Sometimes, a feature has to be dropped from the GTA series because it is so underwhelming.
Not all features are good, even in a series as well-received as GTA. Oftentimes, these features are inconvenient or just plain boring, offering little to no enjoyment for the player. Predictably, their replacements in future games are far better than these original features (although it is understandable why some GTA games have these features).
Some of these features were sadly mainstays within the franchise. Old GTA games having these lackluster features didn't mean that the games were bad; rather, it just meant that these frustrating elements made these games harder for new fans to go back to. For one reason or another, these features are no longer a focal point within the GTA series.
Five underwhelming features that were rightfully dropped from the GTA series
#5 - Fixed shooting as the sole shooting option
While it is understandable that the earlier GTA titles only had players shoot in a single direction, it was still an incredibly limited feature well-worth removing. Technically, it was less that it was removed and more that the player finally got the ability to aim their gun like any half-decent shooter. Players can still do the old, more primitive way of shooting, but its status as the sole way to shoot was (fortunately) dropped.
Even some of the guns that players could manually aim with in GTA Vice City were awkward on the PS2. Considering games outside of the GTA series were able to have competent shooting controls, it was a shame that it took GTA a little while longer to be on par. Shooting as a whole was overhauled throughout the series, which meant that certain aspects of this feature were dropped.
#4 - Drowning when in a body of water
It doesn't even make a lick of sense how somebody like Tommy Vercetti drowns instantly when he touches the clean water of Vice City. Even when Claude drowns in GTA III thanks to Liberty City's "poisonous" water, it doesn't make sense that he can't swim back to shore. GTA games don't need the ability to dive, but not being able to swim is just an inconvenience to the player.
This feature is especially bad when it comes to missions that take place near a body of water. While swimming back to shore would be boring, there are instances where the player could instantly drown nearly one foot away from safety, further frustrating the player.
#3 - Blocking off islands
The feeling of having to unlock new content is awesome. However, GTA has a history of blocking off islands in arbitrary ways, which makes unlocking it feel not as impressive. In every GTA game that these roadblocks exist in, the player has alternative ways to get to the other side, which makes the purpose of blocking it off from the player pointless.
In a game like GTA 5, the entire island is available to explore from the start. This rewards players who want to explore the world, as they won't feel limited in their ability to mess around in their free time. In fact, GTA Chinatown Wars is the first game in the series to have multiple islands without any restrictions. It was an outdated feature that will hopefully never make a return in a future GTA title.
#2 - Top-down camera perspective
More specifically, it is nice to know that the top-down perspective from the early GTA games is no longer the main camera in modern GTA games. The convenience of a normal camera system goes a long way in making GTA the great series that it is. Players can fully explore the world however they please with the current camera system.
Compare that to a top-down camera perspective, and the difference is like night and day. It is a forced perspective that limits the player's ability to look around, especially since they can easily see the things of note from a bird's eye view. It makes sense that the games on handheld systems went back to this system, but it's not something that needs to be on modern consoles or PC.
#1 - Jesus Saves (GTA 2)
The idea of saving at a church is pretty cool, but that's not the aspect of this feature that was rightfully dropped. No, rather, it was the fact that players had to spend $50K to save. It wasn't a one-time payment to save as many times as the player would desire; instead, the player had to pay $50K per save. Even if the player gets enough money from a few missions to save, it's still incredibly inconvenient.
It is worth noting that money is different in GTA 2 than it is in later games. While there are more uses for money in GTA 2 than there are in GTA 1, it's still ludicrous to think that one of those uses had to be the ability to save. Fortunately, this system was abolished in GTA III, as that would easily have been a notable drawback to a critically acclaimed game. At least Jesus Saves had a cool song associated with it.
Note: This article reflects the writer’s personal views.