Where do we even begin with the GTA Trilogy? Recreating Rockstar’s trio of seminal sandboxes for contemporary consoles should have been a slamdunk, but it’s ended up with more criticism than Tommy Vercetti’s Hawaiian-inspired shirts. This is a compilation that succeeds solely on the strength of its core content, with developer Grove Street Games getting little else right outside of that.
Featuring PlayStation 2 classics GTA 3, GTA Vice City, and GTA San Andreas, let’s start with the positives: the open worlders have been modernised in a number of key areas, with vastly improved camera controls, targeting, and the addition of checkpoints. This means you’ll no longer need to return to a mission giver when your car unexpectedly explodes on the ride home.
Further conveniences are added in the form of a GPS system, similar to what you find in modern sandbox games, alongside weapon and radio wheels that make switching a cinch. It’s all been inspired by the familiar setup in GTA 5, and while gunplay still feels ancient, take the trip back to the early 2000s and you’ll feel the difference.
Of course, part of the condemnation levelled at this bundle stems from business decisions outside of the product itself: Rockstar unceremoniously removed the PS2 versions of the same games from the PS Store, meaning the only way to enjoy the originals is by taking a trip to eBay. Moreover, parent company Take-Two has been sending legal threats to modders, who’ve been working on their own dime to improve these titles.
It’s the kind of context that you’d expect a GTA game to parody, which is the greatest irony here. But the background is important, because as a collection of remasters the GTA Trilogy undoubtedly disappoints. Running on PS5 hardware, all three games suffer severe performance issues, and in GTA 3’s case we’re talking drops as low as 25 frames-per-second in a mode targeting 60 frames-per-second.
GTA San Andreas holds up the best of the three, although purists could argue that its art style has been stripped of any character. Los Santos, the backdrop for the opening exchanges starring gangster group the Grove Street Family, had a hazy look on the PS2, designed to capture the overbearing humidity of the seaside city. It’s more detailed here, no question, but a lot has been lost in translation.
The character models are another point of contention. While we weren’t expecting a full-scale remaster like Mafia: Definitive Edition, the developer has attempted to clean up the original polygonal art, and it just looks bizarre. Some stars, like CJ in GTA San Andreas and even Tommy Vercetti in GTA Vice City, make the transition fine – others, like the supporting cast in GTA 3, border on nightmarish.
To be fair, seeing San Andreas and even Vice City in a higher resolution exposes lots of details that went missing in the originals, although gags being murdered by the developer’s use of AI upscaling on textures is unforgivable. We understand it’s a thankless task blowing up antique assets from 480p to 2160p, but someone needed to at least proofread them before they were added to the game.
It’s frustrating because the core trio of titles are still thoroughly enjoyable. GTA 3 has aged the worst, as you’d expect, with its simplistic selection of missions around the dark and dreary Liberty City lacking the creativity that would come in later instalments. As a throwback to a simpler age of sandbox games, though, this is an iconic outing; a landmark game.
GTA Vice City, originally released just a year after GTA 3, has the taste of an expansion pack – but it’s carried by its 80s aesthetic, which does actually translate well here. Grove Street Games has mucked up the contrast, which is unfortunate, but the city’s searing neon colours and larger-than-life personalities still leap off the screen. And even without Michael Jackson, the soundtrack is a thriller.
Of course, it’s GTA San Andreas that’s arguably Rockstar North’s finest work, and while many of its systems have been iterated on in the 17 or so years since it first released, we’d argue that it still stands shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the best sandbox games of today. The sheer creativity of the mission design, from a radio-controlled war between two San Fierro nerds to a heist that requires you to woo a croupier in order to obtain a keycard, is unbounded.
Frustrations emerge in all three games: even with the new checkpoint system, you’re going to bunt your head against progress losses often, as enemies one-shot you from behind walls or your vehicles inexplicably explode. There are new bugs in these remasters – we’ve lost control of our character when restarting missions a dozen times now – but many have also been carried forward from the original code.
And yet there’s nothing quite like GTA, even the classics, when it comes together. Rockstar creates staggeringly lifelike worlds, and there are systems in these games that aren’t even present in the biggest of blockbusters from today, like Cyberpunk 2077. That alone makes all three worlds feel immersive and alive, in spite of their age.
