The seventh generation of gaming is coming to a close, but it was one of the best generations yet, in large part thanks to the tremendous effort on the part of Rockstar Games. Rockstar released numerous great seventh gen games across all seventh generation platforms, from the PC to handhelds like the PSP and Nintendo DS to the major home consoles such as Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
For now, it seems that Rockstar is done with the seventh generation and looking forward to the eighth generation. 14 titles came from Rockstar over the course of the seventh generation, and it’s time to rank them from worst to best. If you only plan on playing through a couple of Rockstar’s seventh gen games, then this list will give you a very good idea of where to start.
14. Beaterator (PSP)
Beaterator is not even really a video game. The “game” was produced alongside rapper Timbaland, and it is designed to allow users to create their own songs. As it turns out, the PSP is simply not a handheld that is able to capitalize on this premise in a way that isn’t immediately frustrating and annoying. Beaterator is easily the most forgettable of Rockstar’s seventh gen efforts, and it hardly constitutes a “video game” anyway.
13. Max Payne 3 (360/Mac/PC/PS3)
I’ve never been able to get into the Max Payne games. I think the best one was the second one, and even that game had plenty of flaws keeping it from being remarkable. For one reason or another, Rockstar decided it was time to revive the series for the seventh generation, and with former developer Remedy out of the picture, I find myself missing the mediocrity of the other Max Payne games, because what we have here is outright bad.
Rockstar loves telling stories, and that’s fine. They’ve managed to tell some truly fantastic stories in the video game medium…some of the best. They’ve created characters and worlds that simply would not be as effective in any other medium like film or television. Unfortunately, with Max Payne 3, they forgot that their first concern should be making sure that the game is fun.
Operating essentially as a tech demo to help them prepare for developing the combat in Grand Theft Auto V, Max Payne is way too cut-scene heavy, and the whole thing is a boring, linear hallway that just doesn’t feel like Rockstar. I think Max needs to be shelved, and I also think that Max Payne 3 is one of the worst games Rockstar has ever made.
12. Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare (360/PS3)
Rockstar just doesn’t get zombies. The zombie craze was at an all-time high when Rockstar was in the planning stages of potential Red Dead Redemption expansion packs, obviously, because Undead Nightmare takes Red Dead Redemption, ruins everything that made it great, and then throws in a bunch of repetitive horde mode missions that add absolutely nothing to the experience.
11. Midnight Club: Los Angeles (360/PC/PS3/PSP)
But wait! It’s not all doom and gloom. Actually, the rest of this editorial will be positive about Rockstar. So that’s an 85% success rate in my eyes. Not too shabby, and probably better than almost all the other developers and publishers in the industry today. Rockstar prides themselves on releasing one project at a time, usually one major game per year, and the results are that the games tend to get the right amount of development time to come out the other end as something truly exceptional.
Midnight Club: LA is a fine racer. It just isn’t anything all that exceptional and kind of got lost in the shuffle. That being said, it is good for dozens and dozens of hours of pure enjoyment and it is especially great for fans of the genre.
10. Grand Theft Auto Vice City Stories (PS2/PSP)
Liberty City Stories was like a grand achievement for Rockstar. Fitting a large open world GTA game onto a handheld system was unheard of at the time. So Vice City Stories is less exciting, but it does a good job of translating the best features and gameplay mechanics from the original Vice City into another phenomenal GTA experience.
09. Rockstar Games presents Table Tennis (360/Wii)
Table Tennis is less of a game from Rockstar and more of a tech demo/experiment. It is very light on content in favor of making as realistic of a table tennis simulation as possible. Another main concern seems to have been making the game as pretty as possible. On those fronts, Rockstar Games present Table Tennis succeeds in spades.
08. Bully: Scholarship Edition (360/PC/Wii)
One of the only games that Rockstar released on the Wii during the seventh generation, Bully: Scholarship Edition is an enhanced port of the game Bully from the sixth generation that released on PlayStation 2. Bully is a game that desperately needs a sequel in my opinion, but Scholarship Edition will do for now.
