Top Crime Action Games That Are Not Grand Theft Auto: A Deeper Dive

Julius Marlowe / Sep-02-2023
Top Crime Action Games That Are Not Grand Theft Auto: A Deeper Dive

Video games that revolve around crime and action have always been a fan favorite. Among them, the Grand Theft Auto series has arguably been the most popular. However, there are numerous other games in the genre that are equally exciting and immersive. Here, we delve into some of the best crime action games that aren't Grand Theft Auto, exploring their gameplay, setting, and pros and cons.

1. Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs is a unique blend of martial arts action and crime-solving. Developed by United Front Games and Square Enix London, this game offers a thrilling open-world experience that is heavily inspired by classic Hong Kong cinema.

Gameplay and Setting

The protagonist of Sleeping Dogs, Wei Shen, is an undercover cop who infiltrates one of Hong Kong's most dangerous Triad organizations. The gameplay is a mix of street racing, fighting, and shooting, with a heavy focus on martial arts. The open world of Hong Kong is beautifully rendered, bustling with life and activities.


  • Engaging storyline with a unique focus on undercover police work
  • Well-executed martial arts combat system
  • Detailed, vibrant open-world environment


  • Some may find the story too predictable
  • Limited customization options

2. Mafia Series

Developed by 2K Czech, the Mafia series is a must-play for crime action game fans. Each game in the series offers a rich narrative experience set in different eras of organized crime in America.

Gameplay and Setting

The Mafia series spans three games, each with a different protagonist and a unique setting. The first game is set in the 1930s, the second in the 1940s and 1950s, and the third in the 1960s. The gameplay involves driving, shooting, and melee combat. The games are mission-based, with a heavy emphasis on the story.


  • Strong narrative with well-developed characters
  • Authentic, immersive settings
  • Wide array of vintage vehicles


  • Some games in the series have technical issues
  • Less freedom compared to other open-world games

3. L.A. Noire

L.A. Noire, developed by Team Bondi and published by Rockstar Games, offers a unique take on the crime action genre by placing players in the shoes of a detective in post-World War II Los Angeles.

Gameplay and Setting

As Detective Cole Phelps, players investigate crime scenes, interrogate witnesses and suspects, and engage in occasional gunfights and car chases. The game is noted for its MotionScan technology, which captures actors' facial expressions in unprecedented detail, adding depth to interrogations.


  • Innovative interrogation mechanics
  • Stunning recreation of 1940s Los Angeles
  • Engaging mystery-solving gameplay


  • Driving mechanics can feel clunky
  • Some may find the pace slow

4. Watch Dogs Series

The Watch Dogs series, developed by Ubisoft Montreal, offers a modern twist to the crime action genre. It combines traditional elements with a unique focus on hacking and technology.

Gameplay and Setting

The series has three games set in different cities—Chicago, San Francisco, and London. As a highly skilled hacker, players can manipulate various electronic systems to their advantage, alongside traditional shooting and driving gameplay. The open-world environments are highly detailed and interactive.


  • Innovative hacking mechanics offer unique gameplay possibilities
  • Highly detailed and interactive open-world environments
  • Multiplayer modes add replayability


  • Some may find the story and characters lacking in depth
  • Occasional technical issues

In conclusion, while Grand Theft Auto may be the most renowned crime action game, there are numerous other titles offering unique experiences and engaging narratives. Whether you prefer the martial arts action of Sleeping Dogs, the historical narratives of the Mafia series, the detective work in L.A. Noire, or the modern hacking gameplay of Watch Dogs, there's a game out there for every crime action enthusiast.

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