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15 Games Like GTA Worth Playing Right Now

It isn't totally uncommon to want more of the same. There's nothing worse than falling in love with a game, only for it to end all too soon. It's even worse when the game you loved was already a massive, sprawling experience. This leads to you scrambling for any sequel or spiritual successor you can find. But sometimes, it's difficult to recapture that initial experience, especially when it comes to the "Grand Theft Auto" series' unique brand of chaos.

"Grand Theft Auto" is a long-running series that has a number of solid mainline titles under its belt. But even after completing every iteration, you may find yourself wanting more. It's getting to be close to a decade since a new entry in the series made it to shelves, and the wait is getting harder. Thankfully, a number of games can scratch that "GTA 5" itch. Some, in fact, were even made by the same developers!

Direct similarities can be pointed out between the following games and Rockstar's legendary franchise, but make no mistake, each has a hook that will keep you interested. At first glance, some might be seen as little more than "GTA clones," but there's more to them than that. Here are some "GTA"-like games that are worth checking out.

The Simpsons: Hit & Run

"The Simpsons: Hit & Run" is an unabashed "GTA" ripoff — you steal cars, get driving missions from NPCs, and literally kick people to the curb — but the good news is that it's pretty great. "Hit & Run" borrows from several games, embracing full sandbox chaos without abandoning its "Simpsons" identity.

Fittingly, the player will start as Homer in the Springfield suburbs. Recognizable characters from the show send Homer running errands across town, all centered around driving. Time limits and gate checkpoints will keep you on edge during missions, challenging you and showing off the game's 42 different vehicles and five playable characters.

"Grand Theft Auto" games are famous for their expansive level design. Entries like "GTA 3" and "San Andreas" have players slowly unlocking parts of the map over time. "Hit & Run" does things a bit differently: Each character has their own levels to explore, so rather than a seamless and extensive map, "Hit & Run" offers smaller, bite-sized areas. What makes this work is that each portion is wildly unique from the last, incorporating areas from the show, including the nuclear power plant and Downtown Springfield.

"Hit & Run" is an unlikely match made in heaven and a rare breed among licensed games: it's really good.

  • Release Date: September 16, 2003
  • Available On: PC, PS2, Xbox, GameCube
  • Genre: Action-adventure
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic: 82 (PC), 78 (PS2), 81 (Xbox), 79 (GameCube)

Mafia: Definitive Edition

If you're looking for a open world experience filled with collectibles, side missions, and extra content, then "Mafia Definitive Edition" is not for you. The first "Mafia" is a weird amalgamation of open map design and linear mission structure, so Lost Heaven serves as a detailed backdrop for Tommy Angelo's well-told tale, rather than an explorable playground.

Still, "Mafia" manages to immerse players into the gritty 1930s, especially when playing on Classic difficulty. Vehicle controls are more nuanced, gun reloading is realistic, and cops will even pull you over for traffic violations. This ensures that players are more attentive and appreciative of the game's period setting. Better yet, it helps one step into Tommy's shoes.

This would all be worthless if the story didn't also impress. The story of "Mafia" is for those that enjoy a more grounded tale, like that of "Grand Theft Auto 4." Tommy Angelo has a lot of charm and relatability, which springs from how he responds to challenges and interacts with supporting characters. This is all tied together by improved graphics, shooting mechanics, and story of the "Definitive Edition." Critics lauded the revamped script and felt that the game "knows its story is important" (via ACG).  

  • Release Date: September 25, 2020
  • Available On: PC, PS4, Xbox One
  • Genre: Action-adventure
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic: 79 (PC), 76 (PS4), 79 (Xbox One)

L.A. Noire

Development hell has plagued countless projects, with troubled games like "Duke Nukem Forever" taking years to see the light. "L.A. Noire" is another game that had its ups and downs during production, but it was worth it to produce one of the most in-depth takes on the detective genre in gaming.

"L.A. Noire" utilized cutting edge tech for its motion capture performances. Such undertakings were the reasons why Team Bondi came to Rockstar to help finish development (per IGN). As a result, while Rockstar signatures like cover shooting and open world maps are abundant, this doesn't really feel like a Rockstar game.

