How To

What is GRAND THEFT AUTO and how it works



Also known as GTA1, Grand Theft Auto reached popularity quickly when it hit PCs in 1997 and 1998 in various countries. For its time, the gameplay was easy to learn and players had fun stealing vehicles and mastering crime. Of course, it’s nothing like modern titles today, especially GTA V and the latest remastered GTA The Trilogy.

If you’ve never managed to play it and you’ve recently gotten your hands on a copy, here’s a guide on what Grand Theft Auto is and how it works.

What is GRAND THEFT AUTO and how it works

What is Grand Theft Auto?

Grand Theft Auto is a top-down role-playing crime action game where you take the role of one of the eight characters that only differ in appearance. You’ll start in Liberty City, but you’ll make your way across other locations as you progress in the story. The main objective is to complete missions for gang lords and NPCs, and steal vehicles while you’re at it.

What is GRAND THEFT AUTO and how it works

How Grand Theft Auto works

Of course, explaining what Grand Theft Auto is becomes an oversimplification. The real meat is discussing how it works. Here are the primary aspects you need to know before getting started.

Different cities 

GTA has several locations in the game, but you’ll need to start in Liberty City. You’ll meet Robert “Bubby” Seragliano, initiating the Gangsta Bang and Heist Almighty. There are several missions you need to complete, ending with a need to escape the town.

You’ll end up in San Andreas for the second portion of Grand Theft Auto. Here, Uncle Fu will discuss quests for Mandarin Mayhem while El Burro will talk to you about Tequila Slammer. Both require you to perform several tasks to gain their favor.

Finally, you’ll receive a call from Samuel Deever, a cop in Vice City who needs your help. While you’re there, you’ll also hear from Brother Marcus who sends you on killing sprees. This location is the final one for the last quests. 

Weapons and items

It’s in the first Grand Theft Auto where the theme is set for the weapons in the entire franchise. You’ll see many of the firearms that became staples in future titles. They included fist, pistol, machine gun, rocket launcher, and flamethrower. There was only one type of each and not different variations like in GTA 5. 

Completing levels

The basic gameplay of how Grand Theft Auto works consists of levels. You can view each of the cities as levels, and you’ll have five lives to reach a specific score limit. The score is also a money meter, so you can use it to buy items in the game.

When you reach the score target, you’ll need to drive to a specific point to complete the level and move to the next one. You’re free to run around and do as you wish, but the missions are the main source of points. You’ll also have a multiplier that increases whenever you complete quests.

Damage and limited lives

There are two mechanics that you’ll only find in the first two GTAs. The first is that you’re basically killed as soon as you are hit by a bullet. Secondly, you only have limited lives, after which you’ll have to restart the level. It made the game so intense, and you feared any NPC killing you.

What is GRAND THEFT AUTO and how it works

Grand Theft Auto tips and tricks

Now that you know what Grand Theft Auto is and how it works, we have a few tips to offer. These tricks are minor, but understanding them will go a long way in completing the game.

Earning points

As mentioned, you’ll need points to complete the levels. There are many actions you can take towards increasing your score meter. For instance, you can ram cars and kill the police. Another way is to steal vehicles and sell them. However, you’ll earn the most from completing missions, and they add multipliers that make the smaller actions more valuable.

Completing missions

There are a few ways in which you’ll receive missions. The most common one is via telephone calls at booths you’ll pass. The other is entering specific vehicles and letting the occupant know if you’re accepting the quest. You won’t be able to leave the mission unless you pass or fail it. 

Most missions have no time limit, so you can take as much time as you need to complete them. You can even go do other things so long. However, there are a few that involve police chases or have time limits. 

Wanted dead or alive

No, we’re not referring to the infamous Bon Jovi song. One of the most captivating elements in all the Grand Theft Auto games is the wanted level. If you make a transgression, you’ll obtain one star. There are four wanted levels, which is where the police force pulls out all the stops to get you. The only way to clear your record is at a spray shop or with a cop bribe token.

Multiplayer action

Even though it was early days for the franchise, Grand Theft Auto has a multiplayer component. Gamers would connect PCs over LAN and find weapons to kill each other. It was a fun way to pass the time when done with the missions.


In 1999, Rockstar Canada released Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 as an expansion to the first game. It added 32 new missions and brought new vehicles and weapons. It was followed by its own expansion later that year called Grand Theft Auto: London 1961 with even more content.

What is GRAND THEFT AUTO and how it works

Other GTA Guides

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Living the high life

As you can see, there are loads to do in Grand Theft Auto! Even though the latest titles have more realistic visuals and better gameplay, it’s good to go back to a classic. We hope you have fun trying it out.

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