Rockstar’s most recent release is the hard boiled old west drama, Red Dead Redemption 2. While that title has been the talk of the town these past couple of months, the studio is also known for a little series called Grand Theft Auto. Since 1997, the series has been allowing players to run amuck in urban jungles. The possibilities in each game are nearly endless, and only increase with each subsequent release.
The series’ popularity and importance cannot be overstated. Grand Theft Auto III revolutionized the industry as a business and as an art form, creating the blueprint many open world games would follow. In terms of sales, each title is a gargantuan hit which shatters records and outperforms its predecessors. The most recent entry, Grand Theft Auto V, is half a decade old and still a presence on sales charts. Given the games’ content, there is also no shortage of controversies.
A storied franchise like GTA is bound to be accompanied by misunderstandings and falsehoods. The following article will clear the air surrounding the most popular misconceptions, hopefully shining a truthful light on the series. Even long time fans of the franchise may learn a thing or two from this.
So clear those wanted stars, because here are the 25 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Grand Theft Auto.
25 It’s Not All Chaos And Destruction
Every game in the series puts players in the shoes of criminals. With this comes tons of intense — and sometimes hyperbolic — action. Even though a lot of the time is spent making things go boom, it is not the only thing to do in these virtual playgrounds.
With each release, the amount of side activities grows larger and more diverse. In the most recent entries, it is possible to catch a show, watch television, or do several non violent side quests. The side quests seem mundane on paper, but can be surprisingly fun.
24 A Lot Of Fans Play For The Story
GTA attracts a mass audience with its breathlessly detailed open world. It is so fleshed out and brimming with diversions that people forget that many fans come for the story. This misconception has become more prevalent in recent years with the advent of GTA Online.
The single player campaign for each game is grand and chock full of mission variety. The characters are always interesting, compelling gamers to find out what happens next. Causing mayhem is fun, but the missions and writing offer an experience no other game can match.
23 The Creators Are From England
With the exception of the London expansion to the first release, every GTA has taken place in a fictional U.S. location, with their stories usually lambasting modern U.S. culture. With this in mind, it may surprise many that the two masterminds behind the franchise hail from across the Atlantic.
Sam and Dan Houser, the two name most often associated with the series, were born in London in the early 1970s. These days, they live and work in New York City, where they have just recently completed work on Red Dead Redemption 2.
22 They Try To Avoid Controversy
Video games have always had a target on their back from modern Mary Whitehouses looking for something on which to blame society’s ills. With its violent and carnal content, GTA often gets singled out as particularly troublesome. Really, though, the games are not setting out to make controversy; they just want to be unique and interesting.
When the game depicts an especially depraved act, it is a part of the character and done to advance the story. If it was gratuitous for gratuity’s sake, the series would not be so highly venerated.
21 They Weren’t Only Influenced By Gangster Movies
The games tend to wear their influences on their sleeves. Every entry has taken cues, b0th subtle and obvious, from movies like Scarface and Goodfellas. This list would be remiss if it did not point out less obvious influences.
One of the biggest sources of inspiration for the team was Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Before GTA III, that was just about the biggest fully realized 3D world. Super Mario 64 has also been mentioned as inspiration. It does not immediately show, but looking at both titles will reveal minute similarities.
20 The Games Are Smart
People are quick to dismiss the games as big empty worlds where fans can live out their violent fantasies. While this is certainly a possibility, it is a disservice to dumb down the series to only this. The worlds and stories are meticulously crafted, and the sweat poured into the game is evident upon playing.
The single player missions especially never feel like an afterthought. The third and fourth numbered games in particular have stories that are worth going through several times for new details that may have been missed the first time around.
19 They Aren’t Corrupting Today’s Youth
There have been several tragedies in the past couple of decades that certain people try to blame on video games. Some of these are so evil that is understandable to see people searching for a clear reason why it could happen. They have our sympathies, but it still needs to be pointed out that these games are not corrupting today’s younglings.
In fact, crime rates are mostly down across the board. While there may be some link between aggression and video games, it is no different, and perhaps even less significant, than the aggression one gets when they are playing a wholesome sport.
