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Grand Theft Auto trilogy remaster has a rough launch, angering fans

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy — The Definitive Edition isn’t definitive enough for some longtime players

CJ carries a rocket launcher under a police helicopter spotlight in GTA San Andreas from the Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy — The Definitive Edition release Image: Grove Street Games/Rockstar Games
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Rockstar Games released Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy — The Definitive Edition on Thursday, an enhanced collection of the PlayStation 2-era GTA games. While the re-releases of Grand Theft Auto 3, Vice City, and San Andreas have clear and definitive improvements to controls and quality-of-life features, many fans are expressing their displeasure over the games’ updated graphics.

The Windows PC version of the game has its own major problem: Rockstar had to pull it from sale due to major problems with the company’s own launcher. Players who owned the PC version were also unable to play the re-releases due to issues with the Rockstar Games Launcher.

On Friday morning, Rockstar Games’ support team said on Twitter, “We thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to work on restoring services for the Rockstar Games Launcher and supported titles.”

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy — The Definitive Edition is still available for sale on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox platforms. But players who have those versions of the game have been grousing about the fit and finish of Rockstar’s trilogy remaster, posting videos and screenshots of questionably updated graphics.

Players have pointed out graphical issues with the Definitive Edition’s version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas — which seems to have gotten the most attention, thanks to its release on Xbox Game Pass on Thursday — related to overhauled faces, fog and weather effects, and misspelled text on signs. Those players have taken to Reddit and Twitter to call out graphical quirks, bugs, and texture and model changes to the games.

Players have also pointed out misspellings on signs in the Definitive Edition versions of San Andreas and Vice City. Store signage for Shaft Hot Dogs that once read “The taste of a real mans meat” now displays as “The taste of a real mans heat,” while a guitar shop promotes “GUITARHENK BOOTHS AVAIABLE” and “AR GUITARS.” Originally, that guitar shop signage read “GUITARWANK BOOTHS AVAILABLE” and “AIR GUITARS.”

But not all comparisons of the original Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and its 2021 Definitive Edition re-release are scathing. Some actually highlight impressive work done to the 17-year-old game.

Others have also pointed out that flying around San Andreas in GTA: San Andreas lets you see the entire map at once, which makes the game world look both smaller and less atmospheric, due to the removal of fog.

These shortcomings are amplified, fans say, by the fact that Rockstar Games showed almost no gameplay of Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy — The Definitive Edition ahead of its launch on Thursday. (The company released a series of GIFs and a trio of short comparison videos on Wednesday.) What’s more, fans are complaining that the Definitive Edition pales in comparison, in parts, to fan-made mods for the original games — mods that Rockstar Games parent company Take-Two Interactive has been targeting and pushing off the internet using DMCA notices and legal threats this year.

Polygon has reached out to Rockstar Games for comment on response to Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy — The Definitive Edition and whether it plans to tweak the game’s visuals in response to the fan outcry.

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