Grand Theft Auto (series)
Grand Theft Auto (GTA) is a series of video games. The main character in each game in the series is a criminal, and missions generally revolve around illegal activities. Because a large part of the game revolves around driving, "Grand Theft Auto" refers to the most common crime in the series - stealing cars. There are a total of 9 standalone games in the series, with the tenth expected in early 2012.
Grand Theft Auto 1 & 2
The first two versions of Grand Theft Auto were "top-down", meaning that they were two-dimensional, with the player looking down on the main character's head.
Grand Theft Auto III
Grand Theft Auto III was the first 3D game in the series. It also featured non-linear gameplay. Story missions became less of a focus of the game relative to exploration of the virtual world, only being required to unlock areas of the map. The game takes place in "Liberty City", which is a parallel to New York City. It occurs in the present day (2000).
GTA: Vice City
GTA: Vice City takes place in "Vice City" (essentially Miami, Florida) in the 1970s. It features similar gameplay to GTA III. An additional feature is the ability to ride motorcycles. The player can also purchase homes (which act as save points and can store cars) and businesses. The main character is Tommy Vercetti, a Mafia drug dealer.
GTA: San Andreas
GTA: San Andreas takes place in the state of San Andreas (named for the San Andreas fault in California). It includes the three cities of Los Santos (Los Angeles, California), San Fierro (San Francisco, California), and Las Venturas (Las Vegas, Nevada). The game is the largest in the GTA series, including 6 major areas (the three cities and the country around them). The main character is Carl Johnson (CJ), an African-American gang member in Los Santos in the early 1990s.
The game added several new features including player attributes, gang wars, the ability to swim and to climb walls, and a multiplayer co-operative mode.
Grand Theft Auto IV
Grand Theft Auto IV puts the player in the position of Niko Bellic, a European immigrant. The game features possibly the most extensive transport systems in any computer game, with cars, helicopters, chauffeured taxis, motorcycles and a subway system all fully usable by the player - aeroplanes are the only major oversight. It is situated in Liberty City.