Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – Definitive Edition – Review
Follow Genre: Open world game, action game
Developer: Rockstar North
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Platform: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Switch
Tested on: Switch

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – Definitive Edition – Review

Site Score
Good: Core gameplay is still fun after two decades
Bad: Remastered version is riddled with bugs
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(2 votes)
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Rating: 2.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware that Rockstar recently released Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – Definitive Edition. Comprising remastered versions of GTA 3, GTA Vice City and GTA San Andreas, this collection bundles three of the most beloved -and notorious- games two decades after they were originally released. Two questions immediately arise, of course: have the games stood the test of time, and perhaps more importantly, how well have they been ported? Read on to find out whether Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy has aged like fine wine or like rancid milk.


The GTA games are notorious for putting the players on the wrong side of the law and these titles are no exception to this concept of course. Back when the games were originally released, the raunchy and violent content was controversial, with concerned parents worried about their offspring ignoring age ratings and being exposed to the adult content present here. Times have changed of course, and these days nobody would bat an eye at the stories presented here, which were heavily influenced by contemporary crime movies and were injected with a healthy dose of satire. The games are filled with plenty of cutscenes that lay out story elements in a cinematic manner.

A quick summary of the three main storylines: in GTA 3, players take on the role of Claude, who is double-crossed by his former girlfriend after a heist. Narrowly avoiding prison, Claude takes on jobs for the mob as he hopes to get closer to his ex and exact revenge on her. Vice City takes place in the Miami-inspired titular city and puts players in the shoes of Tommy Vercetti, an ex-con who oversees a drug deal gone wrong and has to deal with the aftermath. Slowly but surely, Tommy climbs the ranks of Vice City’s criminal underworld. Finally, San Andreas places players in a sticky situation as CJ, who is blackmailed into working for the highly corrupt C.R.A.S.H. police unit but ends up rebuilding the status of his own crime family.


It’s never easy to bring the visuals of an old game in line with modern standards without redesigning everything from the ground up, so we were prepared to give Rockstar some leeway when it came to the graphics. Even with that mindset, we were baffled as to how poor the “remastered” versions of these games look. Character models are hilariously disproportionate, textures are bland and almost non-existent, especially in GTA 3, and everything appears blurry. Clipping is omnipresent and the draw distance is terrible -though thankfully not covered in fog. These issues apply throughout the trilogy, though GTA 3 is once again the worst student in the class, despite being the least visually taxing in theory. If you compare screenshots between the new remastered visuals and the original graphics, you’ll find that the original releases actually look better than the remastered ones.


The period-appropriate soundtracks are considered a highlight of the GTA trilogy, so it’s somewhat disappointing that several tracks were cut, probably due to licensing issues. What remains still captures the atmosphere of the ‘80s and ‘90s, but not having the entirety of the original playlists feels like a blemish on a supposedly definitive edition. On the upside, the game’s voice acting is fantastic, although playing through the trilogy highlights how bland Claude is as a protagonist, simply because he is silent. The contrast with CJ and Tommy is staggering, and the absence of voice work makes Claude easily the worst protagonist in the trilogy. Finally, the game’s soundscape sounds exactly like you’d expect from a 20-year-old game, although it appears that the crispness of individual sound effects was improved somewhat compared to the original releases.


Way back in 2001, GTA 3 was considered a revolutionary title, setting a new industry standard. Unlike the preceding two GTA titles, which were top-down action titles, GTA 3 presented players with one of the first open-world games. Riding that same wave of success were Vice City and San Andreas, providing players with even more expansive worlds. While we understand the importance and iconic status of these games at the time of release, for this review we’re putting aside the rose-tinted nostalgia goggles. A significant chunk of the game’s potential player base will experience these titles for the first time after all -yours truly included- so being soft on these games wouldn’t be correct. It’s only fair to expect these games to have received a remaster worthy of their legendary status. Unfortunately, it seems like Rockstar didn’t share the same sentiment, and the result is a trio of very shoddy ports.

The main objective in all three games is of course progressing through the main storylines by completing objective-based missions. These typically involve performing criminal activities whilst trying to stay out of the hands of the law. Whether it’s a drive-by shooting or simply petty theft, there is seemingly no limit to the number of crimes you can commit, and doing so increases your notoriety, wanted status, and most importantly, your cash. It’s interesting to see the gameplay evolving from game to game, even within the trilogy, as new features are being added and expanded upon in subsequent releases. Despite its reputation way back in 2001, GTA 3 feels especially bland and empty in comparison to the two later releases.

As for what makes this trilogy the definitive version, one of the main selling points is the updated controls. While we don’t have any hard copies of the original games laying about to compare the button inputs, the main additions to the controls seem to be gyroscopic aiming, which works fine, and touch screen support for navigating menus. It seems like implementing these new controls and adding a digital coat of paint was enough for Rockstar to call it a day though, instead of actually playtesting this rerelease and dealing with the bugs. Throughout our time with the game, we experienced several crashes, input delays, framerate issues, and frequent pop-ins of objects or NPCs. Especially that last one can be incredibly frustrating when you’re in a high-speed car chase.

It’s a shame because the foundation of these games is still rock-solid after two decades. The games can be approached in a non-linear fashion and although the main storylines are mission-based, there is a tremendous amount of freedom in exploring the massive sandbox worlds that are laid out here in front of you. Given the amount of backlash that Rockstar has received for the state that the remastered trilogy was released in, there is a good chance that they’ll patch up this collection sooner rather than later, if only to deal with the PR nightmare associated with these rereleases. As such, we suggest that you hold out on adding GTA: The Trilogy to your collection, as it’s not worth the asking price in its current state.


We had high hopes for Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – Definitive Edition, but once we finally got to grips with the games, our hopes were quickly crushed. These games should not have been released in their current state. Everything about the trilogy feels rushed and unpolished. We assumed that Rockstar was aiming to get GTA: The Trilogy on store shelves right before the holiday season, but unless serious effort is put into patching the game’s plethora of issues, this is one gift we hope you won’t find under your Christmas tree.

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Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - Definitive Edition - Review, 2.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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  1. […] elements. Just like Hit & Run, Terry’s adventure is pretty much a comedic take on the GTA formula, without the violence and R-rated stuff. You’ll explore the city of Sprankelwater, […]

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