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Review – Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy

Want to experience the game that made open-world gaming mainstream? The three games in this package – Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City and San Andreas are all available for sale on steam. This is a great time to re-live one of the most iconic moments of modern video game history.

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy is a collection of three games in the Grand Theft Auto series. It includes the original Grand Theft Auto, Grand Theft Auto 2, and Grand Theft Auto 3. This definitive edition of the game will be released on April 26th for PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch.

Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas are three games in the Grand Theft Auto series. These games were a huge part of my early adolescence (don’t judge, I grew up with pretty liberal parents). I grew up playing these games and enjoyed every minute of them. In a strange manner, GTA III introduced me to Michael Madsen and The Sopranos. Vice City introduced me to Miami Vice, Scarface, and new wave music, while San Andreas’ Radio X shaped me into the die-hard alternative rock and grunge enthusiast I am today. I had sheets of paper full with cheat codes that I had scribbled down from a friend’s magazine, and I even remembered some of them off the top of my head. In other words, when Rockstar unveiled Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition, I was the target demographic.

I wasn’t expecting Claude from GTA III to have the finest remaster treatment out of all the characters.

The reports at first seemed too fantastic to be true. A bundle that includes all three games, as well as fresh new aesthetics and improved quality of life? Is it available on all platforms? Ray tracing on the PlayStation 5 and portability on the Nintendo Switch version? Wait… there’s a Switch version? This is how Rockstar generates money: they understand how to get you to purchase their goods several times even before they are released. The announcement of the PS5 and Switch versions of Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition made me want to get a copy for the improved quality of life, visuals, and trophies, as well as a Switch port so I could raise hell while listening to Jane’s Addiction’s “Been Caught Stealing” on my portable. The ports were then eventually exposed. And something wasn’t quite right about this collection.

Let me begin with a positive: the Definitive Edition of Grand Theft Auto III is the least problematic of the bunch. A restoration or remake of GTA III was much needed. This game had aged like sour milk, despite the fact that I’d enjoyed it since I bought an original Xbox when I was eleven. It was a game designed around the Dreamcast’s constraints (check it up, I’m not making this up), with a strange control scheme and even worse camera arrangement. It looked awful, performed terribly, and took an eternity to load. Yes, it is one of the greatest games of all time, but it was also a relic of its day. It was in desperate need of repair. And I won’t dispute that this Definitive Edition does, for the most part, address many of the game’s flaws.

Grand Theft Auto Liberty City GTA III

I have memorized the whole map of Liberty City.

I didn’t hate the now-famous character models in Grand Theft Auto III as much as I did in the previous two games. Perhaps it’s because the original artwork for each character already looked like melted wax sculptures, but I ended up preferring their new models, particularly the new Claude. While the framerate is jerky, it isn’t too bad, particularly since Liberty City is the size of a baby pool compared to, say, the full state of San Andreas. The lighting effects were really rather stunning, and the city itself didn’t seem to be quite so obnoxious. The contrast between gorgeous cityscapes and horrifying people is, in my opinion, what hurts this collection the most, although in GTA III, you can get accustomed to it soon.

The updated playability distinguishes this version from the originals. A few aspects were taken from Grand Theft Auto V and other recent third-person action adventure games. When walking or driving a car, you now have complete control over the camera. Aiming is free-form, and the strength of your aiming help is adjustable. There are no loading delays at all. There are checkpoints at the beginning and middle of missions that allow you to respawn if you die or fail the task.

Grand Theft Auto Vice City Definitive Edition

The framerate suffers as a result of all that high-quality neon.

A weapon wheel reminiscent of GTA V was also a welcome addition. With the triggers, you may now accelerate and brake. With the same triggers, you can also aim and fire. Finally, you may include waypoints on your map in any of the three games. Overall, even if the remainder of the control layout is still strange (handbrake tied to the R1 button? For real? ), those enhancements to quality of life are all fantastic.

Keep in mind that I grew up knowing how awful GTA III’s looks and controls were. This brand new Definitive Edition doesn’t get it up to 2021 levels of quality, but it does make it a lot more playable and fun. However, there are a few hiccups. There are a slew of difficulties with the fps. These are the ones that can be rectified in the next months via patches (or so I hope). At least in GTA III, we’ll have to make do with the character models. Now it’s time to look at some of the more obnoxious outcomes.

Vice City Remaster Aiming

For the first time, an aiming system that is genuinely usable. I suppose not everything in this remaster is bad.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is, in my opinion, the poorest game in this collection. No, I’m not implying that Vice City was, or even is, a horrible game. However, the character models in this game are noticeably inferior than in GTA III. Plus, performance is less consistent, owing to the city’s size, particle count, and the abundance of neon from the 1980s. The gameplay enhancements are mostly the same as those found in GTA III, so there’s no need to go through them again. Finally, because to licensing concerns, a portion of the EPIC soundtrack was removed. It’s unfortunate, but I also understand that dealing with anything Michael Jackson-related in today’s world is a pain, even by Rockstar’s standards.

San Andreas Ray Tracing

Consider the lovely lighting effects… which contrast badly with the dreadful character models.

Let’s chat about San Andreas for a moment. From the beginning, it is clear that this is the collection’s major emphasis. Its file size is larger than the combined size of the other two games. It’s even the name of the firm that created this restored compilation (Grove Street Studios). It is my favorite GTA game to date, as well as one of my all-time favorites. Many of my peers my age have the same viewpoint. We’ve all memorized Radio X’s playlist. We’ve learned iconic lines like Smoke’s drive-through order. We were all unable to keep up with the dreaded train. While this is still the greatest and most entertaining game in the bundle, it is also the one that has been tweaked the most by Rockstar. For the better and for the worst.

