Rockstar games: from the worst to the best, according to critics

Most developers wait for E3 to announce their great games, whether new IPs or sequels. If there is a company that evades this rule in a masterful way, that is what we are going to talk about today.

The words “controversy” and “perfectionism” can define most of the titles launched by her. You voted and here’s the Rockstar’s Worst to Best Special. Here are our criteria, pay close attention:

  • The notes presented are based on Metacritic note aggregators. If the title was released for more than one platform initially, we will take the notes for each version and do an arithmetic average.
  • We ranked the 5 best and 5 worst games of the company, after all, this is the idea of ​​the board.
  • It is worth remembering that Rockstar is a developer and distributor, so some of the games that appeared were not necessarily developed by it.
  • We do not consider games or versions of mobiles or laptops or expansions.

Let’s start with the best!

5) Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002) – 94.5 (PC, PS2, Xbox)

At the end of 2002, it reached stores Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. In the game, we accompany Tommy Vercetti, a criminal who is part of the Forelli Mafia, who just got out of prison after serving 15 years for murder. As soon as he returns to freedom, his boss Sonny Forelli sends Tommy to Vice City to set up an organization’s drug operation. But the work of our protagonist will be very complicated, having to perform several tasks that will put his life at stake.

Among the main influences of the visual are the films Scarface and The Final Payment, both starring Al Pacino and directed by Brian de Palma, in addition to the 1980s television series, Miami Vice. Its 9 square kilometer map is divided into two large islands and the areas will be unlocked as the gameplay progresses.

The development of the title started at the end of 2001, after the launch of GTA 3, but it was just the modeling of the 3D characters. Production began effectively in early 2002, and it was thought of as an expansion pack for its predecessor, adding missions, clothing, vehicles and weapons. After some discussions, they decided to make it a stand alone with the name of the city that it would take place.

At the time, this was the game with the company’s largest budget, 5 million dollars, compared to the 137 million in the GTA V, it seems like a change of drip. In total, it has 8,000 audio lines, 90 minutes of cutscenes and 9 hours of music, totaling 113 tracks and commercials.

Critics praised the missions, saying that they are more complex, and that the plot has gotten better because of that. The same goes for the protagonist Tommy, who received the voice of actor Ray Liotta, who was described as very charismatic, the world is more detailed and realistic than its predecessor, the soundtrack is unforgettable and the characters are colorful and memorable. As it is not absolutely perfect, the artificial intelligence and the loading time of the phases displeased the analysts. His grade was 94.5.

4) Grand Theft Auto III (2001) – 95 (PC, PS2, Xbox)

Grand Theft Auto III is one of the most important games in the franchise, if not the most important. Why is it simple: that was the title that transformed GTA in what we know today. A third-person camera, a gigantic 3D world to explore and a character with a captivating story.

An interesting thing about the protagonist Claude, who escaped from prison and is looking for revenge on his girlfriend Catalina who, during a bank robbery, betrayed him and left him to die, is that he is totally quiet, silent, mute. Another curious fact is that, in addition to being voiceless, he also has no name. Only in San Andreas, which was released 3 years later, the name was made official. The producers’ idea is that the character would be who the player wanted him to be.

The game takes place in Liberty City, which is inspired by New York City. Due to the attacks of September 11, 2001, the same year the game was released, some references and some aspects of the gameplay were modified because they were not very appropriate. The police car changed to a standard black and white design instead of referring to those in the city of the attacks, a mission that made reference to terrorists was withdrawn and even pedestrian dialogues were modified. In addition, the game that would come out on September 19 was postponed by three weeks.

GTA 3 it was made by DMA Design, from Scotland, and Rockstar, from New York, and used as reference films by mobsters by director Martin Scorsese and games like The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario 64. Many characters were animated through motion capture , but the production team had a hard time animating NPCs entering vehicles, due to the variety of the size of the automobiles.

In the end, the game was an absolute success. Briefly, they loved the sound, gameplay and design of the world, but they didn’t like the controls. The PC version, which came out a few months later, was praised for its improved visuals and controls, but the minimum hardware requirements were criticized. In the end, his note was 95 spiked.

3) Grand Theft Auto IV – 95.3 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

And we’re still in Liberty City this time to talk about Grand Theft Auto IV, released in 2008. This was the first game in the franchise to come out for the PS3 and Xbox 360, in addition to being the first in which the protagonist is not American. Niko Bellic, who was born in Eastern Europe, arrives in the city on a cargo ship to conquer the American dream, look for the man who betrayed his war unit 15 years ago and reunite with his cousin Roman, who loves bowling.

