There’s an argument that’s decades old (and considering I’m decades old, that’s saying something) about whether or not video games have a negative effect on children and teens. One of the biggest franchises that gets roped into this, is Grand Theft Auto. One of the truly original sandbox games, that grew into a massive franchise, and propelling Rockstar games to legendary heights, it’s a prominent part of video game history. And because of that, quite a few games have been inspired by it aka. cloned it.
It’s natural really, a series is successful, so you want to mimic it and hope that your game is as good as the original. But let’s be honest here, can any clone of GTA truly stand up to Grand Theft Auto?
Well, there are cases to be made. The biggest one was easily Saints Row. Which ironically, sparked the “cloning” of GTA in many ways. The first was a dead rip-off, but then, with Saints Row II, and especially Saints Row: The Third, it took things to a new level. Instead of being a “dead serious” game like GTA was, Saints Row turned up the insanity factor to 11, making it more like an action movie instead of a gangster game. For Saints Row: The Third, this earned it fan and critical praise, even getting it some Game Of The Year nods. Quite a feat for a clone.
Then, there’s games like Sleeping Dogs. Which was a clear clone of GTA, but put in Hong Kong, thus giving a unique feel to things, while also giving some RPG elements story wiseas you have to balance how much work you do for the police, and the Triad that you are undercover in. Like Saints Row, Sleeping Dogs did well, and almost got a sequel, but was later canned.
Also, there’s Mafia, a more old-school GTA clone, but one that has also received fan and critical praise, which led to the very popular Mafia II, and the recent Mafia III.
As you can see, Grand Theft Auto has inspired a lot. But, can any clone really stand up to GTA? Especially since Grand Theft Auto V, and GTA Online are selling like hot cakes despite being out for quite some time? Well, the easy answer is no. Two of these franchises is done, and it’s hard to say if Mafia will get another title. Meanwhile, we KNOW that GTA VI will come out eventually, and will shock the world once again with its depiction of violence, and a large world to conquer.
It’s easy to be an imitator, but it’s hard to be an innovator.