The GTA series has always been popular in India, however, with the franchise being heavily PC-centric, GTA 4 and 5 are actually not nearly as popular as 3, VC and SA (which can be played on mobile android).

GTA Games in the 2000s
The best GTA Games in the 2000s

These three titles are released in just 4 years, from 2001 to 2004... and because of that, their graphical style and gameplay are almost the same. In this article, we would showcase a comparison of GTA SA vs GTA Vice City vs GTA 3 to see which one of them is the best old-school GTA title.

1 - Graphics

Winner: GTA Vice City

While the three titles are released fairly close together, GTA 3 is the oldest one and is fairly lacking in graphical quality. San Andreas came out last and was helped a lot by the various technological advancement (GTA 3's tech was fairly dated). In the 3 years between 3 and SA, Rockstar has been able to spend some time improving the textures of their in-game assets and the game world.

Vice City is somewhere in the middle of the two. While it does not look as good as SA, the city made up for that with its excellent art direction, style, and color. Despite all these pixelated character models and faces, the game looks beautiful even today.

While GTA SA uses more of the PC hardware, Vice City definitely looks better overall. The majority of complaints about SA's graphics mention the gold filter that covered all over the scenery everywhere, along with the much blander style and art direction.

2 - Gameplay

Winner: GTA San Andreas

There is pretty much no debate in this section. Gameplay-wise, we can consider GTA San Andreas the perfected form of GTA 3's formula. 3 is the first game in the 3D universe of GTA, introducing a huge open world and 3rd person combat mechanic. Vice City then improved on it and finally, San Andreas perfected it.

San Andreas gameplay
GTA Vice City vs San Andreas: their gameplay is about the same

San Andreas introduced quite a few more RPG mechanics and let players completely customize protagonist CJ's appearance, down to his body type and muscle mass. You can also change it in gameplay as well - CJ would get slimmer hitting the gym and fatter by eating fast food. New combat style can also be learned from these gyms as well.

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Gta Vice City
GTA SA vs GTA VC: Vice City did it better in a few specific instances

3 - Soundtrack

Winner: GTA Vice City

This category is purely opinion-based, as it all comes down to personal taste when discussing music. Some peoples would enjoy the late 80s and early 90s soundtrack of San Andreas and 3, while others prefer GTA Vice City's soundtrack, with its collection of the best music from the 80s

Connoisseurs of the 80s' pop music consider Vice City's soundtrack to be amongst the best collection of music from that time period... while receptions for 3 and SA were more varied.

4 - Story

Winner: GTA Vice City

GTA San Andreas puts you into the shoes of protagonist Carl Johnson, who's on his way back to his hometown for his mom's funeral. Meeting his old friends and acquaintances, CJ eventually gets dragged back into the world of crime once again. His driving goal is to protect the remaining members of his family while helping the Grove Street gang rise back to the top.

Final fight against Big Smoke
The final fight against Big Smoke in GTA SA

CJ's story is more personal than grandiose - he is not really interested in dominating the city. The quests get pretty ridiculous at times, with CJ infiltrating secret government labs and hijacking jetpacks. SA's story is pretty unrealistic overall.

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Tommy vs Sonny
Confronting the mob boss and kill him to become the next boss

Vice City's Tommy Vercetti, on the other hand, is a much more active protagonist. He participates in the story and tries to make things happen - all in order to further his goal of becoming the whole city's biggest crime boss. Tommy's Scarface-like rise to the top makes for extremely satisfying story moments.

GTA 3 is the most personal out of the three, with protagonist Claude focusing on getting his revenge against everyone who has backstabbed him. This storyline is not nearly as good as VC or SA's, and Claude having no voice doesn't really help.

5 - Vehicles and map

Winner: GTA San Andreas

While vehicles are just side attractions in other franchises, in GTA, they are an integral part of the experience. There is a reason that the game is called Grand Theft AUTO, with the last word referring to automobiles or vehicles.

San Andreas
San Andreas is a huge city

Vice City and 3 have a decent set of vehicles of various types, but they just can't stack up with GTA SA's roster. In San Andreas, you can pilot almost every vehicle type imaginable, from fighter jets to jetpacks and tanks.

GTA Maps
Vice City is bottom right and Liberty City is top right. San Andreas is bigger than both of them combined.

San Andreas also has a much bigger map that contains the entire state of San Andreas, with much more details incorporated. Vice City and 3's Liberty City look much smaller and more restricted in comparison.

6 - Verdict for GTA SA vs GTA Vice City vs GTA 3

Based on the five criteria from, the overall winner of this "GTA battle royale" is GTA Vice City, just barely. If you are looking for a short experience and tight story, pick Vice City. If you are looking for better gameplay and more gameplay content, pick San Andreas. Leave GTA 3 for last.

Interested in more of our articles related to the GTA series? Please check out this post for the Top 6 Most Powerful Guns In GTA 5 And GTA Online.