According to a report from Kotaku, Rockstar might be very close to announcing the existence of a remastered trilogy of Grand Theft Auto games from the PS2 era. The beloved trio of GTA 3, Vice City, and San Andreas make up some of the best-selling and most-beloved video games of all time.
The rumors of new remasters of these titles started in earnest when Take Two Interactive, Rockstar’s parent company, began issuing DMCA takedown notices for mods for the three aforementioned titles.
The mods in question were HD upscaling texture packs that essentially made the PS2 titles look slightly newer. The Kotaku report indicates that an insider with knowledge about Rockstar’s plans has confirmed that those mods essentially look like the official products that the company will release as a remastered collection.
Apparently, the plans for these remastered titles have changed considerably over the past eighteen months. Originally, the three remastered titles were to be a gift to players who preordered the upcoming next-gen ports of GTA V, but those plans fell through. Then, Rockstar was planning on releasing the three games earlier this year.
Now, however, the plans have shifted around completely–and the release date for the project has continued to slip back. Kotaku reports that the titles will be releasing for consoles (including the Nintendo Switch) in late October or early November of this year.
High Hopes for the Remasters
The PS2-era GTA titles hold a special place in my heart. They were some of the first open-world video games I got into, and they helped define for me how video games could tell compelling stories just like the best movies. As such, I’ve got high hopes for this remastered trilogy.
There are a few things that I hope Rockstar takes special care to attend to before release, though.
For one thing, the music. All three of the PS2-era titles have incredible original soundtracks and copious amounts of licensed music. Later ports of these titles, however, downplay the licensed music in favor of more background-style music. This is partly due to the complex nature of renegotiating the rights for the songs that are heard in-game, a complicated and expensive process that involves lots of contracts and lawyers.
However, I sincerely hope Rockstar sorts this out. GTA 3, in particular, has been derided by some fans in each successive port, as the game seems to simply lose licensed songs with every iteration. A return to its original licensed lineup of songs would be a welcome development for the remaster.
Some of the gameplay elements of the early 3D GTA titles have not aged well. The aiming, driving, and exploration in these titles could all do well with a bit of modernization to make them feel a little less clunky. Also, some missions might need full reworks, as they’ve aged about as well as milk. The RC helicopter missions stick out like a sore thumb, for instance.
Aside from these minor areas, however, the three PS2-era titles are a beacon of gaming excellence. If Rockstar can stick the landing with some control updates and the licensed music, then this will be one of the best retro remasters of all time.