So what can fans of the original Bully game look forward to with Scholarship Edition? Improved visuals, achievements on the Xbox 360 version, and fun new mini-games to go along with brand new classes. This is the definitive way to experience Bully. Now if only Rockstar can get working on that sequel…
07. Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (PS2/PSP)
When Liberty City Stories first released, I was amazed by the game. I was completely floored that Rockstar was able to take a large open world like the ones showcased in the Grand Theft Auto games and then shrink it down to fit on something as small as a PSP. Liberty City Stories is an interesting prequel story for the franchise, and it is just one example of how Rockstar likes to tackle major technical challenges and then go above and beyond what is expected from them.
06. Manhunt 2 (PC/PS2/PSP/Wii)
One of the most controversial games ever made, Manhunt 2 is the epitome of guilty pleasure. Manhunt 2 is a sadistic, violent game that is best played on the Wii. Mixing motion controls with the insanely violent murdering that takes place on screen was a brilliant move and makes the already unsettling Manhunt 2 that much more disturbing.
05. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (DS/PSP)
Having found success with portable GTA games in the past, Rockstar decided to make a game that was built to initially take full advantage of the Nintendo DS hardware. Chinatown Wars uses the touchscreen and other unique DS features to great effect.
In many ways, it is also a callback to the origins of the franchise, more resembling the old PC and original PlayStation games than the titles that would cement the franchise’s legacy in the sixth generation. Chinatown Wars is a fantastic portable GTA experience, and it is an experience unlike any other that is available on the DS.
04. Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City (360/PC/PS3)
With GTA IV, Rockstar was able to create expansion packs for their games for the first time thanks to the new DLC technology that was made possible on Xbox 360 and PS3. They released two expansion packs that added numerous new gameplay mechanics, content, and improvements to the GTA IV experience. Plus, the expansions also starred new protagonists, both with their own unique story and view of Liberty City as it is depicted in the GTA IV saga.
In The Lost and the Damned, players experience what life is like in a biker gang. In The Ballad of Gay Tony, they have to protect a sleazy owner of various night clubs. These are two incredibly different experiences that are packed full of entertainment, despite just being expansion packs. Hell, I had more fun with Episodes from Liberty City than I did a lot of full games over these last few years.
03. Grand Theft Auto V (360/PS3)
GTA V is hands down one of the most impressive games ever created. Featuring innovative and fantastic new gameplay mechanics, a robust multiplayer experience, and a few of the greatest characters that Rockstar has ever crafted, Grand Theft Auto V is an experience that is truly unlike any other.
It is a gorgeous game and a perfect send off to the seventh generation. Will we see GTA V ported to PC and next-gen consoles as rumored? It’s tough to say at this juncture, but the more people that get to experience GTA V, the better. It’s a game that truly has to be seen to be believed.
02. Red Dead Redemption (360/PS3)
Red Dead Redemption is one of the best games I’ve ever played and definitely one of the best games available in all of the seventh generation. The game is unlike anything else out there. It’s a western that has an expansive, gorgeous world to explore, intriguing characters to meet, and one of the most shocking scenes in video game history. John Marston is one of the best written characters that I’ve come across in all of storytelling. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll have one hell of a ride in Rockstar’s vision of the Old West.
01. Grand Theft Auto IV (360/PC/PS3)
GTA IV redefined the franchise. It took players back to Liberty City, but did so in a way that pushed the Xbox 360 and PS3 to their limit, creating a world that truly felt alive in the process. It remains one of the best looking video games ever made, and it features one of the most engrossing stories I’ve ever experienced. My praise for GTA IV really knows no bounds, and I don’t want to gush over it here. It’s one of the few games I’ve awarded 10/10, and it deserved that score and then some. GTA IV is a must-play game and the best game in the franchise, perhaps second only to San Andreas.
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Rockstar released 14 seventh gen games. Not all of them were good, but most of them were, and some of them will be classics that will be remembered decades from now. The Grand Theft Auto series saw some of its best entries to date with the likes of GTA IV and V, plus Rockstar took full advantage of the handheld hardware available to craft truly memorable experiences in that realm. They dabbled in the sports, third-person shooter, and racing genres while also innovating in their bread and butter, the open world game.
We were introduced to unforgettable characters, jaw-dropping stories, and amazing technological feats. Rockstar Games remains one of the world’s premiere video game developers, and I have no doubt that they will continue pushing the industry forward in the eighth generation.
Which games made by Rockstar are your favorite? Sound off in the comments below!