The game is the first of the so-called HD era, because the developer decided to change the style and tone of the game to something more realistic and detailed. To achieve this result, the production of the title passed through the hands of several Rockstar studios around the world. It was the second game to use the RAGE graphics engine, which is still used today by the company in its most diverse games.

Liberty City has been expanded and focuses on the 4 boroughs of New York: Broker, which is Brooklyn, Dukes, which is Queens, Bohan, which is the Bronx, and Algonquin, which is Manhattan. In addition, there is also the independent state of Alderney, which is New Jersey, and three small islands. Charge Island is Randall’s Island, Colony Island is Roosevelt Island and, finally, Happiness Island is Liberty Island.

The game has a total of 19 radios, three of which are conversations. Participants on these radio stations include Iggy Pop, Bill Hader and Patrice O’Neal.

Regarding the criticism, an interesting fact: if we consider only the console versions, this is the second best game in terms of Metacritic’s rating, behind only The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and tied with several other titles. He basically set a new standard for the franchise, for open world games and for the entire video game world. The city and its visuals were acclaimed, the same goes for the narrative and the protagonist. The combat is more responsive than the previous games, the sound design is great, the soundtrack is full of hits and the radio stations are in a great mood. The PC port, which came out at the end of the same year, was criticized for being inferior to consoles, even though it has improved its visuals and added textures. With that, he occupies the sprawling place with 95.3 of note.

2) Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018) – 95.6 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

Launched in 2018, Red Dead Redemption 2 is the latest game from the developer to hit the market. The story takes place before the first game, in the year 1899, a time known as the decay of the old west. We accompany Arthur Morgan, one of the members of the Van der Linde gang, the same as John Marston, who is on the run after an unsuccessful crime. Now, in a new place, the group aims to prosper again.

Its map of approximately 75 km² has several cities, simple and modern, mountains, valleys, rivers, meadows and so on. In addition to their nature full of varieties, the animals in these regions are also differentiated, being possible to hunt them to sell the items recovered at merchants.

The game features a camping system that can be improved by buying upgrades with the money earned from adventures, which yields several benefits for the gang base. Two mechanics that return are Dead Eye, which slows down the time to shoot opponents, and morality, which is defined by the player’s positive and negative actions. The combat system was refined, the graphics improved and, unlike Marston, Arthur knows how to swim.

In the year following its release, the multiplayer mode called Red Dead Online was released. The player controls a silent protagonist, who was released from jail after being unjustly arrested for a murder he did not commit. The various missions available can be played with one or more players but, unlike the GTA Online, it received little content, which resulted in many complaints from the community.

The title was a complete success, receiving several awards, selling millions of units and winning the hearts of analysts. He was praised for his lively, realistic and well-designed world, for his well-written history, for Arthur’s customization system, for the mix of different styles that ended up complementing each other, for the combat that takes great advantage of the Dead Eye, for the incredible graphics and for the gigantic amount of activities to be done. The lack of lip synchronization at times and some unrealistic elements hinder a bit of the experience, but nothing that has really shaken the experience of the overwhelming majority of players. Your grade is 95.6.

1) Grand Theft Auto V (2013) – 96.8 (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC)

And to close the best, we have Grand Theft Auto V. This is one of the biggest games ever made: it is the second best-selling game in history, one of the biggest when it comes to budget and, amazingly, it is the most profitable entertainment product ever made. Now, let’s focus on the title itself.

He is the first to bring more than one protagonist to the plot. We played with the young man from the outskirts of Los Santos Franklin Clinton, with former bank robber Michael De Santa or Townley, call it what you want, and with crazy redneck Trevor Phillips. The game alternates between them during the missions but the player is free to use any of them whenever he wants.

The gigantic map of the game has several areas such as Los Santos, Vinewood, Vespucci Beach and Blaine County, totaling 362.6 square kilometers. The developer used what she learned in Max Payne, GTA 4 and Red Dead Redemption to improve gameplay mechanics, such as covers, shootings, and car driving. Actors Ned Luke, Shawn Fonteno and Steve Ogg were chosen to represent Michael, Franklin and Trevor, respectively, giving their features, voices and even movements to them.

In the sound part, 241 songs are present among the 17 radio stations available, two of which are conversational. In addition, the game has an online mode, which, although not exclusive to the series, is active and receiving free updates constantly until today, generating even more profit for the developer.

Initially, the game was released for PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2013, but received versions for PS4 and Xbox One the following year and, in 2015, finally reached the PC. And, as if that weren’t enough, the game was confirmed for the PS5 and Xbox Series X as early as 2021.

As you already know, the game is a complete and absolute success. The critics praised the attention to detail, the look, the protagonists, the gigantic open world, the history, the assault missions, the light system and so on. The version for the new generations was praised for the graphic improvements and the novelty of the first-person mode. The game received several awards for best game of the year and is constantly cited as one of the best ever made. Phew, after all that said, note time: 96.8. Enjoy the top of the podium.

