GTA Trilogy: Definitive Edition on Xbox One X – The DVDfever Review

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GTA Trilogy: Definitive Edition has finally landed after much hype from Rockstar Games.

Grove Street Games are behind these new remasters, who I knew little about until looking into them for this review. They are more of a mobile developer with very few titles under their belt – 3 in total, which includes these remasters (technically 5, now, if you count the GTA Trilogy separate!) Most notably, they converted Bully Scholarship Edition to IOS & Android 2016, Ark Survival Evolved to IOS & Android 2018, and now this release. Personally, I think Rockstar should have gone with someone that has more experience with modern consoles and PC and a larger back catalogue of proven games given how much GTA III, Vice City & San Andreas are loved to this day…

So, in this trilogy, all the content from the original games is there barring around 47 music tracks I have read across the 3 games due to licensing issues. Apart from that, the games are essentially what you played upon release, with a graphical make-over.

To this day, I still own originals of this trilogy on my original Xbox and PS2, as well as PC CD of Vice City and all the Steam releases. Thankfully, I can still install and play the original Steam releases, given that I purchased them years ago, and the PC CD version is easy to get running on a modern Windows 10 64-Bit machine. Rockstar have unfortunately removed the original games from sale on Steam, but have put the originals as a trilogy on their own Rockstar Launcher. If you have purchased the remastered trilogy on their platform, you will get the original games free, or you can buy them on there if you don’t want these new versions.

The main thing with all three of these remasters is the visuals and controls.

Options for graphics are a touch on the minimal side on console, but are functional enough. You have a Depth of Field toggle, Bloom toggle, Motion Blur toggle and also sliders for both brightness and contrast. For me, Motion Blur is always an instant switch-off, given it causes migraines and motion sickness, and there is no real need for it in games! I did notice the visuals are extremely dark on my TV across all three games. Everything else I am currently playing includes Call Of Duty Vanguard, Timesplitters 2, Risen, Cyberpunk 2077 and a few others which all look fine, so I know it is not my personal choice of TV settings.

From what I understand, it has something to do with HDR, and I am not the only one with this issue looking round the web. The current fix is to slide the contrast all the way to the left. This quick fix does help, but isn’t the best endgame, as dark scenes are still a bit darker than they should be. As an example, when starting San Andreas, it’s hard to make out CJ’s face when he is being hustled by the police in the opening cut-scene. Another issue with this is, at times, it can be hard to make stuff out in the world, especially – again – on San Andreas. You have the purple tags on walls dotted around Los Santos which you spray over. At times, you can be stood in front of one of these and not be able to see them at all, if it is on a red- or brown-coloured background.

GTA Trilogy: Definitive Edition – ALL THREE INTROS in 4K! – PC (4K UHD 60fps) – DVDfeverGames

The controls have been normalised across all three games to work more like GTA V, with aim-assist that allows you to lock onto a target. This does make the games much easier than what they were originally, I have found, making things more accessible to new players of these 20-year-old games. There is an option to lower the aim-assist if you wish to go full on old school, though.

The lighting effects have been redone and, in all fairness, Vice City comes out on top, here. The neon signs and street lights look great with the glare reflecting on the roads and vehicles. It does look awesome, especially cruising around at night as the neon lighting really adds to the ’80s Miami Vice vibe that the game has.

For the graphics, however, I’ve found them to be a bit of a mixed bag love/hate type thing. On the one hand, the buildings, cars and environments look awesome with higher polygon counts and crisp clean edges. The draw distance is impressive, with fog and pop-ins being a thing of the past, and used due to limitations of hardware at the time. Again, this works great with Vice City, but the hazy sun you saw on San Andreas is gone and, with it, since all looks crystal clear, now it just feels like it is lacking something.

The same can be said of GTA III, since watching the intro alone sets the scene of what one is to be expecting of the graphics. The rougher look it has with the green coloured mist and rain really looks awesome on the PS2 and other original releases. Now, however, it is bright and crystal clear when following the prison van. The rain effect is absolutely terrible, though. Imagine, if you will, just drawing random-thickness straight white dashes down the foreground of the screen (no angles from wind or anything like that) and then repeating the same drop pattern when it hits the ground. It looks very much like an amateur with MS Paint has done it, and absolutely ruins the overall aesthetic, especially on the GTA III intro. Another thing with the rain, is that if you are under a bridge or canopy of some sort, the rain still flows underneath it. Guess that one was missed by quality control, along with being able to drive through walls in part of the environment, just away from the main streets(!)

The character models are okay at best, but I feel more work should have been put into them. You have weird straight lines on shoulders, which is more noticeable on females, especially on Vice City and GTA III, while clothing is rigid, so at times, make arms and legs look a bit weird. At the beginning of San Andreas, a pic is going round when Lance leaves on the pedal bike, and his forearms in the shirt sleeves looks weird and puffed up like Popeye! Faces and animations are also lacking across the 3 games. A perfect example of this, again on Vice City, is meeting Avery properly for the first time. Tommy and Ken look fine, but Avery looks like the front of his face is just a V-shape from his ears, forwards with eyes, nose and mouth drawn on. The animation has been improved over the original releases, but characters just look a bit off.

GTA Vice City: Definitive Edition – Gameplay Walkthrough FULL GAME [4K 60FPS PS5] – No Commentary – MKIceAndFire

Across all three games, you still have a huge selection of music for all tastes, even though around 47 tracks in total are missing from the original releases due to licensing, as mentioned earlier. The voice acting is as good as ever across both characters and radio DJs. I would have liked to see, on console, the ability to load up a selection of MP3s from your PC onto a USB stick, and use that as a custom station like you could on the PC originals, but that is a no go, unfortunately.

Summing up here is pretty hard to do. If you have the originals on PC on Steam – or even discs – you can load them up with mods and have a blast. If you still have a PS2 or original Xbox again, you can fire them up and enjoy yourself with the added bonus of all the music tracks available. On the flip side to this, especially on PC, the radio-controlled helicopter is a right pain on Vice City, and the model plane mission on San Andreas is equally as bad. With the remasters and new controls, these two compulsory mini-games are way easier to complete.

From what I have read on Digital Foundry, Grove Street Games took the mobile phone/tablet ports and used those as the base for these remasters and ported them into Unreal Engine 4. You had re-releases on both PS3 & PS4 more recently, which are great, so why these dedicated console versions weren’t used as the source for the remastered trilogy is beyond me.

Yes, they are still great games at heart, but I feel a huge disservice has been done to them. They aren’t ‘built from the ground up’ remakes like the recent Mafia, but as remasters go, they are a huge let down.

Rockstar have now acknowledged the numerous issues with these remasters saying they aren’t up to their high standards, so there will be patches coming soon. I will look at these again once the patches have arrived and adjust the scores accordingly as and when this happens. Late Saturday 20th November the first patch has been issued but at the time of writing it has yet to show up on Xbox.

A big thanks to our friends at Rockstar for supplying us with the review code.

GTA Trilogy: Definitive Edition is out now on Xbox One / Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Nintendo Switch and the Rockstar Games Launcher.

GTA Trilogy: Definitive Edition – Official Trailer

Important info:

  • Developer: Rockstar Games / Grove St Games
  • Publisher: Rockstar Games / Grove St Games
  • Players: Single player

    OVERALL 6.5