Grand Theft Auto clone

Grand Theft Auto clone

A Grand Theft Auto clone refers to a game genre made famous by "Grand Theft Auto III" in 2001. These games are usually action-adventure games that takes place in an open world, where players may find a variety of vehicles and weapons that they can take and use. These games usually incorporate a combination of core missions to advance a storyline, and side missions to encourage experimentation and replay value. The storyline often incorporates strong themes of crime and violence.

Despite earlier games with this gameplay, including "Body Harvest" and "Driver", it was "Grand Theft Auto III" that attained the popularity to inspire a genre of similar games. Hence, this kind of game is often called a "Grand Theft Auto clone". Since calling a game a "clone" is sometimes considered an insult, reviewers have attempted to come up with other names for the genre. However, names such as "sandbox games" are applied to a wider range of games that do not share key features of "Grand Theft Auto III". Other efforts to name and define the genre have been rare and inconsistent.

Many of the features in "Grand Theft Auto III" were actually preceded by "Body Harvest" and the "Driver" series from the late 1990s. The genre also draws upon open world level design concepts from 1980s games such as "Metroid". The success of "Grand Theft Auto III"'s format encouraged developers to capitalize on this formula. The genre has expanded with a wider range of vehicles and weapons. The game levels have also become larger, spanning multiple cities, and offering the ability to explore the interior of buildings. However, very few games have been able to come close to the financial and critical success of the main "Grand Theft Auto" series.

Genre name

Calling a game a "Grand Theft Auto clone" is sometimes considered unfair or insulting. Instead of this term, these games are sometimes called "open world games" or "sandbox games". However, many different games have been called open world or sandbox games, including "Metroid" from 1986.i. cite web | last = Harris | first = John | title = Game Design Essentials: 20 Open World Games | publisher = Gamasutra | date = September 26, 2007 | url = | accessdate = 2008-07-25 ii. cite web | last = Whitehead | first = Dan | title = Born Free: the History of the Openworld Game | publisher = Eurogamer | date = February 4, 2008 | url = | accessdate = 2008-07-25] In contradiction to this, games such as "Grand Theft Auto III" and "Body Harvest" are credited with inventing this genre more than a decade later.cite web | url = | publisher = Australian Broadcasting Corporation | title = Backwards Compatible - Rockstar North | date = 2008-04-28 | accessdate = 2008-08-26 ] i. cite web | url = | title = Grand Theft Auto IV Delivers Deft Satire of Street Life | publisher = Wired | accessdate = 2008-07-21
ii. cite web | url = | title = Greatest Games of All Time - Grand Theft Auto III | publisher = GameSpot | date = 2007-06-01 | accessdate = 2008-08-26 ] Furthermore, reviewers have stated that this genre does not include every game with a freely explorable world and that this genre is much more specific, thus excluding "Spider-Man 2" and "" from this class of games.cite web | url = | title = Battle of the GTA clones | publisher = Games Radar | accessdate = 2008-07-21 ] Reviewers have thus been inconsistent, sometimes describing a genre created in the late 1990s,cite web | url = | title = Xbox Novice Guide - Sandbox | publisher = | author = Ryan Treit | accessdate = 2008-08-26 ] while other times describing any game with open level design.

Without clear terminology to describe the genre popularized by "Grand Theft Auto", reviewers have invented a number of other names for this genre. These games have been described as "free roaming action adventure games",cite web | url = | title = Review: The Godfather 3D action game | author = Jonathan Parkyn | publisher = Personal Computer World | date = 2006-04-18 | accessdate = 2008-07-25 ] "crime games",cite web | url = | title = 'The Getaway' trails 'Grand Theft Auto' in crime genre | accessdate = 2008-07-21 ] "crime-based action games",cite web | url = | publisher = Gamasutra | title = Analysts: FPS 'Most Attractive' Genre for Publishers | author = Frank Cifaldi | date = 2006-02-21 | accessdate = 2008-08-21 ] and "driving-and-shooting games". [cite web | url = | publisher = BBC News | title = Hunt for Grand Theft Auto pirates | date = 2004-10-21 | accessdate = 2008-08-26 ]