Now, the worst!

5) Red Dead Revolver (2004) – 73.5 (PS2, Xbox)

Rockstar’s first attempt to enter the wild west was with Red Dead Revolver, released in 2004. The game takes place in the 1880s and has as its protagonist the bounty hunter Red Harlow, whose aim is to avenge the death of his parents.

It is not an open world, but between levels, it is possible to take a stroll through the small town of Brimstone. A wide variety of weapons are available, such as pistols, rifles, shotgun, knives, molotov cocktail and dynamite. In it that the Dead Eye mechanics, explained previously, was introduced to the world, which was based on the game’s bullet-time Max Payne.

Don’t misunderstand, Red Dead Revolver it was not a dark game, but the developer released few really bad games, making it come in fifth among the worst. He received several accolades related to his story and his different gameplay, but ended up presenting a lot and not focusing on anything. Your grade is 73.5.

4) Grand Theft Auto 2 (1999) – 70 (PC, PS1, DreamCast, GameBoy Color)

Launched in 1999, Grand Theft Auto 2, which was developed by DMA Design, was the second title in the franchise to hit the market. Unlike how we are used to, both this game and its predecessor have an aerial view, as if it were a bird watching everything.

In addition, his gameplay is also different, with players going through different levels and having to reach a specific number of points to advance to the next level. These points are achieved by destroying vehicles, selling cars and completing short missions for crime syndicates.

Among the features introduced in the game are to save the game by visiting a church, which will cost points for this, and vehicles and pedestrians more interactive with the environment. There are 5 different radio stations to listen to, one being Head Radio, present in other games in the franchise. Now, if you are in a car, an ambulance or a fire truck, you will have to be content with the noise of chaos in the city.

The game’s intro is an 8-minute short film shot in New York and focuses on a criminal named Claude Speed, who many think is Claude, from GTA III. When asked about it, Rockstar replied that “it may or may not be him”. Thank you so much for nothing!

Its graphics were criticized for being basically the same as in the first game and its gameplay could be better, but the soundtrack, which was described as great, and the fun factor ended up earning it 70 points.

3) State of Emergency (2002) – 68 (PS2, PC)

State of Emergency, launched in 2002, takes place in 2025, with the United States being taken over by a paramilitary force called The Corporation after a serious financial crisis that happened three years earlier. Faced with the atrocities of these new leaders, a resistance arose with the objective of ending their tyranny, which causes the government to declare a State of Emergency throughout the national territory.

His gameplay is beat ’em up 3D, that is, the enemies will appear and you should beat them all. The player can choose one of the 5 characters available, each with their own background that complements the plot of the title.

Even though it was a simple game, analysts considered it fun and with modest but interesting systems, while the criticisms were for its extremely simple gameplay and the few levels that made the experience repetitive. His grade is 68.

2) Manhunt 2 (2007) – 64.5 (PS2, Wii)

Manhunt 2, released in 2007, is a psychological and stealth horror game that accompanies the characters Daniel Lamb, a man who suffers from mental disorders, has amnesia and is looking to recover his memory, and Leo Kasper, a sociopathic killer who guides Daniel on your journey.

Much of the gameplay is based on sneaking around and killing opponents silently and brutally. Most of the mechanics of the title are like those of its predecessor, but improved and refined. The ways to assassinate the enemies are the most curious, being able to use items such as toolboxes, telephones and even toilets to end the life of whoever is in their way.

Because the game is extremely controversial, the media and several organizations have fallen beating it since its announcement, causing the game to be banned in some countries today, such as the entire United Kingdom.

For analysts, the title manages to match your gameplay well with its history, it becomes a satisfying game due to the anger that you have in it, its visuals match the premise and your stealth needs attention and skill. The criticism, on the other hand, was for the little scary story, the low fun factor for many players and the various changes that the game underwent due to the controversies that involved it. Your grade is 64.5.

1) Surfing H3O (2000) – 46 (PS2)

And first of all the worst, a game that most of you didn’t even know existed. Surfing H3O, launched in 2000, was developed by Opus and launched internationally by Rockstar. There is not much mystery: it is a surfing game.

The two modes available are the tournament, which the player participates in several levels in sequence, and the Versus, which is like the tournament, but only for two players, but which they play alternately. To go to the next stage, it is necessary to collect a specific amount of points that are achieved by doing tricks or collecting markers along the way.

The controls are pretty bad, the camera is dark, he’s not fun at all, and in the end, he has good intentions but poor execution. He got a note of 46.

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