For quite a while now, Rockstar games has been a household name, famous for bringing some of the biggest and best games to our consoles. Originally created as a subsidiary of Take-Two Interactive, Rockstar NYC was founded in 1998, now with 10 subsidiaries of its own. They boast a wide array of games, such as the Red Dead series, Grand Theft Auto series, Max Payne and L.A Noire. Rockstar have never been afraid to push the boundaries of social acceptance, willingly throwing obscene game-play, sexual content, offensive themes and just outright violence into their games. It's safe to say the majority of us lapped it up and continue to do so today, as Rockstar's games continue to offer an experience unlike any others. They have managed to create multiple worlds, with Red Dead and GTA at the forefront. Even though they are miles apart chronologically, the experiences are some of the most enjoyable on the market.
With the release of the eagerly awaited Red Dead Redemption 2 on the horizon, they will be thrust into the spotlight once again. That being said, nothing is ever perfect and we all make mistakes, and Rockstar has been no exception over the years. Whether it is being nit-picked to death by their players or condemned within the media, no publisher inspires as many positive and negative reviews as Rockstar. But all publicity is good publicity. right?
We all know that GTA V's online multiplayer community is one of the largest and most complex communities to ever exist, containing a grand number of players all vying to be the biggest, baddest and richest. Between online missions and heists, building yourself up from the ground in-game can be a daunting and lengthy experience. Starting out with nothing up against people who have everything, you begin to ask yourself: how? How can these people have so much when you have been grinding away just to buy yourself a crappy little garage on the bad side of town. Two words: Shark Cards. A common theme in multiplayer games these days is the ability to buy in game add-ons to give yourself an advantage against opponents. GTA V is no stranger to this tactic, making purchasable Shark Cards available to boost your in-game cash for real life tender. Although many people may think this is fair game, a large number of players who aren't willing to part with their hard earned cash have voiced their distaste for the use of the Shark Cards, as it means they are not able to compete with those who use them.
The most controversial games created by Rockstar have to be their Manhunt series. The first Manhunt was released in 2003 and seemed destined for damnation from the beginning. A stealth based horror game, Manhunt requires you to play as the main character James Earl Cash, a death row inmate. In order to progress through the game, you had to murder gang members, with the method of murder becoming quite graphic and obscene, in ways never seen before on any platform. It included things like suffocating people with plastic bags to the use of blunt force trauma. Manhunt created many problems for Rockstar due to its graphic nature. There were reports of a split in the company, with many people worried about how dark the game was. However, Rockstar was no stranger to controversy at the time, receiving a lot of attention over their previous GTA releases. However, Manhunt was even worse. The game was it was banned in New Zealand and confiscated in Germany. It received even more negative press when it was implicated in a UK murder, although the game was eventually absolved of all involvement. Although it received many positive reviews, was all the negativity really worth it?
There is an argument to be had about games and DLCs. While some people love DLC content, others are frustrated when they buy game's at full price, receive half a game and the rest is fed to them in pricey DLC content released at later dates. This is certainly not the case for GTA V which gave us a vast, in-depth story, following three main characters around Los Santos as their lives intertwined in the weirdest, yet most perfect way. However, after the story was done, we were left wanting more in the ways of single player action. In the last instalment, we were granted two DLC stories like The Ballad Of Gay Tony and The Lost And Damned. Yet here we are, waiting for more from GTA V only to be given nothing. Surely a story expansion would send fans running back to single player for more of the unforgettable single player experience only Rockstar can provide. This feels like a huge missed opportunity.
By far the biggest success story from GTA V Online's DLC content has to be the heists. Surely you must be thinking; " how is this a mistake, heists are great." Well, you are not wrong there, as Heists are amazing. Originally part of the single player story, heist expansions allow you to co-op with up to four players to pull off big jobs online and earn that sweet, sweet dough. It isn't the content itself that was the problem, it was the constant delays on release. After being announced, the addition was welcomed and eagerly awaited, only to be delayed by over a year. To cut a long story short, Rockstar had announced the heists without properly estimating just how big a job they were taking on. Fans kept waiting and it took a long time for them to come. Do the math next time guys!