Gameplay is all about taking on cases and uncovering the guilty parties. Besides gathering clues and picking up on dialogue incongruities, players will have to analyze odd facial tics to pinpoint lies and deceit. This mechanic was unprecedented and is still considered revolutionary.

Like "Mafia: Definitive Edition," "L.A. Noire" is a more deconstructed open world experience. There are open areas and some exploration, but it's more of a chapter-based tale. Separating from the "GTA" formula even further is the fact that you play as a deeply-flawed detective seeking redemption, rather than a cold-hearted criminal.

  • Release Date: May 17, 2011
  • Available On: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
  • Genre: Action-adventure
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic: 83 (PC), 89 (PS3), 89 (Xbox 360), 76 (PS4), 77 (Xbox One), 79 (Nintendo Switch)

Yakuza 0

At first glance, it would seem that "Yakuza" has little in common with the "Grand Theft Auto" series, replacing third-person shooting and heists with beat 'em up brawls and karaoke. Where the franchises align, however, is through their themes, mini games, and extra content.

The game follows Kazuma Kiryu, and Goro Majima as young yakuza members. Both are superb leads whose stories are thoroughly entertaining and intertwine in surprising ways, setting up the other "Yakuza" games. Hand-to-hand combat encounters are consistently fresh thanks to unlockable moves and upgradable stats. The path to unlocking all of this is where "Yakuza 0" really opens up.

Because it's set in Japan during the 1980s economic bubble, money is the focal point of most of the game. Cash is essential, since you use it to invest in all of your skill trees (per Easy Allies). Luckily, everything — including mini games and street fights — can earn you money. "Yakuza 0" is a rare instance in which completing goofy side objectives is crucial to the main campaign. It's easy to see why this series' bizarre take on street crime has drawn critical praise. While spin-offs like "Lost Judgement" have been similarly lauded, "Yakuza 0" is the best entry point.

  • Release Date: January 24, 2017
  • Available On: PC, PS4, Xbox One
  • Genre: Beat 'em up, Sandbox
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic: 86 (PC), 85 (PS4), 90 (Xbox One)

Bully

Another Rockstar original, "Bully" took open world action in another direction.  A "Teen"-rated title that was much smaller in scope and set in high school might sound like a step back, but "Bully" is a fully realized adventure in a compact and well-written world. Rockstar proved it could try something new and it paid off.

Troubled transfer student Jimmy Hopkins finds himself torn between high school cliques while trying to avoid conflict. Each faction at Bullworth Academy will offer Jimmy unique missions to complete that progress the story. These cliques are all hilarious parodies of American high school culture, which GameSpot noting that many of the characters are entertainingly "over-the-top caricatures."

"Bully" also surprises on the gameplay front. Despite boasting a map that is just a small fraction of the size of the one in "GTA 5," the game is full of things to do. A day-to-night cycle gives allows players to choose how and when they complete tasks. Classes take the form of mini-games which offer item and skill upgrades. If you want to skip class, you can compete in bike races, work day jobs to get some extra cash, or just harass adults while you play hooky.

  • Release Date: October 17, 2006
  • Available On: PC, PS2, Xbox 360, Wii
  • Genre: Open world, Sandbox
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic: 72 (PC), 87 (PS2), 80 (Xbox 360), 83 (Wii)

Mad Max

When looking for games like "Grand Theft Auto," it's hard to imagine the words "post-apocalyptic wasteland" pop up. In spite of this, "Mad Max" is a perfect match for Rockstar's crown jewel. Avalanche Studios understood the assignment, delivering on the most important aspect of a "Mad Max" adventure: vehicular combat.

Because Max's destroyed world Max is so bleak, the key to survival is gathering resources and crafting. Other survival action titles like "The Last of Us" will have crafting for on-hand weapons and items. In "Mad Max," however, crafting extends to your car, which is fully upgradable.

Vehicular combat is surprisingly deep and exciting. As noted by GameTrailers, "You'll bash into vehicles, expose their gas tanks, and fire your shotgun or rocket launcher." Other tools like the harpoon and winch are also employed to take out enemies and their bases. Adjusting engine parts and external pieces can give you the advantage against different foes, emphasizing strategic maintenance. For instance, a spiked grill might perform better when you need to ram into other cars head-on. 

