Rockstar Games has been behind some of the greatest games of all time. Not every one of their titles has been a hit, however. There can only be one game that rises to the top. Today, we’re going to uncover the cream of the crop as we rank the 29 best Rockstar games from worst to best.
This list will consider critical acclaim, fan response, and personal opinion. You may agree, but you’ll probably disagree. Either way, be sure to keep the conversation going in the comments below.
Red Dead Revolver is the start of Rockstar’s Western franchise
Before Red Dead Redemption took the world by storm, Red Dead Revolver had a more lukewarm reception. Compared to the Grand Theft Auto series at the time, Revolver felt a little more hampered and restricted.
The game features plenty of potential yet doesn’t always live up to it. Development began at Capcom for years before moving to Rockstar. Eventually, it was taken over and acquired by the team at Rock Star San Diego, it was one of the first games the studio worked on. This may have led to the game’s rough edges and lack of polish compared to the mainline Grand Theft Auto franchise.
Later Red Dead games would help redefine the open world genre. The first entry in the franchise is a great starting point for the series and our list of every Rockstar game ranked. Still, there are plenty of other better titles.
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories brought the franchise to PSP
Liberty City Stories is more Grand Theft Auto III-era gameplay. Returning to Liberty City feels great, but the game definitely suffers from feeling like a spin-off.
The goal of making a legitimate Grand Theft Auto game for a handheld platformer is accomplished with Liberty City Stories. It may lack what the console releases are capable of, but this is an authentic GTA experience for the PSP.
Thankfully, the advancements the series has seen are still here, but Liberty City Stories is still hampered by the technological limitations of the PlayStation Portable hardware.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories is a sequel to one of the best Rockstar Games
The same can honestly be said about Vice City Stories. This one gets the edge due to Vice City’s atmosphere, vibe, and style being better than Liberty City.
Storywise, Vice City Stories is a prequel to Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and stars Vic Vance as the game’s protagonist. Given the love and admiration, people have for Vice City, connecting the games this way was a no-brainer.
Like Liberty City Stories, the only thing that really holds Vice City Stories back is the limits of the PSP. It’s another solid GTA experience, but there are better ones out there.
Manhunt is one of the most controversial Rockstar games
Half of the appeal of Manhunt is the shock value. If you look hard enough, there’s a genuinely good game here, but you have to suffer through its flaws.
Manhunt greatly embraces the horror aspects of the game’s atmosphere and executes stealth action exceptionally well. Still, there’s no running from the game’s gratuitous violence; it’s definitely off-putting.
Rockstar Games Presents: Table Tennis is a surprisingly fun tech demo
What’s ultimately a glorified tech demo still earns a spot on our list of every Rockstar game ranked.
Table Tennis is the first game developed with the new RAGE engine for Xbox 360 that would later power subsequent Grand Theft Auto games. In addition to being gorgeous to look at, the game played exceptionally well.
I remember being cautiously optimistic about the game, only to be blown away by how it played. Table Tennis has the uncanny ability to make time fly when you’re playing it. Plus, the Wii version is an absolute blast to play, even with its technical limitations.
The Warriors come out to play-ayyyy
Inspired by the movie of the same name, The Warriors is an honest-to-God throwback beat ’em up.
From the faithful plot and character adaptations to the satisfying gameplay, The Warriors is more than a homage to its source material. This is a passion project filled with love. Not only to the film and novel of the same name but also the beat ’em up genre.
I’m not sure people were clamoring for this game in 2005, but the world is better for its existence.
Can you dig it?
Midnight Club: Los Angeles is the high mark for a long-lost Rockstar Games franchise
Before Rockstar Games solely focused on content for Grand Theft Auto Online, they developed various games that range from all genres. One of them is the racing game Midnight Club, and its best release might just be 2008’s Midnight Club Los Angeles for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Portable.
Midnight Club Los Angeles features a slick presentation, a wide variety of stylish cars, and solid racing gameplay. There’s plenty to see and do in the game as well, as the game boasts some serious depth.