Each and every GTA instalment has their fair share of lovable, but stupid characters. You know, the ones who cause more trouble than they're worth, but we can't stay angry at. Well, in GTA IV, they started to put a heavy social element into our main character's life, helping to create a very realistic world in which you can hang out with the associates you've met along the way. This meant that a number of social mini-games became available to us. That being said, there was nothing more irritating than being constantly badgered by Roman about bowling, so much so that his irksome requests became somewhat of an internet joke. Think about it, you're in the middle of a mission and your car is being peppered by bullets. You're fully concentrated on taking down the enemy, only to be interrupted by "HEY COUSIN, IT'S ROMAN." It's absolutely infuriating.
L.A. Noire was an interesting step in a new direction for Rockstar. Developed by Team Bondai and published by Rockstar, L.A Noire took us back to 1940s Los Angeles in a Noire setting made popular within the film industry. Controlling Detective Cole Phelps, you work your way through the divisions of the LAPD, solving some of the best and most gruesome cases 1940's L.A has to offer. As well as this, Rockstar introduced a free roam mode, allowing us to explore the era in all its glory. While the game grossed highly and is rated among its fans, it did receive some criticism for being boring. Although it is argued that the slow pace and difficult interrogations help build the atmosphere for the overall experience, many feel they still missed the boat in some circumstances, actually turning the whole story into a bit of a drag.
John Marston. The man, the father, the legend. A seasoned outlaw with a moral sense of right and wrong. His past still haunts him as he seeks to live out his final years with his family. Blackmailed into working for the government, John must eradicate his past gang members in return for amnesty. We can only sympathize with John as he looks to bury his demons. Because of that, going through his journey brought us a big sense of pride and victory as we move into the final chapters of his journey. Finally, after having brought down all of your required targets, Rockstar lull you into a false sense of security, playing missions on John's family ranch along with his son. It seems like everything panned out okay in the end for our lovable outlaw. WRONG. John was betrayed by the government and shot down outside his family home while defending his son and wife. This was a truly soul wrenching moment which broke our hearts. While it may of been a piece of scripted brilliance on Rockstar's part. it also meant the death of one of gaming's greatest characters and I'm afraid it is something we can never quite forgive.
As is clearly evident now, Rockstar have put a lot of effort into their online game mode in GTA V. So you'd we expect it to be smooth sailing when we log on, right? Wrong. So many reports have come through about the failures of GTA Online's lobbies. They always seem unable to cope with the sheer amount they have to process. In my personal experience, they've always felt really choppy and slow. Often, I've been kicked out of lobbies for what seems like no good reason. The option to join your friends lobby when they are in free roam is a great one, making it easier to connect with your pals without having to bother them with invites. But, again it seems like such a temperamental feature, as I'm often being told I have no friends active, when I clearly do! I even had this happen with a guy who was in the same room as me.
Max Payne is a name familiar to gamers everywhere. The series follows the main character Max Payne, a former DEA agent, on his revenge mission against drug dealers who murdered his wife and child. It wasn't until the third instalment in the series that Rockstar fully took over its publication, with our hero now working in the private security sector. They took Max over to Brazil to battle against the gangs of São Paolo in a bid to rescue his boss' wife. Don't marry in this universe, it doesn't seem to end well.
Max Payne 3 generally did well upon release, gaining favourable reviews. However, one problem which stuck out among many of its fans was the length of its cut scenes. The game contained over three hours worth of cut scenes. While some people do enjoy the cinematic experiences games can bring, the fact that the majority of these cut scenes were not allowed to be skipped meant those wishing to blaze through the action were unable to do so. This turned many players away from the game for such a cosmetic reason.
