published in 2002, and was the first to feature a speaking protagonist, voiced by Ray Liotta. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, released in 2004, introduced various new elements, including character customisation and a large map encompassing three cities and surrounding rural area.

Two main instalments were published for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The 2008 title Grand Theft Auto IV focused on realism and detail, removing various customisation features, while adding an online multiplayer mode. Grand Theft Auto V, published in 2013, featured three playable protagonists. It was released to massive financial success, breaking multiple records. It was later re-released with various enhancements, in 2014 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and in 2015 for Microsoft Windows.

Other games

Grand Theft Auto has spawned numerous additional games and expansion packs. In 1999, the original game received two expansion packs: Grand Theft Auto: London, 1969 and Grand Theft Auto: London, 1961. Grand Theft Auto Advance, released in 2004 for the Game Boy Advance, featured a top-down perspective. Three games were released for the PlayStation Portable. The 2005 game Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories is a prequel to Grand Theft Auto III, while the 2006 game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories is a prequel to Vice City; both games were later ported to the PlayStation 2. In 2009, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars was released for the Nintendo DS, and later ported to the PlayStation Portable. In 2009, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony were released for the Xbox 360 as expansion packs to Grand Theft Auto IV; a "strategic alliance" between Rockstar and Microsoft resulted in the timed exclusivity. They were later released on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Windows as part of an expansion pack, titled Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City.

Numerous titles in the series have received ports to mobile devices. Chinatown Wars was released for iOS in 2010 and for Android and Fire OS in 2014. For their tenth anniversaries, Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City were both re-released for iOS and Android in 2011 and 2012, respectively. In 2013, San Andreas was ported to iOS and Android; the mobile port was later re-released for Xbox 360 for the game's tenth anniversary in 2014.

Related media

The series has been expanded into various other formats. Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto, a book written by David Kushner chronicling the development of the series, was published in 2012. In March 2015, BBC Two announced a 90-minute docudrama based on the creation of Grand Theft Auto, in production under the working title Game Changer. Directed by Owen Harris and written by James Wood, the drama will star Daniel Radcliffe as Rockstar president Sam Houser and Bill Paxton as disbarred attorney Jack Thompson.

Common elements


Grand Theft Auto (series)

Gameplay

Each game in this series allows players to take on the role of a criminal in the big city, typically an individual who plans to rise through the ranks of organised crime through the course of the game. The player is given various missions by kingpins and major idols in the city underworld which must be completed to progress through the storyline. Assassinations and other violent crimes are featured regularly. Occasionally taxi driving, firefighting, street racing, bus driving, or learning to fly helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft are also involved.

In later titles, notably those released after Grand Theft Auto 2, the player is given a more developed storyline in which he is forced to overcome an unfortunate event (e.g., being betrayed and left for dead), which serves as motivation for the character to advance up the criminal ladder and ultimately leads to the triumph of the character by the end of the storyline.

The Grand Theft Auto series belongs to a genre of free-roaming role-playing video games called open world games, and grants a large amount of freedom to the player. Traditional action games are structured as a single track series of levels with linear gameplay, but in Grand Theft Auto the player can determine the missions that he wants to undertake, and his relationships with various characters are changed based on these choices. Influenced by the earlier game Turbo Esprit, the cities of the games can be roamed freely at any point in the game, and are examples of open world video game environments which offer accessible buildings with minor missions in addition to the main storyline. There are exceptions: missions follow a linear, overarching plot, and some city areas must be unlocked over the course of the game.

Grand Theft Auto III and subsequent games have more voice acting and radio stations, which simulate driving to music with disc jockeys, radio personalities, commercials, talk radio, pop music, and American culture.

The use of vehicles in an explorable urban environment provides a basic simulation of a working city, complete with pedestrians who generally obey traffic signals. Further details are used to flesh out an open-ended atmosphere that has been used in several other games, such as The Simpsons: Hit & Run, which has less emphasis on crime or violence, and Lego City Undercover, which reverses the roles of police officer and criminal, although the player goes undercover in gangs for a portion of the game.

