GTA Trilogy suffers the worst launch since Cyberpunk 2077

GTa Vice City in GTA Trilogy
(Image credit: Rockstar)

Update: Rockstar has apologized for GTA remasters mess — but just how much is fixable?

This time a year ago, gamers were stewing over the fact that Cyberpunk 2077 had been delayed yet again. It would eventually emerge on December 10 in such a sorry state that Sony ended up pulling it from the PlayStation store.

While the state the game launched in was inexcusable, there were at least mitigating circumstances due to the limitations of last-gen consoles and the sheer scope of the game. 

The same can’t be said for the remastered GTA Trilogy released last week, which has been released with so many problems that dealing with refund requests has become the Rockstar Support Twitter account’s main duty in the last few days. 

So what’s the problem? If only there were one…

GTA Trilogy: Now with weird new character models 

While some of the new lighting effects are genuinely impressive, the character models are just bizarre in places, with a look not a million miles away from Nintendo’s Miis. Look at how these two have changed, for example:

Or what’s happened to Denise: 

And the less said about what happens when characters ride a bicycle the better. 

And these are just the tip of the iceberg: 

Suffice it to say, it compares extremely unfavorably to the ground-up remake of Mafia put out by 2K Games, which is odd considering how much more popular GTA is as a franchise.  

Graphical glitches abound in GTA Trilogy

Weird art aside, the graphical upgrades seem to have introduced some additional bugs along the way. Things like… invisible bridges: 

...and weird looking rain which mysteriously stops as soon as you reach any body of water. 

Strangest of all are the spelling mistakes that seem to have entered the in-game art. This suggests that the texture upscaling has been automated, rather than done by hand — or even sense checked by a human before publication. Anyone for enchilaoas?

GTA Trilogy's super-shoddy Switch port 

The Nintendo Switch version of GTA Trilogy is especially bad, featuring all of the problems seen elsewhere alongside weaker graphics and performance issues. At the time of writing, the Switch version has a user score of 0.6/10 on Metacritic thanks to a frame rate that dip into the low 20fps range when in areas of heavy traffic.

When docked, dynamic resolution scaling makes it look a blurry mess, possibly dipping as low as 480p at times, and cars have a habit of appearing from nowhere due to the weak draw distance.  

On the surface of things, that seems mad. After all, all three GTA games appeared on the PS2, and the Switch has easily managed to cope with titles from that era in the past, from Resident Evil 4 to Devil May Cry 3. Arguably the move to the Unreal engine and the advanced lighting are too much for the hardware, but given it can just about run The Witcher 3, it does feel like optimization steps just weren’t taken ahead of launch. 

That’s a real shame, as the ability to play in handheld and docked mode would theoretically make the Switch the best way to enjoy the remaster, especially with the addition of gyroscopic aiming and touch controls. But not right now, clearly.

GTA Trilogy: Can it be fixed? 

All of this wouldn’t have been so bad if Rockstar hadn’t pulled the original versions of the games from the various digital stores and shut down fan remake projects ahead of launch. As it stands, the troubled remaster is the only way of getting the games now, without trying to track down original disks and hardware.

It took CD Projekt Red a good six months to bring Cyberpunk 2077 up to something approaching the state it should have been at launch, and hopefully Rockstar will make a similar commitment to bringing the GTA Trilogy up to standard. 

But that’s by no means guaranteed given the big difference between the titles: CD Projekt needed Cyberpunk to sell well, in order to justify the years of investment. Rockstar, meanwhile, has already made billions from the original GTA trilogy. 

With that in mind, joining the queue of people demanding a refund may be the best way of reminding the decision makers at Rockstar that reputational damage matters.

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.