Ah yes, the game that began what is now one of the most successful and most critically acclaimed series in all of video game history. In 1997 a studio named DMA Design (now Rockstar North), previously responsible for Lemmings, gave Grand Theft Auto to the world. In an era of violent "controversial" games like Doom and Mortal Kombat, GTA had waltzed in and stole the immoral crown.The player is a career criminal, steals cars, kills anyone in the way, and, worse still, is free to go about this as he or she pleases. Predictably, the cries of moral outrage drew curious gamers in like moths to a flame and GTA literally sold on its reputation alone. A reputation that DMA had deliberately fuelled — they hired notorious British publicist Max Clifford to drum up controversy for the game.The game itself is played from an overheard perspective of the city with the objective of earning cash. Earn enough money to progress to the next level, and new cities will be unlocked. How the player goes about this is up to them, since points are earned by stealing cars, murder and general mayhem. The story-based missions aren't required to progress, but they do provide the largest source of income. Basically a watchdogs nightmare.Despite being praised for its open environments, player freedom and clever sound design, the game was not greeted with critical success. With the combination of hindsight and its legion of nostalgic fans, Grand Theft Auto has eventually come to be regarded as a classic, albeit a flawed one.In 1999, Rockstar released a "Mission Pack" for the game — basically an Expansion Pack that requires inserting the original GTA disc in order to boot up — dubbed GTA London: 1969. As it turned out, this was Rockstar's last foray into developing expansions for their little PlayStation gem, despite copies of GTA London boldly sporting the Mission Pack #1 subtitle to this day.A second expansion, dubbed London 1961: Mission Pack #2, was released for the PC, and is notable for requiring the GTA London: 1969 disc to play, making it a rare single-player expansion of an expansion. Short and quite buggy, it is not well-remembered.
Grand Theft Auto provides examples of:
Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: By the time you reach Vice City, the cost of repairing/respraying vehicles is ridiculously exorbitant.
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Deever's dossier shows documented instances of cannibalism during a stakeout, urinating on a superior officer's desk, theft of impounded narcotics, malicious wounding of fellow officers on five separate counts, incestuous practices, reporting for duty while drunk, alleged sodomy and enjoying all of the Police Academy movies. Monster!
All Gays are Promiscuous: El Burro. Not only does he constantly call you "cutie", but he eventually invites you over to his place to "thank you personally." This evidently forces you to flee to the opposite coast.
Big Brother Is Watching: According to the manual, the player's actions are being filmed live from a news helicopter, thus the top-down perspective.
Bizarrchitecture: Vice City's street network is an exhibit of this, and as a result the city is notoriously difficult to navigate.
But Thou Must: In Vice City's second chapter, "Rasta Blasta", the Rastas give the player a choice to work either for the authorities or for them. If you choose to work for "Babylon", attempting the next mission will make you blow up a limo containing Deever's mistress (oops), and you'll have to work for the Rastas.
The Chew Toy: You, arguably. No matter how well you perform for your current boss, you'll always get run out of town for some reason or another.
Cluster Bleep Bomb: When you finally meet Deever face-to-face, it's ostensibly for some well-earned praise. Instead, he launches into another round of vulgarities as cars honk in the background.
Expository Theme Tune: "Gangster Friday" (more commonly known as "Joyride", as named in GTA III), a pastiche of gangsta rap composed by DMA Design's in-house Craig Conner does a good job explaining the game's premise.
Golden Snitch: Mowing down a conga line of tambourine-playing Hare Krishnas. This is surprisingly hard to do, but you'll net a giant bonus. They were replaced by hippies and Elvis impersonators in GTA London and GTA2.
In San Andreas, a war erupts when No Chin (yes that's his name) tries to usurp Uncle Fu, leading to a split within the Triad families. No Chin goes on the run, and you'll have to fight through all of his loyalists to unearth him.
Moral Guardians: DMA basically sat down and decided to make a game that would infuriate Media Watchdogs and parent groups alike. And make a fortune off it.
Murder Is the Best Solution: Deever's answer to everything. A memorable mission involves driving one of his cadavers to an empty lot; he keeps murdering people offscreen as you drive along, requiring you to go fetch more bodies and add them to the growing pile of cars.
Never Bring Bruce Lee to a Gun Fight: There is a sequence in San Andreas where you have to "interrogate" No Chin's associates to make them spill his location. They mockingly shrug off your punches ("Round-Eye is trying to tickle my face!"), but run off like babies if you fire an uzi round.
Unwitting Pawn: DMA Studios hired publicist Max Clifford to stir up controversy in the media. The moral elite responded as they desired, giving the game all the publicity it could ever need. Many people bought the game solely because of the media outcry surrounding it. The Moral Guardians were simply pawns.
Video Game Flamethrowers Suck: Averted in the first GTA title. Explosions of any kind are a death sentence; your character flails about for a few seconds, then collapses into a pile of ash. In fact, the flamethrower is so potent, you're as likely to set yourself on fire while wielding it.
What Could Have Been: The game was originally intended to be about dinosaurs rampaging through a city, an idea obviously inspired by The Lost World. Somewhere down the line the devs decided that Hot Wheels were an easier childhood pastime to translate to a video game than dinosaurs, and GTA as we know it was born.
In an instance of Tropes Are Not Good, the earliest version of GTA was known as Race 'n' Chase, and allowed the player to play as either a criminal or a cop. Early playtesters found the game dull and lacking engagement, and development soon hit a brick wall. A coding change to a different part of the game later down the line ended up affecting the police AI for the criminal campaign, making them much more persistent and erratic. The developers loved the change, since police chases went from being a relatively dull affair to becoming life-or-death struggles against a reckless, suicidal army of police cruisers who would stop at nothing to reduce the player's vehicle to a smoldering wreck. A few AI tweaks and the removal of the police campaign later, and GTA as the world knows it was born.
Wholesome Crossdresser: The Rasta leader, Brother Marcus. (Otherwise known as Sister Elijah on Saturday nights.)
Grand Theft Auto: London 1969/1961 provides examples of:
Afro Asskicker: One of the player avatars, who is coincidentally the same guy featured on the loading screen and game manual.
Fission Mailed: Collecting a van filled with explosive sex dolls results in this. Evidently, you play the role of a Lovable Sex Maniac; Albert Crisp lampshades it when you get out of the hospital, warning you not to repeat the same offense with a second van ("I know what you're like.")
Forehead of Doom: Albert Cartwright. He's reavealed to have once had a Beatles moptop in London 1961.
Guide Dang It: The final mission. Your instructions are to blow up a car, but the directional arrow only points you to where the car was previously parked. You're given no description of what the car looks like, either. (It's a green Crapi, the most commonplace heap of junk in the game.)
Last Chance to Quit: Lenny Smith, a rival ganglord, attempts this after you pursue him up a fire escape. Before you kill him, Smith warns that the Crisps are growing distrustful of you. As it turns out, Smith turns out to have been Properly Paranoid.