Grand Theft Auto V is arguably the best game of the last few years, and it’s the gift that keeps on giving. And today, we’ve had our first glimpse of Rockstar’s next gift to the world: Red Dead Redemption 2.
Rumoured for ages, Red Dead 2 is now confirmed – and while the trailer is lacking in detail, it’s a sumptuous feast for the eyes. Even without that trailer we’d be bursting with excitement for the next Rockstar game, because these are the guys and girls behind some of the most incredible games of the last 15 years.
Want proof? Here’s our list of the company’s 10 best games to date, with a bit of everything in the mix… and a lot of Grand Theft Auto, of course.
Any version of this list is bound to be controversial, as we all have our absolute favourites in the bunch; you should’ve seen the Slack chat that ultimately yielded this list. But everything here is a winner, and if there are any that you haven’t played, you’ve got time to catch up before Red Dead Redemption 2 drops next year and swallows your free time whole.
10) Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis (2006)
Table Tennis? Yeah, we’re starting with Table Tennis. Rockstar’s first Xbox 360 game was a truly unexpected one, but this simulation is incredibly fun. It captures the essence of the sport without feeling overwhelming or tedious, and it was the first test of the game engine that would eventually power Grand Theft Auto IV and more.
It might seem like an odd duck on this list, but it’s a damn fine game that we’d love to see reissued as a cheap download.
9) Max Payne (2001)
Rockstar didn’t develop this one in-house (that changed with Max Payne 3, however), but the original Max Payne helped define gun-toting action games for years. The slow-mo dives turned the shootouts into superhero fantasies, while the noir theme and lovably corny voiceover helped Remedy’s game stand apart.
It might not hold up spectacularly well (you can play it on smartphones these days), but its status as a legend remains intact.
Read more › Max Payne Mobile review
8) Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004)
Picking our favourite GTA feels a bit like choosing your favourite child. San Andreas was the grandest version of the PS2-era GTA formula, switching coasts to deliver an ultra-compelling take on California and Los Angeles in particular in the early 90s.
It’s a massive, massive game – perhaps a bit too large and unpolished in some respects – but also one we happily lost ourselves in for dozens and dozens of hours.
7) L.A. Noire (2011)
Staying in Los Angeles but turning the clock back to 1947, L.A. Noire is a dramatic achievement in video game storytelling. On the other side of the law, you’ll play a police officer tasked with solving cases, whether you’re shooting, brawling, or shaking down criminals in tense interrogation sequences.
Incredible facial capture work and great storytelling give this more impact than the action itself.
6) Grand Theft Auto IV (2008)
Grand Theft Auto V elevated the series experience so much that it has become surprisingly easy to overlook or undermine its predecessor, but GTA IV was a massive evolution of the series formula.
Gone was the quiet protagonist, replaced by Niko Bellic, whose immigrant experience in America drives a surprisingly poignant narrative. Add in a more vibrant world and great multiplayer, and Grand Theft Auto IV is a no-doubt classic in a series full of them.
5) Grand Theft Auto III (2001)
If we were ranking games solely on legacy, then Grand Theft Auto III would top this list, no question: it’s one of the most important games of all time, setting the standard for the open-world genre and establishing Rockstar’s distinctive tone with a much wider audience.
We’d argue that subsequent entries have improved upon the formula in many ways, but GTAIII is a monumental game that we just can’t leave off of this list.
4) Canis Canem Edit/Bully (2006)
Grand Theft Auto starring teenagers? Yeah, pretty much – and yet Canis Canem Edit (Bully outside the UK) felt a lot more inspired than that premise might sound.
Playing as an obnoxious rebel and navigating the cliques, attending classes, and discovering the town’s secrets from an entirely new perspective felt like a breath of fresh air. We’d love to see Rockstar top it with a GTA5-like mindset and ambition.
3) Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002)
Despite coming out only one year after the massive debut of Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City raised the stakes in so many ways.
It’s the same core game at heart, but the neon-soaked riff on Miami in the 80s is ripe for both comedy and intense action, while the characters and storytelling are better. Also, the addition of bikes gave us all the more reason to cruise around long into the night.
2) Red Dead Redemption (2010)
Why are we so excited about Red Dead Redemption 2? Because the first game is a stone-cold classic, a Grand Theft Auto-gone-Western that soared due to its incredible atmosphere and setting.
While the overall design might have been familiar, shifting the action to the Wild West and trading sports cars for steeds made it feel all brand new again, and Rockstar delivered an incredible experience throughout. Given how Grand Theft Auto V turned out, it’s no wonder we want to see this world revisited on current hardware.
1) Grand Theft Auto V (2013)
Speaking of Grand Theft Auto V… while other games on this list might be more influential or iconic, Rockstar’s last game is the ultimate expression of its open-world prowess.
It’s an absolute beast: a vast, inviting world filled with fantastic action, characters, missions, secrets, and atmosphere, plus an online component that could’ve been its own game.
You could play this game for years and never get bored with it, especially with Rockstar’s frequent GTA Online updates, so while you might have a nostalgic favourite, for our money, this one’s the absolute best.
Read more › Grand Theft Auto V review