Everything revolves around Max's car, which makes the game really stand out. Whereas "GTA" incorporates cars as solely a means of transportation, "Mad Max" goes the extra mile in making the machine a necessary weapon.

  • Release Date: September 1, 2015
  • Available On: PC, PS4, Xbox One
  • Genre: Action-adventure, Open world
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic: 73 (PC), 69 (PS4), 72 (Xbox One)

True Crime: Streets of L.A.

"True Crime: Streets of L.A." harnesses the energy of classic cop shows and action films through an open world action lens. As officer Nicholas Kang, players investigate a number of bombings occurring in Chinatown. This leads to high-octane police chases and kung fu punch-ups. It's an over the top love letter to the films and stories that inspired it.

As an early open-ended game that has to juggle shooting, fighting, and driving mechanics is a tough task, "Streets of L.A." has a lot on its plate. Although it doesn't perfect any of these mechanics, that doesn't mean it isn't entertaining, particularly the "Virtua Fighter"-style one-on-one fights.

Where "Streets of L.A." really sets itself apart is in its world design and voice cast. The developer's version of L.A. is quite realistic. According to ColourShedProductions, the designers even used "gps and satellite imagery for references." Much like the "GTA" games, the amount of effort put into the production also extends to the voice cast, which includes big names like Christopher Walken, Gary Oldman, and Ron Perlman.

You may notice that "True Crime: Streets of L.A." doesn't hold up perfectly compared to its contemporaries. Regardless, it was ahead of its time and well worth reconsideration.

  • Release Date: November 4, 2003
  • Available On: PC, PS2, Xbox, GameCube
  • Genre: Action-adventure
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Metacritic: 68 (PC), 77 (PS2), 77 (Xbox), 77 (GameCube)

Sleeping Dogs

Those who find "Yakuza" too great a departure from the "GTA" formula – but still crave a martial arts extravaganza – might gravitate more towards "Sleeping Dogs." The third-person shooter and brawler is a "best of both worlds" scenario. Driving and shooting are comparable to other AAA Rockstar projects, whereas the fisticuff encounters and mini-games are closer to the "Yakuza" blueprint.

"Sleeping Dogs" was originally set to round out the "True Crime" trilogy, but Activision canceled that series due to poor sales. Square Enix liked what it saw, though, and resurrected the game in a new form (per Gamasutra). It's easy to see the "True Crime" elements in this title's premise alone: A veteran cop from San Francisco is transferred to Hong Kong to act as an undercover agent in the criminal underworld.

Car chases, warehouse shootouts, and back alley brawls make up much of the core gameplay. There's even some "Assassin's Creed"-style parkour thrown into the mix. Overall, playing the game feels good, especially in how it welcomes player engagement. One shining example would be the parkour movement: As noted by GameTrailers, actions are fluid, but not automatic, so "it doesn't feel like your character is on autopilot."

Aside from these core mechanics, "Sleeping Dogs" features a near-endless amount of side tasks. Collectibles, tutorials, dates, mahjong, and even karaoke clubs all combine to create a solid sandbox.

  • Release Date: August 14, 2012
  • Available On: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One
  • Genre: Open world, Third-person shooter
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic: 80 (PC), 83 (PS3), 80 (Xbox 360), 77 (PS4), 75 (Xbox One)

Watch Dogs 2

"Watch Dogs" follows the path of many "GTA"-like games, but infuses tech-oriented mechanics. The first game in the series was a neat concept that was hindered by controversy. A severely downgraded release that did not live up to its original trailers frustrated many players. Ubisoft brought back "Watch Dogs" in full force with a direct sequel that fulfilled many of the promises that its former could not.

"Watch Dogs 2" takes place in a bright and colorful San Francisco, a definite step up from the dreary and plain Chicago of its predecessor. The sequel went further by bringing in a brand new cast, whose millennial hipster appearances perfectly matched the fast-paced world around them.