While the Midnight Club franchise now sadly lies dormant, we’ll never forget the strength of the series from back in the day.
Grand Theft Auto Online is incredibly successful but also divivise
It’s been nearly a decade since we saw a release in the mainline Grand Theft Auto franchise. Part of the reason for that is the quality of Grand Theft Auto Online.
The massive, ever-changing world is filled with an endless amount to see and do. Constant updates from Rockstar help keep things fresh with an always-growing amount of available content.
It’s not always smooth sailing, however. The game’s stability was a major issue at launch, though things have improved. The controversial Shark cards allow players to buy in-game money with real-world dollars. This opens the game up to whales swiping their credit card to obtain just about anything they want.
GTA Online is an enjoyable experience if you’re able to get through and look aside its issues and flaws.
L.A. Noire is one of the most technologically revolutionary Rockstar Games
While L.A. Noire may not have lived up to its hype, it still earns a place on our list of every Rockstar game ranked from worst to best.
The game’s feature of not just investigating crime scenes and interrogating suspects but also the facial recognition software was, at the time, revolutionary. It may not always hit the mark, but it still offers an experience unlike any other.
L.A. Noire also serves as a love letter to the Film Noir genre of movies from the 1940s and 1950s. Fans of the genre will be right at home with the game’s story, setting, and characters.
It may not accomplish everything it sets out to, but L.A Noire is still a great time, imperfections and all.
Bully balances light-hearted fun with Rockstar’s third-person action pedigree
Leading up to its release, Bully’s perceived subject matter saw plenty of controversies. It turns out that it was all overblown; Bully acts as a refined and satisfying third-person action-adventure that builds on the flaws of games like Manhunt.
Its setting and characters all held to keep the theme lighthearted and good-natured. Mission design ranks amongst some of the best Rockstar has ever done.
The only issue with Bully is that it’s clearly a product of its time. There often feels like there isn’t enough meat on the bone and the game, at times, feels like it has padding to extend the length of the game. Still, modern design philosophy would most likely lead to a very successful modern-day sequel to Bully.
Grand Theft Auto III forever changed the world of gaming
What Grand Theft Auto III did for gaming cannot be understated. It earns a spot on our list of every Rockstar game ranked and on a list of the most important games ever created.
Bringing the humble series from a top-down action game to a living, breathing open world results in so many new opportunities. Exploring Liberty City in 3D for the first time felt like exploring a brand new world.
Time hasn’t been kind to Grand Theft Auto III, but it’s still one of Rockstar’s best.
Grand Theft Auto IV brought the franchise into high-definition
Grand Theft Auto IV is the high-definition debut of the franchise. With it comes a cavalcade of not just features but things to do.
Maybe a little too much to do.
Story wise, Rockstar is still at the top of their game. From the wide variety of characters to Niko’s deep and personal story, there’s a lot to like. Where GTA IV falters is by throwing everything at the player. Not everyone wants to go bowling, watch television, or waste time in Liberty City.
These are all good ideas in theory, but the execution doesn’t always work out.
Max Payne 3 is a great take from Rockstar Games on a beloved franchise
Rockstar Games decides to take the Max Payne franchise in a different direction.
While Max Payne 3 steers away from the tragedies of its earlier installments, a strong emphasis on narrative design and character development is still present. The game’s overall tone is different too, resulting in a more action-packed, cinematic experience that helps make this one of the best Rockstar games and the best in the series.
What’s truly remarkable about Max Payne 3 is how the game manages to deliver strong, important, and serious themes. This is the developer known for completely satirizing American culture, yet Rockstar still balances the incredibly solid third-person shooter action with a poignant message.
The Lost and Damned is a fine follow-up to GTA IV
Lost and Damned, the first DLC expansion for Grand Theft Auto IV, feels more focused than its base game.
While it fails to solve some gameplay issues from the base game, The Lost and Damned improves virtually everywhere else. Motorcycle handing is leagues better than it was previously, as is the case with the game’s story, voice acting, and character development.