But there’s no question this compilation should have been better, and it succeeds on the strength of Rockstar’s original work rather than Grove Street Games’ conversion. Even with the higher resolution assets, all three games should be running flawlessly on a PS5 – there’s no excuse. And it needed better art direction, because a lot of the soul of the cities and characters has been stripped away.
All three mainline GTA games from the PS2 era are seminal pieces, and they still hold up to modern scrutiny – the outstanding GTA San Andreas especially. But as remasters these are weak: they chug on modern hardware and are undone by questionable artistic decisions. Rockstar built its reputation on attention to detail, and while all three of these games still come highly recommended, this disappointing compilation will go down as a stain on the label’s record.
Well hey, a 5 seems legit. Clearly the three games are fantastic but the problems add up. The bugs mean basically everyone’s having a different experience as well, similar to Cyberpunk.
Seems like a worthy rating. And a nice review as always. Keep it up guys!
Score seems fair!
I’m not sure this whole debacle has warranted the Cyberpunk levels of attention it’s gotten though. GTA is a big name but these are ultimately just some old games that have been pretty quickly rereleased in time for Christmas, not a new product years in the making. The FF7, 8, 9 ports are kinda shoddy and regress in areas too, for example.
It’s a real shame. This could have been something special if they put even a little effort into it. If Rockstar, Take2 or Grove whoever don’t care about these games, why should we? How are Rockstar games not furious about this? The whole situation is odd.
@kyleforrester87 Yeah, I know what you mean to be honest. These are shoddy remasters but we’ve seen this sorta stuff before like with those terrible Silent Hill remasters on PS3. It’s not quite Cyberpunk levels of bad but it’s still pretty damn bad.
I still got the original f
Gta 3 and vice city on my ps4 pro when i bought it on psn 2 years ago.Grove street games never heard of them.rockstar should of made the trilogy themselves.word up son
Hopefully they patch these games. I played through 3, and without fail, every hour-and-a-halfish, it crashed. Not going to even bother with the other two games until this is addressed.
Two great developers, rockstar and cdpr made a fool of themselves. I hope they will not go to the level of ubisoft and ea.
That’s what happens when you prioritise money (GTA online) over your customers by doling it out to a sub par company to do it for you. A total bonehead move. Whoever made that decision needs a Gibbs slap to the back of the head
Why do companies seem intent on releasing unfinished and broken products? I'm sure the fan base would respect a delay more than paying full price for a faulty product which will be patched "later"
So weird that rockstar when they make games are so particular about the experience you get, yet they have missed a trick about their legacy here
To be honest, when I do get around to playing these, I'm hoping a lot of the problems will be gone.
Yet at the back of my mind, there will be a little voice saying "imagine this done properly"...
Seeing what they CAN do with the phenomenal Red Dead Redemption 2 and what they DID do with the "definitive" edition...it just boggles the mind. They shouldn't even have bothered. If this was their attempt to let us know what they think of their non GTAO fans well... message heard, loud and clear Rockstar.
These games were the Hallmark of my older teen years and to see them treated like garbage shovelwear, handed off to mobile port devs, it just disgusts me. Go earn your money Rockstar, you clearly aren't making games you can take pride in anymore.
Bravo for calling them out on this. At this point my hopes for GTA 6 are through the floor. The creative talent left after RDR2, leaving behind a company that will milk GTA online for all its worth for as long as they can.
The Rockstar that made these titles originally, RDR, Bully and Max Payne 3 is long gone im afraid
They should have left it in the past where is was great with amazing memories and focused on making GTA6. We want new games please all these remasters getting a joke now.
@MFerrari8123 this must just be a playstation/switch thing because I bought these on series x and have had no crashes. I beat GTA 3 the other day and started vice city and have had no issues like what you described.
The contrast issues and the rain though that's a whole other conversation to be had.
5 seems about right! I should review it too, at least SA, but I don't have the time to play such a massive game and at the same time dreaming of what it could've been!
Still having fun when I'm playing a few missions every now and then...
The setting is what carries Vice City its a pity they could have done so much with this.
I think they would have made more people happy by just putting out a 4K/60fps patch for RDR2!
I just managed to get a PS5 today with the intent of someday playing these games when they get patched up, hope that is sooner rather than later because I want to experience them in 60 fps glory, as it should be.
