Grand Theft Auto III celebrated its 15-year anniversary on October 22, 2001. It's a celebration worth having, because GTA III is one of the most influential games ever created. The game redefined the GTA series and essentially served as the blueprint for each one that came after. With III, Rockstar Games pushed the envelope in ways that the video game community (and those outside of it) wasn’t ready for.
Transforming the series into a three-dimensional playground of destruction offered not only a commentary on the changing landscape of video games, but its players. From completing missions that require you to plant a bomb in someone’s car (“Mike Lips Last Lunch”) to just inciting pure chaos among the citizens of Liberty City, the nihilism of III presented a psychological question that we all continue to wonder about: what do we find so appealing about violence in our art?
As the series has continued, Rockstar has still found new ways of not only exploring that question, but offering commentary on the world we live in now. Yes, the ingenious missions still cater to our most destructive desires, but GTA has always been more self-aware, holding up a mirror to each and every fan of the game. So give it up for GTA III and the game that changed the world.
However, although III incited change within the series, is it the best game in the series? Asking ourselves that question, we pitted it against the six other main games—I, II, VI, V, Vice City, and San Andreas—to see where the chips fall. You might be surprised which one takes the top spot.