Best GTA Games
Image: Time Extension / Rockstar Games

With over 370 million units shipped since the inception of the series in 1997, Grand Theft Auto is effortlessly one of the biggest video game franchises on the planet – heck, it's one of the biggest entertainment franchises ever made, too – and, as of 2022, it's now a staggering 25 years old.

When the first game arrived back in the '90s, few could have predicted that the series would grow to such mammoth proportions; nowadays, GTA ranks alongside Call of Duty, Mario, Pokémon and FIFA in terms of commercial clout – and its popularity shows absolutely no sign of wavering.

GTA is somewhat unique as a series because most fans will agree that (almost) every single entry is worth playing; there are precious few turkeys in the GTA lineage, and that makes picking the 'best' one a little harder than you might expect.

We've tried to take some of the effort out of things by presenting you with this handy, user-decided list. Remember, the ranking below is determined solely by your votes – so if you don't agree with it, make sure you vote for your favourite GTA games!

17. Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - Definitive Edition (PS5)

It might seem silly to have a collection of the first three 3D GTA titles as one of the worst games in the series, but hear us out. Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy is a flat-out mess of a collection that simply doesn't do these amazing titles justice. Ported by Grove Street Games rather than Rockstar itself, The Trilogy is plagued by problems, including technical hiccups, ropey character models and some unintentionally hilarious bugs. Rockstar has stated that it will attempt to fix the game with updates, but the damage has already been done here; this was one of 2021's lowest-scoring releases and represents the worst way to experience these genre-defining titles.

16. Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 (PS1)

Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 was, ironically enough, developed in Canada and not the UK, like other entries in the series. It takes the basic gameplay of the original game and places it in '60s London, complete with a swinging soundtrack to match. The resultant game is just as much fun as the original, but it's fair to say that, given the improvements made in the franchise since, it can't really compete with later instalments. Still, that music is amazing, and we love the fact that the game includes British slang terms for various things, too. A free expansion – GTA London 1961 – was released for PC.

15. Grand Theft Auto 2 (GBC)

Tarantula Studios was once again involved in the development of this Game Boy Color sequel, based on the full-fat Grand Theft Auto 2 that appeared on PC and PlayStation. The same key issues remain – the hardware simply isn't up to the task of replicating what was possible on more powerful home systems. While a few nips and tucks have been made to make this sequel a little more bearable, it's still one of the worst in the entire series.

14. Grand Theft Auto (PS1)

Granted, titles like Grand Theft Auto 2 and GTA London arguably improved on the 1997 original, but we'd still rank this one higher than those titles purely due to the fact that it was such a groundbreaking release for its time. GTA didn't really do anything out of the ordinary in terms of visuals, but what made it so compelling was the way it presented a living, breathing open world for the player to explore. Of course, the ability to steal cars was also a killer hook, but GTA's sense of humour shines through, even today, and presents a solid bedrock for subsequent entries in the franchise. It's rough around the edges now, but this is still a blast to play – and without this, there would be no GTA V.

13. Grand Theft Auto 2 (PS1)

While the original GTA blazed a trail, its direct sequel felt a little bit like it was simply going over the same ground again. Like the first outing, the game is viewed from a top-down perspective using a 2.5D engine. While new features – such as the gang loyalty system, storyline and soundtrack – came in for praise upon release and would arguably lay the foundations for future entries, most people agreed that GTA 2 didn't do quite enough to improve on its forerunner. Having said that, it's still a wonderfully enjoyable game, and if you're a fan of the 'classic' top-down GTA instalments, you'll love it.

12. Grand Theft Auto (GBC)

While the technological gulf between handheld consoles and home consoles has closed over the years, once upon a time, it was so huge that you have to wonder why publishers and developers even bothered to try and bridge it. The promise of bumper sales is the obvious answer, but titles like Grand Theft Auto on the Game Boy Color could only have done damage to the brand at the time of release. While you'd think that transferring the top-down gameplay of the PlayStation original to the humble Nintendo handheld would have been pretty straightforward, this version (handled by Tarantula Studios) is saddled with poor controls, terrible audio and vast, empty streets – all of which conspire to make it feel like a very pale imitation of the groundbreaking original. A noble attempt, but one that ultimately fails.

11. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (PSP)

It's a close call between the DS and PSP versions of Chinatown Wars; the DS version benefits from touchscreen support, while the PSP edition has improved visuals and extra missions. As a result, it's worth playing both – but if you only fancy trying out one, then we'd recommend the PSP version. The nicer graphics and extra content give it a slight edge, even if it does miss out on those cool touchscreen features.

10. Grand Theft Auto Advance (GBA)

While its name might suggest that it's another handheld port of the original PlayStation outing, this is, in fact, a prequel to Grand Theft Auto III. Set one year before the events of that game, it focuses on Mike's quest for revenge after his partner's death. With Digital Eclipse on development duties, you'd think this would be the recipe for success, but unfortunately, Grand Theft Auto Advance is something of a mess. It's certainly a step up from the Game Boy Color games and does a moderately decent job of replicating the look of the PlayStation original, but the camera is zoomed in too much, making it hard to see where you're driving. A nice try, all the same.

9. Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (PSP)

Sony's PSP console was arguably one of the first handheld platforms which could hope to replicate the home console experience on the move, and predictably this resulted in a flood of titles which aimed to do just that – and GTA: Liberty City Stories is just one example. On the surface, it looks a lot like Grand Theft Auto III, the full-3D rebirth of the franchise which sold by the bucketload on PS2. Like GTA Advance, the game attempts to serve as a prequel to the third mainline game. It's remarkable that a game of this scope and size can be played on the move, but it's abundantly clear that Liberty City Stories doesn't have the same quality as the third outing; the plot is less interesting and the characters less engaging. Liberty City Stories also saw release on the PS2, presumably to plug the demand for yet more GTA content on the console.

8. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (PSP)

Like Liberty City Stories, Vice City Stories was an attempt to satisfy GTA's PSP-owning fanbase with an exclusive title for the portable. Once again, it's a prequel (to Vice City, this time) and it arguably does a better job of integrating itself with the mainline release than Liberty City Stories did. Still, there's no denying the fact that it feels like you're playing a lower-budget side-story to the main event. The story is at least engaging, and clearly, the game was seen as successful, as it was also released on the PS2. If you loved Vice City – and most people did – then this serves as a very enjoyable expansion.

7. Grand Theft Auto Mission Pack #2: London 1961 (PC)

Released as a free expansion for the PC version of Grand Theft Auto: London 1969, this title is one that even many hardcore GTA fans overlook – and it's hard to blame them when you consider that you need both the original game and the London expansion to even play it. It showcases eight new missions as well as a multiplayer map for the game's 'Deathmatch' mode. A nice addition to GTA London, but hardly essential.

6. Grand Theft Auto III (PS2)

It's hard to explain the sheer impact that Grand Theft Auto III achieved upon launch. While the original game had laid the foundations, this third outing took the franchise into an exciting new direction which arguably changed the way people approached video games forever. Based in a vast open-world sandbox which encouraged experimentation and felt like it was truly alive, Grand Theft Auto III constantly surprised and delighted you, no matter how long you spent with it. Exploring the city streets was a game in itself, and one could waste hours just doing nothing and ignoring the game's main mission structure. Subsequent titles improved the formula dramatically, but this one will always be remembered for creating a new set of rules for AAA video gaming – rules which, you could argue, remain in place many years later.

5. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (DS)

It might seem odd that, having taken the series into 3D with Grand Theft Auto III, Rockstar would choose to go back to its roots with this portable spin-off, but Chinatown Wars is a success on so many levels. Boasting fantastic missions, a great storyline and loads of compelling action, this spin-off was showered with praise when it was released in 2009. Especially noteworthy was how Rockstar Leeds managed to include support for the DS' touchscreen and mic; the former is used to control elements like the PDA and GPS, while the latter can be used to call for taxis.

4. Grand Theft Auto IV (PS3)

Leaving the PS2 behind meant that Rockstar had additional processing power at its fingertips, and the end result was Grand Theft Auto IV, a title which stepped away from the parody elements seen in previous titles and adopted a grittier, more authentic tone. Criminal Niko Bellic is the star of the show, but it's the game engine that truly takes centre stage here; Liberty City feels more alive than ever before, while two expansions – The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony – added to the experience massively, introducing new protagonists whilst maintaining a connection with the main plot. Could Rockstar possibly top this masterpiece? Of course it could.

3. Grand Theft Auto V (PS4)

Grand Theft Auto V returns to San Andreas to follow the fortunes of Michael De Santa, Franklin Clinton and Trevor Philips, a trio of criminals with their backstories and motivations. Widely praised for its immersive open-world design, brilliant characterisation and expansive online mode in the form of GTA Online, it's easy to see why so many consider this to be the apex of the entire series. GTA V has sold over 170 million copies since its launch, thanks in no small part to the fact that it has been released on 360/PS3, Xbox One/PS4 and Xbox Series X/PS5. In fact, it's the second-best-selling game of all time, behind Minecraft. But we don't need to explain this to you because you probably own it already.

2. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PS2)

After Grand Theft Auto III took the series into the third dimension, the next game in the franchise would adopt the same basic template but would plant the story in the 1980s, drawing on the likes of Miami Vice for inspiration. The stakes were upped in every regard – protagonist Tommy Vercetti is voiced by the late, great Ray Liotta, for example, and the legendary Burt Reynolds is also part of the cast – while 8,000 lines of recorded dialogue were included, which was four times the amount in the previous game. With its amazing soundtrack, colourful visuals and trademark sense of humour, it's easy to see why Vice City has sold almost 18 million copies. It's a blast, pure and simple.

1. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2)

Topping Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City was always going to take something special, and that's precisely what Rockstar cooked up with San Andreas. This game is very much the culmination of GTA on the PlayStation 2; few games reach this kind of pop culture stardom, and, despite its often troubling undertones, San Andreas is undoubtedly a landmark release in the world of video games. Sure, many people remember it for its infamous 'Hot Coffee mod' sex scene these days, and you could argue that subsequent games have bettered it, but there's a reason this is the best-selling PS2 game of all time. It presents a world that is so immersive and full of life you can get lost in it for weeks.