Grand Theft Auto The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition Review: A walk down memory lane

As more games from the past become available on current generation consoles, video games publisher Rockstar Games announced a combined definitive edition of its three iconic Grand Theft Auto (GTA) titles that were released almost two decades ago – GTA III (2001), GTA: Vice City (2002) and GTA: San Andreas (2004).

Price: S$$84.90 (Xbox Series X, version reviewed; Xbox One; Xbox Series S; PS4; PS5)
Genre: Action Adventure

This trilogy definitive edition is helmed by Grove Street Games, who was responsible for the mobile versions of the above titles as well as other notable titles like Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars and Bully: Anniversary Edition.

The Definitive Edition comes with several quality-of-life changes such as a GTA V-style controller layout, updated selection wheel for items, navigation option to set waypoints for destinations as well as targeting controls.

Updated selection wheel for items is just one of the many quality-of-life changes in this release. (Photo: Rockstar Games)

Perhaps the most useful is the option to restart failed missions immediately, instead of having to travel back to the mission trigger point from a random spawn spot.

Unfortunately, when this release was first launched early November, many issues cropped up including performance issues rendering the game unable to play. On PC, there were even issues getting the game to launch at all. As a result, I decided to hold the review for updates.

Running away from trouble in GTA III. (Photo: Rockstar Games)

Shortly after, Rockstar Games responded to the rocky launch of the game and promised to rectify the issues. A few patches ensued, with the latest version 1.03 announced at the end November.

It appears to have addressed a long list of the concerns raised. The dense rain effects are gone, while the atmospheric fog is back. There are also various enhancements to correct many glitches that have been identified.

+ A piece of nostalgia on current consoles
+ New retry option
+ Various enhancements

– Missing items
– Not quite defined

Across the board, graphics are sharper and supported for high-definition TVs with up to 60 frames per second on PS5 and Xbox Series X. However, the depth is still far behind those you experienced on GTA IV and GTA V. Out of the three games, GTA: Vice City seems to have enjoyed the most striking uplift with its neon lights setup and environment.

Nevertheless, not everything gets carried over to The Definitive Edition. One unique feature of these GTA titles is their soundtrack playlist that reflects the era and culture in which the game is set upon. I remember taking a break within the game by staying inside a vehicle and tuning in to various radio stations, just to enjoy a couple of favourite tracks. While there are about 200 songs collectively, a handful of others are removed.

Listening to radio stations while taking a break in a car in Vice City. (Photo: Rockstar Games)

This Definitive Edition also removes a cooperative feature that was in the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. In the original version, there is a multiplayer option to get a second player to join in and indulge in activities together. No official explanation has been given on this, so we could only speculate it is due to technical difficulties.

The Definitive Edition may not have received the best buzzword recently but with the latest patch, it has become more tolerable. I used to own a PlayStation 2 console to play the original versions, but I neither own the console nor the original game copies now.

You are on your own in GTA: San Andreas. (Photo: Rockstar Games)

Even I do, the image quality of the original games would not look as good as that presented in The Definitive Edition. In order to rekindle some of the fun moments from these well-received games of the past, being able to replay them with ease on a current console I own is much welcomed.

Overall, The Definitive Edition is still as fresh as a hot coffee that makes an awesome present for any GTA fan this holiday.

GTA The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition still appeals as an option for veterans to walk down memory lane as well as for newbies who wish to rekindle the adventures from a hallmark era.


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