My first ever Assassin’s Creed experience was in the form of a JAVA game on my old Nokia. It was a 2D platformer built by Gameloft around the limitations of mobile devices of the time. They indeed found success creating more and more ports for AAA games on mobile devices.
As technology developed and mobile phones became increasingly capable with the android OS, Gameloft released a GTA clone titled Gangstar. A game series that travelled the world from Rio to Vegas, featuring typical open-world mindless violence we’ve come to expect.
Finding games like Gangstar with similar quality is not very hard on the AppStore/play store; however, in this list, I will try to recommend games that are better, if not vastly superior to Gameloft’s Gangstar series.
1. Grand Theft Auto(s)
Rockstar Games has been making quality, critically and commercially acclaimed titles since I can remember, and their venture into the mobile market was no different.
While the Gangstar games can sometimes feel like a cheap imitation with confused AI and poor physics, the GTA ports do not compromise the integrity of the original games. I doubt anyone who’s looking for the Open-world mayhem experience should look any further than the three OG 3-D GTA titles Rockstar has ported.
Not only are the ports perfect, but the developers also paid enough attention to detail that the touch control, while at first a bit iffy, feel very natural with context to what is happening in the game. The driving and flying physics are pretty much the same as the original PS2 games, so I can’t say much about them that you don’t already know; however, the touch controls and the ability to use gyro makes it a very smooth and exciting experience.
If you’re looking for games like a GTA clone, GTA is the best place to start.
2. Max Payne
While Max Payne doesn’t have an open world or driving cars running over pedestrians, it features a remarkable third-person shooting experience paralleled by none on this list. Max Payne has you take control of an increasingly intelligent but brooding detective who’s not exactly by the books and doesn’t mind if his suspects end up in the morgue.
The game features a unique noir aesthetic and comic book style cutscenes with incredibly well-done voice acting and story. Max Payne takes you on a hellish ride of loss, betrayal and revenge.
As the hard-boiled detective Max is, he is usually always outnumbered and outgunned. If players aren’t careful, Max will be taken out in a matter of mere seconds or a couple of bullets, whichever comes first. But Max has an edge; using the bullet time in tandem with the direction pad allows Max to slow down time and dive (towards or away from your enemies) while taking Olympic level headshots and clearing a room of 15 Russian mobsters before he hits the floor.
Max isn’t here to save the day. He’s here to destroy those that the day needed saving from.
Max Payne doesn’t have an open-world, but its core gameplay mechanics make it the most satisfying run and gun game to get on mobile phones right.
3. Bully: Anniversary Edition
The final Rockstar port on this list, Bully, is GTA, but set in a school, as such violence is limited and the story is tame. But that shouldn’t deter games looking for a polished AAA experience on mobile devices.
Bully puts you in the shoes of a 15-year-old Jimmy and spans over the course of his academic year as he performs mischief and pranks on bullies and teachers alike. Bully has a semi-open world with many side missions and activities to do, separate from the main story. It also features a turn-based multiplayer mode that players can play with friends over the internet.
The Anniversary edition features all content from the coveted Scholarship edition and some improvements to the graphics. The controls are the same as the last two titles. Being a Rockstar production, everything is polished, and controls don’t take long to get familiar with.
While the game is a proper port like any other Rockstar port (except for GTA IV on PC), there is a slight challenge of getting it to run. I had to make some file changes for the game to download its additional files. Some people reportedly had to format their entire devices. However, once it runs, it runs without hiccups.
If you’re going to try this title out, be wary of the refund policies of your respective stores. For example, the Play store allows 15 minutes for a refund. That’s plenty of time to see if the game will work or not. Once it starts downloading additional files, you’re good.
Gameloft isn’t shy of using AAA mainstream titles to “inspire” their AppStore lineup. When Call of Duty was at its peak with games like Modern Warfare trilogy, Gameloft launched Modern Combat. For the inspiration they took from older WW2 era shooters, they created Brothers in Arms.
To capitalise on the popularity of the Red Dead Redemption series (also by Rockstar), Gameloft created Six-Guns. No, they did not shy away from slyly incorporating the game’s name in the title. The first game in the RDR series was titled Red Dead Revolver, after all.
While by the same developer, Six-Guns does a lot of things better than Gangstar, it has no paywall for content (DLCs, also known as In-app purchases in the mobile gaming sphere) and features better AI and physics. That’s not to say there are no IAP’s. Of course, there are, but they do not hinder the player’s ability to finish the game. Admittedly, the game will involve grind, but that’s not going to surprise anyone.
It almost feels like both Gangstar and Gangstar share the same core engine. However, Six-Guns does it better because of its spaghetti western setting, lack of Cars and cheap imitations of TRON’s light cycles. There is very little to point to and say, “Well, that’s not how gravity works”.
Like I said before, comparing any game on the list to the Rockstar ports would be like comparing oranges and apples. Of course, all opinion is subjective, but a good form of critique is to analyse where the creator is coming from.
Rockstar games innovated the 3-D open-world genre, and some might even say they invented it.
