Police force's iPhone game 'looks like Grand Theft Auto'

A police force has been ridiculed for releasing an iPhone app which gamers say bears a distinct resemblance to violent crime game Grand Theft Auto.

A police force has been ridiculed for releasing an iPhone app which gamers say looks like violent crime game Grand Theft Auto.

Northamptonshire Police unveiled the free iPhone app called 'First Response' this week as a PR stunt - but gamers say it looks like Grand Theft Auto, one of the most controversial computer games ever made.

In the force's version, users can drive a squad car around Northamptonshire Police HQ in time-trial races.

In the hit console series - many of which are now re-released on iPhone - players can beat up prostitutes and murder policemen to steal their vehicles.

Birmingham gaming blogger Phil Cole said: "The game bears a striking resemblance to Grand Theft Auto - albeit an amateurish one.

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"There's not many games where you drive around in a police car and that was immediately what I thought when I first saw it.

"I'm not sure if that was the effect the force were going for bearing in mind GTA is one of the most violent video games ever made.

"A few of my gaming buddies are very amused by it."

Twitter users made comments such as, “LOL - Northants Police game - it looks a bit like GTA."

The Grand Theft Auto series  has sold 114 million games since it launched in 1997 - set in a series of cities where the player runs riot, stealing cars and committing crimes.

Newspapers and politicians have frequently called for the games to be banned for encouraging crime - but the 'open world' games are one of the most reliable hit machines in gaming.

Grand Theft Auto IV, the last installment, came out in 2008 - selling 22 million copies.

Assistant Chief Constable Martin Jelley said: "We are always trying to think of new and innovative ways in which we can engage with members of the public.

"The iPhone app is a bit of fun, but also allows people to get in touch with us through our other very popular online channels.

"The app has been developed internally by a member of the Corporate Communications team who has been working on this for some time, in his own time; it's great to see such innovation within the force."

The app is free to download from the iPhone App store and provides access to the force website, Facebook page, Twitter account and YouTube page.