The original Saints Row game was rather unremarkable as a GTA clone. Perhaps due to unflattering comparisons between the two series, Saints Row went in a completely new direction after the second game. No reasonable person can now say that Saints Row is an unoriginal version of GTA.
Ironically, the GTA series now uses several features, vehicles, and weaponry first popularized by its direct competitor.
Note: This article reflects the writer's personal views.
5 times GTA took inspiration from Saints Row
#5 - Oppressor vs Specter
Saints Row 3 introduced the Specter, a vehicle aircraft that can be used at ground level and in the skies. Players can use a mounted laser gun to fire at enemies while riding this vehicle.
GTA Online also introduced a similar hybrid vehicle, known as the Oppressor MK II, in the After Hours update. Unlike its predecessor, this version of the vehicle bears a strong resemblance to the Specter from Saints Row. It also uses powerful weaponry, much to the chagrin of GTA Online players who cannot counter it.
Fans on both sides began to joke about the suspicious similarities between the two vehicles. The main Twitter page for the Saints Row series also took notice of this. They stated the following in a tweet, likely directed at Rockstar Games:
"NOW who is copying who..."
#4 - Customizable character creation
Obviously, the concept of character creation is not original to Saints Row; several games already have this feature.
However, among open-world crime series, Saints Rows was one of the first ones to have customizable character creation. They have successfully implemented this feature since the release of the first game back in 2006.
The GTA series has mainly relied on preset characters with defined personality traits. However, Rockstar finally introduced customization for playable characters in GTA Online. This feature was previously limited to hairstyles, tattoos, and clothing. Today, players can pick between a male or female character, along with skin color and body type.
Saints Row customization is still more detailed as it allows players to pick builds for character bodies and gives them the ability to download other player characters online.
#3 - Futuristic weaponry
Released way back in 2013, Saints Row 4 is heavily influenced by sci-fi elements. The main weapons in the game also reflect this reality. Players can use many futuristic tools and weapons such as disintegrators and black-hole generators.
The GTA series, on the other hand, was more well-known for a realistic approach to weapons until a few online updates. For example, after the Arena War update in 2019, GTA players were able to purchase the Widowmaker, which is a plasma machine gun. Such weapons seem out of place in the GTA universe.
That's not to say GTA cannot evolve with the times and adapt to new playstyles. However, Saints Row was able to use futuristic weaponry long before Rockstar considered the concept in the GTA series (San Andreas jetpack aside).
#2 - GPS system and routing
The Saints Row games have always used a GPS system in their map features. Routes can be highlighted on the map, depending on the location the player wants to go to.
By contrast, the GTA series didn't use a GPS system until GTA 4. Prior to the game, players had to manually leave a marker on the map through the pause menu. They also had to navigate the streets using their own knowledge of the area.
#1 - A wackier atmosphere overall
Saints Row has a ridiculously over-the-top nature that sets it apart as a gameplay experience. In the games, players can become President of the United States, stop a destructive alien invasion and even use angelic wings to fly.
GTA is down-to-earth by comparison; it's mainly a crime-drama with some comedy. In recent years, however, GTA Online has taken a more outlandish approach to its gameplay and storylines. In addition to the aforementioned vehicles and weaponry, there are now missions that involve out-of-context problems such as malicious AI technology.
GTA Online more closely resembles Saints Row than it does GTA 5. Some players like the chance of pace, while others believe it ruined their preconceived perception of the GTA series.