18 Excess Violence Isn’t Rewarded
People unfamiliar with the franchise may think the entire object of the games is to cause mayhem whenever possible. Most of the time, though, this is not the case. Violence is always a possibility but it rarely comes with a prize. The only notable exception to this would be GTA III, where money is accumulated for crashing cars.
When the situation calls for it, there will be bloodshed, and sometimes lots of it. Before that, however, causing violence will just get a wanted level. This can be fun, but it does not net points or cash.
17 They Have A Moral Behind Them
GTA doesn’t encourage the criminal acts depicted in their worlds, but they usually do have something to say. GTA IV and V tell wildly different stories with different messages for the player.
GTA IV is about the U.S. dream, or lack thereof. Niko Bellic arrives in Liberty City looking for a better life, only to find himself still haunted by the demons of his past. GTA V, on the other hand, uses the character of Devin Weston to show that his venture capitalist endeavors and investments into the Merrywether private security company are just as evil as the three protagonists’ criminal activities.
16 Violence Isn’t Glorified
Just because something is shown in a piece of fiction, this doesn’t mean it is glorified. One has to consider the consequences of these actions on the characters and what it does to the people around them. The characters in GTA are usually good at what they do and often times succeed, but do they ever really turn out happy?
Niko Bellic isn’t in a better place at the end of GTA IV, and Michael from GTA V hates his life despite successfully getting out of the robbery game unscathed with an extravagant house in Los Santos.
15 It’s Not Racist
Vice City caused a scandal with allegations of racism. The controversial moment occurs when a gang from Cuba directs Tommy to end the life of gang members from Haiti. This part of the game deals with tension between the two gangs, and is not an explicit opinion about a group of people.
There are other part of the series that have been brought into question, but the claims are unfounded. There is a distinction between dealing with race and being racist. When a game is about U.S. culture, ethnicity is bound to be a topic.
14 Hot Coffee Was Never Intended To Be Seen
When the Hot Coffee scene was discovered in San Andreas, the public reacted as if the world opened up and Satan himself arose from the darkness. The carnal act is crudely animated and the characters do not disrobe. The reason it looks so poorly done is because the controversial scene was never meant to be in the game.
Hackers unlocked the mini game on the PC version, putting the developer in hot water for something they never intended for anyone to see. Considering the risqué content of some modern games, this controversy seems silly by today’s standards.
13 They Are Not Perfect
Several titles in the franchise are hailed as the greatest games of all time. This is, of course, a subjective opinion based on personal tastes and experience in gaming. Everybody is entitled to their thoughts on the matter, but nobody can see that any one title in the franchise is perfect.
All of the PS2 era games have unreliable auto aim, wonky movement, and can be unfairly difficult. GTA IV improved the mechanics drastically, but still has less than stellar shooting. GTA V inched ever closer to perfection, only being held back by a few boring missions and poor melee combat.
12 GTA V Is Not The Best Selling Game Of All Time
GTA V’s success is immense and often touted as one of the best selling games of all time. Some people take this to mean that it has outsold every other game on the market. The product has certainly produced mountains of money, but it has not moved the most copies.
Instead, that honor belongs to Alexey Pajitnov’s Tetris, which has garnered close to five hundred million sold copies. The puzzle game is decidedly less expansive than GTA V’s massive scope, but the appeal of stacking blocks in a row will never grow stale.
11 GTA IV Was Not The First One With Multiplayer
Grand Theft Auto online has now taken on a life of its own. GTA IV had an online component, but it was not fleshed out to the extent of its sequels. Some people believe this was the series’ first foray into multiplayer, but there were modes in prior releases.
San Andreas had local multiplayer, either in the form of free roam or rampages. It was nothing more than a diversion, but it was still nice to have as an option. PC players even had a chance to access multiplayer in the first game too.
10 Niko Bellic Is Not From Russia
This happens all the time in real life; people hear an accent that sounds like it’s from eastern Europe and immediately think Russia. It’s not dissimilar to thinking someone is from Mexico after hearing a Latin accent. People tend to believe that NiKo Bellic, GTA IV’s protagonist, is from Russia, when he is in fact from Serbia.
Niko himself explicitly states that he is not from Russia during the game. Sometimes he speaks to Roman in their native tongue. This explains why Niko is so psychotic; anyone would snap if millions upon millions of people kept on insisting they were from a different country.
