The five greatest guitar moments in Rockstar games – from GTA to Red Dead Redemption and more
Celebrate the GTA 6 trailer with us as we look back over the many awesome guitar-driven moments across Rockstar’s catalogue.
Photo by Yuki IWAMURA / AFP
With the reveal of the Grand Theft Auto 6 trailer today, gaming fans are flocking to the Tom Petty track Love Is A Long Road in droves. But this is far from the first time a Rockstar game has graced us with an awesome guitar moment – here are five more of Rockstar’s best six-string moments.
5: Guns N’ Roses – Welcome To The Jungle – GTA: San Andreas (2004)
Welcome To The Jungle is an awesome trailer song. Alongside its use in about a million movies, it also soundtracked the trailer for 2004’s GTA: San Andreas, which arguably fit with the song’s lyrics about the sleaziness of LA far more than a Jumanji film giving it an on-the-nose reading. The “welcome to this crazy place” vibe was also a great way to show off the game’s open world – at the time, one of the most complex and vibrant game worlds ever.
And, of course, it was also featured on the in-game Radio X. Guns N’ Roses, unsurprisingly, are a great accompaniment to pushing your Playstation 2 to its explosion-rendering limit, racing through Los Santos and blew up countless police cars.
4: Shawn Lee’s Bully Soundtrack (2006)
As Bully departed from the GTA series’ vehicular chaos, the soundtrack departed from its staple diet of licensed rock and hip hop. But Shawn Lee’s original tracks for the 2006 juvenile delinquency simulator are no slouch – I mean, just listen to Defend Bucky. If you’re going to have a track play for most of the action moments in an action-oriented game, it might as well be that bloody excellent.
3: Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram – Letter from Bluewater Man – Red Dead Online (2019)
Red Dead Online’s Blood Money update gave us the sinister and slightly supernatural Bluewater John, a character voiced by Ingram and based on blues legend Robert Johnson. Fittingly, he gets a song of his own, too: Letter From Bluewater Man is. According to an interview with Ingram in Mxdwn, he wanted to avoid just doing a straight 12-bar I-IV-V, and so instead worked out an eight-bar blues in the vein of Key To The Highway. It’s a swampy, infectious track, and it’s best heard right before Ingram’s character summons a bunch of enemies that stab you to death.
2: Jose Gonzalez – Far Away – Red Dead Redemption (2010)
Rockstar games are acutely aware of how you can feel truly connected to their world, much more so than that of a film – after all, you’re the one riding around it. Hence in the first Red Dead Redemption, when the player first crosses over into Mexico it’s a dramatic shift: the game world you’ve been exploring for hours is behind you, and a whole new country stretches out ahead. The moment is elevated beyond the dryness of just “here is a new bit of a video game map” to something with real gravitas thanks to José González’s gorgeous original song for the game, Far Away.
1: D’Angelo – Unshaken – Red Dead Redemption II (2018)
Used similarly to Far Away, this haunting track features in one of Red Dead Redemption II’s most standout narrative moments (highlighted in Brad Potts’ video above). Its layered, spacious acoustic guitar and D’Angelo’s sonorous voice provide the perfect accompaniment to a ride across the Old West, but it’s more than just a highlight off the soundtrack. RDRII has ebbs and flows, and in the respite from the blasts of dynamite, rifles and shotguns, the game uses Unshaken to draw you into its world, taking time to give its Old West its own deep-rooted character.