I’ve been really lucky since starting writing with TWM. Pretty much every game I’ve reviewed or done a hands-on with has been pretty good. Even when something has had issues, I’ve been able to overlook them due to the other good things they might feature.
That brings me to today. GTA Definitive Edition is a mess and should never have been released in the way it has been. It’s not quite 2021’s Cyberpunk moment but it’s not far off…this can at least be played. £55 for a rerelease that’s broken in some places and looks dam near unfinished in others.
This should have been an easy win for Rockstar. Modernise, repackage and release. But instead, we are seeing huge fan backlash that might take them a little to get over (at least until GTA 6 comes out when I am sure all will be forgotten).
I’ll rewind to just before launch and say that I was impressed when the videos started coming out showing the updated graphics and thought that the almost cartoon-style graphics choice was the right way for them to go. Then my head started to get the better of me, wondering why more hadn’t seen shown of the game in action rather than the hand-chosen cut scenes on offer. Now the game has hit full release (well not quite, but more on that later), it’s easy to see why.
This was going to be a review of the game on PC, unfortunately, I’m unable to do this as the game has been removed for sale on the Rockstar Game Launcher. Rockstar has noted that this is due to content needing to be removed before it can be put back on sale.
Strangely it appears that the music from the original games which can no longer be featured due to expired licenses, is still in the game, it’s just been blocked from playing. Being that Rockstar has got into trouble before when players found cut content in the form of Hot Coffee (the in-game sex game featured in GTA San Andreas), which funnily enough is also rumoured to be hidden in the game files….this beggars belief.
I then thought I would pick it up on Xbox and play there. Once reviews and feedback started to filter through, I decided that before doing this I would give the Gamepass release of GTA Definitive Edition; San Andreas a try to make sure it was worth my time and money.
Although at times the game can look nice, with environments seeing most of the improvements along with a much brighter colour pallet. Other changes haven’t worked as well. Some of the character models can be downright terrifying with some looking far worse than the original release from 2004.
Booting up the game on an Xbox One X, I quickly realised I was locked at 30fps with no options for a performance mode at lower resolution with 60fps. I could have dealt with this had it been a ground-up remake of the game with all the bells and whistles of GTA 5, but it’s not, outside a handful of better lighting and textures with slightly more modern controls, this is still very much a game from 2004.
Pair this with graphical issues spelling mistakes, frame rate drops (yes even on the PS5 and Series X…) and rain that comes down so hard it’ll hurt your eyes, and I can’t recommend this to anyone in its current state.
This is normally where I make a comment about it not being available on Nintendo Switch, but for once it is! Unfortunately, the issues seem to be even worse there as the game has been slated for having an even worse frames rate than other versions and blurry textures too.
San Andreas is the worst offender in terms of visuals. GTA 3 and Vice City look like they have a more fully-featured version of the cartoon visual refresh. You can see this by looking at the character models of CJ from San Andreas and Claude from GTA 3. Where Claude has a fully modelled 3D belt and jacket, the textures on CJ are nowhere near the same quality.
Can it be fixed, yes? Will Rockstar bother? I’m honestly not sure. They tend to march to the sound of their own drum and do as they see fit. With the PS5 and Series console versions of GTA 5 not far away I don’t see them being keen to spend much manpower to try and fix the issues that fans are shouting about.
The GTA Definitive Edition needs to be seen as a massive missed opportunity and a rare fail for both GTA and Rockstar.