PLATFORM: PC, PS4/5, SWITCH, XBOX ONE/SERIES X (REVIEWED) | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The GTA Trilogy has had a rather tumultuous launch, to say the least. The PC version was removed from sale within a matter of days due to its catalogue of bugs, glitches and performance issues which also plagued pretty much every other platform that the game was made available for, and the internet quickly filled with clips and screenshots that demonstrated the overall lack of polish that had been put into into this release. A couple of weeks later though, and after a major patch that sought to address some of the more serious issues, how are these three undeniably classic titles holding up?
There's no doubt that the three sixth-generation GTA games – GTA III, Vice City and San Andreas – are some of the most important and influential titles in gaming history, and they're all absolutely worthy of a graphical overhaul and a bit of general tinkering to bring them up to modern standards and make them more appealing to younger players. For the most part, the remastered visuals look excellent. Everything is crisp and clear, there's none of the fuzzy muddiness that you'd likely get if you hooked a PS2 or original Xbox up to an HD TV, and many of the game's locations – most notably Vice City's neon-lined beachfronts and the Vegas-inspired Las Venturas strip in San Andreas – both look more attractive and feel more alive than they ever did before. At the same time, though, character models haven't quite been afforded the same level of attention, so you'll be seeing a lot of slightly alarming-looking NPCs both wandering around the streets and in cutscenes, and there's a particularly strange issue with characters' arms in San Andreas with a lot of people looking a bit like Dick Jones (more specifically, his arms) when he falls out of the window in Robocop...
Nevertheless, if you're revisiting any of these three games for the first time since their original releases in the early 2000s, you're likely to feel right at home with these remasters. Coming from the earlier more primitive days of open-world games, there are a few issues with mission design (most notably when it comes to failing / restarting missions) which can cause some frustration, but aimlessly cruising around doing nothing but vibing to the radio is as fun as it ever was (in a pleasing turn of events, the licensed music across all three games is almost completely present and correct), and all three titles offer some fantastic places to waste some time (and innocent civilians) in. There are, however, still a number of issues that are waiting to be addressed by future patches and updates. While all three games are generally a lot more stable and playable than they were at launch, you're still likely to find – among other things – floating pedestrians and objects, skipping audio (particularly in San Andreas), spelling mistakes, haphazard NPC behaviour and progress-halting glitches where objectives fail to trigger, leaving no option but to restart your game in the hope that things might sort themselves out (they usually do, but it shouldn't really be necessary).
What we're left with, at the moment at least, is a bundle of excellent games that maybe haven't quite stood the test of time on all fronts but are still at least entertaining in their own ways. Unfortunately, these “definitive editions” are currently far from the best ways to experience them. Games like these deserve much more care and attention than what has been afforded to them by the folks at Grove Street Games. Publisher Rockstar has stated that any remaining issues will be fixed and polished to a more agreeable standard over the coming weeks, and one can only hope that this does actually happen. Anyone who played these games twenty years ago is likely to find that nostalgia is enough to push through any of the Definitive Edition's shortcomings, but – at the time of writing – those who are checking these out for the first time might fare better by seeking out the original versions instead.