The visual presentation isn't the only positive takeaway from "Watch Dogs 2." Game design was greatly improved, incorporating more tech-based abilities. Hacking is simple and fun and mission structure rectifies the original's reliance on redundant chases and shootouts (via The Verge). Subtly creating chaos from afar is what "Watch Dogs 2" excels at and it more than made up for the underdeveloped ideas in the first game.

"Watch Dogs 2" is a good starting point to ease into other kinds of open third-person offerings and fills a lot of the holes that other iterations in the series left.

  • Release Date: November 15, 2016
  • Available On: PC, PS4, Xbox One
  • Genre: Open world, Action-adventure
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic: 75 (PC), 82 (PS4), 81 (Xbox One)

Saints Row 4

There's no question about it: "Saints Row 4" is the most over the top open world game ever. In this game, you become President and are sent into a Matrix-like program by alien invaders where you are granted supernatural powers. "Saints Row 4" flashes its absurdity like a badge honor. With a new "Saints Row" debuting in 2022, it's a good time to get into the series with the wildest installment.

The superpowers in the game are a blast; being able to leap buildings and run at supersonic speeds is thrilling, but these are the powers that are relevant to mobility. What really completes the package are the offensive abilities. Blasts and telekinesis abilities make you feel otherworldly and complement the jumping and running powers already at your disposal. Weaponry is the cherry on top, offering players "energy swords and dubstep guns" (per GameSpot).

"Saints Row 4" embraces the sandbox ideal of endless possibilities. You can follow the main story or experiment with enemy AI and physics at your leisure. "Saints Row 4" succeeds in encouraging exploration and freedom while still giving you plenty of fun and destructive tools.

  • Release Date: August 20, 2013
  • Available On: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
  • Genre: Open world, Action-adventure
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Metacritic: 86 (PC), 76 (PS3), 81 (Xbox 360), 75 (PS4), 73 (Xbox One) 71 (Nintendo Switch)

Just Cause 2

"Just Cause 2" approaches gaming freedom in a similar fashion to the "Saints Row" series. Both benefit from their free-roam segments and revel in sheer destruction. Figuring out what you can do within the world of "Just Cause" allows for an exhilarating brand of trial and error.

The story is bare bones: Lead protagonist Rico is searching for his friend in the remote island of Panau. The narrative just exists to provide context for the mayhem that ensues. Critics have praised the detail and variety found in Panau, with IGN remarking,"It has everything from beaches to snow-capped mountains." The visual splendor is just one way "Just Cause 2" holds your attention, though.

A number of video games can say they've improved with the addition of a grappling hook (including "Halo Infinite"), but many can say they were an early adopter of the equipment. For a game that was released in 2010, "Just Cause 2" features an incredible versatile grappling tool. Plenty of entertainment can be found by connecting an enemy to a moving vehicle and watching as they get pulled across the road. 

The in-game physics are a blast, especially when you get to play with parachutes, tanks, and helicopters. "Just Cause 2" provides plenty of toys to play with in the wonderful sandbox of Panau.

  • Release Date: March 23, 2010
  • Available On: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
  • Genre: Open world, Third-person shooter, Action-adventure
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic: 84 (PC), 76 (PS3), 81 (Xbox 360)

The Saboteur

"The Saboteur" takes players back in time, setting its story in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. As race car driver Sean Devlin, you must drive out Nazi invaders, changing the world around you in the process.

As the game begins, France is presented in a black-and-white filter that reflects the oppression brought on by the Nazi invasion. Getting rid of the enemy forces causes the world to regain color, making the world look entirely new. This visual hook alone is a brilliant way to motivate players to continue on and stay invested.

Outside of its premise and color scheme, "The Saboteur" is your standard third-person open world action game. That age-old mix of driving, shooting, sneaking, and brawling is here, but there's a certain design flair afforded by the time period that elevates the formula. Melee encounters aren't totally fleshed out, but there are some enjoyable elements to be found in these sequences. As YouTuber LazerzZ stated in his review, "there's something about the sound effects and ragdoll physics that make fighting in this game so satisfying." 

In general, "The Saboteur" is an example of style over substance — and that's fine. 