Just to let you know the fog in LA is mostly smog from the pollution and not the seaside fog, although San Francisco has that.
It's a stain on Rockstars name for sure. If you think of the damage to CDPR's brand and the future cost to share holders its hard to understand. It's all about short term gain these days in the gaming industry.
A real shame to be honest
£55 for 3 games you can pick up for like £1 each in charity shops or cex..glad I held off the temptations of nostalgia for this obvious cash grab
Good to see it being reviewed as should!! Solid scoring!! Great work, PushSquare!!👍
Edit: Just imagine how things would've been if Bluepoint had done it!
@Rob_230 Leslie Benzies and Dan Houser were huge losses for sure. We haven’t yet seen the impact of those losses (or maybe we have...).
Did you get your PS5?
@Dezzy70 No ☹️ I was online at 7:55 but none of the stores near me had any stock and it said delivery not available. I kept refreshing and thought I had one (it said in stock and ready for collection at 4pm) but when I tried to checkout it had gone again. Not sure what I did wrong? 🤷 So I’m still waiting for the PS5 Slim... 🙄 Probably a good thing really. I got excited about R&C being on sale and decided I needed to spend £450 like that 😂 I can wait... 😰
@torne Yeah I'm on PS5, and I'm not exaggerating that it happened without fail every 1 1/2 hours or so. Very frustrating.
I wish for a half decent set of gta remasters for one freakin' second and Rockstar shovels ***** in my face!
It was hard work I got a digital one for my cousin pick it up tomorrow about 20 minutes drive away.
Took constant button spamming from 8am until 9:45am. It is so crazy.
Better luck next time or wait for the slim 😊
Spot on score. Always take two off review scores these days…. 8/9s handed out like candy for above average games - 6/7… clearly these three aren’t an average game score they are poor so a 3/4 is right. If this is the average we want for games let’s take down and tents and go home the funs over.
Not throwing shade at Sammy. Scoring issues are not unique to this review.
They should of released them individually fully polished, I would of happily payed & played them every three months or something but I would be completing one (GTA 3) to then not having the energy to go play the rest (Vice City) straight after, its a shame really but it is what it is, life goes on.
Great review although the Mafia: Definitive Edition was a remake rather than a remaster. Still glad that I didn't spend $60 on this remaster.
The score is too generous , Rockstar loves 5 .
5 is too generous
This make me sad LOVED those games on the PS2(still got my disc copies thank god) and this should of been perfect and treated with love and respect. Oh well.
It's not just the poor quality, it is also RockStar holding the review embargo until the last moment (as they knew it was sh*t), removing the older games from the online stores (as they knew it was sh*t), and are charging nearly full price for it (as they knew people would buy sh*t). They are making billions off of this franchise and still feel the need to do a quick cash grab on their most loyal fans. Its beyond gross.
@playstation1995 that would have cost more money, Rockstar wouldn't have been able to mass profit over pumping out the same game for 3 generations or micro transactions that way. Rockstar now Houser has left is about maximum profit minimum effort.
@DrJames maximum profit minimum effort. What do you expect from a company that is releasing a 10 year old game on ps5 for SEVENTY quid. I am of course talking about money bags GTA 5
"it succeeds on the strength of Rockstar’s original work rather than Grove Street Games’ conversion"
This pretty much 😐 With the rumors of a GTA IV remaster I would rather get nothing then have Grove street games do the honors. As for this collection I'll eventually play it when is sub $20 and it's all patched up although that'll take a while by the looks of it.
Should be a 3
Not good enough
@MyThoughts31. Rockstar got a lot of money.so they could easily done it word up son
The mobile versions always eat ass. The last best writing from Rockstar Games was Michael DeSantia. Could not help but feel for him being a dad lost in this ***** sjw generation. Don't expect no more round balance games from them.
I think they will update it a lot over the next few months and smooth it out. A shame it released like this, though.
I hope it's a lesson learned for Rockstar, although the reception for GTA 5 Next-Gen isn't looking great either!
@get2sammyb Don't type that! It's the last, last, last (Gen) hope,!
@PSXDave Haha, well I was expecting GTA 5 PS5 to look mind-blowing when they revealed it, despite it being a PS3 game originally.