Setting

The Grand Theft Auto series is set in a fictional version of the world, in a number of different time periods. The original Grand Theft Auto introduced three main cities: Liberty City, based upon New York City, Vice City, based upon Miami, and San Andreas, based upon parts of California. In the first Grand Theft Auto game, San Andreas was based only on San Francisco. Expansion packs later set the game in London.

The second entry in the franchise, Grand Theft Auto 2, set the game in the future in a locale named "Anywhere City".

Subsequent games in the series have re-imagined and expanded upon the original locales. Grand Theft Auto III is set in a different rendition of Liberty City only loosely based on New York City. A revised Vice City and San Andreas are depicted in Vice City and San Andreas, respectively, the latter of which takes the form of an entire state, instead of a single city. The state of San Andreas is based on the states of California and Nevada, and consists of three major cities: Los Santos (Los Angeles), San Fierro (San Francisco), and Las Venturas (Las Vegas). Surrounding towns and areas of desert, water, woodland, and countryside lie between the three cities. The GTA III rendition of Liberty City is also briefly featured during one mission.

Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories, originally released on the PlayStation Portable handheld console and later reissued for other consoles, are set in the previous depictions of their respective eponymous cities, but in different decades. The maps for the two cities remain the same, with some differences in terms of buildings and geography to reflect the different time periods.

Grand Theft Auto IV and its subsequent expansion packs The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony are set in a third revision of Liberty City, set in 2008, which is a closer analog to New York City and its boroughs than the GTA III version. A version of Northern New Jersey, known as Alderney, is depicted adjacent to the city. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is also set in this version of Liberty City, although the Alderney portion of the map is not present.

Grand Theft Auto V, released in 2013, is set in a revised depiction of San Andreas that features Los Santos (Los Angeles) to the south and the rural Blaine County to the north. It includes revised landmarks such as the "Vinewood" sign (instead of Hollywood), Rockford Hills (instead of Beverly Hills), Del Perro Pier (instead of Santa Monica Pier), Los Santos International Airport (LSIA) (instead of LAX), and Galileo Observatory (instead of Griffith Observatory). The game also features the town of Ludendorff in the fictional state of North Yankton. Los Angeles was extensively researched for Grand Theft Auto V. The team organized field research trips with tour guides and architectural historians and captured around 250,000 photos and hours of video footage during these visits. Since the release of the game, hundreds of in-game buildings have been identified as being based on real-world landmarks. The New Yorker‍ '​s Sam Sweet notes that, with sales of game reaching thirteen million copies, "there will be more people living in the imaginary state of Los Santos than in the real city on which it was modelled."

In both Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto V, Los Santos and the state of San Andreas are depicted as being on an island an undetermined distance from the US mainland. In both games it is possible to circumnavigate the state by boat. Similarly, the versions of Liberty City and Alderney in Grand Theft Auto IV and expansion packs are also completely located on islands, as is Vice City. The GTA III rendition of Liberty City however, while mostly island, is connected to mainland on its Northwest corner (a region the player cannot navigate).

Other places in the same fictional universe as the Grand Theft Auto series also exist; Carcer City and Cottonmouth are two different cities featured in the Manhunt series. There is also the town of Bullworth from another Rockstar Games release, Bully, though it is uncertain if the world from 2010's Red Dead Redemption shares the same universe as Grand Theft Auto.

Only the expansion packs for the original Grand Theft Auto, London, 1969 and London, 1961, set in London, have featured a location outside of the United States and used a real-life location.

Controversies



Former lawyer Jack Thompson has been involved in a number of attempts to get families of murder victims to hold the Grand Theft Auto series accountable for the death of their loved ones. Due to his conduct in this and related cases, Thompson was disbarred in 2008 and was fined more than $100,000 by the Florida Bar Association.

