12 Best Gang Crime Games Like Mafia

Image credit: Steam

The Mafia series is up there with the most popular and critically acclaimed gangster game series. It was one of those games that felt like “more than just a game” if that makes sense.

The first game, in particular, Mafia, was one of the best games of its era. The visuals were fantastic and the gameplay mechanics felt like an upgrade on almost everything else that was available back then. The sequel, Mafia II, was even better but Mafia III was a love-it-or-hate-it situation.

If you played Mafia at a really young age, then you may not have appreciated the story as much as you should’ve. That story was arguably the strongest point of the game, ahead even of the captivating cutscenes and the gameplay I already mentioned.

Playing in a fictional city that pays beautiful homage to New York, Chicago, and San Francisco in the 1930s to 50s feels inspired, and the additional element of mafia families and all the drama surrounding them just makes it even more exciting.

If you’re looking for games similar to Mafia, then this guide is for you. I’ve put together twelve of the best gang crime games like Mafia, starting with another one of the most popular titles in gaming history.

Grand Theft Auto

We might as well get the most obvious choice out of the way first, eh?

Grand Theft Auto feels like it has been with us since the inception of modern gaming.

The series contains several action-adventure, sandbox-style games that feature a similar premise to Mafia – gang wars, daily crime, story missions, and everything in between.

The first Grand Theft Auto game was released as far back as 1997, and the series covered a ton of ground in terms of advancing the series technically, up to the point where GTA V was released in 2013.

Now, as far as the gameplay goes, there are several GTA games that offer something similar to the Mafia series.

However, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to recommend a game that is only available on an outdated platform, so let’s look at the more recent options.

I already mentioned GTA V which, as of the launch of the ninth-gen consoles, is the most recent and easiest recommendation.

However, if we’re considering the remastered edition of older versions, then Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition is worth checking out.

The collection contains remastered editions of some of the best games in the series such as GTA III (2001), GTA: Vice City (2002), and GTA: San Andreas (2004).

It was published by Rockstar Games in 2021 and although there were complaints about cosmetic glitches and dropping framerates in the remasters, it is still the best way to relive the old GTA days.

Red Dead Redemption

If you’re bored of the old-timey but urban setting of the 50s Mafia, then the Red Dead Redemption series offers a nice change of pace to that by presenting these gang crime games set in the Wild West of the United States of America.

The Red Dead series is another brilliant effort from Rockstar Games, and Red Dead Redemption is the second game in the series. The game was published in the same year that Mafia II was published, while Red Dead Redemption 2 was published two years after Mafia III.

Obviously, RDR2 is the stronger recommendation of the two because it is available on more easily accessible platforms, and is generally just a more polished experience than the first game.

In fact, it is considered to be one of the best open-world games for PS5, despite being published years before the console was launched.

In RDR2, you play as a member of a gang of gunslingers that are constantly on the run from the law and also involved in gang wars with other groups.

Like Mafia, RDR2 is praised heavily for its story and the depth of its main characters. By the end of it, it feels like you’ve been in control of someone that was a true friend in real life.

RDR2, in my opinion, is not just an alternative to Mafia, it offers a better experience overall.

Every little detail, from the physics of your weapons to the ragdoll death kill cams of NPCs is so well-thought-out and realistic, making the game a more immersive experience.

If you’d like to swap the stone brick roads and rickety vehicles of old-time U.S.A with an even older, horseback-led alternative, then the Red Dead Redemption series is the way to go.

Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs was a decent open-world game when it was first released in 2012. Still, the developers, United Front Games, really took things to another level with the remastered definitive edition that was published only two years later.

It feels like, in comparison to Mafia, both games moved toward extreme ends of a scale. While the original Mafia game and Mafia II were absolutely adored by gamers, the newer Mafia III and the remastered trilogy did not get as much love.

Like Mafia, Sleeping Dogs is set in an open world, albeit in Hong Kong instead of the U.S.A. Also, like Mafia, you’re heavily involved with a gang, this time the Sun On Yee Triad organization instead of the mafia families in Mafia.

That said, Mafia is more story-oriented, but that’s not to say that Sleeping Dogs does not have an excellent story mode. In fact, there is more to do with Sleeping Dogs after completing the story than there is in the Mafia games.

Additionally, there is more hand-to-hand combat than the use of weapons in Sleeping Dogs compared to Mafia, especially in the earlier stages of the game.

The good news is that combat is very well executed and you’ll probably enjoy it even more than guns once you get the hang of it.

As far as games like Mafia goes, Sleeping Dogs offers similar gameplay elements in some ways, but with the right twists in the right places to give you a different but equally enjoyable experience within a similar premise.

Yakuza

If you think the mafia families in Mafia are something, have you tried the Japanese mafia?

The Yakuza is a transnational organized crime syndicate originating from Japan, and the series of games borne from the idea of these groups offers some of the best gang crime gameplay like Mafia out there.

The Yakuza and The Mafia have one thing in common – both groups tend to be glamorized in fictional settings that sugarcoat the ruthless and cutthroat (literally) mode of operation of the groups in real life.