But the trailer they showed just looked like 4K GTA 5. Which is fine, but I'm not sure what we're waiting for if that's all it is!
What a sorry state, to call these the definitive edition and not even do the remaster yourself.
People comparing this to cyberpunk, I read an article and a quote stood out: CDPR aimed at the moon and missed. Rockstar aimed at the floor and still missed
I'm enjoying my time with SA and thankfully haven't had many bugs but i can't say i disagree with this, R* clearly cheapened out and didn't give a damn about this collection.
This is the games that made rockstar, why they're so disrespecful to their own legacy? The fans even already fix some of the game's bug like the "milk rain" on gta 3.
At first I didn't mind the changed character models, but watching gameplay of the original Vice City really made me notice how bad the changes look.
There's a chance I may wait until a price drop for the physical edition.
Vice City plays the best and is my favorite. San Andreas the GPS kept pointing me towards a river and when I turned the camera the bridge and some speeding cars appeared out of this air. I wish they were all sold separately. No doubt patches will smooth some stuff out.
Only played GTA III so far and I’m really enjoying it. I bought them again on the PS4 years ago, but I couldn’t even get through the start of GTA III with that horrendous old control scheme.
At the moment, my only complaint is the ridiculous looking rain. That needs fixing.
when they used the mobile ports to make this trilogy you knew it was going to end badly
The problem with people's criticisms of the "remasters" not remakes like Mafia, is they have obviously not played the originals in the modern age 2021. Some people just wouldn't play them, being super blurry Vice City is some how more blurry the GTA3, frame rate issues especially while driving around, especially in Vice City, rendering issues cars & NPC's are basically blocks until they render in properly, because of the draw distance you'll see cars & NPCs render in right in front of you while driving. So in you're review where you say "GTA 5, and while gunplay still feels ancient," the gunplay in the remasters are a 1000% better than the originals. You lot are comparing modern day game's 2021 to modern remasters of game's from 2001, sure the remaster could be better less bugs etc but the based games are still ancient hence why the "improved" gunplay still feels old to you. Rockstar said they fix the problems with the remasters.
@kyleforrester87 Fair points. I think the amount of outrage is often direct proportional to the level of expectation. Which is why we see more highly anticipated releases like GTA and Cyberpunk get a disproportionate amount of grief.
While they're not good ports, the underlying games are still there, they can still be fun to play and there has definitely been worse examples.
"And even without Michael Jackson, the soundtrack is a thriller."
My eyes rolled so far back they've just popped into Ourprice for a Boyzone CD. Nicely done!
I smelled a rat with this one from the start but it somehow managed to be worse than I ever expected.
Comparisons are being made with Cyberpunk but at least that was a brand new game built from the ground up.
How you get something like this from a remaster of such old games, the youngest of which is 17 years old, beggars belief.
not surprised here.. what a waste of time. All this effort could have been put towards i don't know... GTA6 maybe
@banacheck The original PC games can look great with mods though; they show that it's possible to increase the video resolution, texture resolution, and draw distances without reducing the charm of the original.
Did Rockstar ever make any attempts to fix the original "remasters" on the PS3 and 360?
A similar thing happened there, with the original versions disappearing from stores and being replaced with the newer HD versions which were awful, and anyone wanting to buy digitally were stuck with the lesser releases.
@R1spam remember Rockstar games got Grove Street games to help i love gta saga played them all since psOne Rockstar should just release GTA6 instead of dipping into the old classics unless they gonna remastered or remake THE WARRIORS and manhunt and red dead redemption , Red dead Revolver( real 1st red dead) gta 4( Inc both DLC) 🤔 and obviously Canis Canem Edit ( Bully) not ps2 version remake xbox 360 versions looked shaper
@rumple1980 or canis canem edit( bully) Gta4 remake, manhunt, red dead redemption , max Payne, midnight club,The warriors all classics and need remastered if I remember they also made a state of emergency game
On the one hand I thought this was rushed forward to fill the gap left by the Next Gen GTA5 port being delayed.
But upon analysis, when looking at quite deliberate design choices, it was botched and riddled with poor decisions from the start.
No excuse. I'm getting very tired of the huge number of "what could have been's" that the games industry is pushing out.