  • Release Date: November 19, 2009
  • Available On: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
  • Genre: Open world, Third-person shooter, Action-adventure
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic: 76 (PC), 73 (PS3), 73 (Xbox 360)

The Godfather

No, not the critically acclaimed film or its sequels. "The Godfather" game came out in 2006, nearly 34 years after the original film's release. That said, it's a direct adaptation with some fun new additions. For instance, protagonist Aldo Trapani is a brand new character and functions as a new perspective for the iconic tale. 

Licensed games have a poor track record, so you might expect "The Godfather" to be a bad imitation of the film. Thankfully, it joins "The Simpsons: Hit & Run" as a faithful take on a beloved property. The developers went to great lengths to produce a worthy adaptation, even bringing in several original cast members to round out the experience. As noted by YouTuber poqreslux, Robert Duvall and James Caan both provided their likeness and voices, while the late Marlon Brando was still represented by his exact likeness. 

"The Godfather" has an unexpectedly intricate fighting system. Rival gang members can be grappled and defeated in a number of ways. You can "throw punches, knee guys in the face, choke them out, or even hold them over ledges and toss them off" (per GameSpot).

Bad movie tie-in games are a dime a dozen, so when "The Godfather" released decades after the original source material and was actually good, it was worth celebrating.

  • Release Date: March 21, 2006
  • Available On: PC, PS2, Xbox, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii
  • Genre: Action-adventure
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Metacritic: 72 (PC), 75 (PS2), 77 (Xbox), 70 (PS3), 77 (Xbox 360), 77 (Wii)

Scarface: The World Is Yours

It seems like the "GTA" craze hit publishers with access to movie rights at the same time, because "The Godfather" wasn't the only notable movie adaptation to come out in 2006. "Scarface: The World Is Yours" is true to spirit of "Scarface," even with its story changes. Rather than retain the original movie's ending, "The World Is Yours" takes place in alternate reality in which Tony Montana meets a more optimistic fate. This helps the game get out of the shadow of the film and add its own spin to the tale.

Unfortunately, "Scarface: The World Is Yours" couldn't get Al Pacino to return. It's not a total loss though, as actor Andre Sogliuzzo is a good stand-in. Miami's design is loyal to the original film's 80s setting, but what is probably most accurate are the various objectives. Throughout the game, Tony has to raise his reputation and notoriety to gain control of the city. As the title says, "the world is yours." This sense of growing power and progression is directly reflected in gameplay. As ColourShedProductions notes, much of the gameplay loop emphasizes "buying up clubs, bars, and shops" to build your empire. 

"The World Is Yours" successfully brings the film to the video game format, essentially acting as the "Scarface" sequel we never got.

  • Release Date: July 25, 2006
  • Available On: PC, PS2, Xbox, Wii
  • Genre: Open World, Third-person Shooter
  • Game Modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic: 73 (PC), 75 (PS2), 76 (Xbox), 71 (Wii)

Red Dead Redemption 2

It's almost cheating to include "Red Dead Redemption 2," since it's essentially seen by fans as a new take on the "GTA" experience with an Old West setting. Even though it's very much the offspring of "GTA," Rockstar gave "Red Dead Redemption 2" its own identity.

The story in "Red Dead Redemption 2" is astounding. Arthur Morgan is an exceptionally compelling protagonist, functioning as a member of Dutch's gang prior to John Marston's exploits in the first game. Story missions put the smooth gameplay of riding and shooting on full display. Dialogue and key story bits are included during the long rides across the plains, which benefits the pacing of the campaign.

Outside of the main story, the western sequel has a vast amount of optional side quests. Fishing, hunting, and bird watching aren't merely brief diversions, but rather intricate activities that can easily steer players away from the story entirely. Legendary Animal hunts require a good amount of preparation and skill to complete, but they're always worth it. Add in gambling and bounty hunting and you begin to see that the side activities of "Red Dead Redemption 2" offer many more "layers of interactivity" than its predecessor (via IGN).

  • Release Date: October 26, 2018
  • Available On: PC, PS4, Xbox One
  • Genre: Open World, Sandbox
  • Game Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Metacritic: 93 (PC), 97 (PS4), 97 (Xbox One)