Gameloft is simply trying to cash grab by doing the bare minimum, and as such, Six-Guns does that while also being a tad more fun than Gangstar.
5. Deus Ex: The Fall
Sadly, The Fall is currently unavailable to download for those who didn’t purchase it. It is unknown at this time if this is a temporary pull in an effort to better the quality of the game or will the game be unavailable permanently.
Those who are familiar with Deus Ex need no introduction. Deus Ex is one of the titles that along with Half-Life, holds the honour of innovating the first-person genre.
Deus Ex: The Fall is a semi-open world RPG/immersive sim (as immersive sim as it can get on Android hardware) prequel to Deus Ex: Human Revolution. It has a charming neo-cyberpunk aesthetic with what appears to be a golden-brown filter like Deus Ex: Human Revolution and subsequent titles. In fact, the game is proof that DE:HR can be made for mobile devices, albeit a limited port.
Deus Ex has no car driving on open streets and side activities may be limited what it excels at is world-building through visuals and a serviceable story that can be influenced by actions and dialogues, although, not to the extent of its bigger brothers on consoles.
DE:TF features really cool graphics and animations, a storyline that is not nearly as dynamic as the AAA titles; however, there’s not really much of a choice the developers had as TF is a prequel to Human Revolution a prequel. If you can get your hands on it or wait for its comeback DE:TF is an excellent and original mobile game. Let’s hope it re-releases soon.
6. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Another title similar to Deus Ex (Semi open-world, no freedom to be a chaotic psychopath) but better in what it sets out to do. Star Wars: KOTOR is a game from the first Xbox generation and has a cult following, obviously, it’s Star Wars. But don’t let that cloud the fact that KOTOR wasn’t a success because it was Star Wars. While it might have been a factor, KOTOR was one of the best RPGs to release in its time. The only one that comes close is perhaps The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.
KOTOR is also the game that I enjoy playing on my mobile the most. Its gameplay combat is turn-based (think Xcom), which allows the game to be played while commuting in the bus on a bumpy road and not worrying about your aim or any other incoherent action going on the screen.
KOTOR allows you to choose the path for your character. You could become a just, generous and loyal Jedi like Obi-Wan or take to the dark side and serve the empire. This allows the game to have replayability that is unparalleled.
If you need more convincing, the game allows you to build your own lightsaber. What more could one ask for?
7. GRID Autosport
Thinking about GRID depresses me. I have been a fan since the first Race Driver: GRID and GRID 2 is probably on the list of my favourite racing game ever. GRID: Autosports’ console release was a botched one. The game was priced at $60 and required the player to pay extra to get hands-on Cars and tracks in-game. I am not talking of post-release DLC. This was content that was in the game upon release that had been paywalled by corporate greed.
Needless to say, I stopped caring for the series until I heard GRID was heading to mobile.
GRID: Autosport was an instant buy for me the moment I visited its play store page because of the first line it hits you with this – “ BUY ONCE, RACE FOREVER Get the complete AAA hit and all its DLC in one simple purchase.” Something Codemasters should’ve done from scratch, in my admittedly fanboy opinion.
GRID is strictly a racing game with no open world mechanic. However, fans of Gangstar who are looking for more than barely functional driving mechanics will be very happy with this game. It features over 100 supercars, custom-tuned imports and, muscle cars of all ages; it has driving physics unparalleled by anything on the Appstore/Play store and graphics that may make you forget that you’re playing on a mobile device.
With enough content to go on days and a price tag of $10 Autosport is a no brainer for gamers who’re looking for some racing adrenaline
Ah, the infamous Carmageddon. A game banned from countries due to its excess violence and plot, the gore is actually tamer than most of today’s open-world games. This one is specifically for gamers looking for a release in mindless gameplay.
I cannot classify Carmageddon as a racing game. It’s more of an open-world driving game a la Midtown Madness; however, you can kill pedestrians and even animals. “Can” is the wrong word. You have to. It’s one of the ways to beat your opponents who are equally devoid of empathy and trudge on running over an old lady to win this death race (no pun intended). The game has enough content to keep you going featuring around 30 levels and an equal number of cars, but where it gets exciting is that since it’s not exactly a race the player doesn’t have to follow a set path instead the objecting is more like Twisted Metal than something like Need For Speed.
The game works well as it should, being from ‘98, it has great controls and can be traded for gyro-based tilt controls.
It’s mindless action and will cater to those who are seeking exactly that. Others might turn their head in disgust as they see the sweet old grandpa being squished between two cars. The body count rises!
Overall, there are plenty of games on the play store that could be called Gangstar-clones. That’s not a compliment but the absurd state of games available on the Play store with what appears to be 0 quality control and paid reviews.
The games I’ve listed above stand higher than most of their competition and are either fun to play, pick up whenever kind of experiences or deep, immersive games that will suck you in until your phone warns you that the battery is about to die. It’s hard to come by good games on the Play store, but if you search enough, you can find something that’s perfect for you.