Developers and publishers have lost out too, as botched products that could been huge successes, have left a lot of money on the table.
I don't know who is to blame. It's starts at the top in terms of investing enough money to get the best out the other end. Skimping doesn't necessarily save you money over having a big budget, when it severely impacts how many you sell at the other end.
Also there are clearly some very mediocre people making artistic decisions within developers, irrespective of whether they were given the budget.
Much like a review (4.5/10),I saw on destructoid & similar observations. 👍
What bothered me about this from the outset had been Take-two/Rockstar's deceptive approach. The announcements would come from Rockstar's socials even though we found out soon enough the lead was Grove Street Games & they had been the ones responsible for the so-so mobile & ps2 classics versions on ps3 & ps4.
Take-two quietly & without much warning removed those same classic versions from all digital store fronts. I own the ps2 classic versions of Vice & SA, (& LCS/VCS on ps3). They were perfunctory,but with culled soundtracks,albeit at a more budget price.
Yet in shovelling the "definitive edition remaster" down our throats as the only alternative & as a full priced remaster ($100AU),Take-two allocated anything but full-price resources.
They assigned it to a 3rd rate porting dev instead of in-house Rockstar or other options. It's seemingly been based on the janky mobile port based off the original ps2 versions,so no surprises it's running poorly on ps4 & ps5.
As mentioned,Take-two aggressively pursued 3rd party modders who achieved far superior efforts than on offer here with glitches,spelling mistakes & sub-standard results. The soundtracks were largely unchanged from the culled budget ports, where its safe to assume they never intended to spend their GTAO profits on getting the ps2 track lists back.
Yet they marketed it as a "definitive edition remaster" with carefully selected cinematics. They were radio silent on the soundtracks & gameplay,instead pushing this as a full-price effort remaster. Modders showed the sort of standards most would find acceptable...things like the rain,spelling errors & dodgy remodels look amateurish in comparison.
Compare it to efforts like Mass Effect trilogy or Burnout Paradise or SOTC,& its just sad how little Take-two value the trilogy that made them what they are.😑😔
will be purchasing this soon hopefully, never mind the reviews
I'm glad I chose not to buy this collection day one...will wait until it's $30 New or cheaper.
@Falkirk4life that's what I mean though, it's a bad look to palm this off to a third rate port studio and have no oversight to how this looks. They take such care over their games and have a mad back catalogue but on this evidence, would you trust them to handle a warriors or bully remaster?? It's even worse they messed up the mod scene to try and push people to these definitive editions. They are one of the biggest studios in the business whose games have shaped the industry, those games deserve better
@fR_eeBritney Hopefully you'll manage to get one from the next batch.
Are you going to change your display name now that she's free? It's really wonderful news.
@theheadofabroom Well... I’ve just had an exclusive email invite from Sony to buy a PS5 on 22nd November. Not sure if it’s actually “exclusive” or if they’ve sent them out to everyone but I’ll allow myself to feel special for a little while 😁 I’ll definitely be checking it out on the day though and see how I get on.
Yeah, great news about Britney. I think she still might need some help but at least she isn’t being worked like a circus animal anymore. Hope it all works out for her.
I’ll have to have a think about the display name haha
@fR_eeBritney Could always become @BritneysFree
A much higher score than I was expecting.
I will admit I’m not the audience for these games. I don’t enjoy them at all. I never understood how anyone tolerated the gunplay and combat controls. Utterly atrocious.
I think people were wanting/expecting modern gen graphical upgrade and didnt get it and got butt hurt lol. I was OK with the game, though I laughed at the weird cartoony appearances of most characters in the remaster... what really irritated me was the horrible jerky frame rates in certain areas. In the mall in Vice City... it was horrid! Also, people say they like the fog. They're just nostalgic - there's no reason in 2021 you shouldnt be able to see into the distance in a game. Im glad they removed the fog, but, there should be a box to tick if you want it on. Frame rate and jerky frames have this one sitting on my new PS5's ssd i installed and Im not playing it again until things are fixed.
Keep in mind, Rockstar didnt make this... they hired out Grove Street Games to do it. I looked into them and they make GTA cell phone games.. and this trilogy? Yeah.. looks like a cell phone game. This game shoulda been $30 max. Not $60.
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