With how large the GTA series has become, some games are bound to become underappreciated.
Historically speaking, there has never been a bad Grand Theft Auto title. Every game has received good to universal acclaim as far as critic reviews go, so there are good traits in every game within the series. The GTA series isn't always a universal upgrade as far as sequels go, as there are some features present in old games that are lacking in the subsequent ones.
Typically, these underappreciated titles are going to be older GTA titles. An honorable mention should be made for GTA Vice City Stories and GTA Liberty City Stories, but there are still more overlooked GTA games that deserve some appreciation. These GTA titles are still fun to play in the modern era, although the player should keep in mind that they feel different from the most recent GTA games.
Five most underappreciated titles in the GTA series
#5 - GTA III
When it was first released, GTA III was anything but underappreciated. It was critically acclaimed when it was first released, but now it's often seen as one of the weakest games in the series. To the game's credit, it is still playable with its unique charm. The problem with it is just that it seems the most outdated out of all of the 3D Grand Theft Auto titles.
#4 - GTA Advance
Following up GTA San Andreas is a tough act, but some game had to do it. Unfortunately for GTA Advance, being a handheld Grand Theft Auto title meant that it was bound to be underappreciated as soon as it came out. It's by no means a bad game, but the Game Boy Advance's limitations meant that the game would look terrible for its time. It's the worst game in the series as far as graphics go, but the gameplay makes up for it.
It's basically like the first few games in the series where it's seen from a top-down perspective. However, the most exciting part about GTA Advance is that the player does have some control over the game's plot. In fact, it's the only game in the 3D Universe to allow the player to make choices, with GTA 4 and 5 being the only games in the HD Universe to do the same.
#3 - GTA 2
GTA 2 is essentially a superior version of GTA 1, which means that it's often more appreciated than the latter game. However, it's still criminally underappreciated compared to modern Grand Theft Auto titles. It was the first Grand Theft Auto game with a protagonist with a definable personality, which helps the player immerse themselves in the world of Anywhere City. Anywhere City is also the only GTA location to likely take place in the future, although it should be noted that both 1999 and 2013 are listed as dates in-game.
The radio stations in GTA 2 are quite good, which made it a clear departure from GTA 1's radio. The DJs have personalities, and the game isn't as overtly satirical as the later Grand Theft Auto titles. It's a great balance that is often overlooked, and that's not mentioning core gameplay features like the general respect system within GTA 2.
#2 - GTA London: 1961 & 1969
Technically, GTA London 1961 and GTA London 1969 are two separate game expansion packs for GTA 1. To reduce redundancy, both titles will be listed under the same entry, especially since both games share a lot of similarities. The most obvious thing about the GTA London games is that it takes place in London, which is a pretty cool location.
As a neat fact, the GTA London games were the first DLC for a PS1 game. Aside from that, it takes place in London and not some city based on a real-life town (like Vice City and Miami). The London-esque location means that the music does have a distinctively British soundtrack, so that's pretty sweet. As it is an expansion pack for GTA 1, it largely retains the game's core features. Plus, GTA London 1969 started Rockstar's obsession with the 69 number in the Grand Theft Auto series.
#1 - GTA 1
As for the game that started it all, one would think that it would be remembered more fondly. The Grand Theft Auto series is a lot like the Persona series where fans only seem to remember the third game and onward. It's a shame, given that both series had great games before that highly coveted third title. In GTA 1's case, it was a successful game, just never to the magnitude that GTA III was.
When GTA III was released, most people quickly abandoned GTA 1 and GTA 2. However, it wasn't a bad game. GTA 1 was well-received by critics at the time, and it does have some features that fans would love to see in another game. Although the game feels radically different than most modern Grand Theft Auto titles, there is still a unique charm about the game that some fans might appreciate.
Note: This article reflects the writer’s personal views.