Rockstar Games is known for publishing a variety of action-adventure games, most of which are in a third-person. Their games allow you to play on both sides of the law but are never black-and-white – the line between good and evil is often muddy. Whatever the case, none of the games will leave you unfulfilled. Whether you want to shoot, blow, or punch your feelings, feel the rush of adrenaline while racing cars, ride horses, or fly jets, or just want to be in awe of the vast virtual worlds that feel real, you’ll get it. Here are the best Rockstar Games that have marked the century.
Grand Theft Auto V, a singleplayer 3D action-adventure released for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles in 2013, and PC in 2015, is Rockstar’s magnum opus. And, as if it isn’t enough, the multiplayer component, Grand Theft Auto Online, is an even bigger juggernaut in the gaming industry. In short, you will be playing as three characters simultaneously, all of whom are criminals. You can customize your appearance, free roam the city and wreak havoc or complete quests in the rich, complex storyline. Shooting is from a third person and the game lets you drive and drift in luxurious cars, use martial arts, fly airplanes, jetpacks, and helicopters, make money legally or illegally, purchase properties, start businesses, and even invest in the stock market.
2. Red Dead Redemption 2
This one is basically a GTA V alternative set in the Wild West. A former console exclusive was finally released to PC as a sequel in 2019. People have quickly fallen in love with the protagonists, gang members Arthur Morgan and John Marston. The treat? You can explore the massive open world of the United States in 1899 built out of beautiful graphics. You will be a horse-riding gunslinger hero, playing the game as a third or even a first-person shooter. Also, you get to decide whether to be honorable or devious. Don’t worry, the Wanted system is there to keep you in check. It sure is tempting to be a vigilante when you can use firearms, bows, throwables, explosives, or good old fists to fight off the opponents.
3. L.A. Noire
Ever wanted to be a detective, military man, and police officer all at one? How about a divorced patrol officer, Cole Phelps, who has survived World War II and became a detective? He moves through the ranks, working in Traffic, Homicide, Vice, and Arson departments. In all of them, he has to work with a unique partner. As rack your brain to solve numerous puzzles, you can freely roam and enjoy the beauty of Los Angeles, California, in 1947. But, in its essence, this is a tale of blood, betrayal, defrauding, mystery, drugs, reckless driving, and a lot of corruption and killing.
4. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
This game is a classic. But, it’s only when you replay the game nowadays that you realize how low-quality graphics in this old game were. At the time of release, the world looked like a virtual sanctuary. The protagonist is Carl “CJ” Johnson, who joins a street gang and starts wreaking havoc on the streets, building his reputation and trying to expand the territory. Although the game is filled with violence, ground and air combat, and a variety of crime, it’s an incredible adventure that can keep you glued to the screen for hours.
5. Max Payne 3
Max Payne 3 is a third-person shooter, available both offline and online. It’s a direct sequel and follows the same protagonist, you guessed it, Max Payne. The well-known run-and-gun parkour system with “bullet time” jumping in slow motion is present, allowing you to see the devastating damage of your guns. The sequel also welcomed a stealth-based cover system. That allows you to pick a playstyle for the first time – be aggressive, or try to stay out of the fight altogether. Multiplayer can be enjoyed with two players as part of a 5-person crew, with up to 16 players total.
6. Red Dead Redemption
Before we say anything further – sorry, PC gamers. This tale of cowboys, horses, railway robberies, kidnappings, and plenty of murder, is reserved to console gamers only. It is also a sequel to the less-popular Read Dead Revolver from 2004. As with the next game in the series we mentioned, your goal is to become a master vigilante, using brain, brawn, guns, and other weapons to survive. While doing so, your reputation and morality will be tested, which will directly affect how NPCs, especially lawmakers, treat you. As if the game wasn’t immersive enough, you can also join up to 15 other players in online matches.
7. Grand Theft Auto IV
The line between right and wrong will be blurred here, which is incredibly addicting. You come to the Liberty City (based on New York City) as Niko Bellic with intentions of turning your life around. But, your violent and war-torn past will start haunting you, leading you to a life of violence, crime, and corruption on the streets. The game showed a vast improvement in graphics in comparison to the prequel, San Andreas. But, it kept the well-known and beloved aspects of third-person shooting, crazy driving, carjacking, flying, parachuting, shooting, blowing stuff up, and of course, cheat codes.
8. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is an older game (2002) that is surprisingly still very much loved and enjoyed, mainly because of fan-made mods that vastly improve graphics. For lovers of beaches, swimming, and sports, this one will be a treat, as Vice City is based on Miami, Florida, United States. But that’s where the beautiful stuff ends. You will take on the role of Tommy Vercetti, a mobster just released from prison. This leads to a high-adrenaline chase of hunting down people who wronged you, all the while building your criminal reputation and trying to become the mafia boss.
9. Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne
At the time of release, people’s only criticism was “it’s too short!” which made it sell poorly. The protagonist, Max Payne (no surprise there), was just reinstated as a detective for the NYPD after he enacted revenge on the drug dealers who murdered his family. This time, there’s love and passion involved. You will partner up with a fellow killer, Mona Sax, who is equally deadly and even get to play as her for a short while. Besides the famous slo-mo “bullet time” mode of shooting, you can use Molotov cocktails, grenades, and even melee fight and pistol whip enemies.
