The Grand Theft Auto series is renown not just for its brutal and sometimes questionable gameplay, but also for its innovation and boundary pushing development. Let’s look at some of the titles trying to go toe-to-toe with this giant franchise.
Summary: A look at some of the other games on the PC market that give you that GTA feeling.
GTA is one of those game series that seems to innovate and push the boundaries in every instalment in the franchise. But it’s not just all about running over civilians or stealing tanks from an army base. The next time you describe GTA to a friend, maybe think about the massive open world experience it offers, or the action-packed, deep story it portrays. Better yet, why not suggest some of the games on our list.
Let’s have a look at the top 10 games like GTA that you can play on PC. Note: You may need a gaming laptop to play it.
Mafia 3 is a fantastic open world game where you take control of a fictional Mafia boss. Spoilers, I know.
Set in a post-Vietnam America and in the fictional city of New Bordeaux, Mafia 3 has you play the part of Lincoln Clay, a war veteran in his own right.
The themes in Mafia 3 are some times dark and can feel so relevant to current times, but here they are dealt with smartly and with tact. This is all complimented by some fantastic writing in story driven missions. The game is filled with strong, interesting characters which only makes you grow more attached as you continue through the game.
Mafia 3 has some interesting gameplay features as well as the great story. The Lieutenant system lets you assign the neighbourhoods you own to a partner. In turn, this unlocks a range of abilities and weapons, but be careful as neglecting some NPCs can result in them turning on you.
In summary Mafia 3 is great and despite some minor gripes I have, it’s a perfect example of how to tell stories in video games. In summary Mafia 3 is great and despite some minor gripes I have, it’s a perfect example of how to tell stories in video games.
Shot to the face, and you’re too late
Beautiful city views
Max Payne 3
9 years after the release of Max Payne 2, Max is back in stunning style. Still haunted by the death of his family, as anyone would be, the now drug dependant Max makes his way to Sao Paolo. Working as a bodyguard for Rodrigo Branco, Max is plunged into a world of corruption and deception.
Max Payne 3 really is a showcase for writers and another great example of how to portray real emotion in video games. A great script with the right bitterness and sharp edges to keep players engaged.
Cut scenes in Max Payne 3 blend seamlessly into the environment as you take cover or slow down time whilst taking your enemies head on.
The game is unashamedly violent and bloody. There’s also an excellent kill-camera that showcases your skills as you take down the last enemy.
Max Payne 3 is a brutal and gritty experience that keeps you hooked throughout.
Not quite Spider-Man, but nearly
Things are heating up
APB reloaded (standing for All Points Bulletin) is the cops and robbers game we played when we were young. This is an online game where two teams of players basically have a large online game of cops and robbers except this time, they’re called Enforcers and Criminals.
You won’t find a story in APB, but what you will find is a huge amount of customisation, and I don’t mean that lightly. Character creation, changing details on your car, your clothing and even making your own kill song. The options to be a truly unique avatar are here.
Despite the game looking slightly plain and outdated at times, the levels are designed particularly well and lend themselves to team vs team gameplay. Killing enemies and winning matches increases your reputation level, which lets you unlock and upgrade your gear or vehicles.
APB knows its strengths and it plays on them well, and for what its worth, it’s really fun with a bunch of friends.
Stealing a car with friends
Cops and robbers collide
Saints Row IV can be ridiculous at times, but in a good way as somehow, this game pulls it off. From creating goofy characters like the bearded lady to look-a-likes of your favourite superhero, Saints Row IV has some hilarious moments at times. The story takes place in the familiar Steelport and as you become president of the United States, aliens invade the earth and undo all your good work.
Saints Row IV is full of gags and parodies of some of our favourite franchises. Tips of the hat go to Mass effect sex scenes, amongst others, and at times you’ll find yourself laughing out loud.
With a lot of superpowers and a sense of invisibility about you, Saints Row IV has you throwing tanks and super-speeding your way through a well-designed open world.
Bounding across the rooftops
There are legitimately some ridiculous guns in Saints Row
The Godfather II
Video games made into movies don’t usually do so well and most of the time, that correlates when movies are made into video games. The Godfather II changes that and takes you back to those classic films.
The Godfather II had some unique game play features for its time. Released in 2009, the game has stood the test of time and can still compete on some levels with more recent games.
The game lets you customise friendly NPCs, assigning them skills, abilities and weapons as they accompany you on your missions.
There is something called The Dons view, which shows you a map with potential lucrative business opportunities, showing what they can do for you and how many guards they have.