Grand Theft Auto clones are a type of 3D action-adventure game, [Sources that refer to games similar to Grand Theft Auto as action-adventure games include: i. cite web | url = | title = Review: The Godfather 3D action game | author = Jonathan Parkyn | publisher = Personal Computer World | date = 2006-04-18 | accessdate = 2008-07-25
ii. cite web | url = | author = Steve Tilley | publisher = CANOE | title = Wii 'Godfather' for newbies only | date = 2007-04-01 | accessdate = 2008-07-25 ;
iii. cite web | url = | title = E3 2003: True Crime: Streets of L.A. Update | author = Sam Bishop | date = 2003-05-16 | publisher = IGN | accessdate = 2008-07-25
iv. cite web | url = | title = GameSpy Review - Saints Row | publisher = GameSpy | author = Will Tuttle | date = 2006-08-30 | accessdate = 2008-07-25 ;
v. cite web | url = | publisher = GamePro | title = Just Cause 2 announced for Xbox 360, PS3, PC | author = Blake Snow | date = 2008-01-30 | accessdate = 2008-07-24
] where players are given the ability to drive any vehicle or fire any weapon as they explore an open world.cite web | url = | title = Crackdown Community Q&A | publisher = EuroGamer | date = 2007-03-27 | accessdate = 2008-07-25 ] These games often incorporate violent and criminal themes, although games such as "The Simpsons Hit & Run" are considered more tame.

Driving and shooting

Grand Theft Auto clones offer players the ability to steal, commandeer, and drive a number of vehicles. [i. cite web | url = | title = PALGN - Saint's Row Preview | publisher = PALGN | author = 2006-07-28 | accessdate = 2008-07-24 ii. cite web | url = | title = Mercenaries Review | publisher = Game Zone | author = Steven Hopper | date = 2005-01-25 | accessdate = 2008-07-24 iii. cite web | url = | title = Review - Simpsons Hit and Run | publisher = GameSpot | author = Alex Navarro | date = 2003-09-15 | accessdate = 2008-07-24
iv. cite web | url = | publisher = Washington Post | author = John Gaudiosi | title = 'Parallel Lines': Put It in Drive | date = 2006-05-12 | accessdate = 2008-07-24
] Games have included all kinds of vehicles, such as cars, helicopters, boats, jet-skis, fixed-wing aircraft, and military vehicles. Reviewers often compare these games based on the number of vehicles they offer, with greater choice resulting in better reviews. Players can also use vehicles as weapons, either by driving into enemies, or by damaging the vehicle until it explodes. Some games allow vehicles to perform stunts. Games in the genre thus incorporate elements of driving simulation games.cite web | url = | title = Grand Theft Auto IV Delivers Deft Satire of Street Life | publisher = Wired | accessdate = 2008-07-21 ]

Players can engage in combat using range of weapons depending on the game setting, such as assault weapons, sniper rifles, explosives, rocket launchers, and close-range melee weapons. As such, several reviewers have stated that games in this genre are partially third person shooters. [i. cite web | url = | author = Steve Tilley | date = 2005-01-23 | publisher = Canadian Online Explorer | title = Mercenaries | accessdate = 2008-08-26 ii. cite web | url = | title = Driver: Parallel Lines | author = Jeff Gerstmann | date = 2006-03-14 | publisher = CNet | accessdate = 2008-08-26 ] Players can find weapons scattered throughout the game world, and may buy weapons in shops or take them from dead enemies. Virtually anyone in the game world can be attacked by the player. This often provokes a reaction by police authorities, who will attempt to stop the player. The player may then attempt to fight the police. However, games such as "" prevent the player from initiating unprovoked violence in public.cite web | author = Jeff Gerstmann | publisher = GameSpot | url = | title = Review - Scarface: The World Is Yours | date = 2006-10-10 | accessdate = 2008-07-24 ] Players must also keep track of their health and ammunition in order to succeed in combat.

These games have employed a variety of aiming mechanisms, such as free look aiming or a "lock-on" button. Several games have been criticized for difficult or burdensome controls when it comes to shooting,cite web | url = | title = Crackdown Review | first = Douglass | last = Perry | publisher = IGN | date= 2007-02-12 | accessdate = 2008-02-22 ] and thus game designers have tried refine the aiming and shooting controls in these games.

