There’s More to Rockstar Than Meets The Eye
With the red dead teaser hot of the press, and the hype skyrocketing into overdrive, I’m going to delve back into Rockstars dark and shady past like a trench-coat wearing film noir detective investigating the seedy criminal underworld, and uncover the games that I believe have gifted them the rich reputation, and sometimes unfair infamy that has been forced upon them.
Rockstar has become renowned for its often gratuitous violence and controversial subject matter. However Rockstar has thrived and often shrugged of this of stereotype, proving its multifaceted in the gaming world with compelling, story driven narratives, blending comedic culture- savvy scripts with amusing characters. Not to mention it’s ludicrously bizarre and outlandish missions which over time have won over our hearts.. And often left us leave in stitches.
Some rockstar games have shocked more than others, such as the notorious Manhunt which later became banned. But one things for sure. Whether you are the gun-slinging Mr. Marston, Or the easily corruptible Tommy Vercetti, Rockstar always manages to deliver an engaging, humorous, disturbing and scandalous experience in one blockbuster package.
Here is my personal list of the “famous five” Rockstar games which combine the greatest elements that the studio has become notorious for.
Manhunt is a game that appeals to the ominous side of the human spirit, and is without a doubt Rockstar’s most inherently twisted, satanic and ultra-violent title to be released. Despite being praised by the critics for delivering an unsettling mood, sinister tone and darkly themed narrative with masterly effect, the game still received huge controversy with its unparalleled doses of graphical, uncensored violence and explicit nature.
As a result this led to the game being incriminated in a murder case, but the courts denied the implication carried out by the UK media. Pretty heavy stuff. In addition the game has been banned in many countries, and is a shining example of Rockstars inseparable ongoing battle with controversy and censorship.
This being said, the well-constructed narrative created an original, authentic dystopia. The game follows James Earl Cash, a convict assigned to death-row who is diverted to an underground Film producer on the way to receiving his lethal injection. The director forces the prisoner to partake in a grizzly snuff film for the viewing pleasure of a grotesquely disturbed audience.
Red Dead Redemption
Building on the foundations of it predecessor (Red Dead Revolver), Red Dead Redemption has gained a reputation for being one of Rockstar’s most popular and beloved releases. Red Dead Redemption is set in 1911, and takes place during the era of diminishing unrest consuming the American Frontier.
You follow John Marston, a retired outlaw, who’s attempting to hunt down the persons responsible for the unlawful kidnapping of his wife and son. Eventually Marston discovers that this is a bargaining ploy, and if he ever wishes to see his dearly beloved again, he must offer up his services as a marksman. Marston sets out to find the corrupt ex-gang members responsible and bring a huge slice of “John Wayne style cowboy Justice” their way.
Red Dead redemption offers up a rich, densely populated open world set in the Western regions of the United States and Mexico. You can traverse the picturesque, dusty landscapes by horseback, hunting big game and collecting the abundant flora and fauna in order to complete challenges, and create new weapons and inventory.
Although the game’s locations are fictitious, Rockstar put considerable effort into conveying a realistic and accurate portrait of the West. Everything from the weapons, to the brothels, saloons, and transportation appear authentic. It also serves up wanted contracts, in which you pop your mercenary clogs on, and hunt down outlaws and bandits responsible for crimes. Also what’s noticeable, is the moral and ethical themes like racial discrimination, and prostitution which reflect the era in a believable fashion.
This displays Rockstars unique ability to identify cultural trends and common stereotypes with pin-point accuracy.
Grand Theft Auto : Vice City
Quite frankly, harking back to Vice City gives me a rampant case of nostalgic goosebumps. My romantic entanglement with this game is immortal and I would love to be buried clutching a copy of this game, when I finally meet my maker.
Putting my unhealthy infatuation to one side, let’s look at what gave Vice City legendary status.
Vice City gave us sumptuous, dazzling neon style graphics emulating the 80’s, coupled with a rip roaring soundtrack of 80’s anthems that have become indoctrinated into every players spotify account every since.
Rockstar took divine inspiration from classic cult films such as Scarface when creating the lush locations and iconic characters. In a stroke of genius, Rockstar managed to bag big-time gangster player Ray Liotta to voice-act the main character Tommy Vercetti, among other big names which added to its innate appeal.
Who can forget popping a wheelie, on a turbo charged super-bike down the neon streets of Miami with the wind in your hair, and TOTO booming down your lug holes.
Resplendent cinematic set pieces, quirky cut-scene monologues and addictive, entertaining game play.. What’s not to love.
Bully : Canis Canem Edit
Bully is another cult phenomenon hit developed by Rockstar. Again it is of no shock nor surprise that the game was subject to “project controversy” with dissenters expressing their fervent disapproval of its graphic violence and homosexual content. Once more though it received adulatory endorsement from the critics. After being forcibly consigned to attend Bullworth academy, “Jimmy” Hopkins whilst attempting to clamber to the top of the school’s social-hierarchy, discovers that the school is governed by bullies, and is determined to bring justice, peace and harmony to the “borstal-like plague of schoolboy scoundrels” sweeping the fictional town of Bullworth.
You have the option of spanning a free-roaming open world with the aid of a scooter, go-kart, bicycle.. or for the “hip trendies” a skateboard “maaan”. You have to attend compulsory classes, which is the main focal point of game-play. Here you can unlock unique traits, special abilities and useful dialogue options upon completion to help you wriggle out of those uncompromising schoolyard scenarios.
At the disposal of your cavalier and rebellious fingertips is a myriad of weapons to scare the pants of those pesky school yard scum such as a devilish slingshot. Trivial pranks can also be played like using stink bombs and itching powder on unsuspecting yobbos.
Again Rockstar was on the receiving end of a fierce backlash from bully awareness campaigners and disgruntled lobbyists who condemned the apparent glorification of bullying. In addition it supposedly undervalued the damage that bullying can cause.
If you have a penchant for murder mysteries, or you have astute observational skills and sheer detective abilities that would leave a double team of Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Poiret quaking in the their erudite boots, then this my friends is the title for you.
L.A Noire is a neo-noir style detective game set in the 1940’s, in which you control an LAPD officer, attempting to scale up the ranks through five of the departments divisions. It is your primary job to investigate the scenes of the crime, chase up potential leads, scan the scenes for clues and personal conduct the interrogation sequences in which you attempt to prize informing from your emotionally-complex subjects.
Rockstar offers the gamer a unique monochromatic mode, in which you can play through the game in black and white, or just opt for the default version, which offers a shady, moody color palette.
L.A. Noire utilizes motion scan technology, where by actors facial expressions are realistically captured and projected into the game. The game relies on this feature heavily, as you must distinguish certain characters expressions to ascertain whether they are implicated in some way to the investigation.
In L.A Noire, Rockstar successfully delivers a gripping, thrilling and suspenseful detective game, fully capturing the mood and the essence of the time period, whilst integrating new forms of technology to heighten the experience.
Rockstar is infamous for breaking the boundaries of what’s socially and politically acceptable, often giving rise to controversy and condemnation. However, by showcasing these specific titles I have attempted to broadcast their talents in composing compelling stories with eccentric and iconic characters merged with integrated innovative technologies and addictive game play which is often overshadowed by their “bad boy persona”.
We love you Rockstar.