I would probably go chronologically just to see how the series progressed. My personal favorite was Vice City, but San Andreas was great as well. I liked GTA III for its innovation at the time, but I do remember getting frustrated to no end on some of the missions. Still worth a play if you can tolerate the lack of an auto-aim. Just stay clear of the water until San Andreas.
I am surprised Vice City is winning out because it seems most people seem to think San Adreas is the best. I personally love GTA Vice City. The whole buying property and doing missions to increase revenue from that property thing was really cool, and doing the side missions and collecting hidden packages actually benefited you in the game. I kind of hope they put some of this stuff in the next GTA. Just dont want them to go back to the RPG stuff from GTA: SA.
I remember trying to play GTA3 after playing Vice City and couldn't do it. I found it really boring and lifeless. I'm not saying it's a bad game, it was probably one of the greatest at the time, but after Vice City, it can't compare. Then there was San Andreas, which I consider even better than that.
So I don't think you should play GTA3. Vice City vs San Andreas is mostly a question of which setting interests you the most. But nothing stops you from getting both. If you do, you might as well start with the older one.
Edit: Oh sorry, should have taken the time to read the post haha. Since you bought all three, just play them chronologically.
I think I would start with San Andreas. It was one of my favorites, a great world, and interesting story. I know you said you just bought it, but for anyone who hasn't, it is on sale on Steam TODAY for $3.75, which is insane.
Edit: yeah, if you are going to play through all of them anyway, just start with the first. It would be pretty jarring to go from San Andreas to GTA3.
Go with vice city then move onto san andreas. You can skip 3.
Yeah, GTA III represents a major moment in video game history, imo. However, I think it might be a bit difficult to go back to. Vice City and San Andreas though are still pretty enjoyable.
GTA 3 and Vice City were great at the time, but the controls, combat mechanics and AI are hopelessly outdated. They are damn nigh unplayable if you lack any sort of nostalgia for them. The humour is fantastic, the characters are very memorable and the radio stations are nothing short of amazing, but this is true for all GTA games.
My vote goes to San Andreas. It has the most depth, the best humour, the largest world, the most ridiculous action and the most memorable cast. Also, you can fly choppers and jet fighters, which is quite incredible.
I played through GTA4 once and liked it well enough, but it has a very uneven tone. Going from extremely goofy cut scenes to very dark story moments. I'd recommend playing this as your second GTA game.
III was so great back in the day. It was everything I ever wanted from GTA games ever since the first one. But like other people have said it's virtually unplayable after Vice City. VC just improved everything about the series. San Andreas I never liked as much. The map just seemed way too big and there were too many things to keep track of. I stopped playing it after I got to the flight school stuff.
Funny thing about the first two games was that I never actually played any missions in those games. I would just run/drive around causing havoc and exploring the cities. And then later on I added a bunch of insane cars into the games (mostly the first one) and caused even more havoc. Good times were had.
The only one worth playing. GTA IV. The rest are crap.
.....I...I...I can't... I just can't.... You win this round.
San Andreas or Vice City. GTA 3 is good too but a little outdated by today's standards. Anything older than that doesn't really hold up that well.
GTA IV is okay, especially if you like the more serious tone of it compared to the dumb "summer action movie" tone of the others I listed. I think the my biggest problem with GTA IV was that the driving just wasn't were it should have been, and you lost a lot of the stuff that made the older games so fun (not counting the story stuff)