This just had to be here, didn't it? Yes - the game that really did define open-world video games is more than worth its place on any list of classics. I've reiterated how ground-breaking GTA III was a few times in this list, but to really drive it home I will show you a few review quotes.
The most innovative, outlandish, brilliant video game I've ever seen.
-Official US PlayStation Magazine
While the violent nature of the game will surely turn some people off and kids simply shouldn't be allowed anywhere near it, GTA III is, quite simply, an incredible experience that shouldn't be missed by anyone mature enough to handle it.
A luscious, sprawling epic of a game and one of the most complete experiences I have ever encountered. If this is what I've waited a year to see on my PS2, then I would have waited ten. Magnificent.
Those three quotations from renowned outlets should help you realize just how innovative this game was. When GTA III came out we had been in the realm of 3D gaming for a good while, but developers were still trying to figure out the formula for hitting the nail on the head consistently. So when Grand Theft Auto III released and featured the first truly open 3D world, equipped with dozens of car types, sprawling map, intelligent NPCs and a story that you play at your own leisure, it felt like we suddenly leapt into the future.
Another thing worth remembering is what came before. GTA and GTA 2 were decent games but they were top-down action games in which you stole cars and shot people. Certainly the DNA can be traced back, but I don't think many expected the series to evolve the way it did.
Grand Theft Auto III was a surprising masterpiece that firmly cemented Rockstar as the most exciting, innovative developer in the world - a title they hold to this day.