Following the release of Rockstar Games’ seminal Grand Theft Auto 3 in 2001, GTA clones of all kinds flooded the market, each one angling to capitalize on the sandbox game’s popularity. That era of gaming lasted well into the 2010s, giving birth to Mafia, The Getaway, and Saints Row. Even brand licenses imitated GTA’s winning formula—Scarface, The Godfather, and The Sopranos received video game adaptations in 2006 to varying degrees of success.
With 2005’s Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, developer Pandemic Studios delivered a GTA clone that bucked the common trend, sidestepping crime-ridden urban environments to instead use a politically unstable Korea as its setting. The end result offered a revolutionary experience whose main rival made it to market in the 2008 sequel, World in Flames.