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So you’ve put all your spare time into beating GTA V, but still have that open world itch? Good news, we’ve assembled 8 of our favorite GTA-alikes to play through next.

The first round of DLC probably won’t land for a few months yet, so why not dip into a few older open world classics? They might not quite compare to Rockstar’s modern marvel in terms of visuals, depth and story, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still be enjoyed.

Grand Theft Auto IV (Plus DLC)

If there’s one thing I caught myself thinking while ferrying passengers to Los Santos International in my taxi, it was how much I missed Liberty City. Sure, Los Santos and Blaine County are beautifully rendered worlds full of things to do, but Liberty City is where it all started and GTA IV’s rendition never ceases to amaze 10 Of The Best GTA IV Videos To Get You Excited For GTA V [MUO Gaming] 10 Of The Best GTA IV Videos To Get You Excited For GTA V [MUO Gaming] Read More me.

Once you’ve taken Franklin, Michael and Trevor for a spin it might be the perfect time to jump back into the shoes of Niko, earn your stripes as Lost member Johnny or rediscover the fabulous life of a bodyguard as Luis from The Ballad of Gay Tony. The engine might not be as polished, the multiplayer feels like a bolt-on and the world is at times desperately empty, but GTA IV is still a stellar episode in the series.

Red Dead Redemption

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Just because it’s a Rockstar game doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to love it, but then again Rockstar’s open world titles do have a tendency to drop jaws and devour lives. Red Dead Redemption 5 Video Games That Should Be Movies [MUO Gaming] 5 Video Games That Should Be Movies [MUO Gaming] Many modern video games play out like movies, with strong storylines, fleshed-out characters, and action sequences that surely give even Michael Bay pause for thought. And yet when it comes to actually making movies from... Read More forgoes cars for horses, adds a dead-eye meter for slow motion gunplay and takes place in a lush landscape full of furry critters. Buck-tooth bandits and tobacco-chewing lawmen roam the US-Mexico border, and the world just feels more alive than that of GTA IV. Best of all the wild west plot will have you longing for the prairie you’ve never actually been to.

Red Dead Redemption’s influences in GTA V are clear as day. The game debuted a host of random encounters not dissimilar to GTA V’s “Strangers & Freaks” missions, placed a strong emphasis on hunting and included vast swathes of stunning countryside. Just like Rockstar’s past open world efforts, the story is deeply involving, sucking you into the world of John Marsden, and the characters he meets along the way.

Shenmue

The GTA universe has always been immersive, blending open world freedom and incredible depth to tell an epic story and thrill the player along the way. Shenmue was one Dreamcast-era title that embraced freedom and depth on a similar scale, affording the player the ability to tackle the world and its story at their own pace while providing plenty of distractions along the way.

Yu Suzuki’s masterpiece saw two releases on the Dreamcast, with the latter release Shenmue II also seeing a release on Microsoft’s original Xbox. Slated for a Xbox Game Store release for more than 12 months with no word from Sega, AM2 or Microsoft, the only way you can enjoy Shenmue and its sequel is on older hardware at present (though an emulator like NullDC might work 8 Great Emulators to Play Modern Home Consoles on Your PC (1994-2001) 8 Great Emulators to Play Modern Home Consoles on Your PC (1994-2001) Read More ).

The game isn’t “true” open world – your days have structure and you can’t steal cars or pick fights with pedestrians. You can however spend all your money in the arcades How To Play Old Arcade Games On Your PC How To Play Old Arcade Games On Your PC Read More , use the beat ’em up fighting system against hordes of gangsters and get completely sucked into the universe. I did.

Saints Row IV

If Grand Theft Auto is fine dining, Saints Row IV is fast food – both fill you up, but you’ve got to adjust your expectations before tucking in. I’ve personally always enjoyed the Saints Row series of games, for all the bugs and cheesy over-the-top dialogue the games always stayed true to their light hearted roots, and Saints Row IV is no exception.

Much of the game takes place in a simulation of the city of Steelport, eternally shrouded in darkness. Such a virtual setting affords you super powers, which you can use to complete the game’s main story and many activities. Don’t expect a deep, realistic plot or refined driving physics, this is the “arcade” to GTA’s “simulation” and it’s an awful lot of a fun when treated as such.

Also worth checking out are the past games in the series (particularly Saints Row: The Third), except perhaps the first which was an early Xbox 360 title (and it showed).

Just Cause 2

In many ways Just Cause 2 suffers from many of the issues that GTA: San Andreas had – it’s a massive open world that feels a bit dead inside. The main aim of the game is to create havoc for the government by destroying property – from propaganda vans to petrol stations and even oil rigs, there are a lot of explosions in Just Cause 2.

The missions mostly revolve around this principle too, which means the game lacks much variety. You get a grappling hook, parachute and some serious upper body strength when you start the game, and you’ll be stunt jumping from cars into helicopters in no time. The game is huge, but frustrating in its mission structure, which means that I personally never finished it. That said, I do occasionally stick it on for a few hours till I’m bored of flying planes into oil rigs before turning it off again.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood

Rather than recommend the rather flawed but nice in theory Assassin’s Creed 3 (now there’s a big dead sandbox if ever I saw one) I’d rather recommend my favourite Assassin’s Creed game, Brotherhood. While the story is patchy in areas, the game provides plenty of variety by blending stealth, action and surprisingly fun platforming into one package.

