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Grand Theft Auto (abbreviated as GTA) is a 1997 action-adventure video game created by DMA Design (now Rockstar North) and published by BMG Interactive. The game allows the player to take on the role of a criminal who can roam freely around a big city. Various missions are set for completion, such as bank robberies, assassinations, and other crimes. It is the first title in the Grand Theft Auto series that has thus far spanned ten standalone games, and three expansion packs. The game was originally intended to be named "Race N Chase".[1] GTA was succeeded by Grand Theft Auto 2 and both games were made available as a free download by Rockstar Games on their website in 2004.[2] The game was made available on Steam on January 4, 2008.[3] However, as of time of writing on September 2015, the game is no longer available for download on Steam, and neither is its sequel, Grand Theft Auto 2.


Grand Theft Auto is made up of a series of levels, each set in one of the three main cities. In each level, the player's ultimate objective is to reach a target number of points, which is typically achieved by performing tasks for the city's local crime syndicate. Each level has its own unique set of tasks. Successful completion of a mission rewards the player with points and opens the opportunity to attempt harder missions for higher rewards, while failure awards few points and may permanently seal off opportunities for more tasks.


The player is free to do whatever he or she wants. The player can gain points by causing death and destruction amid the traffic in the city, or steal and sell cars for profit, although to get to the large target money amount to complete a level, players will usually opt to complete missions which will gain them one multiplier for every success and lose one for every failure. The multiplier multiplies the number of points scored for anything. Some criminal acts have an inherent multiplier; for example, using a police car for running over people doubles the number of points received.


Even during missions there is still some freedom as most of the time the player is free to choose the route to take, but the destination is usually fixed. It is this level of freedom which set Grand Theft Auto apart from other action based computer games at the time.[4] Some places in the game have to be unlocked by completing missions.


Grand Theft Auto takes place in three large cities, all of which are modelled after real cities: Liberty City which is based on New York City, Vice City based on Miami, and San Andreas based on San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. All three cities suffer from rampant crime and corruption, with constant feuding between the local crime syndicates, random acts of violence from street gangs, organized thievery and murder, and corrupt city officials and police officers.

These three cities would later become the settings all the Grand Theft Auto games to follow, except for the Grand Theft Auto: London mission packs and Grand Theft Auto 2.


Players are able to choose to play as eight characters in the game: Travis, Katie, Nikki, Divine, Bubba, Troy, Kivlov and Ulrika (the PlayStation version only lets players choose the four male characters, however). In actual gameplay, there is no real difference, since the characters all wear exactly the same yellow sweater. Although they do wear different coloured trousers and hair colours to each other and have the correct skin colours. You may also name your character, which, with the correct name, acts like a cheat code and alters gameplay.


Grand Theft Auto has seven "radio stations", plus a police band track, which can be heard once the player enters a car, however each vehicle can only receive a limited number of these radio stations.[5] In the PlayStation port each car only had one station.

PC players can remove the CD once the game is loaded and replace it with an audio CD. The next time the character enters a vehicle, a song from the CD will randomly play. This can also be done in the PlayStation port.

The game's main theme is "Gangster Friday" by Craig Conner (who played all instruments on this track), credited to the fictitious band Slumpussy, and is played on Head Radio.[5] With the exception of Head Radio FM, the names of songs or the radio station names are never mentioned in-game. However the soundtrack is listed in the booklet which comes with the game.[5]

The Collector's Edition of the PC version included the soundtrack on a separate CD. The track listing gives the names of the fictional radio stations, bands and their tracks, and for some of them the fictional album that they are from.


The original Grand Theft Auto was developed for MS-DOS, and then later ported to Microsoft Windows (using SciTech MGL), and the PlayStation (developed by Visual Sciences using their "ViSOS" framework).

The PC version came in several different executables for MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows, which used a single set of data files between them (except for the 8-bit colour MS-DOS version which uses different but similar graphics). Due to problems running the game under Windows XP and later, DOSBox can be used instead of NTVDM.

Grand Theft Auto was to be released on the Saturn, but due to the console's rapid decline in popularity before development was finished, the project was halted and the game was never released on that platform. After the PlayStation's successful release, development began on a port for the Nintendo 64, Grand Theft Auto 64. It was rumoured to have graphical enhancements and new missions, but it was cancelled without ever having made a public appearance.[6]

Cover art[]

The cover art for Grand Theft Auto is a photograph of a New York Police Department 1980's Plymouth Gran Fury rushing through the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 56th Street, with Trump Tower in the background of the picture. The same cover art was also an alternative cover for Grand Theft Auto 2 in selected markets.

Minimum & Recommended Specifications[]

MS-DOS MS-DOS Minimum Specifications
Minimum Specifications
Operating System MS-DOS 6.0
Microsoft Windows Microsoft Windows Minimum Specifications
Minimum Specifications
Operating System Windows 95
CPU 75 MHz
Graphics VESA-compatible
Graphics RAM 1 MB
Storage 80 MB
Network/Connectivity IPX/SPX for local multi-player
Additional Software DirectX 3.0


  1. Wallis, Alistair (21 December 2006). Playing Catch Up: GTA/Lemmings' Dave Jones. Gamasutra.
  2. Miles, Stuart (2004-12-23). Rockstar give away GTA2 for free. Retrieved on 2007-10-29
  4. GameSpot describes the freedom of the game as its best attribute (6 May 1998).
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 DMA Design (1997). Grand Theft Auto PC Edition Manual. Take-Two Interactive. p. 13. 
  6. Grand Theft Auto 64 Preview (1999-03-29). Retrieved on 2007-07-31

External Links[]