For clarity, these are the mainline GTA games:
- GTA 1
- GTA 2
- GTA 3
- GTA Vice City
- GTA San Andreas
- GTA 4
- GTA 5
All other GTA titles are considered non-mainline GTA games. Not every non-mainline GTA game will find its way on the list, as the focus is primarily on unique features that stand out.
These five features are all interesting in their own way and in no particular order.
Five interesting features from the non-mainline GTA games
5. GTA Liberty City Stories graves
The idea of an ever-evolving graveyard full of one's enemies is a pretty nifty concept. Strangely, it only existed in GTA Liberty City Stories in the form of the Liberty City Cemetery. In GTA 3, most of the cemetery has been replaced by the Bedford Point Opera House.
Every time a major character dies in Liberty City Stories, they get a tombstone in this cemetery. For example, Giovanni Casa's tombstone will read "Gone...", whereas somebody like Paulie Sindacco's tombstone would read as "Viva Las Venturas Baby."
It adds a lot of immersion to a game like Liberty City Stories, especially since players won't see much from in-game antagonists in the other titles, so it's nice to see a reminder in the form of their graves.
4. Breaking necks in GTA Vice City Stories
GTA Vice City Stories introduced some interesting new combat mechanics that never returned. If players were facing an NPC, they could grab them and put them in a choke-hold, before throwing the NPC forward.
It's pretty neat to just throw NPCs around like nothing. What's even more interesting is that Victor Vance could snap people's necks if he's behind them. Predictably, this will instantly kill the NPC, so it's a pretty cool alternative to the usual stealth kills like in other GTA titles.
3. Drawing tattoos
GTA Chinatown Wars was innovative in many ways, and drawing tattoos on NPCs is a good example. Players can't get tattoos themselves (not that it would matter, since Huang Lee is barely visible in the open world), but they can draw tattoos for other random NPCs.
This feature is introduced after the mission, "Recruitment Drive," which provides another alternative for Huang Lee to earn some nice, easy cash. Of course, if a player draws the tattoos poorly, they will be kicked out of the parlor.
Fortunately, drawing tattoos in GTA Chinatown Wars is a lot easier than it is in real life.
2. Underground fight clubs
Fighting has always been a key part of the GTA franchise in some way, shape, or form. Fighting isn't usually the sole focus in the GTA series, and it is used in conjunction with some other feature.
That's where the underground fight clubs of GTA 4: The Ballad of Gay Tony come into play. It's also known as L.C. Cage Fighting and Underground Cage Fighting, and it's a feature that involves the player fighting through several opponents for a cash prize.
The fights get more difficult, especially since the opponent starts to get knives and the player doesn't. Still, this feature also works wonderfully with GTA 4's base fighting mechanics, as it can be some of the toughest, yet most satisfying features to master.
1. Drug dealing
Drug dealing was a controversial, yet well-received feature in GTA Chinatown Wars. Several other features, such as Warehouse Raiding, are tied to this major feature, which also serves as one of Huang Lee's important side hustles. It's completely different from what's seen in the mainline titles.
GTA Vice City had a drug dealing minigame in the form of "Distribution," but that was far more primitive by comparison. GTA Chinatown Wars' interpretation is far more fleshed out and is the type of feature that could work well in a mainline game if tweaked for control differences.
Note: This article reflects the writer’s personal views.