Reviews - Updated on March 28, 2022

Relevant for platform: NSW

When the era of remasters began a few years ago, the reluctance of some publishers to make easy money was surprising. Electronic Arts has been delaying the re-release of the Mass Effect trilogy for a very long time. Nintendo released a trilogy of three-dimensional Super Mario, but a few months later they permanently removed it from sale, and Zelda re-released only one, and even then not the best. Rockstar also holed up, although a remaster of Max Payne 3 would surely have been welcomed by many. But we got Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition from her.

Who is guilty?

The description of the collection sounds like a dream: three classic parts of the series, which had a huge impact on the industry, are transferred to a new engine. The graphics have been tweaked, the gameplay has been changed, and all this goodness is available on a variety of platforms: on computers, on new consoles, and on old ones, including Nintendo Switch. But then it started: a vague trailer, strange screenshots, no gameplay videos, and no pre-release press copies. I immediately remembered some Polish creation …

It’s no secret that the remasters turned out bad. It would be possible to ignore them at all – well, they left and left. However, Rockstar did everything possible to ensure that the audience armed with a pitchfork and brought down the scores on Metacritic. First, she (or rather, Take-Two, but this is not so important) announced a hunt for user modifications, including those that improve the graphics in these games. Then she removed the old versions of the three GTAs from the stores, replacing them with new ones. Well, she set an indecently high price for the collection: it is absurd for America, and even more so in Russia without the “regionals”. On the PC, you can buy the trilogy only in the Rockstar store, where it costs 4,279 rubles, and on the Switch they generally ask for 5,399 rubles.

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy — The Definitive Edition: Обзор

Sometimes it feels like you’re playing a GTA remake created in Dreams.

You don’t know who to blame for what happened – either the Grove Street Games team, or the Take-Two publishing house, which apparently allocated a small budget for remasters and set tight deadlines. Someday we will find out the truth (as happened with Mafia III, the problematic development of which was published in a large article), but for now we can only be perplexed. Was the management satisfied with the result? Has anyone tested these games? And most importantly, what will happen next? The same Blizzard, although it recognized the problems of Warcraft III: Reforged, did not try to fix anything in the end – the old version is still not legally available, and the new one remains rubbish.

The rare changes that GTA remasters are to be commended for are what you would expect from any normal re-release. Now, in case of a mission failure, you are offered to restart it from a checkpoint – well, yes, it should be so. The mini-map now shows the path to the next goal in all three games – it is logical, this is part of modern GTA. The menu of the third game now has a world map – it would be strange if after so many years it had not been added. Autosaves have appeared, so you no longer need to go through the entire map to complete the session. And most importantly – the wheels for selecting weapons and radio stations, thanks to which you save a lot of time.

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy — The Definitive Edition: Обзор

Shooting here in the spirit of modern Rockstar games – either uncomfortable aiming, or “auto-aim” for the smallest. On the Switch, by the way, there is a gyroscope control.

Oil painting

Graphically, the games have also changed, but not for the better. GTAIII, for example, turned out to be unnecessarily dark, and San Andreas sometimes has strange lighting problems. In the menu, you can tweak the brightness and contrast and achieve a more or less normal look, but why this is shifted to the user’s shoulders is not clear. The rain deserves special mention – instead of transparent drops, there are white stripes that fill the entire screen, due to which you can’t see a single thing. This catches your eye as soon as you launch the first mission in GTAIII – did the testers even begin to watch the introductory cut-scene?

All textures have increased resolution, and low-poly objects with high-quality textures sometimes look unnatural and alien. Signs and inscriptions are teeming with typos: instead of AIR GUITARS, the store window says AR GUITARS, and instead of AVAILABLE, it says AVAIABLE. This does not look like a neural network – rather, illiterate outsourcers are to blame, and with them the quality control department, if it participated in the development at all.

Some objects have been redrawn, including palm trees – the coast opposite the hotel in Vice City looks more beautiful than before. Yes, and in San Andreas, vegetation was paid attention – the bushes even wrinkle a little if you step on them. At the same time, games have lost their atmosphere, which is especially critical for San Andreas, where without the usual orange filter everything seems gray and faded. And because of such point improvements, objects do not fit together well – for example, the rails look better, but the train wheels still do not fit with them.

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy — The Definitive Edition: Обзор

No comment.