Where games such as GTA place more emphasis on committing crimes rather than the gangs or organized syndicates, Yakuza and Mafia are unapologetically about the territoriality, alliances, betrayal, and bitter rivalries that come with real-life gang activity.

There are several games in the Yakuza series, starting from 2005’s Yakuza down to 2020’s Yakuza: Like a Dragon with a few spin-offs in between. For the purpose of this guide, there are a number of options to consider.

Yakuza 4 was published in the same year as Mafia II, and the game was remastered for eight-gen in 2019 and 2021, so there’s a good place to start.

From there, you can work your way down to Yakuza Kiwami 1 & 2 (2016 & 2017), and then Yakuza: Like a Dragon.

Alternatively, you may do a bit of research to decide which Yakuza game to play first.

You will progress from the real-time beat ’em up battle system of earlier titles to the real-time cum turn-based alternative in the newer Like a Dragon.

You will also take control of characters so deeply rooted in the underworld of the lowliest extremes of Japan, and others closer to the top of the rankings enough to have their own loyal followers.

Don’t be deceived by the seemingly more traditional/cultural style of the Yakuza games though, they are generally set in a more recent time period compared to Mafia.

So, if you were looking for something with a more modern feel to it, you’re welcome.

Watchdogs

Watchdogs is an action-adventure, open-world video game developed and published by Ubisoft.

The first game was released in 2014, followed by Watchdogs 2 (2016) and Watchdogs: Legion (2020). The games are available on PCs, PlayStation, Nintendo, and Xbox.

The Watchdogs games are generally centered around hacker protagonists with different motivations that usually lead to involvement with the criminal underworlds of their respective cities.

In the first installment of Watchdogs, you play as a gray hat hacker slash vigilante on a mission to avenge the killing of his niece.

Watchdogs 2 follows another hacker, Marcus Holloway, that is unjustly punished for a crime he did not commit.

Marcus joins a hacking group known as DedSec and works with them to take down the city’s surveillance system, an action which opens a can of worms that the story then builds upon.

Watchdogs Legion, the third game, follows the hacker syndicate from the previous game, DedSec, as they try to clear their names after being framed for a series of terrorist bombings.

The core gameplay of these three games is quite similar, with the typical shooting, stealth, puzzles, and driving mechanics that are also present in Mafia and other games discussed so far.

However, the twist here is that while you’re still part of a syndicate that is technically breaking the law, it still feels like you’re on the good side.

If you want to commit crimes freely without feeling too much guilt as you might with Mafia, then this is the sort of game that you should be playing.

Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate

You may be wondering what an Assassin’s Creed game has got to do with gang crime, but Syndicate actually blends the typical Assassin’s Creed gameplay with a new element of organized crime syndicates.

The good thing is, it does so pretty well.

Like other games in the series, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate is an action-adventure experience. It is the ninth major installment in the series, serving as the direct sequel to 2014’s Assassin’s Creed Unity.

The story is set in 1868 London, and it follows the war between the Brotherhood of Assassins and the Templar Order. The Templar Order has taken control of the city, and the Assassins are on a mission to win that control back.

The main problem between both factions is in their approach to achieving peace. While the Templars are particular about leading with full control of their subjects, the Brotherhood of Assassins believes that the people should have liberty.

The twin Assassins on the mission, Jacob and Evie Frye, will find themselves in the deepest depth of underground organized crime syndicates as they attempt to win back territories from Templar-controlled gangs.

This is one of the best games set in the 1800s, and as such, you can expect weapons that are consistent with the time period.

However, a good chunk of combat is also done with knives and knuckles – the old-fashioned, bone-crunching way that we know and love.

L.A Noire

If you really love crime games, chances are you’ve at least heard about L.A Noire even if you’ve never played it. Well, it is one of the best gang crime games like Mafia, so this is the sign that you needed to pick it up.

L.A Noire is a detective action-adventure game developed by Team Bondi and published by Rockstar Games in 2011. It is one of the best detective games for Steam, Xbox Series S/X, and PS4/5, providing further proof that Rockstar Games really know their crime stuff!

The game was remastered for the Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One in 2017, so it is fairly up to speed with more recent titles in terms of performance, even if the graphics still look a tad dated.

L.A Noire is a linear game but it takes place in an open world set in the late 1940s. You play the role of a detective known as Agent Cole as he tries to work his way up the rankings of the LA police department.

To achieve this, you have to solve a series of criminal cases by exploring crime scenes, unearthing clues, grilling witnesses, and collecting evidence.

The mechanics involved in grilling witnesses is worth mentioning due to the use of motion capture technology that helps to betray the real emotions of a character, making your job easier if you’re good at reading facial cues.

As far as gang crime games go, L.A Noire is another option that lets you play on the good side.

You’re still very much in the thick of criminal activity, but it’s more a case of being on the outside looking in since you’re not the one committing the crimes.

Payday

Payday is a first-person shooter developed by Overkill Software and published by Sony Online Entertainment.

Payday: The Heist is the first game in the series, and it was released in 2011. You play as one of four robbers in single or multiplayer mode, teaming up for a series of heists.

