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Watch this 38-minute breakdown of the GTA 3 remaster mess

The Definitive Edition’s issues must be seen to be believed

Ryan Gilliam (he/him) has worked at Polygon for nearly seven years. He primarily spends his time writing guides for massively popular games like Diablo 4 & Destiny 2.

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy — The Definitive Edition has been getting some heat over performance issues and a variety of poorly received changes from the original games. But just how bad the trilogy performs is something players are only learning as the post-launch days roll by. To understand the collection’s variety of problems, and educate viewers on why they exist, Digital Foundry has published a 38-minute video breakdown of Grand Theft Auto 3 alone.

With each game available in so many different versions across a variety of platforms, Digital Foundry decided to tackle one at a time. Monday’s video covers Grand Theft Auto 3’s debut on the PlayStation 2, comparing its initial graphics issues to other games of the era while also highlighting what players have always loved about the GTA series: freedom.

The problems with the new remaster of Grand Theft Auto 3 first start to make sense after the realization that it’s actually a rebuilt version of a mobile port. From there, Digital Foundry takes players through a variety of changes to character models and art direction. There’s a fascinating section about the rain system in the Definitive Edition, and how it hinders much of the gameplay compared to the original version.

While there are some graphical improvements, such as with shadows, Digital Foundry argues that Grand Theft Auto 3 has lost most of its sense of style in this remake.

And once the analysis moves away from art and graphics into performance, things go from bad to worse. In Performance mode on Xbox Series X, the remaster runs at a mostly consistent 60 frames per second, but Digital Foundry says it ran into sections that dropped as low as 40 fps. The game runs at a more consistent 30 fps in Fidelity mode, but Digital Foundry saw frame pacing issues.

Performance mode is worse on PlayStation 5, with more inconsistency than on Xbox Series X. It’s bad enough that Digital Foundry recommends that PS5 owners download the PlayStation 4 version of the Grand Theft Auto 3 remaster and play it instead, because of its “near-flawless” 60 fps performance on PS5.

As you might expect, the Nintendo Switch version of the remaster is truly something to behold. A little over halfway in, the video dives into the game’s performance in docked mode and handheld mode. In either mode, the resolution on Nintendo Switch is seriously low. Just looking at the comparisons to PlayStation and Xbox, it’s almost shocking how rough the Switch version looks and how poor the frame rate (with frequent dips under 30 frames per second) is for a 20-year-old game.

By the way, if you’re just interested in seeing a wide variety of bizarre bugs, the end of the Digital Foundry video has you covered.

It’s fairly easy to look at screenshots from Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy — Definitive Edition, or just scroll through Twitter, and surmise that it’s a mess. But as usual, Digital Foundry does an excellent job breaking down exactly why and how it’s a mess.

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