Open world and missions

Grand Theft Auto clones allow players to freely explore the game world, which is typically on the scale of an entire city. Some games go so far as to base their level design on real world cities, such as London, New York City, and Los Angeles. Players are usually able to navigate by vehicle or on foot, [cite web | url = | publisher = Washington Post | author = John Gaudiosi | title = 'Parallel Lines': Put It in Drive | date = 2006-05-12 | accessdate = 2008-07-24] although "Outlaw Chopper" permanently binds the player to a motorcycle. Some games put greater emphasis on leaping, climbing, and even swimming. [cite web | url = | title = GameSpy: Just Cause Review | publisher = GameSpy | author = Justin Leeper | date = 2005-05-23 | accessdate = 2008-08-26 ] Exploring the world is not just necessary to complete objectives, but also to gain valuable items, weapons, and vehicles. Different parts of the game world may be controlled by different enemy factions, who will attempt to stop the player in a variety of ways. However, more recent games in this genre allow players to acquire their own territory.cite web | url = | title = The complete history of Grand Theft Auto | publisher = GamesRadar | date = 2008-04-24 | accessdate = 2008-08-26 ] The freedom of navigating a huge game world may be overwhelming or confusing for new players. Game designers have come up with a variety of navigational aids to solve this problem. A mini-map is quite common, [cite web | url = | title = Review - Simpsons Hit and Run | publisher = GameSpot | author = Alex Navarro | date = 2003-09-15 | accessdate = 2008-07-24 ] while "Saints Row" and "Grand Theft Auto IV" go so far as to offer a GPS service. Games without these navigation tools are sometimes criticized as confusing.

The player's freedom to explore may be limited until they complete certain objectives and advance the game plot. Players must visit specific locations and complete specific missions in order to win the game,i. cite web | url = | title = Australian Gamer Preview - Saints Row | publisher = Australian Gamer | author = Alan Downie | date = | accessdate = 2008-07-24
ii. cite web | url = | title = We Visit Volition to Talk Saints Row | publisher = Kotaku | author = Mark Wilson | date = 2006-08-28 | accessdate = 2008-07-24 iii. cite web | url = | title = Review - Simpsons Hit and Run | publisher = GameSpot | author = Alex Navarro | date = 2003-09-15 | accessdate = 2008-07-24 ] such as racing, tailing, couriering, robbing,cite web | url = | title = GameSpot Review - Outlaw Chopper | publisher = GameSpot | author = Alex Navarro | date = 2006-07-26 | accessdate = 2008-07-24 ] stealing,cite web | url = | title = Grand Theft Auto: A Retrospective | author = Hassan "Acetone" Mikal | date = 2008-04-17 | accessdate = 2008-07-24 ] shooting, assassinating, and driving to specific checkpoints. [cite web | url = | title = GameSpy Review - Total Overdose: A Gunslinger's Tale in Mexico (PS2) | publisher = GameSpy | author = Hector Guzman | date = 2005-11-04 | accessdate = 2008-07-24 ] There may be multiple ways to complete these missions as the game environment is designed to facilitate shortcuts, experimentation, and creative ways to kill enemies. Completing a core mission will unlock further missions and advance the storyline,cite web | url = | title = Saints Row 2 Preview (Xbox 360) | author = Tom Price | publisher = Team Xbox | date = 2008-03-04 | accessdate = 2008-07-24 ] while side missions may offer other rewards. These optional side missions add to the game's replay value. If the player fails a mission, they will be able to resume the game from before the mission began.



Rockstar North's "Grand Theft Auto III" is often credited with pioneering a game genre in 2001. However, the game was arguably influenced by early nonlinear 2D games from the 1980s, including "The Legend of Zelda" and "Metroid". Also, many of the features in "Grand Theft Auto III" can be seen in the 1998 Nintendo 64 game "Body Harvest", which was developed by DMA Design (which eventually became Rockstar North when it was acquired by Rockstar Games). This game featured an open world with nonlinear missions and side-quests, as well as the ability to commandeer and drive a variety of vehicles. As such, it has been retroactively called "GTA in space". Some of the features of "Grand Theft Auto III" could also be seen in the "Driver" series, which was created in 1998. In addition to these influential games, the development of "Grand Theft Auto III" also expanded upon concepts from "Grand Theft Auto" and "Grand Theft Auto II."

