Around one year after the North American release of the PlayStation 2, Rockstar Games unleashed Grand Theft Auto III. Though the gameplay concepts remained remarkably similar to the two previous overhead-view installments, the engine overhaul and graphical update sparked a gaming phenomenon, inspiring many clones. If you need to fill your free time with GTA gameplay while you’re waiting for the next Rockstar opus, or just don’t want to deal with the GTA brand for whatever reason, there are a number of high quality, similar games on the market.
So, while you wait for GTA V to come out, what are some of the best games like Grand Theft Auto?
The Saints Row series
If GTA had any kind of direct competition, it’s the Saints Row series — specifically with the release of the third installment, aptly titled Saints Row: The Third. Whereas GTA might take itself a little too seriously for a game where just about everyone who’s played it piles up as many cars as possible in an intersection and then watches other cars crash into them, Saints Row realizes people get a little wacky when faced with an open world crime game. Luckily for fans of open world crime/comedy, the SR is actually pretty solid, considering the kinds of outlandish weapons and vehicles it makes available.
The Mafia series
Whereas Grand Theft Auto is centered in some relatively modern time (the earliest being Vice City, which was set in the 80s), the original Mafia is set in the 1930s, but incorporates most of the standard GTA gameplay, such as various cars to steal and drive, third-person shooting, and a large sandbox city in which the player performs missions to rise up through the ranks of the mob.
Mafia is considered to be more serious and realistic than GTA, in no small part helped by the fact that following the law would often result in an easier mission.
The Simpsons: Hit & Run
Back during the PS2 era, The Simpsons franchise branched out in the video game world and cloned a few extremely popular video game franchises. One such game, The Simpsons: Hit & Run, cloned GTA pretty. However, whereas the majority of GTA clones were set in some version of a heavily populated, real-life city, Hit & Run was set in the fictional Springfield — which is awesome if you’re a Simpsons fan. The game allowed you to fully explore the famous fake city, solving absurd and random happenings as they occur — such as Kang and Kodos using soda to make people go insane — and cause a ton of GTA-style havoc as you do it.