- If -- for the purposes of the standard preview preamble -- we were to liken the Grand Theft Auto series to the U.S. primary education system, it breaks down quite conveniently. So what the heck, let's do it:
GTA, GTA 2, and its London expansion are like elementary school: They're fun, but in retrospect they're simple -- an opportunity to learn the basics, discover new ideas, and make new friends.
GTA III, Vice City, and San Andreas are the high school years. Emerging from a game-development puberty, awkward motor skills and imperfect appearances are matched with a rebellious mindset as well as that endearing brand of adolescent immaturity that generates quite a bunch of fun...when it's not getting you into trouble with the authorities. Popularity is paramount; you start dating, and are even concerned about what you wear.
But then someone asks you the question: "Where are you going after high school?"
An older and wiser Rockstar is going to Liberty City. We've finished Grand Theft Auto IV, and without spoiling our upcoming set of reviews in Electronic Gaming Monthly and here on 1UP, the game truly serves as a commencement ceremony for the series. While we wait for the slow passage of time between now and the game's release, here's a quick orientation for when it arrives: