Reviewed on the PS5
It’s been more than 20 years since the launch of the original Grand Theft Auto III on the PS2 – a polarizing game that flipped the genre over its head. Since then, Rockstar has re-released GTAIII to mobile platforms and PC in it’s original state, albeit a bit of a performance boost depending on the system. Fast forward a few years later, and Rockstar re-released GTAIII yet again, but in a remastered state touting upgraded character models, environments, textures, lighting and even gameplay. Unfortunately, despite these changes, the stigma of it’s dated gameplay design holds back an otherwise brilliant re-release; you have to know, it’s a remaster, not a remake so the old coding and gaming logic used in the PS2 version is still very much present here, alongside a bit of a quality to life change that is more than welcoming.
The Sob Mob Story
By this time, everyone is well aware of what GTAIII is all about – all of the cliché of a criminal story packed in a fictional NYC that gives you the free to do pretty much whatever you like. It is a game that for it’s time, was so immersive, it has called new anchors to try and prevent this game from reaching further audiences. We all know how all that played out.
You play as a nameless criminal who was betrayed by his crime partner and then girlfriend – by which then you’re freed from custody via an escape plan. All goes according to plan as you are then introduced to the Mafia shortly thereafter. It doesn’t take long for you to start doing bad-guy things that’ll rack up plenty of dough for you to spend on weapons.
It is very easy to see the aim Rockstar had for GTA moving forward, a world filled with the reflection of real life, in the face of caricature; for the most part it worked up until GTAV where things started to lean more into the realities of modern world. It is a charm unlike anything in gaming and Rockstar sure knows how to rock it.
The Technical Remaster
People often mistake remaster with remake – GTAIII and the rest of the trilogy is not a remake from the grounds up using GTAV engine, it is the base game of its original form, enhanced with elements to make the game appear next-gen – and Rockstar did their remaster better than any other remaster to date. Think back when Jak and Daxter was remastered – it was crisper in terms of textures but that’s about it; there were no updated character models, no environmental overhaul or even lighting upgrade. GTAIII does all of the aforementioned elements and does it so well, it feels fresh to replay an old classic. The biggest overhaul I see is the skybox, which is arguably the most next-gen thing in this remaster, it’s borderline remake. The clouds shift and reshapes according to the time of day and it is clearly using some form of volumetric cloud mechanic that really brings this game to life.
Everything from the city buildings to the pedestrians filling the sidewalks has been retouched in a way that feels deeper than a remaster. Your nameless criminal has been entirely remodeled, but was kept with the same memorable design from the original game. Weapons and vehicles has also been enhanced, and with the screen-space reflection, soft shadows and new lighting engine, everything pops in such a way that would engage players to replay this till the end.
The Technical Limitations
With the nature of remasters comes the same limitations as the original source code. That means, the same old glitches with the same old mission designs and….timed missions! The worse kind of missions you can put into a game. That also means with new hardware comes with unforeseen issues that’s being reported all over the place.
I personally had very little issues with my time playing GTAIII, minus some old glitches like falling through the map atop a hill near a tunnel or, not going through a damaged gate with my vehicle. However, there’s large reports suggesting the game is in a state of complete disaster to the point of it being unplayable. It has gone as far as players review bombing all versions of the Definitive Edition via Metacritic. This is a prevalent issue I did not see coming from a game developed inhouse by Rockstar – I hope this issue is resolved overtime for the rest of the gaming community.
Grand Theft Auto III – The Definitive Edition is by far the best overall remaster I’ve played in a long while, despite the old glitches and gameplay ideology from 20 years ago, I had I blast revisiting the classic. Unforeseen technical issues from new hardware hinders the image that Rockstar is producing, and I’m hoping they could rectify this as soon as possible because if not, an otherwise excellent showcase will go unnoticed.
REVIEW SCORE: 8/10
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