GTA 3 Redefined Open World Games 22 Years Ago

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Paved The Way For GTA's Future Success!

The Grand Theft Auto franchise is known for its sprawling open worlds and engaging narratives today. However, the franchise began with a top-down camera perspective, with GTA 3 changing the IP forever after a few years.

In 2001, Rockstar Games transitioned to 3D gameplay, taking the series to new heights. GTA 3 was arguably the most important entry for Grand Theft Auto, as it redefined modern open-world gameplay at the time.

Today, this entry celebrates its 22nd anniversary.

Why it matters: The Grand Theft Auto series is 25 years old with many successful entries. However, GTA 3 stands as one of the highest-rated releases from Rockstar Games on platforms like Metacritic.


GTA 3 sets players loose in Liberty City, a fictional location inspired by New York. This city allowed players to explore a large map with three islands.

In Liberty City, players were free to drive around in cars, ride bikes, attack NPCs, explore the game at their own pace, and more. This level of freedom was unparalleled for a game in 2001, immediately making this GTA entry a massive hit.

Reflecting on the game, it is easy to take many of its innovations for granted. However, without GTA 3, modern Grand Theft Auto as we know it would not exist today.

It also introduced a strong narrative featuring Claude, a protagonist who faces betrayal during the opening section. This setup leads to a chain of events, opening up a story involving a world filled with crimes, drugs, and gangs.

All of these elements were considered revolutionary for a game in 2001. As such, the title quickly became Rockstar Games’ best work, selling over 14.5 million copies.

While these figures appear disappointing compared to GTA 5’s 185 million sales, GTA 3’s success ensured Rockstar Games was able to continue iterating on an incredible formula.


Most recently, the game was featured in the GTA Trilogy Definitive Edition. Unfortunately, this collection of games hardly did this iconic entry justice, launching in a terrible state and causing widespread outrage among fans.

While this collection is still marred by many technical issues, Rockstar Games has recently made it available through GTA Plus. Therefore, fans can try GTA 3 through this release for just $6/month, but we recommend looking elsewhere for a better version.

Nonetheless, GTA 3 was a massive release in 2001. It not only shaped the future of GTA and Rockstar Games but also inspired many other developers to pursue an open-world gameplay format with a lot of freedom.

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