Art style

The GTA Trilogy remaster’s wacky art style is good, actually

Rockstar gave us a first look at the upcoming Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Collection, and it showcases the enormous amount of work that has gone into improving the visuals of the games. With a remaster, you never really know if you’ll get an upgraded version of an older game or a completely revamped product, but so far it seems like Rockstar and developer Grove Street Games are treating these classics with reverence. they deserve.

Rich Stanton, Editor-in-Chief: What blew me away was the simple trick of switching from the “old” scenes to the new, which really highlighted how much cleaner and cleaner these environments are. Like a lot of people, I guess, I haven’t played these games in over a decade, so my memories of them are still “better” than what things looked like back then, and see it felt like Rockstar had reached my brain, went and got the nostalgia glasses and made a game of it. Honestly, I wasn’t very excited about the GTA trilogy, but all of a sudden I can’t wait to return to the beautiful Vice City soaked in pastel, sticking Duran Duran and burning rubber.

Nat Clayton, Editor-in-Chief: It’s a really weird aesthetic! GTA 3 via San Andreas came out at a time when you couldn’t really pull off the down-to-earth and gritty look of 4 and 5, and therefore get around it by upping their look and tone. This remaster attempts to retroactively declare that this is a deliberate stylistic choice, and you get that incredibly brilliant lo-fi look. The kind of thing you’d see on a ’90s mag or some kind of spoofed game appearing in the background of CSI.

That said, my experience with early GTAs is playing them in my brother’s cramped best friend’s bedroom, putting up with his petty jokes because your parents wouldn’t buy you 18-rated games. Can a remaster capture that energy? Would he even want to?

An aerial view of GTA Vice City.

(Image credit: Rockstar North)

Evan Lahti, Global IEC: As someone who reads a lot of those ’90s Nat magazines, I find it nostalgic and entertaining. It’s an aesthetic that focuses more on how these games actually look, rather than how we think we remember them. The look preserves the literal form of the games and their characters, how absurd and impactful that performance is, the jagged models of the PlayStation 2.

It was unrealistic to expect these remasters to inherit the fidelity and style of modern GTAs in reverse, which would require Rockstar to make three massive games pretty much from scratch.

Phil Savage, UK editor: My first reaction was “Huh! “, Followed closely by” Err? And finally settle on “Hmm?!”. Anyway, I don’t know where I’m landing on this, and I probably won’t know until I play it. The environments and lighting look great and would clash with the original’s early low-poly character models. Rockstar had to do Something, and, as Evan rightly points out, getting the look of modern games was never going to happen.

Maybe part of my reaction is because I still love the look of those old GTAs. As a PC gamer, they’re not a relic of the ancient past, unreachable unless I pick up a dusty old console from the attic. They’re there, in my Steam account, ready to play whenever I want. The story is inescapable on PC: it’s as easy for me to replay Deus Ex or Doom II or Planescape as it is to play something new like Far Cry 6. Detached from the expectation of new and more beautiful, I have no problem with the aesthetics of certain eras.

The reason I don’t replay old GTAs is because the control schemes are awkward and the controller support is poor. These definitive editions could have modernized all of that and left the look as is, and I would have been perfectly happy. They would never do it – that’s not how you do a remaster – but that’s why I’m not sure about the new style.

A panoramic view of GTA San Andreas.

(Image credit: Rockstar North)

Robin Valentine, editor-in-chief: I think I like it? It’s definitely a bold choice, and that alone is appealing – I’m really sick of number remasters that often create a messy look by combining bland, high-res textures with environments and animations too old to be confused with. them. Reinventing the old look into a new shape that fits together seamlessly is an interesting move, and I think it also maintains a nice separation between this era of GTA and the more modern installments. If anything, I think they could have gone a step further – things like the anime spiky hair gesture to an even more over the top style that they haven’t quite committed to.

Steven Messner, editor-in-chief: It honestly reminds me of something you would see in Dreams, that PS4 game engine from Media Molecule. There’s something about the character models – especially the protagonist of GTA 3 – that gives me that ‘carved in clay’ vibe that I just can’t understand. But I also think I like it a lot too, is it so different?

Chris Livingston, feature film producer: I’m glad they didn’t try to put a bunch of extremely realistic models or effects into it. It’s always weird, like when a Pixar movie has super cartoon characters with weirdly realistic hair. Like, why? Why make this aspect seem real among the rest? It’s shocking. It looks like Rockstar did a good job preserving and updating the classics without anything looking really out of place. But on the other hand, given that this isn’t a massive upgrade or makeover, I kind of think the originals are also great as is. I think if I ever want to replay them, the original versions will be fine for me.