Top 5 Rockstar Games


Top 5 Rockstar Games
Bully for you!

Welcome to our new feature series, imaginatively titled “Top 5

Unsurprisingly, we’ll be looking at the Top 5 everything in our chosen spheres of industry. Expect the likes of Top 5 Smartphones, Top 5 Spielberg Films, Top 5 Sega Titles, Top 5 DSLRs, Top 5 Jason Statham Quips,THE WORKS! Basically, if it’s a subject with at least five worthwhile achievements to its name, it makes the cut.

So with the allure of GTAV so dominating our horizon, what better question to ask than...

What are the Top 5 Rockstar Games?

For diversity’s sake (the concept of multiplicity, not the troupe of Street Dancers) let’s assume Rockstar amount to more than just a litany of Grand Theft Auto sequels.

Yes, for every Vice City there’s a Midnight Club. Each San Andreas has its Oni. And for all GTA IV’s glamour, once in a blue moon Rockstar cough up something truly worthy of its controversy... Hi Manhunt, welcome to the party!

As much as any developer can, Rockstar make good on their own hype.
Undoubtedly, they regularly play it safe; their flagship title provides reliable revenue streams. But to forget their penchant for experimentation would be folly. As sour a taste as the freakishly realistic L.A. Noire left in our mouths, one can’t fault Rockstar’s intentions.

Detectification isn’t something often found in videogames... Now we know why...

But for a company with a Hit to Miss ratio of 5:1, whittling down the Top 5 Rockstar Games wasn’t exactly an open and shut case.

Here are my findings,


Max Payne (2001)

Remedy Entertainment deserve the bulk of the credit here. But describing Rockstar as anything but instrumental in Payne’s meteoric rise would be nothing short of folly (which, for the record, is my word of the day!)

Both collaborator and publisher, diving-backwards-as-time-stalls-while-pumping-9mm-rounds-from-twin-pistols AS WE KNOW IT would never have come to pass without Rockstar Toronto driving Max Payne onto consoles.

True enough, Max showed his age last summer. Nonetheless, his opening salvo was a shot of adrenaline straight to the flagging third person shooter genre’s pumper. It now rivals FPS in popularity, thanks in no small part to the efforts of one disgruntled, crack-shot, leather coated booze hound!


Grand Theft Auto III (2001)

The infamous crime spree simulator’s first foray into that popular third dimension, GTA III was instrumental in mainstreaming the Sandbox.

GTA III popularized a template which has acted as the foundation for games as recent as Far Cry 3. You could rob cars, pilot jets and throw flames. All while dodging the fuzz. Missions were there to be completed at your leisure. The environment was rigged to accommodate lateral exploration, impressive views and reckless driving. You could shop for flamboyant costumes, cruise around to preset radio stations and pick up nixers from concerned citizens.

You can also fight fire WITH fire. Literally. It won’t work mind...

Given GTA III’s trailblazing quality, how the Grand Theft Auto Franchise became Rockstar’s Flagship is apparent. People like good games...


The Warriors (2005)

Come out to Play!!!
I, for one, aim to kudos the crap out of The Warriors: A title undoubtedly worthy of its spot among the Top 5 Rockstar Games!

Post-dating its cinematic counterpart by 26 years, Rockstar retain the honour of greatest Movie Tie-In of all time. The Warriors was a hip, slick, stylish rampage of frantic clambering chases and bone crunching free-for-alls.

Supplementing the lore of The Warriors proper, Rockstar devised intuitively simple rumble mechanics. Light and charged attacks dropped a cat’s guard. Grapples and contortions sapped the fight outta him. Broken bottles, toilet bowls, trash cans and load bearing walls put ‘im to sleep. The big sleep!

Though it was no sandbox, The Warriors wasn’t a strictly linear experience. The Gang’s HQ acted as a mission hub, enabling players to let loose in custom multiplayer melees, better their rumble skills, solve some side missions, kill time on some mini-games or further the stunning campaign.

Rockstar attacked this with a legitimate appreciation for Walter Hill’s 1979 classic and genuine enthusiasm for skull busting. The result was simply too good to be ignored!


Bully (2006)

Canis Canem Edit to those among us of the European persuasion, Bully fell victim to Rockstar’s most overblown controversy. And sadly this debate*overshadowed what is arguably Rockstar’s Best Game!
*(Forget organised crime, theft, arson and murder, this one trivialized bullying, guys...)

Gone was the hyper-violence, the severity, the unabashedly bold tone. Switched for a subtler, smarter, tongue-in-cheek look at the extra-curricular antics of a regular schoolyard bully. This oblique commentary neither patronized nor belittled. Instead it showcased all school-ground archetypes, nerd, jock, trendsetter etc as distinct and individual tribes equally capable of dishing it out!

Slingshots replaced pistols. Skateboards replaced motorcycles. Bikes replaced sportscars. Social infractions were answered by oversized prefects and tweed jacketed teachers. Recreational bank robberies and car-jacking were substituted with loftier concerns, like building potato guns or flirting with teenage girls.

You’d build better bicycles in shop class, liaise with the nerds for stinkier stink bombs and get taught kung fu from the resident hobo. And honestly folks, I can’t be the only one who recalls the increasingly suggestive poses struck by Jimmy’s art teacher.

In 2006, Rockstar had a half decade's experience refining their core mechanics. Coupled with a reduced (read. manageable) sandbox still crammed with school grounds, theme parks, beaches and suburbs, Bully wasn’t only a tight package, stuffed with charm.

It was an education, in intelligent game design.


Red Dead Redemption (2010)

The obvious choice.
But there’s a reason for this.

RDR was a labour of love. A dedication to drama. A game for grown-ups.

The Western motif felt more than a simple GTA skin job. The atmosphere and identity of the early 1900s frontiersman coloured this title as much as its golden sunsets and claret backdrops.

And it’s the quieter moments which ingrain themselves to memory, not the bombast.
Hunting cougars for larger bandoliers.
Quick-drawing foul mouthed philanderers.
Donning your cheating suit for a hand of high stakes poker.
Catching a saucy silent movie.
Hog tying a bounty.
Farming happily with your family until the inevitable...

RDR manipulates you, sure. It yanks the heartstrings in a deliberate manner. But it asks that you ride it out. The dramatic payoff, the culmination of 40+ hours of quality gameplay and excellent narration, easily outshines more overt attempts at histrionics (like Heavy Rain or indeed L.A. Noire.)

Red Dead Redemption is a game for grown-ups.

It is not for adolescents intent on running down hookers in a jet ski. Nor is it for adrenaline junkies who insist 97% of play is spent in suspended animation rocketing projectiles into thoroughly mangled corpses (thought there is plenty of that).
It’s for gamers ready to get on board with a fallible yet virtuous protagonist.
It’s for gamers willing to take the fast with the slow, the gallop with the canter, the shoot-out with the sit-in.
It’s for gamers prepared to have their hearts broken.

Basically it’s good.
Go play it.

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