Grand Theft Auto is arguably the biggest gaming franchise in the world as the decade old titles still dominate the sales charts. The open world game is based on different cities of America, covering from suburbs to the rich neighbourhoods of Beverly Hills. The series has formed a cult-like fanbase around the world, endorsing the free will of the game which allows the character to do all sorts of hardcore activities like assassinations, mugging, stealing, drugs, etc.
Illustration by The Geostrata
Throughout the instalments it has covered different cities like Miami, San Andreas, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, etc., collectively solding over 400 million copies in its lifetime. The series was originally developed “to poke fun” at the US gun culture in the urban areas, and has now evolved into a behemoth that influences US culture and its soft power.
The original Grand Theft Auto was released in 1997 by DMA design (now Rockstar North) was a 2D game involving high speed chases, crimes and heists, setting up the foundations for the future instalments.
Even though the game was produced on a limited budget, it was instantly hit due to its open ended and irreverent style. The game offered three levels - Liberty City (based on New York), San Andreas and Vice City (based on Florida). The game involved machine guns, flamethrowers and rocket launchers allowing the players to bomb the cities and cause mayhem.
Grand Theft Auto III was the game which truly solidified the franchise as a pop culture icon and was considered a masterpiece with its amazing 3D graphics and enhanced character abilities.
Based in Liberty City (inspired by Portland and Staunton Island), expanded the possibilities of what is possible in a free will-open world journey. It enhanced the visualisation of shooting random people, car jack and on top of that added a storyline for the main character involving mob wars.
With the introduction of FBI helicopters and military tanks, the game got a path for its future as it had secured its audience around the world. This was also the first game which featured the iconic strip club and the prostitution elements which became a staple element in the series.
GTA VICE CITY
GTA Vice City didn't change any fundamentals of its predecessors but gave more style and character to the game. Vice City was inspired by 1980s Miami with the introduction of beaches, airports and military bases.
Taking from its predecessors the game doubled down upon its clubbing elements with more prominent nightclubs and additional vulgar activities as it started becoming more and more american dream. Yachts, supercars, golf clubs and gang wars based in the gaming version of Miami gave the fans around the world a disillusioned and satirical version of the American dream.
GTA SAN ANDREAS
San Andreas, inspired by the cities of California and the 1990s gangster movies like Boyz 'N Da Hood and Menace 2 Society. The game's depiction of urban gang conflict, employing racial stereotypes and targeting minority groups in the United States, generated significant controversy among social critics.
Despite this criticism, it achieved commercial success, becoming the second-best-selling title in the Grand Theft Auto series. Featuring tracks from prominent rap and R&B artists like Tupac, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, along with the Hollywood voice actors like Samuel L. Jackson, Peter Fonda and James Woods, the game was made for the hardcore pop culture fans.
GTA 5 took its time for release and became the biggest release for the Rockstar Studio, selling over 190 million copies. The game was set in Los Santos (inspired by Los Angeles) and coastal cities of California.
The expanded map included urban suburbs, rich neighbourhoods of Beverly Hills, beaches, deserts, tall skyscrapers and on top of that a parodic Vinewood sign (inspired by Hollywood sign).
With each installations the main elements of the series like heists, assassinations, supercars, gang wars and the strip clubs gets a boost and the latest instalment was no different, from jewellery store and bank heists to helping FIB (game version of FBI) in stealing submarines and manipulating stocks for investors, the game was packed with action scenes inspired by the major hollywood films.
The game includes all the major attractions like Hollywood boulevard, Downtown, Venice beach, Santa Monica, LA river and Grove street inspired locations along with diverse non playing characters from different races, depicting the present day America.
The long awaited GTA 6 is expected to release in 2025 after 12 long years since the launch of GTA 5. The highly-anticipated sequel will be based in Vice City inspired by Miami and is expected to include a social media app like instagram.
The GTA series is a satirical version of various elements of western culture, including media, politics, celebrity culture, and social issues and it beautifully depicts through its witty jokes and contradictory statements about the society. The thrilling Race N' Chase for the American Dream's neon mirage, where success blurs into illegal thrills and victory dances on the edge of the law. Rockstar Games has mastered the art of open-world games and giving players a high degree of freedom in the franchise as a reflection to the individualistic and freedom-loving ideals of the west.
BY VISHUDH JAIN