It’s official: the classic GTA games from the early ‘00s will live again. Rockstar has announced that the critically-acclaimed, super-controversial GTA trilogy from the PlayStation 2 and Xbox era is coming to current gen consoles with a remaster known as the Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition. Grand Theft Auto III, its Miami Vice- and Scarface-inspired 2002 sequel Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and the 2004 sequel set in a recreation of California and Las Vegas, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas are all coming to the Xbox Series and One platforms, the PS4 and PS5, the Nintendo Switch, and the Rockstar Games Launcher on PC.
The announcement was made commemorating the 20th anniversary of Grand Theft Auto III, which will be on Oct. 22. Rockstar also announced that digital editions of the original games are being removed from stores this week, so hopefully Rockstar enthusiasts have already claimed hard copies long ago, or electronic copies of the originals from the various PlayStation, Steam, Android, and iOS stores.
While price and an exact release date have not been announced, the remastered trilogy are set to be released later this year, with Android and iOS ports coming early next year. Grand Theft Auto V, first released eight years ago, is being brought to its third generation of consoles in March of 2022, as well. Granted, it is already playable on PS5 and the Xbox Series X and S, but apparently there will be even more improvements. From what was apparent during the PlayStation September Showcase, all of those improvements are already in the game, but surely Rockstar has something up their sleeve none of us can see yet.
Rockstar also promised that they are “looking at ways to improve the GTA Online experience for new and returning players in the upcoming release of GTA Online for the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S next March.” So, they will continue ringing money out of a product they made a long time ago. And, as aforementioned, rather than push gameplay or narrative forward, they will sell fans something they already bought, at a premium, as a thank you to fans for already having bought the things when they were cutting-edge nearly two decades ago.
This announcement comes after months of rumors, as well as Rockstar parent company Take-Two Interactive coming after fans for doing their own restoration projects. In July, PC Gamer reported that Take-Two was issuing takedown notices for GTA mods released as far back as 2005. In September, Kotaku reported that they sued 14 programmers in California’s Northern District court for a project reverse-engineering the GTA III and GTA: Vice City code that made the games playable on Nintendo Switch. (Where the games have not been released, though you can currently purchase them for your cellphone in the Apple or Google stores.) In August, GTA fansite LibertyCity.net listed eight different mods that ported the old games into newer engines.
The games industry, like film before it, remains awash in a sea of remakes and remasters. One wonders if the new GTA Trilogy will improve on some of the questionable (see: misogynistic and homophobic) themes of the original games, or the paper-thin racial stereotypes that make up many of the characters. And if, in so doing, they will alienate some loud minority of idiots in the fanbase. Time will tell.