Grand Theft Auto San Andreas Remaster

Sir, a spider is creeping over your chest! Allow me to squish it for you!

This version of San Andreas had a few new features not seen in the previous two games, such as the ability to commit drive-by shootings without having to move the camera around. Although the targeting isn’t as free-form as in Grand Theft Auto V, it’s still a huge improvement over the original. CJ may also automatically jump over fences by pressing and holding the run button. All of these additions are highly appreciated. There’s no doubting that this is a tremendous improvement over the 2004 original in terms of gameplay… with the exception of how awful it is to run and swim this time around, since you must now hit X to sprint or swim. There will be no more endless running by pressing X like a crazy as there used to be.

I'll Have two number 9s

“… a six with extra dip, a seven, two 45s, one with cheese, and a big soda.”

San Andreas isn’t the ugliest game in the world in terms of appearance, but it’s still a pain to look at. It’s all because of these dreadful character models. What were they thinking when they created these characters? No, I’m not referring about the random NPCs, who would have been horrifying anyway. Random passerby would not have occupied much of Rockstar’s or Grove Street Studios’ attention and resources. It’s all about the protagonists. CJ has a Flo Rida-like appearance. Halfway through the melting process, Ryder resembles Eazy-Madame E’s Tussaud’s statue. On the inside, The Truth seems to be lifeless, as if the quantities of peyote he’d ingested during his life had sapped his vitality. Those character designs are abominations.

To make things worse, these figures clash horribly with Los Santos and Las Venturas’ gleaming, ray-tracing-filled sky. Bone County’s upgraded landscapes also seem to be too realistic for a game filled with almost Lovecraftian abominations. It’s like if you installed a graphics mod for San Andreas on your PC but failed to install a character skin pack to match the rest of the graphics. It seems to be off, and it’s difficult not to be grossed out during cutscenes, particularly during high-speed chases on San Andreas’ rural roadways, when the framerate drops dramatically.

Follow the Damn Train

I arrived. I noticed. I couldn’t stop myself from following the train.

San Andreas is also the most glitch-prone of the three remasters. During rural automobile chases, bridges vanished in front of my eyes. Cars appear out of nowhere, as though the whole game relied on traditional button combination tricks to fill the map. Characters were attached to walls and such such nonsense. The game never crashed or froze, but it did have some unpleasant Skyrim-like flaws. There are no hardcore Cyberpunk 2077 issues in this collection. However, this does not make the situation any better. A remaster shouldn’t have more bugs than the original. With Sonic Colors, I thought I’d seen it all, but I suppose I was wrong.

San Andreas The Truth

This is what happens when you do drugs, kids. You wind up looking like a dead-on-the-inside Peter Fonda made of plastic.

Yes, these three games were difficult for me. At the same time, I couldn’t get enough of them. It was two a.m. before I realized it, and I was halfway through GTA III and on my way to San Fierro in San Andreas. That is the allure of the Grand Theft Auto games from the PlayStation 2 era: they were the peak of open world sandboxes. There hasn’t been a single open world game produced in the last decade that is as much pleasure to play as these. They may have aged like gouda cheese in the sun, and these remasters may have transformed them into eldritch homunculi, but their essential gameplay and enjoyment factor remain. Very powerful.

Grand Theft Auto Flamethrower

The moment you discover that the marijuana plants in this game seem to be more lifelike than any human person.

I’m not going to lie: this remastered Grand Theft Auto trilogy was a lot of fun for me. At the end of the day, they’re still PlayStation 2 classics, which I’ve adored for the previous two decades. I also won’t dispute that each of the games has some nice quality of life enhancements, such as a better targeting mechanism, camera controls, checkpoints, and so on. But, gosh, these graphics, framerate, and flaws are all unacceptably bad. Rockstar should have paid more attention to their own games. These are still fantastic games, and you can still cause mayhem as a cheerful psychopath if you so want. Is this, however, the “definitive” method to play them? They’ve replaced the original remasters in every single gaming retailer, so it’s only through process of elimination.


The ultra-detailed sceneries and lighting effects clash horrifically with the uncanny valley monstrosities that make up all three games’ brand new character models. Despite aiming for 60 frames per second, all three games have framerate difficulties.

There are some welcome gameplay and quality of life changes, but it’s mostly the same gameplay as before, which has clearly aged. There are also other bugs that were not present in the initial versions, as well as the framerate concerns noted before.

Although some of the speech still sounds compressed, all three games include a large cast of brilliant actors who produce legendary performances, not to mention each game’s impeccable selection of music and radio stations. Radio X is still the best!

Even if this isn’t the remake that these games deserve, they’re still a lot of fun. The fact that I had a blast repeating them for the billionth time is proof of how good this trilogy is. I also can’t ignore the handful of really positive quality-of-life enhancements in each of the three games.

Final Score: 7.5

The Definitive Edition of Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy is currently available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC, and Switch.

PS5 was used for this review.

The publisher donated a copy of Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition.

As an example:

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The “grand theft auto: the trilogy — the definitive edition reddit” is a review of the game. The reviewer had some good things to say about it, but also noted some issues that were present in the game.

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