Does it help that your cousin isn’t constantly calling you to go bowling? Sure, but Lost and Damned can even get past the constant distractions. It may lack the over-the-top personality of other GTA titles, but it’s still better than the original GTA IV release.
The Ballad of Gay Tony is the best GTA IV experience
Ballad of Gay Tony features the flair and personality that wasn’t always present in other versions of Grand Theft Auto IV.
In addition to closing some loose ends from the base game’s story, The Ballad of Gay Tony forgoes the rags-to-riches stories of the prior releases. Protagonist Luis Lopez is already a Liberty City success story. As a result, we’re given a much-needed change of pace with the game’s narrative structure.
Grand Theft Auto IV hasn’t seen the same love and admiration as other titles in the franchise. Having said that, its final journey is incredibly memorable and one of the best Rockstar games.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is one of the most beloved Rockstar games
If Grand Theft Auto III was the gameplay design breakthrough for Rockstar Games, then Vice City is the same for the franchise’s style and personality.
Vice City follows the landmark title by expanding the game in every possible way. The new location of Vice City takes the 1980s Miami Vice style to the max. The game’s characters, aesthetic, and music all nail that 80’s look and feel.
There’s more than the upgrade style and flair here; the addition of motorcycles, improved voice acting, and enhanced gameplay all make this not just a worthy successor to GTA III but an overall better game.
Red Dead Redemption is an astounding accomplishment
Red Dead Revolver is a good, not great, Western game from Rockstar. Red Dead Redemption is not just a great Western game but the start of a new flagship franchise for the developer.
On paper, it seems like a winning formula: make Grand Theft Auto, but in the Wild West. It helps that, unlike their previous Red Dead game, Redemption is built from the ground-up in-house. Key ideas are taken from Red Dead Revolver and expanded upon, using Rockstar’s knowledge of developing massive open-world games.
The result is a massive breakthrough and a resounding success. Red Dead Redemption delivers an experience that’s completely new and fresh when compared to Grand Theft Auto. The franchises both share the same core DNA, but the emphasis on its characters, the Old West setting, and bullet time mechanic all help deliver something that’s both familiar and entirely new.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is the peak of the PS2 GTA era
Grand Theft Auto III built the foundation for a new era of open-world gameplay. Vice City added flair, personality, and style to the franchise. San Andreas took the best of both worlds into one brilliant package.
The game is a technological marvel to even exists on the PlayStation 2 hardware. It’s hard to believe that this game can even run on the system, but it does and started out as a PS2 exclusive. It was later ported to the Xbox, where, despite its infamous controversy, it reached its full potential.
San Andreas draws from the Los Angeles climate in the 1990s to deliver a mature, meaningful story that’s more serious than prior outings. With gameplay, GTA: San Andreas draws a lot of inspiration from the RPG genre while still sticking with what has always worked in terms of third-person shooter gameplay.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of the greatest games of all time
Not only does Red Dead Redemption 2 meet its expectations and hype, it arguably exceeds them.
One of the best Rockstar games ever made delivers a deep, profound, and mature story, complete with an impressive amount of characters to meet and interact with. You’ll learn about their stories and their experiences and grow connections as you build personal relationships and develop attachments to these characters.
The gameplay of Red Dead Redemption 2 doesn’t always work, but it has no equal when it does. Between the gunfights and the ability to slow down and take in the game’s beautiful environments, Read Dead knows how to build up to its climactic moments while still allowing the player to slow down and relax.
Grand Theft Auto V is the best title from Rockstar Games
The magnum opus for Rockstar Games, Grand Theft Auto V is everything you could ever want from a GTA game.
Narratively, it builds from its predecessor in every possible way, delivering multiple stories and narratives that perfectly weave together between the main characters. Michael, Franklin, and Trevor all go through their own journey of self-discovery and purpose.
In terms of gameplay, the sky is truly the limit. Unlike GTA IV, including everything to have a game where you can do everything, Grand Theft Auto V is packed with engaging and worthwhile content.
It’s going to be hard for the next Grand Theft Auto to top this.
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