Rockstar Games has grown to become one of the most popular and most acclaimed game developers in the world. Since 1998, they’ve produced some of the very best console games from their Grand Theft Auto series to Red Dead Redemption. However, for every GTA or Red Dead, there have been games they’ve published that, for whatever reason, haven’t been as appealing to the mainstream crowd. It could be that the concepts of these games weren’t as enticing, or perhaps because they came out during a busy release period, but they just didn’t seem to catch on or get much notice. In any case, we’d like to bring them to your attention now in this list of the 8 best Rockstar Games that you’ve probably never played.
8. The Warriors
In what could the biggest testament to their greatness as a developer and publisher, Rockstar demonstrated with The Warriors that they can even make excellent movie-based games—something that hadn’t really been done since Goldeneye was released on the N64 in 1995.
Rockstar presents the gang-filled street of a gritty 1970s world perfectly. Rather than just giving us a rehashed version of the same stuff seen in the cult classic movie, the game takes place three months prior to the events of the film and leads up to the assassination of a powerful gang leader named Cyrus, which the Warriors are wrongly blamed for. The gang then must make it back to their home turf in one night, battling any rival gangs who try to stop them along the way.
There’s plenty in this game for players to appreciate. Not only was the adaptation dutifully faithful to both the movie and novel that inspired it, but it brought back the entire original cast to reprise their roles and do all the voice work. On top of that, the 3D brawler-style combat was incredibly realistic and satisfying.
7. Smuggler’s Run
Smuggler’s Run lets you play as a smuggler who has a number of different vehicles at his disposal including dune buggies, rally cars and military vehicles. The vehicles are all modified to smuggle assorted cargo through three different open-world environments.
Since it was one of the very first games released for the Playstation 2, it slipped under the radar of a lot of people who didn’t pick up the system until notable titles like Final Fantasy X and Metal Gear Solid 2 came out.
6. Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition Remix
One of the strongest elements for the Grand Theft Auto games is the driving, so it seems like a no-brainer that Rockstar would come up with its own dedicated driving game featuring souped-up cars tearing through city streets. That’s exactly what they did with the Midnight Club series, which extracted the driving mechanics from the Grand Theft Auto games and expanded them for three comprehensive racing titles.
Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition Remix is the pick of the series. It features a free-roam open world with plenty of cars to collect, tons of customization options, and a bevy of races to compete in that all contain a number of built-in shortcuts and secrets for you to discover. Although the Midnight Club series was eventually overshadowed by other fast-paced arcade racers like Burnout, it’s still definitely worth checking out.
5. L.A. Noire
Not everyone will immediately see the appeal of L.A. Noire. It’s slower and much more subtle than a lot of Rockstar’s other sandbox titles, showcasing realism and authenticity over action and excitement. You take on the role of a detective in post-war Los Angeles and go around the city examining crime scenes and interviewing witnesses and suspects. As you work from case to case, picking up clues and solving puzzles, you actually start to feel like a genuine detective. Through the game’s excellent interrogation system, you get to decide whether everything said to you is the honest truth, a filthy lie, or perhaps a bit of both.
L.A. Noire is a huge game with a lot of depth and stunning attention to detail. It’s the perfect detective simulator.
Oni is a third-person action game that was released for Playstation 2 and PC and 2001. From its appearance, the game looks to be heavily inspired by the anime Ghost in the Shell and features a purple-haired female protagonist name Konoko who’s part of a Technological Crimes Task Force (TCTF).
The player takes control of Konoko as she works together with her android partner to investigate a crime instigated by a monolithic organization known only as the Syndicate. The game featured great gameplay that blended stylish hand-to-hand combat with a variety of weapons and third-person shooter elements. It all came together to give players a unique game experience that still used a lot of familiar mechanics. The guns included your standard semi-automatic weapons, rocket launchers and energy rifles, but there were also power-ups that could be used to give you a health boost or render you invisible to enemies. The level design was also great with each location presenting areas that are fully open and explorable—not that you would have expected anything less from the pioneers of open world gaming. If you ever feel like dusting off your old PS2, this is a title you should seriously consider getting your hands on.
If you think that Grand Theft Auto is Rockstar’s most violent franchise, you better think again. Manhunt stirred up quite a bit of controversy when it was released in 2003. The game puts the player in the role of James Earl Cash, an inmate on death row who finds himself being forced into making a series of snuff films for an underground director. The game has a very mature tone and story, walking you through the makings of these brutal films including all the incredibly graphic killing animations.
The gameplay is primarily stealth-based, featuring 20 levels, or “scenes,” that involve you performing executions on foes and inmates in a particularly violent fashion. There executions are classified according to three levels of goriness: Hasty, Violent and Gruesome. The goriness level of the execution is dependant on how long you hold down the the attack button after sneaking up behind a victim.
If you can get past all the scenes of savage murder, the game actually presents an intense study of psychology, survival instinct, and the meaning of morality as it relates to an immoral landscape. However, if you consider yourself to be even the slightest bit squeamish this might be a title you should try and avoid.
2. Red Dead Revolver
There are a lot of gamers out there who consider Red Dead Redemption to be the greatest game Rockstar has ever made, but hardly anyone played its predecessor, Red Dead Revolver, when it was released for Playstation 2 and Xbox in 2004. Which is a shame because the game is actually awesome. It follows the story of Red Harlow, a bounty hunter who loses his father and and is out for revenge, taking on any leather-faced varmint who might stand in his way.
The gameplay is tons of fun and forgoes a lot of decision-based dialogue in favor of arcade-style shoot-em-up action with your trusty revolvers. And even though the graphics haven’t aged all that well, the classic Western feel, from the music to the dry dusty landscape, is still very much intact.
1. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
This was an unfamiliar entry in a very familiar franchise. Most people were unaware that salacious Grand Theft Auto series had a full-fledged game tailored specifically for mobile gaming devices like the Nintendo DS, PSP and iPhone. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars follows protagonist Huang Lee, the son of a recently killed Triad boss, as he travels to Liberty City with a treasured sword to bestow on the new patriarch of the family. However, in typical GTA fashion, not everything goes according to plan and Lee is left to take care of business and clean up the mess.
Chinatown Wars saw a return to GTA’s original top-down camera perspective while maintaining the engaging open-world gameplay that players have become accustomed to since the release of GTA 3. There’s certainly no shortage of drug deals and cop shootouts to keep you entertained from start to finish. This game was among the most well-received games for the Nintendo DS and garnered the second highest metacritic score of any PSP title. If you consider yourself a fan of the GTA series in any respect, especially the first two games, Chinatown Wars is a must-play.