When people say GTA clone, it gets tired and old. Calling something a clone of something else makes you seem incredibly lazy as it’s merely a way of waving off any sort of merit the game might have otherwise that either sets it apart or makes it 10 times stronger than GTA3 (the one they’re usually referencing) and somehow allows them to dismiss the game entirely.
The sad fact is these same people would be missing out on otherwise incredible titles that, GTA or not, warrant your undivided attention. Titles such as…
#5 – Saints Row 2
Sometimes it’s all about out-GTAing GTA. That’s not to say Saints Row 2 isn’t its own thing, but it really is San Andreas on crack. So what makes SR2 worth playing and really sets it apart? Well, one thing is it’s absolutely hilarious. While San Andreas had its moments, SR2 never truly takes itself seriously and it really shows.
This was amidst all kinds of people turning their noses up to the SR series and trying to promote GTA4, which was little more than a date sim mixed with bad driving controls and shitty brawling…though I do have to admit the shooting was refined in a very big way. Most people never really hopped on this one because, well, “it’s just San Andreas.”
Except, see…I think San Andreas is the best thing GTA has ever done. SR2 brings so much to the table, though a lot of it is just a refinement of San Andreas. I can understand why people might be quick to dismiss this one as a result, but seriously, if you ever loved San Andreas for any reason, you should at least give it a look.
#4 – Sleeping Dogs
When Sleeping Dogs initially dropped, I didn’t know it was a part of the massively hyped (and consistently falling short) True Crime series. The shooting sections aren’t that great and the karaoke minigames are completely unnecessary…and the game doesn’t explain the control system very well…but virtually everything else is centered around being just plain goddamn fun.
There’s parkour, the brawling system is reminiscent of Arkham City, there are branching experience systems, all kinds of clothes to buy and wear (which give various bonuses), lots of great music that you literally won’t hear anywhere else (most of it’s Hong Kong inspired), an entirely new setting we just really don’t see in games (again, Hong Kong), airjacking, and all kinds of craziness.
Sure, there are a few things that hold this game back from being really great, but when it shines, it really takes center stage. Especially now that the game has gone down in price, there really isn’t any reason to NOT pick it up. If you liked any of the True Crime stuff or if you’re looking for something a little different and you like GTA, you won’t be disappointed.
#3 – Scarface
“So what if Tony Montana DIDN’T die?” This was the premise I constantly asked people before telling them about this game. In Scarface, you play as Tony Montana after his drug empire has been squashed and it plays under the premise that he survived the firefight at the end, laid low, got off the yeyo, and attempted to rebuild his empire with a little good old-fashioned revenge.
This game is absolutely crazy and while there are hints of it not taking itself seriously, it’s mostly a game about rage, selling drugs, and ultra violence. Of course, it’s also about what’s going on under the hood. You get to build up different aspects of your gang, reclaim and rebuild the mansion (and even customize it if you really want), earn respect, and even travel back and forth between Miami and the Caribbean.
At times it can almost feel like an RTS with resource management with all the extra stuff going on under the hood, but ultimately it reminds me most of SR2. It’s trying to outdo GTA without really trying to be GTA, which is one area that it sets itself apart from the SR series in general. Honestly, if you’ve ever wanted to go around fucking people up as Tony Montana (and really, who hasn’t), then you should check this one out.
#2 – Godfather
This is one of the earliest games I recall being shoddily dismissed as little more than a GTA clone. Granted, this was a review in a local newspaper (AKA no credibility whatsoever), but it infuriated me all the same. So Godfather is just GTA, but in the 30s? Are you fucking kidding me? For starters, it takes the movie, lets you play an active part in the chaos, invites you to 30s New York in a very stylish and accurate way, allows you to interact with the characters in the story…I mean damn.
The blackhand fighting system was awesome, the shooting was just right, and while I didn’t think the cars controlled as well as they could or that there was enough variety in cars, THAT was literally the only negative point I could come up with. It even had creative executions, shakedowns, and a backend RPG system that was really nice.
I don’t get where anyone gets off calling this a GTA clone, but there it is. You can carjack people and it’s open world. I guess that’s all it takes, right? This is one of the main reasons I think this mentality is absolutely retarded. That’s like saying if you can jump in the game, it’s clearly a Mario ripoff.
#1 – Saboteur
Saboteur is an absolutely amazing alternate history game that, yes, has been called a GTA clone. Set toward the start of WW2 when Germany was invading France (not sure if that’s accurate because I’m stupid with history, but this IS alternate history), you play as Sean, a hot-blooded Irishman who’s been caught up in the middle of it.
Yes, you can carjack. Yes, it’s open world. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, there’s this awesome effect that lets you know when an area is liberated: color. See, most areas are under nazi control and as a result, there’s this almost Sin City-like effect where it’s black and white with a heavy emphasis on red. However, in any area that’s been liberated, you see beautiful hues that make the colors of this simulated French countryside pop.
You get to blow all kinds of shit up, participate in interesting challenges that unlock all kinds of upgrades, use subterfuge, climb buildings…I mean, it’s ridiculous the amount of stuff you do in this game and I can honestly say it’s ALL done well. Sadly, the dev studio closed shortly after development of this game, so I don’t know if we’ll eve see another like it…but holy shit is this an amazing game.
GTA clone, Skyrim clone, Zelda clone…look, guys, it doesn’t matter. It’s one thing to say a game is LIKE another game. Hell, I do that all the time, especially when an entirely new and different game comes along that I struggle to explain. However, clones? Fuck that noise. Don’t let an otherwise brilliant game slip through your fingers just because you think it will be exactly like another game, one which you probably enjoyed in the first place.