I Tried The Best GTA-like Games on Mobile: Here’s My Take


Grand Theft Auto games like GTA 3, Vice City and San Andreas were a huge part of my life growing up. I used to play GTA games religiously when I was young, and I can’t be grateful enough to the developers of these games. And yes, there is a serious demand for GTA-like games on mobile.

However, since the original GTA games are paid offerings on the Play Store and App Store, GTA clones are on the rise and are available for free. These games try to re-create the GTA-style experience on mobiles, but can they compete against the original? I tried the best GTA-like smartphone games, and here’s my take.

What makes a game GTA-like?

GTA or Grand Theft Auto games changed the gaming landscape by introducing a vast open world that lets players do anything. As a player, you are free to drive around the map, drive over pedestrians, shoot at police, get chased by them, get arrested, get killed and more. Then, you can choose how you want to play the missions in the game. You can choose when to start the missions.

Many games have copied this format, both successfully and unsuccessfully. Now, let’s examine the most popular GTA clones on mobile that have adopted the GTA formula.

Gangstar New Orleans

Gangstar New Orleans is the last game in the series, but this is my first time playing it. The screenshots and trailer of this game looked interesting and intrigued me.

The game started with a tutorial. The first mission is to meet a gang member who shows how to shoot at targets. Then, the game shows how to drive the car and escape. The game gives the character the choice of any six available faces. There’s not much customisation, though.

Then, I was shown a place to buy a base for the team and a mission to complete. Accept it, and that costs a life. Yes, the game uses a recharging life system that has to be used to start each mission, like Candy Crush. And yes, I encountered four ads while playing, which was frustrating. There’s also an option to restart a failed mission by paying in-game currency or watching an ad.

I was eager to explore the open world and didn’t mind starting any missions. I got in a car and started driving and hitting the pedestrians. To my surprise, this game has a police system with five-star wanted levels like GTA San Andreas. Getting chased by police and evading them never gets old.

Overall, Gangstar New Orleans is better than Gangstar Vegas but riddled with ads and microtransactions. I’ll be playing the rest of the missions in this game sometime soon. I’m keeping this game just because I liked the GTA-like Police system.

Download Gangstar New Orleans from the Play Store or App Store.

Gangstar Vegas: World of Crime

Gangstar Vegas: World of Crime is a game I vaguely remember playing way back in 2015 or 2016. With over 100M+ downloads, it seems this game is still the most popular GTA-like game in the Play Store.

The game starts with a tutorial introduction. I’m fighting an opponent, and the game shows me how to fight. It is supposed to be a rigged fight, the character win and is on the run from the boss, on a car chase where the mission is to shoot the goons chasing in the car. After it is done, another cutscene and police chase and evading them is the next mission.

The open world is fun in Gangstar Vegas; hitting some pedestrians and getting chased by police is good. But I found Gangstar New Orleans better in this aspect.

The gameplay and controls are engaging, and the graphics are good enough. But I still feel like the game is stuck in the past. It looks almost the same as it did nine years ago. Then there’s the life dynamic, which seems out of place in a GTA-like game. Ads pop up occasionally, which is another frustrating thing. I’d rather play Gangstar New Orleans than Vegas. I’m deleting this game.

Download Gangstar Vegas from the Play Store or App Store.

Dude Theft Wars

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Dude Theft Wars. I tried this game after seeing someone praising it heavily on Reddit. The screenshots of the game weren’t too promising either, but I was pleasantly surprised by the game, even with the bare basic graphics that make it look like someone made it as a joke.

Dude Theft Wars is a GTA clone with an open-world city with everything you’d find in a GTA game. There are gun shops, police stations, beaches, highways, and more.

The first mission is to find Richie, who is being held at the police station. After meeting Richie at the police station, he mentions how to get him out, which spawns another mission.

There’s also a Multiplayer game mode, which I expected to be a cartoonish version of GTA Online. However, I burst out laughing when I saw the clone of the Nuketown map from Call of Duty. The multiplayer is a COD clone with similar goofy characters, and it is really fun to play.

Dude Theft Wars might look like someone made this game for fun in their free time, but it is a good GTA-like game. I’m keeping this game on my phone and will play the rest soon.

Download Gangstar New Orleans from the Play Store or App Store.

Payback 2

Payback 2 is another game getting praise on Reddit, and I wanted to try it to see if it’s as good as it was being claimed. The game has two modes. I tried the campaign mode first.

The first mission in campaign mode is to kill enemies running around on foot and in cars using a tank. The mission is easy, and the gameplay is fun and smooth. The next mission is a race, and it’s easy. The car controls are good in this game.

I decided to try the Story mode next. In story mode, missions are given through public telephones, much like some missions in GTA 3. Missions can be chosen anytime from the open map. The first mission is a time trial race. The next mission is to familiarise yourself with the weapons; it introduces pistols, shotguns, and grenades in the game. The next mission is assassinating someone, and it’s fun.

The open world is fun, and roaming around is good, but the game has a limited square map. It runs smoothly, and the controls are much better than any other game on this list. The physics of the cars in this game reminds me of GTA 4 ragdoll physics, and it’s great.

I wanted a better police system in the game, as evading the police in this game is easy; drive away as fast as possible, and they won’t chase you hard. It left me wanting more.

Payback 2 is a great game. It runs executively well, and the gameplay is fun. I’m keeping this game and will play it again.

Download Payback 2 from the Play Store or App Store.

MadOut2: Grand Auto Racing

On Play Store and App Store screenshots, the game looks like GTA 5. I installed the game expecting to be disappointed, and I was right. The game did not look anything like the screenshots; it looked average.

MadOut2 can be played against AI or real players in multiplayer mode. There are no campaign missions. Still, the game is a GTA Online ripoff, and it’s a very good one. Playing it for the first time, the game starts with a tutorial mission and a courier job. I couldn’t find a car to get to the place on the map. When I approached a guy’s car, he killed me. So I walked to the courier site, picked up the courier, and delivered it on foot.

Like GTA Online, real players run around the city in real-time, which I found interesting, but the experience in the game is far from ideal. I tried to pick up some fights with them, but as a newbie in this game, I got killed easily every time, and to be honest, it wasn’t a pleasant experience. Random missions spawn on the map occasionally, which can be started by visiting there, much like GTA.

I’m not a big GTA Online guy and prefer playing campaign missions. I’m uninstalling this game; it’s not for me.

Download MadOut2: Grand Auto Racing from the Play Store or App Store.

I’d honestly rather play the original GTA games

Even though these games offer an open-world experience similar to Grand Theft Auto, none can match the level of detail and fun the original GTA games offer.

I’d rather play the new remastered versions of GTA Trilogy available on Netflix Games. I’m already playing GTA: Vice City—The Definitive Edition and am considering completing it before returning to any of the games I tried here.

The original GTA games aren’t riddled with ads or micro-transactions, unlike the Gangstar games I tried, which are full of them and more. Also, the replenishing life system must die. These kinds of cash grabs in mobile games truly take the fun out of games, and I’d rather play games that focus on fun.

One thing I found after playing different GTA-like games is that these games have a small map, which isn’t even half the size of any of the GTA games available on mobile. The real fun in GTA games is driving around the map, doing nothing, randomly killing people on the road, evading police and more. For that, no GTA-like game can beat the OG GTA games.

These are the original GTA games available on Android and iOS:

Sure, the original GTA games aren’t free, but these are worth the asking price, and I’m not getting frustrated with ads and microtransactions. Also, let me remind you that if you are a Netflix subscriber, you already have the GTA Trilogy: The Definitive Edition bundled with your subscription.