10. Midnight Club: Street Racing
It wouldn’t be a Rockstar Games game if an activity such as racing didn’t involve crime. In this case, illegal street racing. Add the import scene, which means heavily modified Japanese cars for mind-numbing speeds and danger, and a reference to a real-life racing group, Mid Night Club, and you’ve got an unforgettable game. Granted, you start at the bottom, driving a slow and unmodified vehicle, a taxi cab, and work your way up. Eventually, your goal is to beat Anika, who is a mysterious World Champion of the Midnight Club, and take her spot at the reins.
In Bully, you will play as a juvenile delinquent, named James “Jimmy” Hopkins. But your goal is to stop bullying in the Bullworth Academy, which you’re attending for a year. Through main and side missions, you will attend classes and befriend or fight against school groups and smaller “cliques”. You can walk on foot, ride a bicycle, skateboard, go-kart, or scooter. Typical school stuff. The game was re-released for PlayStation 4 in 2016, remastered for Xbox 360 and Wii as Scholarship Edition, and is known on Android and iOS as Anniversary Edition.
12. Max Payne
The first neo-noir third-person shooter in the series is still a classic. Its cult following hasn’t dwindled too much, either. Understandably, by today’s standards, the graphics aren’t the most eye-pleasing. But, we still recommend giving it a try or re-play. We assure you, it was commercially successful and had a very captivating storyline. It also became a trailblazer for the iconic “bullet time” slo-mo shooting we mentioned, and even got a movie filmed with Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis based on it 2008.
If you want a game where you gradually become a monster, look no further. In Manhunt, you are a death row prisoner, James Earl Cash. You are forced to earn your freedom by making snuff films for a video producer. These films involve crafting the plan to murder of members of criminal gangs who are hunting you down, trying to kill you instead. Dark, gruesome, and disturbing – that’s how we would describe Manhunt. Despite the level of graphic violence, the game was incredibly popular and still has a cult following.
14. Midnight Club II
Did you think the story was over when you became the World Champion of the Midnight Club in street racing? Don’t be silly – it only started. And, it quickly expands to the streets of Paris, Tokyo, and Los Angeles. Additionally, the singleplayer campaign expands to include an online multiplayer mode, which is even more fun and can make you a few new friends. It’s also a game for boys, because unlike NFS games, the world isn’t cordoned off by barriers, and lets you pick a route to the next checkpoint in the race. That will quickly teach them their actions have consequences.
15. Manhunt 2
We know, we know, no one wants to go through the brutal ordeal twice. But there’s a reason this psychological horror stealth video game franchise is so popular. This time you’re not a prisoner, but a patient in a mental hospital with amnesia. Since you don’t remember who you are, you have to rely on the help of another human, Leo Kasper. Unfortunately, he is also a sociopath and has already killed multiple people. That makes for a twisted and chilling storyline, especially with the voice acting that adds tension and terror to the story.
16. State of Emergency
Itching to try and restore a failing kingdom? How does the United States hitting an economic crisis in 2023 sound? The game is eerily similar to events happening around the world in 2020. You, playing as one of 5 characters (Mack, Libra, Spanky, The Bull, or Freak/Pheak) must join Freedom, an underground resistance force. Your goal? Try to overthrow The Corporation, totalitarian, aristocratic leaders. They used a para-military force to overthrow the old government after the crisis, declared a state of emergency, and taken control of the Capital City.
Trust us, we were also surprised to see a cartoon game from Rockstar Games on PlayStation 2. Although its focus is on hand-to-hand combat elements with Japanese/anime influences, playing as Konoko, the protagonist, you can also use weapons. Those aren’t limited to simple handguns – you can use rifles, rocket launchers, and even energy weapons. The game never limits your potential – you are free to roam around and explore the levels. You can also simultaneously fight as many enemies as you want or you think you can take on.
18. The Warriors
The game is about warriors, of course. It’s also a beat ’em up the game and an underrated one at that. You have to build up your character to be able to sustain large-scale brawling by developing skills and completing missions. There’s also the responsibility of retaining your territory, following storylines with your gang members, and attacking the enemy turf. You can also control with multiple characters, fellow gang members Cleon, Swan, Rembrandt, and Ajax. Fighting is well-developed, allows the use of combos, and never gets boring.
19. Rockstar Games presents Table Tennis
Hearing the “table tennis” in the name made us think this is a cute, indie game that got a chance to be published by Rockstar Games. But come on, it would’ve never seen the light of day if it’s wasn’t epic. In reality, it’s a realistic simulation of the real-world game, allowing for intense showdowns against the AI in singleplayer, or your friends in LAN multiplayer. You can play as one of 11 characters, which are unlocked as you progress. Also, you can play Exhibition or Tournament, depending on your mood and fighting spirit.
20. Thrasher Presents Skate and Destroy
Did you know Rockstar Games once published a skating game for PlayStation? Even better, GameSpot and IGN rated it as “technically superior to Tony Hawk”, which is a leader in the niche. Yes, the graphics were poor even for that period, and the learning curve was pretty steep. But it was the falling that intrigued us and many others – the ragdoll physics they implemented were never seen before. You also got to play with one of the 6 skaters, which added versatility and always kept things interesting.