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Monday, September 26, 2022

Best GTA Xbox Games: Our Picks For The Top Grand Theft Auto Titles

Image: Rockstar Games

There are five GTA games on Xbox, and they’re all brilliant. Plus, now that we finally have a release date for Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition, we’re very excited to dive back into some classic Rockstar games. It’s been too long, and with a bunch of new improvements, it’ll be great to see the titles with some modernised refinements.

But the question is, which game are we most excited to be revisiting? And how do they compare to the more modern titles such as Grand Theft Auto V?

For a bit of fun, we decided to rank all Grand Theft Auto games playable across Xbox’s 20-year lifespan. Of course, just because our list may differ from yours doesn’t mean it’s invalid; everyone has different opinions!

Without further adieu, here’s Pure Xbox’s ranking of the Grand Theft Auto series on Xbox:

5. Grand Theft Auto III

Every Xbox Grand Theft Auto Game Ranked
Image: Rockstar Games

Rockstar’s first stab at moving the Grand Theft Auto series to 3D may be at the bottom of our list, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. Originally released back in 2001, the game was somewhat of a ground-breaking feat, delivering an open world that would change the way games were made forever.

By today’s standards, the game is undeniably starting to show its age through its mission design, graphics and gameplay. That being said, if the Definitive Edition manages to brush up some of the controls (which apparently it will), we imagine it could still be a phenomenal blast from the past.

When the game originally launched, it was met with critical acclaim across the board. While some of its violence was controversial, many praised its ambition, with some reviewers describing it as “epic”. Many other entries have launched since Grand Theft Auto III which have fine-tuned the formula, but it’s still an extraordinary adventure worth taking.

4. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

Every Xbox Grand Theft Auto Game Ranked
Image: Rockstar Games

Out of everything on this list, putting Grand Theft Auto: Vice City second to last is going to be the most controversial, we reckon – but something has to go here, right?

Released just one year after Grand Theft Auto III, the team at Rockstar already showcased how they were fine-tuning the experience found in the previous game. Whereas Liberty City was drenched in many dark, grey colours, Vice City was a stark contrast and a perfect representation of the 80s. From the opening moments when you jump on a motorbike and hear Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean blasting through your speakers, you know you’re in for a good time.

Suiting up as Tommy Vercetti – who is played brilliantly by Ray Liotta – Vice City embodies classic gangster films such as Scarface perfectly, thrusting you into the criminal underworld of a fictional representation of Miami. It truly placed you into that era and still remains a classic today. Filled with tons of additional content such as purchasing properties or becoming a cabbie, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is no doubt going to be a title many will want to revisit.

3. Grand Theft Auto V

Every Xbox Grand Theft Auto Game Ranked
Image: Rockstar Games

Despite having multiple re-releases and a negative reception to certain aspects of its online component, Grand Theft Auto V still boasts an absolutely phenomenal single-player mode. It’s easy to forget after such bad press, but there’s a reason it’s so popular.

Offering you three different characters to play as, it often feels as though the game is a love letter to the series as a whole. Franklin and his friends hold a similar relationship to CJ and his crew in San Andreas, Michael feels as though he could have grown up in Vice City, whereas Trevor adopts the insanity that previous entries in the series encapsulated. With all three at your disposal, it offers so much in terms of gameplay.

The world is also a phenomenal achievement, only rivalled by Rockstar’s later work in Red Dead Redemption 2. It feels so alive, delivering some of the series’ best moments in a completely natural way. You can lose hours simply walking the streets and seeing how the NPCs react to certain daily events. There’s nothing quite like it and it holds up even eight years later.

2. Grand Theft Auto IV

Every Xbox Grand Theft Auto Game Ranked
Image: Rockstar Games

While Grand Theft Auto IV is often looked back on as being a bit moody and having some questionable design choices, such as the heavy-handed controls, it also comes across as a mature take on the series. With its audience growing older, it felt like a natural evolution. It wasn’t for everyone, but for those it resonated with – such as ourselves – it’s made a lasting impression.

Niko Bellic was an instantly likeable protagonist and his cousin Roman offered a touch of comedy to the darker story. It kept us invested until its closing moments as we watched the tragic ending unfold. Alongside the narrative, it also offered a new look at Liberty City and a taste of the future of Rockstar’s turn to more mature titles.

However, for those who wanted something a bit lighter, the two excellent expansions paved the way for more fun. Both The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony offered unique gameplay opportunities and could be considered separate, smaller entries in their own right. We also got our first taste of online play, without the incessant need for microtransactions. Even today, we still hold memories of the magical swing that would propel us and our friends across the map. Grand Theft Auto IV gets a bad wrap these days and it’s ultimately not deserved.

1. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Every Xbox Grand Theft Auto Game Ranked
Image: Rockstar Games

What else could be number one? The sprawling epic that is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas captured our hearts and imaginations when it launched back in 2004. Offering three large and diverse islands to explore, the game was a playground of discovery and put its open-world gameplay at the forefront.

Even the story which follows protagonist CJ was an incredibly engaging narrative, featuring a wide range of vocal talents, ranging from Samuel L. Jackson all the way down to Danny Dyer. But the best character was the world itself, serving as the series’ own take on cities such as Las Vegas and San Francisco. Even if you avoided the story entirely, you could still lose hours upon hours just living in this world.

It also offered some RPG-lite elements, such as food affecting CJ’s weight and exercise increasing your stamina. There’s just so much on offer that it’s hard to find any faults with the game. You could pick it up today and still find secrets you never knew existed. Players are still venturing into the forest in the hopes of finding BigFoot – a popular myth that spawned on school playgrounds back in the day.

If there’s any title we’re excited to revisit, it’s Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Oh, and it’s coming to Game Pass!

What is your ranking of the Grand Theft Auto series? Let us know in the comments below.

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