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rockstar games ranked

A considered ranking of Rockstar’s best games, from average to fully fledged masterpieces

Take a trip down memory lane while the eternal wait for GTA 6 continues


Rockstar Games is arguably one of the the most popular game publishers and developers, taking its time with its developments to ensure it releases it games at the upmost quality – looking at you, Cyberpunk 2077. Rockstar has countless games but I have picked out the top 10, based on my completely unsolicited opinion. However, one didn’t make the cut but absolutely could not go without a mention: GTA Chinatown Wars.

While being made after the first 3D game in the series, Chinatown Wars returns to the birds-eye view, 2D-esque camera that fans love and tells a tale of betrayal and revenge. The story focuses on multiple triads in Liberty City and the power struggle between them. But ultimately it’s the game’s simplicity that makes it one of my personal favourites and deserving of an honourable mention.

So whilst we all (im)patiently wait for the next release, take a look at this considered ranking of Rockstar’s best games, based on their societal impact, influence, game play and quality:

10. GTA III (2001)

Credit: Rockstar Games

GTA III was the first 3D game in the GTA series, and the one that started the controversy that always comes with a GTA release. While the story is not groundbreaking, the crime simulator gameplay was a staple at the time and influenced subsequent open world games. Its datedness is a shame but nonetheless makes for an iconic game in the Rockstar catalogue.

9. Max Payne (2001)

Credit: Rockstar Games

This one is very much a sleeper hit, compared to Rockstar’s other work, even though it is considered by some as one of the best games of all time. The mechanics and gameplay in Max Payne allow you to acrobatically dive and roll while shooting which slows down time, similar to Tomb Raider, making it a hugely influentially to modern third person action. Despite it not being spoken about much nowadays its influence is still undeniable, to say the least.

8. L.A. Noire (2011)

rockstar games ranked

Credit: Rockstar Games

A True Detective-esque story with the mechanics that allow you to solve cases? Yes please. L.A. Noire takes the concept of being a detective to great heights and portrays a story full of mystery and suspense. It follows detective Cole Phelps as he is promoted to work in the Homicide unit and investigates a case of distribution of morphine. The detective mechanics and ending are primarily what make this game close to top tier, however some of the controls do feel a little stiff.

7. Red Dead Redemption (2010)

rockstar games ranked

Credit: Rockstar Games

A True Detective-esque story with the mechanics that allow you to solve cases? Yes please. L.A. Noire takes the concept of being a detective to great heights and portrays a story full of mystery and suspense. It follows detective Cole Phelps as he is promoted to work in the Homicide unit and investigates a case of distribution of morphine. The detective mechanics and ending are primarily what make this game close to top tier, however some of the controls do feel a little stiff.

7. Red Dead Redemption (2010)

rockstar games ranked

Credit: Rockstar Games

This is probably the most recognisable GTA game, and for good reason as it really spiked popularity for the franchise with its release in 2002. The plot heavily borrows from Italian mobster films such as GoodFellas, which is why it is so popular, alongside the city design. It also features voice acting from Ray Liotta and Danny Dyer, making it even more iconic. As dated as the game may seem in terms of its gameplay and sometimes hit-or-miss mission design, Vice City is hard to forget. Truly one for the history books.

5. Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018)

rockstar games ranked

Credit: Rockstar Games

Now this might be a controversial placement. Whilst Red Dead Redemption 2’s story is a great and emotional experience that follows Arthur Morgan through out the American West, the gameplay does face issues that makes it slightly less enjoyable. The controls can seem a bit stiff, particularly in the game’s first few hours, however, the deeply thoughtful story and mechanics do make up for controls and pacing. This game also had an online counterpart, however, it was not received as well as GTA V’s.

4. Grand Theft Auto V (2013)

Credit: Rockstar Games

The most popular of them all, yet not the best, coming in at fourth is Grand Theft Auto V and its online counterpart. The game was one of the most expensive video games to develop and one of the highest grossing games of all time at over $1 billion in revenue. The day this game released in 2013 was all-out chaos, with queues lining up outside stores. While the story following the three unlikely protagonists of Michael, Franklin and Trevor is good, the gameplay and the longevity of its online aspect is what has kept the game so relevant 10 years later.

3. Bully (2006)

rockstar games ranked

Credit: Rockstar Games

Bully is potentially Rockstar’s most controversial game besides from Manhunt. The game has a very interesting premise that works surprisingly well where you play as a school age child in a boarding school trying to stop bullying. The uniqueness of the premise, alongside the mechanics and gameplay, aided the success of this game. Whilst the story is arguably not Rockstar’s best, the gameplay is the main selling point where the player part takes in classes disguised as mini-games.

2. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004)

rockstar games ranked

Credit: Rockstar Games

San Andreas was ahead of its time and has some of the most memorable missions from any Rockstar game. Yes, I’m talking about: “Follow the train, CJ”. The game follows Carl Johnson as he returns back to LA after his mother’s murder and gets drawn back into his gang life. This game not only had great gameplay but spawned one of the most popular memes from 2019.

1. GTA IV (2008)

rockstar games ranked

Credit: Rockstar Games

Grand Theft Auto IV will always remain Rockstar’s best game, for one specific reason – the story. The game follows Niko Bellic, a war veteran, as he moves to New York from Russia to escape his criminal past, which obviously doesn’t go very well. The game was declared a masterpiece by various review sites, notably IGN, with many fans returning to the game due to its darker aesthetic and tone compared to the recent GTA V. The game is full of betrayal and social commentary on migration and the American Dream making it so much more than just another video game.

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