9 The Next One Isn’t Always Better
A good video game sequel outdoes its predecessor in almost every way. A great video game sequel, however, changes the formula enough to feel fresh, while still using what worked before to its advantage. Grand Theft Auto games always improve game play and interaction with each iteration, but that doesn’t mean the sequels are better overall.
This ultimately comes down to opinion, but many fans still prefer Vice City over San Andreas. Additionally GTA V is leaps and bounds ahead of IV technically, but some people like Liberty City’s setting and characters more than the glitz and glamor of Los Santos.
8 Bigfoot Was Never In San Andreas
When a game is set in a vast open world, rumors and myths will inevitably pop up. Some of these legends are based in truth, while others seem like they were pulled out of thin air.
One of the series’ biggest urban legends is Sasquatch being in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. As speculation swirled, countless gamers logged dozens of hours combing the map for the elusive beast. People still believe he’s there somewhere, but the truth of the matter is he was never there. Fortunately, he did show up in GTA V.
7 There Have Been Female Protagonists
A major complaint about the series is a lack of female playable characters. The creators have reasoned that GTA V is about masculinity, so a feminine personality in the mix would have clashed with the themes. As a consolation, GTA Online allows players to create a woman. The big secret few people know is that there have been women as playable characters since the very beginning.
The PC release on Grand Theft Auto let players chose between eight characters, four of whom where women. It had no effect on the game or story, but it is there none the less.
6 The PSP Games Weren’t Just Cash Ins
The cynical minded are quick to think of all the ways Rockstar can cheaply cash in on the series’ unprecedented success. It would be easy to judge the portable iterations as this, but one should hold their tongue until they play the games for themselves.
The three most prominent portable titles, Liberty City Stories, Vice City Stories, and Chinatown Wars, are all worthwhile games. Even though two of them use maps from previous entries, they still tell their own unique stories. Of the three, Vice City Stories is definitely the strongest.
5 Roman Bellic Isn’t That Annoying
Even diehard fans of GTA IV gripe about the nagging phone calls Niko receives from his compatriots. The biggest offender is his cousin, Roman Bellic. People also tend to find the character insufferable in cut scenes. Their issue towards him is blown way out of proportion, however.
The phone calls can be ignored, and rejecting his offers to go bowling has no bearing on the story or the ending. He is an interesting character on top of that, and becomes more sympathetic when the player finally learns about his tragic past in his home land.
4 The Games Don’t Set Out To Degrade Women
A justifiable grievance with the series is the depiction of women. With a few exceptions like CJ’s sister, Kendl, and Kate McCreary, none of the female characters are painted in a positive light. Some people also take issue with the ability to purchase services from ladies of the night.
While these are rational peeves to have, it should be noted that the games don’t go out of their way in order to demean the gender. This also doesn’t excuse any implications the game may put forward, but none of what is shown is done so with malice.
3 GTA VI Is Not On The Horizon
Most readers probably have a friend who has walked up to them asking “did you hear about Grand Theft Auto VI!” and show an article from a website claiming it was announced, but with no sources.
It is obviously a fake story, because the next installment’s announcement would be be heralded like the second coming of Jesus. As of now, no news about the sequel has any basis in fact. It is probably on its way, but no time soon. Rockstar games will be the first to let people know when it is ready.
2 The PS2 Games Actually Hold Up
Every time the next generation of consoles hits shelves, hordes of people abandon the systems they already have. It is a natural reaction when new technology enters the home, but people should not be so quick to stash their old games in the closet. Older titles still have value, and the PS2 trilogy of GTA games proves this point perfectly.
They definitely have aged in terms of game play, but they each offer something unique. Vice City‘s atmosphere has yet to be duplicated, while the Liberty City and San Andreas of yesteryear use the setting to tell a completely different story.
1 The Housers Are Not In It For The Fame
Sam and Dan Houser are legends among gamers. Their creativity has given millions of gamers countless hours of leisure time and has inspired numerous other developers. Their impact, along with the rest of the development studio, cannot be overstated.
While one might think that the two would soak up fame like a sponge, they actually keep out of the spotlight. They rarely give interviews, and are only in the headlines when it is related to their games or studio. How could they have time to be famous when they are so busy making incredible video games?
Are there any other common misconceptions about Grand Theft Auto? Tell us in the comments!