Mainline Grand Theft Auto trailers ranked from best to worst

Mainline Grand Theft Auto trailers ranked from best to worst
Jack Webb Updated on by

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Grand Theft Auto has been around the block for a long time, with the very first game in the series coming out in 1997, all the way to GTA 6 which had its debut trailer in 2023.

Within this time, there have been 11 mainline Grand Theft Auto games, with GTA 6 set to be the 12th release. GTA 6 is arguably the most anticipated, considering we’ve not seen a new GTA game in over 10 years and GTA 5 has simply been re-released over and over again for each console generation.

For more Grand Theft Auto, read our GTA 6 release date page and whether or not we think it will be an open-world GTA. With the release of the GTA 6 trailer, we’re ranking all GTA trailers from worst to best based off our reaction to each trailer, so let’s take a look starting with the very best.

Grand Theft Auto 5 (2013)

Naturally, the trailer for GTA 5 stands head and shoulders above the rest. Even with the release of GTA 6’s trailer, this first trailer and even its follow-up trailers do the game justice, while being fun to watch and convincing you to buy the game. There’s intrigue, fun, serious themes, but most of all this marks the time when Rockstar finally found its voice for the GTA name and presented it in a way that hit all the rights notes and tone than ever before.

Grand Theft Auto 3 (2001) –

From the late 90s to the early 00s, some game trailers at this time were in the wild west of video editing standards and non-existant production values. This trailer would’ve blown your socks off back in the day, and it does a great job at showing what GTA is at its core: chaos in game form. This game marks the beginning of a new game engine for Rockstar, which we would see slightly refined in Vice City, with both games sharing animations. Overall, a top notch trailer for an underrated game that has more than hint of Max Payne to it.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004)

The trailer for San Andreas has it all: a killer soundtrack, lowriders, knife-throwing, explosions, police chases, and so much more. Even though Vice City came out just two years before San Andreas, the change in quality of not just the trailer but the gameplay is hugely impressive. San Andreas is a game near and dear to many, and while it is rampantly problematic with the way Rockstar portrayed CJ and other aspects, this trailer shows off the joy ride GTA should be.

Grand Theft Auto 1 (1997)

Rockstar did a heck of a lot with so little to go on. When you consider the obvious console limitations the devs would’ve had to deal with to make this game, you realise the simple sprite work does a great job at telling you exactly what this game is about: running around a city blowing things up and stealing cars. Slap the Rockstar logo on there and ship it to the masses.

Grand Theft Auto 6 (2025)

Sadly, this trailer has been extremely underwhelming for us, somehow failing to show off any substance or sufficient intrigue. It doesn’t have that GTA vibe that was cultivated so well in 5, which makes it less engaging. As with most games, it seems the hype has far outweighed everything else for GTA 6 considering this first trailer has revealed very little substance, and even less gameplay. To give credit where it’s due, a female lead is always welcome and it does look pretty. Naturally, the game is still in development and so it might not be ready to show off the full extent of mayhem we can cause, so we hope future trailers can do more and convince us to buy it.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (2006)

This is what the Vice City trailer should’ve been. GTA Vice City has such a distinct colour pallete and it’s fun to see Rockstar use it so well in this trailer. While the OG Vice City trailer steered into the glitz and early 00s vibe, Vice City Stories shows you substance, action, character interactions, a sun-drenched setting, and all the jovial stuff you expect from GTA.

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (2005)

Using a similar style from the San Andreas trailer, Rockstar really dialled it in with this one. It plays out more like a crime-drama monologue than a trailer for a high-octane game we come to know and expect from GTA at this point. Playing the game is much different to the trailer, and it tries to set up a coherent, yet still irreverent narrative to follow but it ultimately ends up being fairly boring. The game itself, however, is far from that.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002)

Despite being one of the better GTA games, the trailer released for Vice City is atrociously bad. If it wasn’t for the tacky game title overlay at the end, you’d be forigven for thinking that this was some sort of driving game set in fake LA. While that does somewhat explain a large aspect of Vice City, it’s missing the chaotic energy of earlier trailers that show you doing what you want: car jacking people and blowing up cars for no reason.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (2009)

Another handheld GTA game that was foisted upon the masses, the trailer for Chinatown Wars is truly awful. It comes at you too fast to understand and it is mostly horrible to look at. Maybe this is the curse of trying to ‘show off’ handheld games in the day of the PSP and Nintendo DS, but whatever route this one took was the wrong way to do it.

Grand Theft Auto 4 (2008)

Far too moody and dramatic, not fun like GTA should be. The direction for this trailer makes you think the game is going to be serious, and while that is welcome in small doses in GTA, you aren’t playing these games for a moody, emotional gut punch. This trailer, more than anything, seems like an attempt to change direction for the game to be gritty and melancholic and this sort of thing does mesh well with what Grand Theft Auto is all about. We will note that the second trailer for GTA 4 is much, much better.

Grand Theft Auto Advance (2004)

Believe it or not, GTA did make an appearance on the Nintendo Gameboy Advance. For what reason? We mortals shall never know. As far as trailers go, it’s not as bad as the live action one, but in its attempt to emulate the trailer for GTA 1, it is somehow truly awful. The droning police siren over the whole thing is a questionable choice at best, and downright annoying at worst. GTA Advance, why?

Grand Theft Auto 2 (1999)

The worst of the worst. You’d be forgiven for thinking this was some sort of horrific mash-up using scenes from The Warriors and what would later become the Fast and Furious franchise. Whoever thought a live-action trailer for a game would be a good idea? You want to show off what the game looks like and get to gameplay, and making it live action effectively goes against anything we as a player would like to see.

With that, we’ve come to the end of the mainline GTA game trailers. Do you agree with the ranking? We are giddy with anticipation for GTA 6, so why not join us in reading our page covering whether GTA 6 is a PS5 exclusive game.