You’re not allowed to kill civilians, although you can take some of them hostage to use in an exchange should any member of the team get arrested.

A sequel, Payday 2, was published by 505 Games in 2013 for Windows, Xbox 360, and PS3. Two years later, PS4 and Xbox One versions were released, and a Nintendo Switch version followed in 2018.

Payday 2 follows the same premise as the first game, taking the gang to Washington D.C for more heists. Again, you may choose to do these missions alone or team up with three other gang members.

Your gang can rob banks, shops, armored vehicles, and even get involved in producing and pushing drugs.

Payday 2 also features deeper customization of your chosen character, and it overall looks better than the first game.

If bank heists or similar sounds like the kind of gang crime fun you’re looking for, then Payday is a solid Mafia alternative.

Saints Row

If the gameplay in Mafia is a bit too serious for you, and you’re looking for some ridiculously over-the-top action instead, then you should have a look at Saints Row games.

Saints Row games are similar to GTA in the sense that they are set in an open world with sandbox-style gameplay that lets you do pretty much whatever you want.

The game is centered around the 3rd Street Saints, a fictional street gang out of the Saints Row district.

The first Saints Row game was published in 2006, a few years after Mafia was published. However, that title is dated now and might not be as enjoyable as it was all those years ago.

So, if you’re looking for the Saints Row game that serves as the best Mafia alternative with some gang crime action, then you should be looking at the more recent Saints Row reboot published by Deep Silver in 2022.

That version featured a return to the series’ roots in terms of gang warfare but still retains enough of the over-the-top action and loudmouth dialogue that Saints Row games have become known for.

The game is set in a city controlled by three criminal gangs with various modes of operation, so you have more than enough work on your hands to form your own gang and upset the hierarchy to become the new city-runners.

Blood and Truth

Credit: PlayStation

If you’re looking for something even more immersive than the standard first-person perspectives offered by some of the games discussed so far, Blood and Truth might give you what you need.

Blood and Truth is a first-person shooter developed by London Studio and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment in 2019.

The reason it is more immersive is that the game is played with the PlayStation virtual reality headset, so it feels even more like you’re actually in those intense gunfight scenes.

But this is not just any shooter. You play the role of an ex-Special Forces soldier named Ryan Marks as he tries to save his family from a London crime boss.

It’s one thing to have gang wars, but to try to take those gangs on solo? Yeah, you know what to expect.

Now, the gameplay here is very different from that of Mafia, but since we’re focusing on the gang crime aspects, it does not get much better than London mobsters shooting at you in what looks like a cinematic movie with you as the heroic main actor.

Guns, Gore and Cannoli

Guns, Gore & Cannoli (GGC) is another over-the-top, wacky and intense action game series developed and published by Rogueside for all the major gaming platforms.

If you’re thinking the sounds familiar to Saints Row, you’re not wrong. However, the approach to that similar style is quite different here as you’ll see straightaway from the in-game screenshot attached.

Where Saints Row is a fully-fledged 3D open world with high levels of detail, GGC is a 2D side-scrolling platformer/shooter that is fairly limited in terms of the size of the environment and what you can do in it.

The first game in the series was released in 2015, while the second was published in 2018. If you can, it is worth playing the first game before the second, but you can enjoy the second with no prior context provided by the first.

The story in the first game follows a 1920s gangster named Vinnie Cannoli, hired to rescue someone from a rival gang in Thugtown (yeah, I know).

For some reason, everyone in the city you’re sent to in the earlier levels are zombies, including the cops that are after you.

The story continues in the second game, presenting Vinnie as the sole survivor of his town following the zombie outbreak that happened in the first game. Twenty years have passed, and he is once again caught in the middle of rival gangsters.

The gameplay mechanics of GGC are fairly intuitive. You will learn to switch weapons on the fly as you scale over obstacles and shoot down anything that breathes too loud. There are plenty of weapons, and there are plenty of wise guy jokes.

The cartoonish art style does not do much to scale down the violence either. But, if you’re here, then that’s exactly what you want.

The is the Police

This is the Police is an adventure cum strategy game developed by Weappy Studio and published by Nordic Games and EuroVideo Medien in 2016.

The game features a premise where your character is a police chief set to retire in 180 days.

Before the time that you have left runs out, you set a target to make $500,000 whichever way you want, and one of those options just happens to be by turning a blind eye to the activities of the local mafia.

The mafia promises to reward you handsomely for doing so, or threaten to kill you if you don’t comply.

As the game progresses, the police department will be called to several locations to handle situations of varying levels of severity. The more serious the situation is, the more cops you’re typically going to send.

This is where the strategy bits come in as you have to decide how many and which types of cops to send to each location. There is politics involved too, and the political stands of each cop affects the team cohesion for each unit that you send out.

This is the Police 2, published in 2018 follows a similar pattern to the first game. You have to run the police department, investigate crimes, arrest criminals and manage your subordinates.

As usual, Your decisions will determine how in-line with the law their actions are…or aren’t.

To that end, perhaps the most difficult part of the whole thing is trying to stay out of prison yourself, as this will depend entirely on a series of difficult choices that affect your attempts to retire with a healthy bank balance.

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