A truly open world game, AC: Brotherhood also embraces the purchasing of businesses in order to earn money and gain access to weapons, health and other customisations. You’re given a surprising amount of freedom in your ability to decide how to approach many situations, and 16th century Rome looks pretty damn good to boot.

Sleeping Dogs

I think Sleeping Dogs does an exceptional job of capturing the essence of a crime-driven open world adventure game, I just wish there was more of it (and no, I don’t want tired old zombie DLC thanks). The game tells the story of Wei Shen, a police officer working undercover in Hong Kong who finds himself torn between right and wrong. The experience feels far more “arcade” than GTA IV or V, with tighter, forgiving driving mechanics, a slightly drab world and plenty of “nope, you can’t do that!” immersion-breaking moments.

That said, the story is surprisingly strong and I found myself glued to my console, actually caring about Wei’s choices and the repercussions, all the while soaking up the hubbub of a wonderfully modelled Hong Kong. If you passed it up as a poor man’s GTA then you missed an absolute treat.

Missed A Favorite?

Did we miss your favourite open world action game? Set the record straight and tell us what you’ll be playing once you’ve finished GTA V (aside from GTA Online, of course).

  1. Sushil
    March 31, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    Man Where is Skyrim ?

  2. Kyler
    February 24, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    I love it when my butthole lays golden eggs full of shit!
    Kindergarten is my favorite place to play GTA because my teacher helped me get a minigun!

  3. Vic 2.0
    December 19, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Love Sleeping Dogs! IMO, it's better than GTA 4 and even 5, all things considered. They just added so many things (both big and small) to the experience that make it a lot more fun and enjoyable.

    "slightly drab world"? Are you kidding me? The city of Hong Kong is vibrant and beautiful, especially at night and especially when it rains. You can interact in numerous ways with civilians, who do their own thing and really seem to have lives of their own, holding interesting conversations on the phone and with each other, sometimes reflecting on changes you've seen in the story as it unfolds. You can buy food, drinks, clothing, and vehicles from them, in addition to doing favors for them which range from doing side missions to dragging a drunk away from their shop to chasing down a robber. You know what's become dull, is seeing the same old U.S. cities in every sandbox crime game known to man. Sleeping Dogs breaks away from that monotony and boasts some truly remarkable and interesting locations, both indoors and out.

    And it never failed to keep me immersed in the game. Even aside from the marvelous scenery and ambiance, movement is fluid and abilities are plenty. Nothing immersion-breaking about that!

  4. Madi
    November 21, 2013 at 5:30 am

    Fallout 3
    My all time favorite open world .

  5. Ash G
    October 15, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    Infamous 2 and Bully are both worth a mention too.

  6. Tanim I
    October 9, 2013 at 6:35 am

    I think AC2 does not belong here. It's open world but a bit different compared to what people expect from a open world game. I'd say Prototype does a good job as an open world game

    • Tim B
      October 9, 2013 at 6:39 am

      AC2 has the whole economy/buying properties angle, as well as being a rather good story to boot. Sure, it's not exactly following the GTA formula, but it's a quality game nonetheless. There's lots to explore beyond the city and overground areas too.

      Prototype bored me to tears by about half-way through. I found it quite repetitive and fiddly myself, I think it could have turned out better (maybe Prototype 2 is better, though it too looks similarly lukewarm).

    • Jonathan H
      October 25, 2013 at 4:59 pm

      Gotta say that people don't give Brotherhood as much credit as it deserves. I really do prefer AC: Brotherhood to even Revelations, They did such a great job at giving live to Rome, and although the controls were rather frustrating and annoying at times. Alongside the tons of glitches which sometimes screwed around with the game.

      It stands as one of my my more favourite Assasins Creed Games.

  7. Dave P
    October 4, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    Oh man, this is a great list. I particularly love Shenmue, Sleeping Dogs, and Red Dead Redemption. I still go back to them all regularly.

  8. Ben
    October 4, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Glad to see Sleeping Dogs on here. I honestly think Sleeping Dogs one ups GTA IV on a lot of levels. The martial arts / hand to hand aspect is truly something no other sandbox style game has. And the upgrade system has a lot of Role Playing like elements to it. Overall, just an awesome game.

  9. Mohit
    October 4, 2013 at 10:14 am

    There's this great game for PS3 called "InFamous 2" by Sucker Punch...

    Here's a trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOeX4ia8-7c

    The version 3 could be out on the new consoles, but guess it'll still only be available for the PS3.

  10. Rudi Niemand
    October 4, 2013 at 7:55 am

    GTA: United! I know it's a PC mod, but it's awesome for reliving some memories and just general exploring around the old Liberty City and Vice City (using the San Andreas game engine).

  11. gary
    October 4, 2013 at 7:38 am

    MAFIA 2, LA NOIRE, the Saboteur

  12. e
    October 3, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    far cry 3

  13. Yutao T
    October 3, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    How come Skyrim is not mentioned here??

    • Tim B
      October 4, 2013 at 12:30 am

      Mainly because Skyrim is one of those epic first-person role playing games that focuses on dungeon crawling and dragons, rather than an action-first crime 'em up.

      While I personally love both to bits, I'm not sure the two are mutually inclusive among a lot of gamers.

  14. Tom W
    October 3, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    I preferred GTA: San Andreas over GTA:IV. I just found that IV pushed the story so hard that it felt like a linear game rather than a free-roam, so I gave up on it.

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