On 20 October 2003, the families of Aaron Hamel and Kimberly Bede, two young people shot by teens William and Josh Buckner (who in statements to investigators claimed their actions were inspired by Grand Theft Auto III) filed a US$246 million lawsuit against publishers Rockstar Games, Take-Two Interactive Software, retailer Wal-Mart, and PlayStation 2 manufacturer Sony Computer Entertainment America. Rockstar and its parent company, Take-Two, filed for dismissal of the lawsuit, stating in U.S. District Court on 29 October 2003 that the "ideas and concepts as well as the 'purported psychological effects' on the Buckners are protected by the First Amendment's free-speech clause". The lawyer of the victims, Jack Thompson, denied that, but failed in his attempt to move the lawsuit into a state court and under Tennessee's consumer protection act. Two days later, the plaintiffs filed a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal, and the case was closed.

In February 2005, a lawsuit was brought upon the makers and distributors of the Grand Theft Auto series claiming the games caused a teenager to shoot and kill three members of the Alabama police force. The shooting took place in June 2003 when Devin Moore, 17 years old at the time, was taken in for questioning by police in Fayette, Alabama regarding a stolen vehicle. Moore then grabbed a pistol from one of the police officers and shot and killed him along with another officer and dispatcher before fleeing in a police car. One of Moore's attorneys, Jack Thompson, claimed it was Grand Theft Auto‍ '​s graphic natureâ€"with his constant playing timeâ€"that caused Moore to commit the murders, and Moore's family agrees. Damages were being sought from branches of GameStop and Wal-Mart in Jasper, Alabama, the stores from which Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, respectively, were purchased and also from the games' publisher Take-Two Interactive, and the PlayStation 2 manufacturer Sony Computer Entertainment. On 29 March 2006 the case was dismissed and permission to appeal was denied.

In May 2005, Thompson appeared via satellite on the Glenn Beck program on CNN's Headline News. Thompson mentioned Devin Moore and said regarding Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City "There's no doubt in my mind [...] that but for Devin Moore's training on this cop killing simulator, he would not have been able to kill three cops in Fayette, Alabama who are now dead and in the ground. We are suing Take-Two, Sony, Wal-Mart, and GameStop for having trained Devin Moore to kill. He had no history of violence. No criminal record."

In September 2006, Thompson brought another lawsuit, claiming that Cody Posey played the game obsessively before murdering his father Delbert Paul Posey, stepmother Tryone Schmid, and stepsister Marilea Schmid on a ranch in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The suit was filed on behalf of the victims' families. During the criminal trial, Posey's defence team argued he was abused by his father, and tormented by his stepmother. Posey was also taking Zoloft at the time of the killings. The suit alleged that were it not for his obsessive playing of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, the murders would not have taken place. Named in the suit were Cody Posey, Rockstar Games, Take-Two Interactive, and Sony. The suit asked for US$600 million in damages.

Several celebrities have sued Rockstar Games and/or Take-Two Interactive for violating their intellectual property or personality rights, including hip-hop artist Daz Dillinger Karen Gravano of Mob Wives, and actress Lindsay Lohan.

According to The Guinness World Records 2008 and 2009 Gamer's Edition, it is the most controversial video game series in history, with over 4,000 articles published about it, which include accusations of glamorising violence, corrupting gamers, and connection to real life crimes.

Grand Theft Auto

The game was controversial from the very first incarnation of the series. Grand Theft Auto was condemned in Britain, Germany, and France due to its "extreme violence", and Brazil banned it outright. Publicist Max Clifford planted sensational stories in tabloids in order to help sell the first game.

Grand Theft Auto III: general violence and crime

The controversies flared up again with Grand Theft Auto III, since the 3D graphics made the violence more realistic, and players could pay the services of prostitutes to recover their health, and if they wished, killing them to get their money back.

There is also criticism from the focus on illegal activities in comparison with traditional "heroic" roles that other games offer. The main character can commit a wide variety of crimes and violent acts while dealing with only temporary consequences, including the killing of policemen and military personnel.

