In honor of the release of one of the year’s biggest titles, L.A. Noire, it’s time to take a look at the works from the most controversial publisher of all-time: Rockstar Games. They’ve published some of the most innovative and well liked games ever, spanning a multitude of platforms and generations. Everyone knows about Grand Theft Auto, but does it top the list as their best game of all-time?
With that said, I’m just going to let everyone know the two rules I had for judgement. One, I am using the versions I played as the base for judgement since there are discrepancies from platform to platform. Two, one game per franchise. That means only one Grand Theft Auto will be appearing.
Note: The list is descending from “worst” (loosely used here) to best.
5. The Warriors (2005): This game came out of nowhere to steal a spot in gamers’ and critics’ hearts. Based on the film from back in the 70’s, The Warriors became a modest hit for being one of the most faithful movie games ever. Great care was taken with the source material as it mixed solid beat ‘em up mechanics with an intriguing story, amazing voice acting and a dark, gritty environment.
4. Bully (2006): Coming late in the last console cycle, Bully proved that old consoles still packed some of the best experiences. The universe was highly unique, providing a look into the twisted world of one Jimmy Hopkins at the private school Bullworth Academy. The open world structure provided opportunities for exploration, but the mini-games of the school classes made learning fun. With a fantastic story, interesting characters and a fresh new world to explore, Bully deserved greatness even with news controversies breathing down its back.
3. Max Payne (2001): L.A. Noire’s Cole Phelps could be based on Max Payne’s hardened, self-destructive character in this fierce tale of revenge. The story is fantastic, driven by the emotional ride of Max and screamed “Movie!” when it came out. It’s too bad the movie sucked. The combat was fast and fluid while demanding patience and skill. The real innovation that the title brought was “Bullet Time”, a future staple of gaming.
2. Red Dead Redemption (2010): This amazing title was more than a “Western Grand Theft Auto.” It redefined the standards of creating a beautifully faithful universe for a time period. With a massive, wide expansive desert, the game had so much to explore that gamers could lose themselves for days without ever touching the main story. There were missions, hunting wild animals, challenges, gambling… the list goes on and on. Throw in multiplayer and the expansion “Undead Nightmare” and it’s obvious why Red Dead Redemption became an instant classic.
1. Grand Theft Auto 4 (2008): There was only room for one Grand Theft Auto game and it came down to GTA 3 or GTA 4. The nod for me goes to GTA 4 on the strength of a few different areas.
- GTA 4 has some of the best storytelling ever. Niko Bellic’s character is full of emotional swings and the story doesn’t become overly convoluted or bogged down with involving huge numbers of characters. The voice acting is incredibly well done, the script is realistic and players can sympathize with Niko or any of the other main character’s stories. It is one of the more perfectly executed stories of the American dream gone amuck in the seedy underbelly of society.
- Liberty City is just plain magnificent. The world is literally alive with hustle and bustle. Each side street and alley is full of detail and each character has great animations to make the experience that much more whole.
- Multiplayer. There have been far too many hours lost in “Free Roam” with friends and strangers to deny the fact that this mode needs to be a staple is future installments of the Grand Theft Auto series.
Overall, everyone will not agree with this list. I picked GTA 4 as number 1 by including expansions as well; something GTA 3 was never able to add on to the content. Regardless, the most controversial video game publishing company has made some of the most beloved franchises of all-time.