Most games in the series are set in fictional locales modelled on cities, usually either Liberty City, Vice City or San Andreas, which are stand-ins for New York City, Miami and the state of California, respectively. The first game encompassed three fictional cities, while subsequent titles tend to emphasise a single setting. Gameplay focuses on an open world where the player can choose missions to progress an overall story, as well as engaging in side activities, all consisting of action-adventure, driving, third-person shooting, carjacking, occasional role-playing, stealth and racing elements. The series focuses on many different protagonists who attempt to rise through the ranks of the criminal underworld, although their motives for doing so vary in each game. The series also has elements of the earlier beat 'em up games from the 16-bit era. The antagonists are commonly characters who have betrayed the protagonist or his organisation, or characters who have the most impact impeding the protagonist's progress. Film and music veterans have voiced characters, including Ray Liotta, Burt Reynolds, Dennis Hopper, Samuel L. Jackson, James Woods, Debbie Harry, Phil Collins, Axl Rose and Peter Fonda.
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