Vice City: ethnic discrimination

The sixth game in the series, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, also came under criticism. One mission in particular, in which the player must instigate a gang war between Haitian and Cuban gangs, has been controversial. Haitian and Cuban anti-defamation groups criticised the game.

Jean-Robert Lafortune of the Haitian American Grassroots Coalition is quoted as saying that "The game shouldn't be designed to destroy human life, it shouldn't be designed to destroy an ethnic group," for this and similar scenarios, including lines in the game's script such as "kill the Haitian dickheads" said by character "Diaz" during an altercation between the player and a Haitian gang. After the threat of a lawsuit by the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition, Rockstar removed the word "Haitians" from this phrase in the game's subtitles.

San Andreas: sex minigame

San Andreas was criticised initially due to its "gangster" elements, which include drugs, prostitution, and murder; but later due to the discovery of disabled interactive sex scenes, nicknamed Hot Coffee, which was a sexual minigame that was cut from the game, but remained in the game code, which was discovered in both the console and Windows versions of the game. Dubbed the "Hot Coffee mod", the minigame allowed players to have sex with their in-game girlfriends and also record sextapes.

After the release of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, modders managed to find the unused code in the game and released unofficial patches for the Windows and Xbox (with a modchip) versions as well as a PlayStation 2 version through the use of an Action Replay code enabling the player to engage in these sexual mini-games (dubbed "Hot Coffee" in reference to a euphemism for sex used in the game). These mini-games were left partially intact in the game's code. This prompted application of an AO (Adults Only) ESRB rating to the version of the game containing the leftover code. Take-Two Interactive was forced to re-release the game in order to restore the M (Mature) rating. A class action lawsuit against Take-Two was also filed as a result of the "Hot Coffee" code.

Grand Theft Auto IV: drunk driving

One of the controversies involved with this game was Mothers Against Drunk Driving's (MADD) criticism of the ability to drink and drive as a new feature. MADD had even requested ESRB to change the rating of the game from "M" for ages seventeen and up to "AO", for adults only, because they felt it was inappropriate for children, even at the age of seventeen, to experience drunk driving in such a manner. In the final game, drunk driving is a playable event, but it is a crime that automatically generates a wanted rating and main playable character Niko Bellic loudly (and drunkenly) proclaims that it is a "bad idea" and that he "should know better".

Notably, it is impossible to drive while drunk in the GTA IV expansions, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony. These were released after the criticism.

The Lost and Damned: full-frontal nudity

The Lost and Damned expansion pack was condemned by U.S. parents group Common Sense Media who issued a public warning against the pack's content due to a full-frontal nudity scene during one of the cutscenes. They claimed the game was "more controversial than its predecessors" because it featured "full frontal male nudity".

Chinatown Wars: drug dealing minigame

There has been some controversy over a drug dealing minigame along with comments that some Nintendo games are being aimed at children (despite the fact that the game was rated Mature). The drug dealing mini-game allows players to peddle six types of drugs around the city, but the profit the player makes depends on market conditions, which will be based on the area in which they deal, and the level of regular service this area receives from them.

Grand Theft Auto V: witness torture and sexism

A segment in the latest instalment caused controversy for containing scenes of player initiated torture. The mission "By the Book" features graphic depictions of kneecapping, electrocution, dental extraction and waterboarding, and the player is required to perform the acts in order to progress in the game.

UK-based charity Freedom from Torture publicly condemned the use of torture scenes in Grand Theft Auto V. The organization who work to rehabilitate survivors of torture, joined other human rights charities who were outraged at a torture scene in the game in which the players have to pull teeth and electrocute an unarmed man in order to extract information. The charity's CEO Keith Best stated: “Rockstar North has crossed a line by effectively forcing people to take on the role of a torturer and perform a series of unspeakable acts if they want to achieve success in the game."

The game has been accused of sexism. The Los Angeles Times considered the game's satirical portrayals of women uncreative, and added that violent and sexist themes hurt the game experience. Edge noted that while "every female in the game exists solely to be sneered, leered or laughed at", it treated its all-male lead characters in a similar vein through their stereotyped tendencies towards violence. Sam Houser, Rockstar Games co-founder, felt that the development team sometimes overlooked their portrayal of women in Grand Theft Auto games, but that the weight towards male characters "fit with the story we wanted to tell".

