True Crime: Streets of LA
Activision | PS2, Xbox, GameCube, PC
The setup: Smirky Asian American cop does battle with a Triad crime syndicate in Los Angeles, which has been painstakingly reconstructed from maps of the real thing.
The rides: The one you're supposed to stick to is a sweet Cadillac-style convertible, but anything on the street is yours for the commandeering. Whatever you choose to drive, though, it's probably going to slide around like a bar of soap in an ice rink.
The violence: Button-mashy kung-fu throwdowns mixed with stealth takedowns - lethal or knockout, your choice - and slightly awkward, John Woo-style dual-pistol firefights. You can also kill just about anyone you see on the street, but it'll affect your badge rating and karma.
Why it beats GTA: When this was released, the visuals, targeting and martial-arts were leagues ahead of anything GTA was doing - and it was on the GameCube, too, for what that's worth. It's also possible to change the plot, more or less, by failing missions, and the good cop/bad cop dynamic forces players to be a little more careful than they would be in GTA.
Why it'll never beat GTA: Rolling around a realistic mockup of Los Angeles was neat, but True Crime 's controls were wicked clunky no matter what you were doing, and the plot degenerated into some sort of supernatural weirdness toward the end.
Can it survive? No. It's impressive for an early GTA clone, but its time in the sun is long over. Also, the cruddy sequel effectively buried this series.