GTA Trilogy: A definitive failure for Rockstar Games

Michael Gwilliam
GTA Trilogy definitive failure

What a complete, utter embarrassment for Rockstar Games. For a company that prides itself on releasing the highest quality experiences, GTA Trilogy: The Definitive Edition is an overpriced, archaic mess that should not be tolerated.

Like many, I was happy when Rockstar finally officially announced the remasters of the original trilogy of 3D GTA games, expecting a level of polish and refinement to truly bring those titles into the modern era.

It’s been over eight years since the release of GTA V and fans have been starved for a new game in the series. While GTA Online has received updates, it’s been communities of modders quenching that hunger fans have had for new content.

And although GTA RP has been a blast to watch and partake in, modders were also responsible for revamping the older single-player titles of GTA 3, Vice City, and San Andreas.

In retrospect, Rockstar’s decision to shut down these communities and mod projects make sense for them. They couldn’t have fan-made mods be better than their own remasters that they were going to sell for the cost of a full-price new game.

In essence, the modders are like Dune’s House Atreides while Rockstar Games is the Emperor: jealous and in no way willing to look bad by comparison. And boy, does Rockstar’s “remaster” ever look bad. But it plays even worse.

GTA Trilogy vice
GTA Trilogy leaves a lot to be desired.

Remaster of none

Let’s get this out of the way. The graphics are a mixed bag. Aside from the obvious big issues such as character models looking off and the rain handicapping the player, it’s clear Grove Street Games wanted to pay homage to the originals.

For the most part, I’d say the games look cleaner, perhaps even too much so, to the point where Liberty City and San Andreas lose their dirtier aesthetic that added some life.

But at the same time, one has to even ask: why even go through with this update to begin with? It’s not a big enough enhancement to look modern. It’s like tearing down some ugly wallpaper you’ve grown accustomed to only to put up slightly less ugly wallpaper in its place. Like, why even do this?

If anything I’d prefer if each game kept its original look and all the updates went into improving the gameplay, which feels definitively outdated.

Outdated gameplay is unacceptable in 2021

Adding a weapon and radio station wheel to each game is a nice touch. I’ll admit that. Adding GPS to the map is also a nice touch. I wish I could keep going, but I can’t.

The original GTA games were hard. And that’s fine. Hard games exist because gamers like a challenge, look at Dark Souls. But there’s a difference between a game being hard by design and bad design making a game hard. Allow me to explain.

In the original games, if you failed a mission, you would need to drive back to the start of said mission to restart it. That sucked way back when. Now, in GTA Trilogy, you can restart right from the beginning of that mission. That’s a good thing, right? Yes, but it’s half-assed.

Tommy Vercetti from GTA Vice City - one of the games in GTA The Trilogy - Definitive Edition
Is this really supposed to look so much better than the original?

After beginning a mission, you still need to drive to the location where the mission really takes place. This can take, let’s say, two minutes. That’s two minutes of driving you’ll be repeating if you fail. Fail five times and that’s 10 minutes spent driving back. See where I’m going with this? While San Andreas does have some better checkpoints more akin to GTA V, it’s still not fully modernized.

And that’s just one mission. If you have three missions that take a similar amount of time, that’s 30 minutes of your life the game just wasted. We put up with it back in the day, but gamers nowadays are accustomed to and deserve better.

It’s one thing to preserve a look that’s similar to the original games, but it’s another to maintain archaic design. And this is true from the lack of checkpoints to the gunplay.

For this to be “definitive,” the gameplay needed to be enhanced. This is the bare minimum.

GTA Trilogy Definitive Edition Remastered San Andreas
All three remastered GTA titles have had a rocky launch.

Bait and bait

I can’t say Rockstar pulled a bait and switch because they never showed us the gameplay to begin with. But they definitely baited a lot of people.

Sorry, but this is hardly Rockstar material. If Red Dead Redemption 2 was Metallica headlining a massive festival, GTA Trilogy is a mediocre cover band opening at an elementary school dance.

There must be a reason why Rockstar didn’t show any gameplay ahead of time. There must be a reason why Rockstar didn’t send review codes to media. There must be a reason why you can’t buy the games individually. Could it be because Rockstar knew they were releasing a mediocre product?

To sell this collection for $60 is just gross. And to make matters worse you can’t even buy the original games anymore, which had mods that created a more enhanced experience.

Rockstar needs to do the right thing here and allow refunds. R* needs to take the L.

About The Author

Michael Gwilliam is a senior writer at Dexerto based in Ontario, Canada. He specializes in Overwatch, Smash, influencers, and Twitch culture. Gwilliam has written for sites across Canada including the Toronto Sun. You can contact him at or on Twitter @TheGwilliam