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GTA: Which time period is every game set in?

GTA occupies rarified air in the gaming industry due to its status as one of the most premier Triple-A franchises (Image Credits: Mick
GTA occupies rarified air in the gaming industry due to its status as one of the most premier Triple-A franchises (Image Credits: Mick's Budget Rigs, YouTube)
Rahul Bhushan
ANALYST
Modified 08 Sep 2020, 11:45 IST
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The GTA franchise is one of the most successful game series in history, and Rockstar has been able to maintain a level of consistency that is unparalleled. Each release in the GTA series post-Grand Theft Auto III has been a landmark event that is met with massive fanfare.

The GTA games have not only been able to sell millions of copies but have also received great praise from critics. GTA, therefore, occupies extremely rarified air in the gaming industry due to its status as one of the most premier Triple-A franchises.

The time period that each game is set in is extremely important to the core of the series. The franchise is known for its satire, and the games' time periods form the very crux of their personality.

Here, we look at the time periods in which each GTA game is set.

Time periods in which GTA games are set

Grand Theft Auto- 1997

Grand Theft Auto (Image Credits: iPhantom3D, YouTube)
Grand Theft Auto (Image Credits: iPhantom3D, YouTube)

The first game in the series was set in the year 1997, which was close to the release date of the title. Therefore, the game chose to have a fairly modern setting for its time and stayed close to reality.

GTA featured the three locations that would become iconic to the franchise: Liberty City, Vice City and San Andreas. However, they were extremely different renditions of the places that players are now familiar with.

Grand Theft Auto II- Unspecified

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Grand Theft Auto II (Image Credits: Screen Rant)
Grand Theft Auto II (Image Credits: Screen Rant)

Unlike its predecessor, the time period in which GTA II is set in is never mentioned in the game. There are conflicting sources as to the time period the game is set in, with some suggesting it is set in the year 2013 and others claiming it is around the time of the game's release.

However, the game's ambiguous retro-futuristic setting was never again explored in any future game.

Grand Theft Auto III- 2001

Grand Theft Auto III (Image Credits: Videogamer)
Grand Theft Auto III (Image Credits: Videogamer)

The first game that helped the series break into the mainstream, GTA III was also set around the time of the game's release. GTA III's release was also met with some amount of controversy as it was in close proximity to the unfortunate September 11 attacks.

Rockstar had to go back and change several aspects of the game to not come off as insensitive.

Grand Theft Auto Vice City- 1986

Grand Theft Auto Vice City (Image Credits: LoadGamePL, YouTube)
Grand Theft Auto Vice City (Image Credits: LoadGamePL, YouTube)

The first game in the series to dive back into the past for a trip down a neon-drenched memory lane in the 80s, Vice City benefited a lot from that decision.

The game has become somewhat of a fan-favourite, and its 80s setting has a lot to do with it. Rockstar was also able to curate an eclectic and wonderful soundtrack suited to the time period the game was set in.

GTA Vice City will forever be remembered as one of the pioneers of the retro wave culture.

Grand Theft Auto San Andreas- 1992

Grand Theft Auto San Andreas (Image Credits: Pinterest)
Grand Theft Auto San Andreas (Image Credits: Pinterest)

Despite popular belief that the game was set in the late 90s, the game is actually set a little further back. This would put the game's events very close to that of GTA Vice City.

The game would draw from real-life events that took place in LA around 1992 such as the riots that broke out in April of that year. Several small details were appreciated by fans such as the presence of grunge music, which was beginning to pick up steam around that time, and its domination on the radio with bands such as Soundgarden.

Grand Theft Auto IV- 2008

Grand Theft Auto IV (Image Credits: Reaktor Lukk, YouTube)
Grand Theft Auto IV (Image Credits: Reaktor Lukk, YouTube)

GTA IV would mark the return of the franchise back to current times and with it, came a lot of new technology. The mobile phone in the game would be used a lot more than phone calls, with players being able to fully interact with it.

This version of Liberty City was far more detailed than the one seen in GTA III and was decidedly grimmer. The more grounded nature of the game allowed for Rockstar to build a significantly more realistic city.

Grand Theft Auto V- 2013

Grand Theft Auto (Image Credits: iPhantom3D, YouTube)
Grand Theft Auto (Image Credits: iPhantom3D, YouTube)

Continuing the trend from the previous game, GTA V was also set in current times but with a far brighter and more light-hearted setting. The game's rendition of Los Santos and neighbouring locations was simply breathtaking.

The technology in the game had also advanced, with the three protagonists carrying three different brands of smartphones to assist their day-to-day activities.

Published 08 Sep 2020, 11:45 IST
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