Film



On 8 April 2015, BBC Films announced a film called "Grand Theft Auto" based on the conflict between Rockstar Games co-founder Sam Houser and Jack Thompson had in the early 2000s with Daniel Radcliffe in negotiations to play Houser and it will be directed by Owen Harris.

On 14 April 2015, it was announced that actor Bill Paxton will play Jack Thompson

Reception



Ever since 2001, the Grand Theft Auto series has been a major success, both critically and financially. It has generated perfect or near perfect reviews and scores on almost all of the games, and has sold over 150 million copies worldwide, as of September 2013. The Times Online reported that Grand Theft Auto IV recorded 609,000 copies in the UK on its first day of release. In its first week, Grand Theft Auto IV sold approximately 6 million copies worldwide and grossed over $500 million.

In 2006, Grand Theft Auto was voted one of Britain's top 10 designs among Concorde, Red Telephone Boxes, Catseyes, The Underground, Mini, Tomb Raider and the World Wide Web.

The series has broken several records, resulting in Guinness World Records awarding the series 10 world records in the Gamer's Edition 2008. These records include Most Guest Stars in a Video Game Series, Largest Voice Cast in a Video Game (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas), Largest In-Game Soundtrack (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas) as well as Most Successful Entertainment Launch of All Time (Grand Theft Auto V). Guinness World Records also ranked Grand Theft Auto in third place on their list of top 50 console games of all time based on initial impact and lasting legacy. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is listed as the most successful game on the PlayStation 2 according to The Guinness World Records 2009 Gamer's Edition.

Grand Theft Auto III, San Andreas and Vice City currently lie at the 2nd, 5th and 6th highest rated PlayStation 2 games on Metacritic, respectively, while Chinatown Wars is rated the best game on the Nintendo DS and the second best on the PlayStation Portable, and Grand Theft Auto IV is currently rated the second best game ever, with a score of 98, only trailing behind The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Also, Vice City, Grand Theft Auto III, San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto IV lie at 11th, 24th, 27th and 93rd best PC games of all time, on Metacritic. Along with this, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony are currently placed 35th and 59th in the top Xbox 360 games.

Most recently, Grand Theft Auto V became the fastest selling entertainment product of all time.

Sales

Similar games



The release of Grand Theft Auto III is treated as a revolutionary event in the history of video games, much like the release of Doom nearly a decade earlier.

During interviews to mark the 10th anniversary of the release of Grand Theft Auto III, producer of the Street Fighter series, Yoshinori Ono, said "It would be no exaggeration to say that Grand Theft Auto III changed the industry, and we can basically separate the time before and after its emergence as distinct eras." In the same article Bethesda studios director, Todd Howard, said "The mark of a truly great game is how many people try to recapture or emulate it and fail. There's a long line behind this one."

Subsequent games that follow this formula of driving and shooting have been called "Grand Theft Auto clones". Some reviewers even extended this label to the Driver series, even though this series began years before the release of Grand Theft Auto III. Grand Theft Auto clones are a type of 3D action-adventure game, where players are given the ability to drive any vehicle or fire any weapon as they explore an open world. These games often incorporate violent and criminal themes. Notable games that are comparable to Grand Theft Auto are Saints Row, Scarface: The World Is Yours, True Crime: Streets of LA, Watch Dogs, Sleeping Dogs,Just Cause, Mafia and The Godfather.

References



Further reading



  • Kushner, David (2012). Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto. Hoboken, New Jersey, United States: Wiley. ASIN B00DNL4388. ISBN 0470936371. 

External links



  • Official website
  • Grand Theft Auto series at DMOZ
  • Download Grand Theft Auto and Grand Theft Auto 2 from RockstarGames.com
  • Grand Theft Auto on Grand Theft Wiki


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