Grand Theft Auto V is easily one of the most anticipated games of the year, and with just a handful of days left until it releases, our excitement for it is at an all time high. It has been more than five years since we have had a proper Grand Theft Auto title arrive for consoles (not including GTA IV’s episodes,) and the fan base is hungrier than ever.
Yes…five years. That’s the longest amount of time that we have ever had to wait between GTA games. For those of you that basically spend your lives waiting for the next Grand Theft Auto game (like myself,) the last few days before release are always the hardest to get through. To help lessen the possibility of involuntary compulsions, itching, and hallucinations (symptoms may vary,) we are going to offer up five suggestions for video games that you can play during the final weekend before you are able to get your hands on Grand Theft Auto V.
Mercenaries is somewhat of a forgotten gem. It was released at the tail-end of the PlayStation 2 and Xbox console generation back in 2005, but it offered something that no other games really offered at the time: complete and total mayhem. Mercenaries offered a lot of familiar Grand Theft Auto-style gameplay elements, such as an open world and third-person perspective, but it was the unique approach to environmental destruction that really made this game stand out.
Set in an active war zone North Korea, you as the player are dropped in the middle of the confrontation as a free agent soldier that will fight for any side of the battlefront if the price is right. This unique story opened the door for the player to unleash his unlimited arsenal of airstrikes, cluster bombs, cruise missiles, tanks, attack helicopters, and bunker buster bombs on any unsuspecting enemy.
This is the perfect game to hunt down in your local used games store or flea market to play during this last weekend before Grand Theft Auto V, simply because it offers the player the same freedom and “playground of destruction” capabilities that players have come to love about the Grand Theft Auto series.
With the long-history of classy rivalry that the Saints Row and Grand Theft Auto series have had over the years, the original Saints Row making this list was kind of a given. Notice that I said the original Saints Row, and not the Saints Row series. The Saints Row games have gradually taken a more over-the-top approach with each new installment in the franchise, while the Grand Theft Auto series has been doing the exact opposite. Taking a look back at the first Saints Row game that was released as an Xbox 360 exclusive in 2006, the game offered a pseudo-realistic approach to gangland warfare that no Grand Theft Auto game had attempted in this much detail.
It should be noted that Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas did in fact offer gang war elements, but not with the emphasis that Saints Row did. However, before I get off on a tangent, Saints Row offered more than just a focus on gangs. Saints Row was also praised for its expansive character customization, vehicle customization, competitive multiplayer (which no Grand Theft Auto game offered at the time,) and unique missions. If you are not a fan of Saints Row IV’s over-the-topness but need something to play until Grand Theft Auto V arrives, give the original Saints Row a try.
Seeing as though it was developed in partnership with Rockstar Games, it should be no surprise that L.A. Noire is one of our top picks to play through again while we get hyped for Grand Theft Auto V. What sets apart L.A. Noire in this list is that it is actually set in Los Angeles, which is the city that GTA V’s Los Santos is based on.
Aside from offering up a similar environment and atmosphere that we can except in GTA V, L.A. Noire is actually surprisingly different from a Grand Theft Auto game, despite being open world and third-person; however, that’s not a bad thing! It actually gives the player a welcomed and different perspective than the usual criminal type that the gamer is forced to play as in a GTA game. In L.A. Noire, you take on the role of a 1947 LAPD detective that is tasked with solving a string of murders and other mysteries by gathering clues and interrogating suspects.
It may be a different type of open world gameplay, but L.A. Noire is definitely a must-play for any GTA fan that is awaiting the arrival of GTA V.
Illusion Softwork’s Mafia is the definition of a cult classic. It was released just a year after Grand Theft Auto III, and just 2 months before Vice City. Despite featuring an open world and third-person perspective gameplay, Mafia managed to set itself apart from the competition. If you have never played Mafia, you may be surprised that it succeeded in the midst of Grand Theft Auto’s rise to fame and dominance in the open world video game genre.
Mafia was praised for its unique approach to a realistic story and gameplay. More than a decade after its initial release, Mafia still holds up as one of/the absolute best takes in a video game on the 1930′s gangster lifestyle. Throughout the game, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll cringe, you’ll get angry, you’ll cry some more, and you’ll enjoy every second of it.
While the 2004 PlayStation 2 and Xbox ports don’t offer the player the same quality graphics as the original PC version, any copy that you get your hands on will be well worth your time while you wait for Grand Theft Auto V.
The addition of Red Dead Redemption to this list should be a no-brainer. Even though it’s set in a completely different environment and time period than any Grand Theft Auto game has ever even attempted, RDR will easily be an enjoyable experience for any GTA fan. It’s basically Grand Theft Auto: Wild West.
And how could it not be enjoyable? It was developed by Rockstar Games, including some development that was done by the GTA studio of Rockstar North. Take GTA IV, replace the cars with wagons, motorcycles with horses, drive-by shootings with ride-by shootings, 6-star wanted level with wanted posters, and russian protagonist Niko Bellic with ol’ western family man John Marston, and that’s Red Dead Redemption for you.
My explanation doesn’t do RDR justice, though. Rockstar Games took the much-loved franchise of Red Dead and did something that has never been done in video games before. How many other open world, ol’ western games have you played? Exactly.
We’re in the home stretch here folks. One of the most anticipated games of recent memory is just days away. So rev up your systems, spend some time with these five games this weekend, and Grand Theft Auto V will be here before you know it.