- For the arrows used in early top-down perspective GTA games, see location compass.
For the directions system in Grand Theft Auto IV, see GPS.
The Radar (technically a GPS), is a map on the heads-up display showing the player's current location in the game, and the relative location or direction of various points of interest.
GTA III — GTA Chinatown Wars
Introduced in Grand Theft Auto III, the radar essentially replaces the player centered location compass used in preceding GTA games, and remains an element of all GTA games after.
Each rendition of the radar features a portion of a location's map within the immediate vicinity of the player, and shows various blips, representing various points of interest, such as:
- A compass point pointing north (represented by a black "N" blip).
- Mission contact points.
- Mission targets. Initially indicated only by colored squares in GTA III, radars from GTA Vice City onwards specifically use squares for targets on the same physical level (altitude) as the player, and a triangle pointed upwards if the target is above or a downwards triangle if it is below. In GTA IV, the radar uses colored circles; if the target is higher or lower, there will be a small arrow inside the circle.
- Spray shops, gun shops, clothing stores and places where the player can purchase food.
- Savepoints and safehouses.
- Gang colors or territory (GTA San Andreas).
- Custom way points (GTA San Andreas onwards).
Floating pickups, such as police bribes, health, armor, and weapon pickups, rampages, and hidden collectibles are not displayed on the radar even though the player can see them in the game's environment.
The radar in GTA San Andreas is also adapted to support flight. When the player operates a helicopter or freefalls with a parachute, an altitude indicator will appear to the left of the radar showing the player's height from sea level. Additionally, if the player controls a fixed-wing aircraft, an artificial horizon (represented by a semi-transparent green horizon and a horizontal miniature wings) is integrated into the radar, and pitches and banks in accordance to the plane that the player controls. Rows of three yellow blips will also be added into the radar to indicate the position and alignment of the nearest aircraft runway.
GTA IV — GTA Chinatown Wars
For GTA IV and GTA Chinatown Wars, the Health and Body Armor indicators, which were initially located on the upper right side of the heads-up display, are integrated into the radar, warping around the radar's circular border; the health bar and armor bar each take up half of the radar's circumference, and the health bar will become red and blink if the player's health is low. In addition, in GTA IV also indicate the extent in which law enforcement scouts for the player whenever they have a wanted level; this is not implemented in the GTA Chinatown Wars radar due to a significant different police evasion system.
In GTA V, the radar has been significantly redesigned and includes several features not present in previous games.
- The radar itself is now rectangular in shape.
- The map within the radar is displayed in a top-down perspective when the player is on foot and in a slanted perspective when the player is in any vehicle. Additionally, when the player goes inside any accessible building, the interior floor plan is displayed.
- When using the GPS, a direction indicator is shown at the bottom on the left side with a mileage indicator shown on the right side. If the player enters a tunnel, connection to the GPS satellites is lost until the player exits the tunnel. While underwater in a Submersible, the distance to surface is displayed on left side while the distance to the floor is displayed on the right.
- A sound indicator is included for stealth purposes. The indicator is blue when the player is either sprinting or talking loudly, and the indicator is red whenever the player discharges a firearm or triggers an explosion.
- Whenever the player is wanted by the police and the police has lost sight of the player, the radar displays field of vision indicators on police blips.
- As with GTA San Andreas and The Ballad of Gay Tony, the radar displays an altimeter when the player controls any aircraft or is parachuting.
- As with GTA IV, health and armor meters are still integrated into the radar; however, they are now located at the bottom of the radar. Additionally, in single-player, a third meter is present, representing the protagonists' Special Abilities. If the player dives underwater, the special ability meter in single player or the armor meter in multiplayer changes to a oxygen meter, indicating the player's lung capacity.
- As with GTA IV, the radar flashes red when the protagonist loses health. In GTA V, additionally, the protagonist's sight would be covered with blood if he loses much health for once, like that in Red Dead Redemption.
GTA III — GTA Vice City Stories
GTA IV — GTA V
GTA IV; the green bar denotes the player's health and the blue bar denotes the player's armor (Wanted level radar).
GTA Chinatown Wars (PSP version), being closer in design to the GTA IV version (Wanted level radar).