The best Rockstar Games releases, ranked
Rockstar Games is a company with a passionate fanbase, much beloved for its numerous contributions to the video game industry.
The company’s earliest releases included a skateboarding game, the crime drama it is known for, a port of a Bungie game, and a racing game based on the Austin Powers series that promised to make players feel “very, very horny” before its release was cancelled. It can be easy to feel lost among the wealth of productions Rockstar has released to date, and with the company putting out so-called “definitive editions” of older content, it can be difficult to determine what is fun and what might be a depressing cash grab.
As always, we’ve got this matter covered.
Here is our list of the best interactive entertainment created by Rockstar Games to date. We used critical reception for one half of our process and internal debates for the other, as a high score does not always make for a thrilling journey.
Warning, there may be spoilers below. Please proceed with caution.
10. Grand Theft Auto III (2001)
This game is the one that got things rolling. This title revolutionized the genre and managed a 97 percent positive reception on its initial release. Countless nights and skipped school days were wasted on the streets of Liberty City and, while its controls and visual effects remain wonky even in its most recent re-release, the overall product still has merit today.
9. Midnight Club II (2003)
No organization in the creative space wants to be pigeonholed into making a single kind of product, and this article proves that Rockstar Games managed to avoid just such an artistic quagmire. Midnight Club II‘s 86 percent positive production rating is evidence of this fact. The racing is fun, the cars are diverse, and you get to take your vehicle to places you would not be able to in reality. A simple but very fun level of fulfillment.
8. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004)
Looking at many of the stills from this release, despite its 95 percent positive response, may give many who played it a sense of anxiety that persists even today. Though difficult, San Andreas was arguably the peak of the genre with its solid mix of fun, scale, serious commentary, and a stacked celebrity cast. Rockstar Games really needs to revisit this era and give fans San Andreas around the time of the O.J. Simpson case. It would make instant money and be a nice bookend to many of the moments contained within the original release.
7. The Warriors (2005)
The above still is from the movie The Warriors that the game is based on. We include it here simply because many today may not know that this release, with an 85 percent positive response, was an adaptation. For cracking a genre that is famously difficult to get right, this title earns a high spot on our list of Rockstar Games’ best work. It also prompts in us a deep desire for the company to adapt something else in the future. Maybe they can be the team that finally releases our dream game based on the Jurassic Park franchise?
6. Grand Theft Auto IV (2008)
This entry into the ongoing GTA series may have gotten a bit too caught up in its own seriousness, but somehow still managed to earn a 98 percent positive response. It also brought the series into the modern age by providing the option for online multiplayer. A return to Liberty City could be an interesting angle for a new Rockstar Games release, but we’d need to see some major changes before that could occur.
5. Red Dead Redemption (2010)
Everyone loves a good western, and this 95 percent positive game is one of the best. It also has the added bonus of perfectly fitting into the “where men cried” meme. Its wide-open map remains gorgeous to this day, its action can be chaotic but thrilling, and somehow this game still finds time to tell a unique story from an oft-forgotten moment in history. This game stands out as one of Rockstar’s best.
4. Grand Theft Auto V (2013)
Despite criticism that Rockstar has become stuck in a loop with this 97 percent positive production, this is one of the company’s top-tier games. The game provides a unique experience, as players are able to switch between three main playable characters at any given time within the story. It makes for a singular and thoroughly entertaining experience. If only they would release actual single-player content updates like they promised.
3. L.A. Noire (2011)
Rockstar Games was forced to rush to the rescue in order to see this release, with its 89 percent positive response, cross the finish line, but the effort was not for nothing. The story, set in post WWII Los Angeles, crackles with atmosphere, highlights some real figures, and presents a solid start to a franchise that is arguably better than many of the others ranked here.
2. Max Payne 3 (2012)
This 86 percent positive production is Rockstar Games’ second-best game to date for a variety of reasons. It gives its main character a proper and definitive ending, it genuinely helped a real person to navigate their personal struggles, and it addressed alcoholism in a meaningful way devoid of the juvenile humor often injected into titles created by this studio. It also recently became backwards compatible for the new Xbox systems, so this may the perfect opportunity to give it a shot.
1. Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018)
This is it. The best thing Rockstar Games has made to date has a 93 percent positive reception from critics, was unfortunately made in wildly inappropriate labor conditions, and is packed full of beauty, brains, and plenty of fun. We wish it had not received a sequel title to go with its prequel story but, hey, every silver lining is attached to a dark cloud or two.