Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition launched on Steam on January 19, after a long period of exclusivity on the Rockstar Games store for PC gamers. With remastered versions of Auto grand theft 3, Grand Theft Auto Vice Cityand grand theft auto san andreas, the bundle launched in late 2021 in not-so-ideal form. Many performance and visual issues plagued with each entry, and while Rockstar has released a few patches since then, this reissue requires caution.
At the moment it is not possible to buy the original versions of the three games on Steam, which means that the Definitive Edition package is now the only pack available on the store. After some hands-on time with each title, here’s a breakdown of what you can expect (or rather prepare for) from the Steam version of GTA Trilogy.
Does the GTA trilogy still work?
Well, the answer is complicated. Yes, you can mostly boot up the GTA Trilogy on Steam and play each of the games without as much hassle. At least in my experience, I haven’t encountered any particular bug preventing me from getting from point A to point B without as much trouble (more on hostile motorists later). Glitches such as heavy rain that made it almost impossible to see are no longer present.
That said, Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition a big part of it is being in peak condition. In all three cases, games crash when loading on first boot. After opening the Rockstar Games launcher – which yes continues to run in the background even with the Steam version – I get a black screen and the game process is unresponsive. So every time I have to open task manager, end the process and open the game again. All games also asked for firewall permission, in case you want to know.
Presentation-wise, the games are a mixed bag. I went there with GTA Vice CityThe Steam version first, and to my surprise, the upper right corner of the UI was present throughout the starting cutscene. It wasn’t repeated afterwards, but it wasn’t the best first impression. In terms of interface, all three games share the same structure – options are displayed on the left side of the screen, while the background itself is the game map. drag, but only when you actually select the map button can you see icons or place waypoints. Also, sometimes hovering over this menu with the mouse, I selected the button above where my mouse cursor was pointing. While not a deal breaker, the presentation as a whole feels unpolished.
Visually… it’s complicated. None of the three games defaulted to my PC’s standard resolution of 1080p, and they had black bars on the side until I changed the setting and restarted them. In-game, some cutscenes featured characters with blank or downright cut-out eyes, and a few models looked blurry when viewed up close. A few other times, the position of NPCs or key objects – like the bomb that explodes at the start of GTA 3 — was obviously in a different position than expected. Again, while these issues don’t prevent you from playing the GTA Trilogy per se, they do add up to become a constant distraction.
Your mileage will vary in terms of each game’s overall new aesthetic, both due to different lighting usage and different model designs. But even if you don’t mind that everyone’s faces look like a mixture of startled baby and squashed clay figure, some lighting effects are distracting at best and disruptive at worst.
Floating objects like police stars or quest markers emit their own light, and it’s incredibly bright, to the point where you can see their reflections off fences or other nearby objects. Shadows have the opposite problem, especially during cutscenes, where characters are often obscured (although this is sometimes related to the current time of the game). In other cases, it is the reflections that can obscure the characters, as in the drive-in scene in San Andreas where the group goes to look for food. The glare against the front windshield was so intense that I could only see CJ clearly inside the car.
Is the GTA Trilogy Definitive Edition worth playing?
Truth be told, revisit GTA 3 or GTA Vice City nowadays inevitably looks clunky, and most of the little additions are just subtle changes, such as the radio channel wheel of Auto grand theft 5 now present in all three games. It’s also worth mentioning that there’s a decent amount of accessibility options present compared to the original versions.
There were, however, a few odd cases here and there. For example, sometimes hitting police cars or bicycles does not immediately lead to having a wanted star. Sure, it’s useful, but still off-putting. Driving in general appears to be chaotic — in GTA 3I couldn’t walk more than a few blocks without seeing a car crash or a pedestrian killed on the ground blocking a street.
In San Andreas, sometimes drivers get angry and start hitting you, over and over again, for no reason. During one particular instance, they managed to overturn my car, so I got out before it exploded. But even after the deed was done, the driver continued to slowly back up and then walked against the wreckage in an endless loop.
Unfortunately, performance can also be quite arbitrary. Using an RTX 2060, i7 8700k, and 16GB of RAM, I was on the 60 FPS mark most of the time on the highest settings. But the framerate often dropped in all three games, sometimes for no particular reason. DLSS is at least one option, but overall it looks like the games act in a much more demanding way than they should, and impact performance accordingly. (My PC’s fans made a weird continuous noise while playing them, which I had never heard before.)
All in all, if you plan on seeing all three games, you are bound to run into issues and problems like those outlined above. If you really want the GTA Trilogy on Steam, that’s the only option available, and the presentation leaves a lot to be desired. But if you still have a PS2 lying around, this might be your best bet for diving into the nostalgia without being horrified or disappointed every ten minutes.