Rockstar Games is probably one of my favorite game companies of all time. Not only did the company produce the acclaimed Grand Theft Auto series, but also titles such as Bully and the Red Dead Redemption games. They have attracted controversy as well for the violent and hedonistic content of their games, especially during their earlier days. Nevertheless, they remain one of my favorite game companies ever. Ideally, I would include every Rockstar game on this list, but as that would be far too expansive, I have decided that I will merely discuss the 5 best Rockstar games of all time.
5. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002)
Hot off the success of Grand Theft Auto III, Rockstar followed up their controversial runaway hit with Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Assuming the role of Tommy Vercetti, a recently released convict and Hawaiin shirt extraordinaire, the player has to wreak havoc on the streets of the titular named Vice City, Rockstar’s answer to the decadence of the 1980s.
The best part of this game hands down is its soundtrack. I am a huge fan of 80s music and nothing beats the exhilarating feeling of cruising down the street while Toto’s Africa blares loudly. The architecture of Vice City is fantastic and makes me wish I could visit it. The game’s playtime is a little on the shorter side and the dated mechanics of 2002 can dampen enjoyment slightly, but overall, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City remains a great game.
4. Bully (2006)
Released during the midst of yet another round of controversy for the company, Bully took Rockstar’s trademark violence and kiddified, or more accurately teenified, it. Instead of being tasked with taking down rival gang members, Bully saw players dismantling the social cliques of High School instead. Via the perspective of protagonist Jimmy Hopkins, Bully takes on every High School stereotype and cranks it up to eleven.
What I love most about the game is the writing. The cliques are all excellent exaggerations of their stereotypes, while I found myself laughing hysterically throughout several parts of the game. It can be a little bit too easy at times, but the pure fun makes up for it.
3. Grand Theft Auto V (2013)
Currently the latest title in its series, Grand Theft Auto V takes what works so well about the games and adds new features to improve gameplay. This time around, the player assumes the role of THREE protagonists; hardened white-collar criminal Michael DeSanta, naive newcomer Franklin Clinton and deranged lunatic Trevor Phillips. Together, the three must plunder and pillage Los Santos, before their enemies have a chance to beat them at their own game.
Being able to play three different characters is nothing short of fantastic. Each character is equipped with their own unique abilities and weaknesses, so you’re forced to use every character at some point. The graphics are excellent and convey the sense of the scope of the city perfectly. While the storyline is a little derivative, it’s still a lot of fun and the game is endlessly replayable.
2. Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018)
After eight years of waiting, Rockstar finally made good on their promise of a sequel to their hit game Red Dead Redemption. Except technically, this game is a prequel, so perhaps they still haven’t made good.
Semantics aside, Red Dead Redemption 2 concerns the exploits of Arthur Morgan, a hardened outlaw who robs, steals and ransacks cities with his gang of fellow bandits in 1899. But the gang is put in a precarious situation after situation and after a while, their hold on the fleeting Wild West is put into question. Can Arthur save his deteriorating gang, or is the West bound to die? I won’t answer these questions.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a phenomenal game. The graphics are the best from any Rockstar game and the story consistently is gripping, daring and chilling. With all this praise, it’s probably a wonder why it’s not the top game on the list, but it will be clear why that’s the case in just a second.
1. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004)
The moment everyone has been waiting for! In the early 2000s, Rockstar was unbeatable. They had released two acclaimed GTA games and the world, with the exception od disgruntled soccer moms, was singing their praises. How could a company on top of the world ascend to even larger heights of success? 2004 answered that very question.
In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, players assume the identity of Carl “CJ” Johnson, a young gang member growing up in the Los Angeles inspired Los Santos, in 1992. After his beloved Grove Street gang commits a horrid act of deception, CJ must traverse through the fictional state of San Andreas, trekking through coastal cities such as San Fierro and gambling havens such as Las Venturas. Will CJ get back at his gang for their actions? Again, that’s for YOU to find out.
There is no question to me that Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is Rockstar’s best game without question. The story is fantastic and strikes the right balance between goofy comedy and engaging drama. The map is extensive and diverse, with fun locations to travel to. There are many side quests and fun activities and the cast is absolutely hilarious. The graphics are a bit dated, but that cannot stop everything else the game has going for it.