The characters suffered the most. GTA has always had a lot of cartoonish images, but in the remaster it is a natural freak circus. They tried to refine the old models, the animations of which were not changed in any way, but it turned out so-so. Here, the characters are more reminiscent of animated plastic dolls, especially the protagonist of Vice City. And in San Andreas, people walk and talk with broken necks all the time – with stretched textures it looked normal, but here it became creepy. The updated Misty does not seem to get out of the alcohol store, Candy Sachs is just right to send to the bodybuilding contest, and Denise resembles Yoda with cropped ears.

Attempts to stretch modern technology on an ancient frame lead to disastrous results. In the originals, the draw distance was small, which was hidden by fog, but here it is not. It seems that they did the right thing, but it’s not enough just to remove the fog – you need to fix the traffic at the same time. But cars appear out of thin air, which looks especially ridiculous in the third part, where cars sometimes materialize right in front of your nose. In San Andreas, the feeling of a large city has disappeared – climbing onto a tall building, you can take a look at the entire map. Exactly the same problems were in Silent Hill HD, where due to the lack of fog, numerous flaws came out. But Grove Street Games clearly does not learn from the mistakes of others.

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy — The Definitive Edition: Обзор

Big Smoke, by the way, in the Russian version is called Parovoz.

Worse and worse

The funny thing is that this miracle manages to slow down on all platforms. Even on the PS5 there are “lags”, and on the Switch this is a real disaster. GTAIII slows down when you just drive around the city and do not touch anyone, San Andreas loses frames with terrible force during the chases. On Switch, downloads are also delayed – if you go out into the city from any room, get ready to wait ten seconds. Well, the screen resolution in both portable and stationary mode is depressing. Such games should fly on a platform where more modern Saints Row works well. On home consoles, it is generally offered to choose between graphics and performance modes, with such and such a “visual”.

The remasters added new bugs, including more unpredictable physics – it is more difficult to control air transport, and cars in Vice City behave inappropriately. Sometimes you fall through textures or fail to complete a mission, not to mention occasional crashes with an error. The soundtrack also suffered in the re-release – in GTAIII it did not change at all, and Vice City and San Andreas lost several dozen tracks. Either the copyright holders did not go forward, or the publisher did not spend the profits earned on GTA Online on licenses. Be that as it may, it is strange to postscript The Definitive Edition when some of the content has disappeared. Not only the compositions are gone – the cinematic camera is also not in any of the three parts.

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy — The Definitive Edition: Обзор

In GTAIII, the light falls somewhere in the wrong place in almost every scene, and in other games it often happens.

At the same time, the games themselves, if you omit the graphics, for the most part remained unchanged. Yes, they are godlessly outdated in terms of gameplay, and the same third part no longer gives the same delight – both the dialogues in it are scanty and the tasks are not exciting. But what nostalgia! Driving through familiar streets in GTAIII after so many years, listening to my favorite Rise FM radio, brought back so many memories… And the legendary scenes from San Andreas still make me smile thanks to the amazing voice acting.

But this is the merit of old games, not re-releases. In a sense, launching these remasters for the sake of nostalgia is harmful – you probably remember the old GTAs as different, more fun, diverse and spectacular. It’s like rewatching your favorite action movies from childhood – at a conscious age, the special effects will seem ridiculous, and you will involuntarily begin to critically evaluate the script. And then add to this lousy character design, technical imperfection and other problems.

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy — The Definitive Edition: Обзор

Candy Sachs is not the same anymore.

Perhaps the trilogy should have been re-released as is – adding support for high resolutions, tweaking the controls and not touching anything else. Leave the old, angular graphics, do not change the engine, do not entrust the neural network with redrawing textures and sell such a collection at half price, at $10 per game. At least so that console players can finally play the classic trilogy.

But it turned out to be a shameful attempt to portray violent activity, deceive buyers with a list of improvements and raise money on pre-orders. And the saddest thing is that now these are the only available versions of these games, the originals can no longer be bought on Steam. Just as Take-Two didn’t care too much about the quality of the product, I won’t think too long about judging this misunderstanding.

Pluses: familiar games, many advantages of which have been preserved; some successful gameplay innovations.

Cons: Nightmarish updated character design; frequent problems with lighting; textures with signs and inscriptions contain errors; dozens of cut songs; terrible optimization; remasters have replaced older versions of games; high price that does not match the quality.

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