Battle of the GTAs

The verdict:

Now that we've taken a look at what the series has done so far, it's time to pick one of them as the definitive chapter in the series. Of the nine GTAs to date, only four really stand a chance in hell of claiming the series crown - Vice City, San Andreas, Vice City Stories and Liberty City Stories. As we did in yesterday's clone battle, we'll let the games duke it out elimination-style.

Starting with the PSP GTAs, here's what each brings to the fight:

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories

* Renovates Liberty City and lets players tackle it as a guy who actually talks
* Kickass multiplayer matches for six players over an ad-hoc connection
* Strips out flight and property-buying, which had become series standards

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories

* Set in the glorious neon dump of Vice City, arguably the series' best location
* Flight and property-buying restored, and now you can buy back your guns if you die
* Multiplayer matches are even better, because now they feature helicopters

This isn't really a fair contest at all. We were just being nice to Liberty City Stories by pretending it had a chance, and now that it's in the ring, it knows in its heart that we've lied to it. Vice City Stories is bigger, deeper, more versatile and more fun, with a cooler locale and a more interesting main character. And since both games control like ass on the PSP, and look like ass on the PS2, the contest comes down to content alone.

Finalist: Vice City Stories

Moving on, let's look at the full-sized versions:

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

* Awesome '80s setting and soundtrack
* Features a scene in which you chase your boss around with a chainsaw
* Still arguably better than the Scarface game, even though it's a Scarface parody

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

* Gives you three whole cities, spread out across a wilderness-filled state
* Extremely deep story, if you don't mind a heavy gangsta atmosphere
* Somehow managed to make working out even more tedious than it is in real life

Can the smaller, scrappier Vice City take down the bloated San Andreas? Yes, if you want a faster, more streamlined experience that enables you to relive your childhood Miami Vice fantasies and rock out to Blondie. But in terms of pure volume and depth, comparing San Andreas to Vice City is like comparing a blue whale to a shark. The shark's cool and all, but the blue whale's just so big, the shark is hardly noticeable by comparison. Sorry, '80s fans, but San Andreas wins this round.

Finalist: San Andreas

The final round might seem like a foregone conclusion, but Vice City Stories has a couple things San Andreas doesn't: real multiplayer matches and empire-building, both of which are killer features. San Andreas, on the other hand, has fighter jets and a story too big to be blown through in a single weekend. It also has more compelling characters, a more far-reaching plot and more opportunities to get into trouble. And as cool as they are, VCS' giant beach, Jet Ski obstacle courses and carnival can't quite stand up against the simple experience of rattling a mountain bike down the side of the gigantic, rocky hill that dominates San Andreas' second island.

So San Andreas wins. Are you even a little surprised?

Best Grand Theft Auto Ever: San Andreas

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  • JosefMotley - February 15, 2010 9:26 a.m.

    Personally I think there should have been a "no winners" result. Not because I hate GTA. but because i loved it so much and have been continually disappointed by the series since vice city. obviously GTA3 is pretty much unplayable now and has no in-game map and ridiculous missions. by comparison, when vice city came out it felt like the franchise had been suddenly sold to nintendo - it was actually fair and fun for the first time. sadly they messed vice city up not with the game itself but with its painfully bugged, rushed and ultimately intensely overrated sequel san andreas. though san andreas was by almost all areas the worse game, the fact it finally introduced climbing meant it ruined vice city. san andreas is terrible plotwise in comparison and while it has some good missions, has far too many bad ones i never want to replay again. and now every time i try and play vice city again i'm just frustrated that you can't climb (couldn't care less about swimming, it was actually less annoying just dying in vice city, in san andreas falling in the usually led to deliberately drowning yourself instantly anyway, it was either that or swim round the coastline of somewhere for hours trying to find something you could climb up... AND THEY HAD LADDERS IN THAT GAME THAT WERE JUST FOR SHOW AND YOU COULDN'T CLIMB BUT STUCK OUT OF THE WATER TEMPTINGLY NONETHELESS. HOW DARE THEY) anyway so san andreas by introducing ONE good new feature managed to run the entire back catalogue of the series into the ground for good. question is: can you climb in vice city stories? if so, that's the only decent GTA left. i need to play it again and properly, not drunk in a roomful of people taking it in turns this time....
  • A.J_Smiles - November 9, 2008 9:47 p.m.

    Gang, I was rooting for Vice City. I mean San Andreas is obviously better, but VC was my first GTA game ever and I love it

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