Despite these prior releases, it was "Grand Theft Auto III" that attained enough critical and commercial success to inspire an entire genre of similar games. [cite web | url = | title = Greatest Games of All Time - Grand Theft Auto III | publisher = GameSpot | date = 2007-06-01 | accessdate = 2008-08-26 ] As such, "Grand Theft Auto III" is credited with popularizing this genre, and is sometimes treated as a revolutionary event in the history of video games, much like the release of "Doom" nearly a decade earlier. [Game Informer Issue 138 p.73] GamePro called it the most important game of all time, and claimed that every genre was influenced to rethink their conventional level design. [ cite web | url = | title = The 52 Most Important Video Games of All Time (page 8 of 8) | author = Boba Fatt and the GamePros | date = 2007-04-25 | accessdate = 2008-10-01 | publisher = GamePro ] IGN similarly praised it as one of the top ten most influential games of all time. [cite web | url = | title = IGN's Top 10 Most Influential Games | author = Ryan Geddes & Daemon Hatfield | publisher = IGN | date = 2007-12-10 | accessdate = 2008-10-01 ] Subsequent games that follow this formula of driving and shooting in a free-roaming level have been called Grand Theft Auto clones. Some reviewers even extended this label to the "Driver" series, even though this series began years before the release of "Grand Theft Auto III".cite web | url = | title = Driver: Parallel Lines Review | publisher = GameSpot | author = Jeff Gerstmann | date = 2006-03-14 | accessdate = 2008-07-24 ]

Recent history

Rockstar North developed ' in 2002, which expanded on the open world concept by letting players explore the interior of more than sixty buildings. Other game developers also entered the field that year, with releases such as "The Getaway" and '. "The Simpsons Hit & Run" in 2003 applied the concept to a cartoon world, while ' reversed the Grand Theft Auto formula by putting the player in the role of a police officer. [cite web | url = | title = Review - True Crime: Streets of LA | publisher = GameSpy | author = Russ Fischer | date = 2003-11-14 | accessdate = 2008-08-26 ] Ultimately, none of these rival developers were able match the reception of the "Grand Theft Auto" series. Rockstar North released ' in 2004, which featured the an open world on the scale of three distinct cities. The game also allowed players to customize their avatar and vehicles, as well as compete for turf by fighting with rival gangs. The continued success of the "Grand Theft Auto" series led to successful spin-offs, including ' in 2005, ' in 2006, and the 2D "Grand Theft Auto Advance" for the Game Boy Advance handheld game console. A market analysis in early 2006 found that new games in this genre would have more difficulty than new first-person shooters or racing games, and noted that that overall revenue for this genre declines during periods without a new "Grand Theft Auto" game.

With the arrival of the seventh generation of video game consoles, the first "next-gen" Grand Theft Auto clones were released in 2006, beginning with "Saints Row". "Saints Row" from 2006 and "Crackdown" from 2007 both introduced online multiplayer to the genre, a feature that had been requested by many fans. "Crackdown" also featured semi-futuristic vehicles, as well as the ability to develop the player character's superpowers. Meanwhile, ' and ' entered the market in 2006, and attempted to apply the Grand Theft Auto formula to popular movie franchises. Still, reviewers continued to measure these games against the standard set by the "Grand Theft Auto" series. The 2008 release of "Grand Theft Auto IV" broke numerous sales records, including the record for the fastest selling game in its first 24 hours. [cite web |url= |title=Confirmed: Grand Theft Auto IV Breaks Guinness World Records With Biggest Entertainment Release Of All-Time |accessdate=2008-05-13 |date=2008-05-13 |publisher=Guinness World Records] It is the third-highest rated video game of all-time on Game Rankings. [cite web|url=|accessdate=2008-05-18|title=Game Rankings - Rankings] Since its inception, this genre has evolved to include larger settings, more missions, and a wider range of vehicles.


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