Stretching across multiple cities like New York, Cuba and Florida, The Godfather II is hours of nostalgic fun.
A classic character makes his appearance
That’s one way to silence your enemies
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist
Sam Fisher returns once again in Blacklist. A long time fan, I’m pleased to see Sam step back out from the shadows with a brilliant game. Splinter Cell Blacklist may be accused of taking a slight step away from only being action orientated, and a step closer towards stealth, a welcome inclusion for myself.
The game rewards both action and stealth game styles and the money you earn from those styles go towards unlocking bigger and better gear.
Splinter Cell Blacklist has a great story. The antagonist is a particular highlight with his actions and reasons being believable.
Splinter Cell Blacklist makes you feel like a spy and gives you a non-linear approach to your missions; it really lets you play how you like.
The Paladin is an in-game menu in Splinter Cell Blacklist. It’s an airborne jet, which lets you select and plan your next mission, really adding to emersion. Splinter Cell Blacklist is a throwback to the games that made this franchise so popular and a worthy inclusion on our list.
Sam Fisher in typical fashion
I wonder where he is?
Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain
Solid Snake is back, as this time you tackle the beautiful crafted open world of Afghanistan. In typical fashion, the story in Metal Gear Solid 5 is a deep and spiralling one. It’s sometimes a little confusing, but always unique and fresh, filled with beautiful cinematography.
Metal Gear Solid 5 feels like a massive culmination of all the previous titles. There are an insane number of parts to this game. The day/night cycle, the weather system, changes in guards and wild sand storms. All of these impact your gameplay and have real effects on the world.
There is a new base management system, where you manage your staff construct things and take part in some R&D.
Metal Gear Solid 5 gives you full freedom and it doesn’t feel scripted and at times you feel like you’re creating your own stories. That’s something I’ve not felt in a Metal Gear game before.
Snake tags his target
Snake travels with one of his many companions
Watch Dogs 2
Watch Dogs 2 is a huge improvement on the first title in almost every way. Expanding on the first game we meet the protagonist Marcus Holloway, a hacktivist living in the San Fransisco Bay area. Marcus is a refreshing character and the actor portraying him did a great job in making him likeable.
An open mission design lets players tackle and reach their objective as they see fit, with often multiple ways to do so at times.
The number of explosions in Watch Dogs 2 surprised me, but it was a welcomed one. This large open world is filled with action, puzzles and objects to interact with.
Players can hack cars whilst being chased in order to evade them or control drones that have multiple capabilities. However you want to take on Watch Dogs 2, you pretty much can.
Making an escape
Set in the 1940s & 50s you take control of Vito Scaletta, a guy who wants to be somebody, and he’s not going to stop until he is.
Mafia 2 does story brilliantly, as it has with the other games in the franchise, so I imagine that’s hardly a surprise. Showcasing great voice acting and having a truly cinematic feel, the cut scenes in Mafia 2 were so interesting. Looking back it’s strange to think that was such a highlight when playing this game.
You could call this game a slightly typical 3rd person shooter, but blasting your way through the 15 chapters doesn’t feel like a task in any sense
NPCs dotted around the open game world and the classic music on the radio help to immerse players in the environment.
Mafia 2 has all the Tommy Guns and fistfights you’d want from any classic gangster movie. Not to mention it’s one of the best games based on organised crimes, ever.
Taking in the views
Car chases are the best
Sleeping Dogs tops our list, and its earned its place. Set in a fictional Hong Kong you play Wei Shen an undercover cop who seeks to infiltrate the Triads and avenge the death of his sister.
In a tale of conflicts and shifting, loyalties Sleeping Dogs excels in its writing and the voice acting. A solid script and interesting story, with all the flavour of a Hong Kong action movie, go a long way to keep you interested and invested in its characters.
The open game world in Sleeping Dogs is filled with hidden secrets and collectables, a welcome downtime from all the fist-based combat. Melee combat is Arkham-esq in its style, filled with lots of counters and brutal animations.
Interaction with your surroundings also yields great animations as one time I impaled and an enemy on a swordfish’s head. Sorry swordfish.
Guns are on shortage here either and coupled with some great driving mechanics, your adventures in the neon light filled city of Hong Kong always seem memorable.
Sleeping Dogs has it all, including Karaoke. Seriously it has Karaoke. So sing or shoot? It’s your choice.
That’s gonna hurt in the morning
A new meaning to blending
Well there you have it, our list of the top 10 games like GTA that you can play on PC. If you’re getting tired of GTA and maybe want to try something new, check out one of the games on our list if you haven’t already.