Rockstar Games: 6 Most Experimental Games Ever

Even though Rockstar Games is now known for GTA and the Red Dead series, it used to try out a lot of different things.

Rockstar Games is one of the most important video game companies in the world. Even if people don’t know their name, they will know their games like Red Dead Redemption, Max Payne, and the Grand Theft Auto series. They may also remember the problems with GTA: San Andreas, Manhunt, and Bully from the middle of the 2000s. Still, these games didn’t just appear out of thin air.

Behind these big hits are a few games that either set the stage for Rockstar’s biggest hits, gave a sneak peek at whatever new tech they were working on, or tested the waters for a new genre that would change gaming as a whole. No matter how they turn out, these are Rockstar’s most unique games.

Space Station Silicon Valley

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Before the company changed its name to Rockstar Games, it was just a part of Take-Two Interactive. When they bought things from BMG Interactive, they set themselves apart from their parent publication. This deal also gave them the Scottish game company DMA Design, which made Lemmings, the first Grand Theft Auto games that were played from the top down, and this strange Nintendo 64 shooter.

In Space Station Silicon Valley, players take control of Evo, a robot that has to take over the bodies of different creatures to get through different levels safely and collect the bits it needs to fix itself and keep the space station from crashing into the Earth. The way you played was very different, like a remake of Super Mario Odyssey without Mario. Its open levels were also fun, and they influenced what the company made afterward.

Body Harvest

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The other N64 game by DMA Design might be better known for how hard it was to make. It was supposed to be an RPG that Nintendo would sell to fill the gap left by Squaresoft when they moved Final Fantasy 7 to the PS1. But Nintendo’s controlling style, its high expectations, and the fact that the Scottish company didn’t speak Japanese made it hard for them to work together.

In the end, Gremlin Interactive and Midway turned it into a third-person shooting game. Players had to shoot aliens, save people, and move across huge levels in tanks, trucks, cars, motorbikes, and other vehicles. The fact that you could run around and shoot while on foot and then switch to driving anything was a powerful combination that the newly formed Rockstar Games were happy to take advantage of.

Grand Theft Auto 3

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Space Station Silicon Valley showed how DMA Design changed to allow free exploration of 3D levels. Body Harvest added guns and cars that you can drive to that. Grand Theft Auto 3 would blend these two into one big, open level with different goals, minigames, and other fun ways to enjoy the destruction that made the first two games so popular.

It’s hard to think that anyone didn’t believe in the project, but it wasn’t until the game came out that people realized what made it special. GTA3 changed the sandbox genre in its own way. It was more busy than SimCity and had more action than Shenmue. Without it, there wouldn’t be games like Crackdown, InFamous, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Red Dead Redemption, Saints Row, and more.

Rockstar Presents Table Tennis

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As a developer, Rockstar Games took care of more than just DMA Design, which is now Rockstar North. They also bought Angel Studios, which is now called Rockstar San Diego. Angel Studios made Smuggler’s Run, the Midnight Club series, the Red Dead series, and, strangely enough, the visual effects for The Lawnmower Man. The Rockstar Advanced Game Engine, or RAGE, was also made by them. It could make huge, open-world levels, make physics more real, and do other things.

But its first game was just a simple simulation of table tennis. It was amazing how mild it was, given that it came out at the same time as GTA: San Andreas and the Manhunt games, which caused a lot of trouble for the company. But it showed how much the engine could do and gave Xbox 360 users a cheap, simple, and fun table tennis game. It was made on the same system as GTA4, GTA5, and both Red Dead Redemption games by chance.


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Before they became Rockstar Leeds, Mobius Entertainment didn’t do much of note. Not unless there are fans of the Alfred Chicken games for Game Boy Color and PS1. Then they made GTA: Liberty City Stories, GTA: Vice City Stories, Manhunt 2 and Eggy Car for the PSP, and Beaterator.

It started out as a 2005 Adobe Flash music generator where players could make their own loops using sounds and effects made by Timbaland. Then, through the Rockstar Games Social Club, they could show their work to their friends. Despite its name, Rockstar wasn’t really good at making music or rhythm games. But they made this treat, which got good reviews, and then updated it for the PSP and iOS in 2009.

L.A Noire

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This one isn’t really a Rockstar game because Team Bondi started making it under Sony Computer Entertainment in 2004. Rockstar Games didn’t get the rights to sell the game until 2006. Until the game came out in 2011, they helped with it through their different studios. Part of why L.A. Noire was so hard to make was because it used tricky, cutting-edge MotionScan technology.

It was a gadget with 32 cameras that could track the whole head of an actor. With it, it could make face captures that were more realistic and still look good today. The more realistic emotions were supposed to help the player figure out if a witness or suspect was telling the truth or not. It was a different way to do detective games, and the tech was cool, but the drama behind the scenes wasn’t worth it.

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