Battle of the GTA clones

The verdict:

After that rundown, we're left with Crackdown, Saints Row, Just Cause, Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction,The Simpsons: Hit & Run and Scarface: The World is Yours as surviving contenders. Of course, this all has to be leading somewhere, so it's time for us to finish the Battle of the GTA Clones by anointing a victor.

We'll do this elimination-style, beginning with a three-way brawl between the last-gen challengers. Here's what each brings to the table:

Scarface: The World is Yours

* Extreme violence, beautiful visuals and lots of stuff to break
* Interesting, empire-based mission structure
* Completely obliterates the movie's central message simply by existing

The Simpsons: Hit & Run

* Mild violence, endless stuff to break and a script by the show's writers
* Missions revolve mostly around races, fetch quests
* Has a frigging soul, unlike certain other games on this list

Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction

* Nonstop military violence and no shortage of things to bomb to hell
* Missions usually revolve around killing guys and blowing up buildings
* Enables you to hijack and drive tanks like it's normal

Scarface and The Simpsons make compelling arguments, but ultimately neither one is as much fun or as rewarding as Mercenaries' wilderness-scouring hunt for North Korean war criminals. Also, there's something about being able to level whole cities that not even Scarface's over-the-top psychosis could hope to match. And while roaring around in Springfield is immense fun, Hit & Run is ultimately too shallow to really hold its own against either of these.

Finalist: Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction

Now for the current-gen stuff:

Just Cause

* Constant violence offset by fun vehicles and wild stunts
* Repetitive fetch missions, assassinations and "liberation" battles
* Is obviously just James Bond in a Latin American setting


* Huge, short bursts of action coupled with cool superpowers
* What the hell is a "mission?" Here are some bad guys. Go and kill them.
* Unbelievably sparse on story, and the only real character is the narrator

Saints Row

* Action-packed, whether you're fighting gangsters, cops or hapless civilians
* Story-based missions mixed with dumb-but-fun side jobs, like pimping
* Fun story, but we're not sure if it actually knows what street crime is

The funny thing about all these games is that they're fairly flimsy experiences compared with any of the GTA titles, but all three make up in gameplay what they lack in decent story. And with that in mind, Just Cause and Saints Row are practically neck-and-neck.Saints Row packs in online multiplayer and a compelling urban environment, butJust Cause features ridiculously detailed tropics and some of the most bizarre stunts ever attempted in a game. However, it's a moot point: Crackdown edges them both out by a significant margin with its fine-tuned driving, upgradeable superpowers and online co-op.

Finalist: Crackdown

It's all coming down to the wire. Mercenaries and Crackdown sport remarkably similar setups, with each game revolving around locating and eliminating key figures of an enemy group. Crackdown has better graphics on its side, along with the ability to throw cars, leap over buildings and call in a friend to help you out.Mercenaries, meanwhile, has a story, some compelling characters and a vast landscape filled with buildings that you can level with well-placed airstrikes. It's awfully close, but we're going to have to call this one for the last gen.

Best GTA Clone Ever: Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction

Mikel Reparaz
After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.