I remember when my Dad brought home my first PlayStation, along with Final Fanstasy VII. I was so excited to be clutching that monster case containing 3 discs. In a world where discs are becoming a thing of the past in favour of digital downloads, it seems crazy to think that any game created after 2010 would need anything like. This was not the case for L.A Noire on Xbox 360. Rockstar had put a lot of effort into their facial technology for this game, which was groundbreaking at the time, and it meant that actors would act scenes from the game to give a realistic feel to interviews in game, allowing us to judge their responses based on facial movements. This amount of data meant that the game had to span three discs on the Xbox format as they could not hold it on a single disc, unlike PlayStation who adopted the Blu-Ray disc format. Gamer's became upset with having to swap discs throughout the game, questioning whether this technology was worth spending mass amounts of money on when facial animators could have done a similar job. We all enjoy a smooth running game experience and this is exactly what Xbox players didn't get!
L.A Noire is set within a great era and with so much effort put into the surrounding environment, you would think that Rockstar would really push us to explore this great open world. But, then they allowed fast travel anywhere we wanted. A lot of open world games do incorporate fast travel mechanisms to allow us to navigate around the world with relative ease. One that springs to mind is The Elder Scrolls IV: Skyrim, which requires you to first discover a point before being able to miraculously travel there on a whim from anywhere. The problem here is that L.A Noire allowed you to fast travel without even discovering the location, meaning you do not have to explore the surrounding location. It seems pretty silly that so much research and effort was put into developing the landscape and they then allowed us to breeze right past it.
We all hate waiting, right? Waiting for a bus, a train, or even waiting for payday! Well waiting for a game to load is no exception to this rule. Our consoles are things of immense power, processing data faster than some of us can even think, so for games to have such long loading screens is unacceptable. Rockstar clearly didn't agree. The GTA V loading screens take FOREVER! Especially on start up, I find myself sitting and watching the images flicker over and over as the percentage slowly creeps up towards 100%. Considering the fact we had to also wait forever for the game to install on our HDD, surely loading up should be much faster than this. Also, the story seems to load up to 90% and stick on 90% for ages, as if to tease us. If this is some sort of cruel joke, we aren't laughing. Hopefully this will all be ironed out in future releases! I guess we'll have to wait and see...
The concept of Bully was interesting, though it was definitely a controversial game. Set in an open world environment in the Town of Bullworth where you are enrolled into the local school, you're surrounded by bullies and you have to make your way up the school ladder to stop them. The controversy was that people felt like the game glorified bullying. Despite this, the game was very well received by its audience for its individuality. However, more problems arose when Rockstar decided to remaster this classic. Such a popular title deserves to have a lot of time and effort put into bringing it back to our screens. It's safe to say they did a real sloppy job with this one, with many people feeling like the port was rushed. Reports of the game crashing came out and a patch was released to try and combat this. It seems the efforts were in vain, as the game continued to be very unstable for many players. Honestly, it would have been easier to just bust out the old PS2 game for this one.
Love them or hate them, the Austin Powers movies happened. Written by and starring Mike Myers, three movies were released between 1997 -2002. The series was a spoof spy action comedy, mocking the likes of James Bond and other great spy movies. With great movie success often comes terrible video game adaptations. Rockstar published Austin Powers: Oh, Behave on Game Boy Colour in 2000, featuring Austin Powers themed mini-games for us to, ahem, enjoy. It's safe to say this game was terrible and it received terrible reviews. Thankfully, this game seemed to have disappeared into history, but we can not forgive this abomination and the title as a whole was a HUGE mistake.
After every release of GTA, fans are left asking whether any of our past "heroes" will ever make another appearance. With the latest edition being set in Los Santos, the same area as the hugely popular San Andreas title starring CJ, fans were praying that they'd be able to see him again. Rockstar has explained that there are multiple universes within the GTA Series, with the 2D universe featuring GTA 1, 2, and London, the 3D universe is compiled of GTA III, Vice City/Stories, San Andreas, and Liberty City Stories, and the HD universe has GTA IV and anything on-wards. This means that main characters from separate universes will not travel across universes. The only exceptions are side characters and locations which can be represented. So that means no CJ and plenty of Lazlow. Damn.