Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition Review
With Grand Theft Auto VI still years away and Grand Theft Auto V (again) for the PS5 and Xbox Series not being available until 2022, Rockstar excited fans with a surprise announcement of Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition. The excitement over this compilation is definitely understandable, as it contains some of the best in the series, with Vice City and San Andreas still being held in very high regard up to this day.
With a hefty price tag placed on the collection along with preventing us to purchase single games from the series, it feels a little steep to invest in the full collection. Titles like the Mass Effect Legendary Collection is a standard to aim for in terms of releasing a beloved trilogy, so we’ll see if Rockstar can do just the same.
Cyberpunk 2077 Deja Vu
The Grand Theft Auto Trilogy has been out for a little over a week now and its “issues” have been well documented, giving me enough warning since I was diving into this a bit later than others. For the most part, in my experience of playing the game on a PS5, Vice City was the title that gave me the best performance but still not what you would expect from a 20-year-old game.
If there was a title in the collection that held up the bargain of being “definitive”, it was Vice City. The in-game graphics looked good, at least better than the rest, and even the cinematic cut scenes hold up for the most part. Even the highly criticized rain doesn’t look that bad when it comes up in Vice City. Despite all the negative press thrown at it, the experience proved to be largely enjoyable and entertaining if you can look past the issues that come along with it.
It’s a tough ask, I know, especially with the hefty price tag.
However, the same cannot be said for Grand Theft Auto III and San Andreas. In fact, when I started Grand Theft Auto III, the rain was such a deal-breaker on its own. It looked almost as if it was really strong hail, impairing visibility to unplayable degrees.
San Andreas, on the other hand, gave me Cyberpunk 2077 deja vu. Having played San Andreas the last out of the three, the smudgy character models were a mess, especially during cutscenes. We’ll let the photos do the talking, but they’re straight nightmare fuel.
Still the same GTA, but…
Graphics aside, these are still the same Grand Theft Auto games that we know and love from before, but with a very big disclaimer. With the promise of these titles bringing in graphical enhancements and improved performance, especially on the PS5 and Xbox Series, the experience is all but.
It’s baffling, to say the least, with how this compilation was released in such a state and how much of it Rockstar (specifically Grove Street Games) got wrong.
Looking at the bright side of things, the controls across all three games have been much improved, especially during driving and combat/shooting sequences. Some semblance of effort was somehow put here and it makes things a bit bearable.
One thing I’d like to point out is that RC helicopter mission is a good example of the improved controls of this Grand Theft Auto Trilogy release. Implementing the flight mechanics of Grand Theft Auto V worked wonders for the really delicate task of setting 4 bombs with only 7 minutes and 30 seconds to pull it off. Remember how frustrating that was back in the day?
Other than that, it’s hard to find positives in this collection, because even something as frame rate issues persist across all 3 games. There are too many examples to name, but the simple fact that a PlayStation 2 game is experiencing frame drops while being played on recent hardware is simply tough to understand. It can’t even lock a consistent 60fps on the PS5, and gets even worse on the Switch, sadly.
Quality of life changes can only go so far, not even as much as adding a dedicated map button that would have sorely helped during those frustrating timed missions. Did I mention the fact that even the GPS in the game has become largely unreliable?
Call an exterminator
The Grand Theft Auto Trilogy release is a bug-filled affair, but it isn’t all frustrating as these things can lead to laughs and some pretty crazy moments like some checkpoints acting as black holes, seemingly making your vehicle disappear after a cutscene. I also benefit from weapons that magically materialize when I enter specific spots in missions such as getting the chainsaw when I enter the country club.
Despite the craziness of it all, it doesn’t excuse the fact that players have been experiencing game-breaking bugs and crashes that totally ruin the experience. Going back to our point from earlier, these things happening to a 20-year-old game that should have ideally been a rather straightforward port are unacceptable.
And at $60, considering the talent and resources that Rockstar has (See Red Dead Redemption 2), the Grand Theft Auto Trilogy Definitive Edition is such a baffling release.
What we liked:
- Remapped controls works really well making it easier to play.
- The same GTA experience on current gen consoles.
What we didn’t like:
- Rain (Rain!!!) looks terrible, making visibility nigh-impossible at night.
- Graphics look smudgy even on PS5 and Xbox Series, especially on San Andreas.
- A long list of bugs that are both beneficial and game breaking.
- Can’t purchase individual games, making it a forced $60 purchase.
Verdict: Ignore it (until it gets fixed)
Bugs may vary in degree across titles in the Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition release, but whether or not they are tolerable, it is puzzling to see how this got past Rockstar, especially with the output that you know they can bring out.
Considering that this collection is a package deal, it’s hard to recommend this game at full price or even at sale price until many of its issues are fixed. Hardware doesn’t look to be the issue here because even playing on the PS5, I still experienced a lot of game-breaking bugs and crashes that can really take you out.
When it works properly, Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition provides us a nostalgic tour from what was considered the golden age of Grand Theft Auto. It should have been the case here, but alas, we’ll have to wait further until a lot of its issues are remedied.
Cyberpunk 2077 has taught us all a valuable lesson moving forward: we shouldn’t settle for less and really demand value for our hard-earned money. Sorry Grove Street Games, we’ll check it out again once many of its issues are rectified.
*Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition was reviewed on a PS5 with a review copy provided by the publishers.