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The Trilogy Is… Not Great So Far

Rockstar Games

Rockstar is one of the most successful entertainment companies in the world. To illustrate, Grand Theft Auto: V alone generated close to a billion dollars in revenue last year, over seven years after release. It is a behemoth of the gaming industry, dwarfing Bethesda, CD Projekt Red, Bungie and many other storied developers. Suffice it to say that if there’s one issue no one can accuse Rockstar of having, it’s budgetary constraints. With all of these resources, what possible reason exists for the state that GTA: The Trilogy launched in.

It now makes sense why the pre-release behavior from Rockstar surrounding GTA: The Trilogy was so suspect. They removed the previous versions of the game from Steam, making them entirely unavailable for purchase. They showed off very little gameplay, which contrasted with the marketing blitz that Rockstar normally puts behind their games, was a striking absence. And they made the game unavailable to the media until after release. Most major publication have not had access to the game until today, meaning that potential buyers have been unable to make an informed purchase. Not sending out review copies is a sure sign that Rockstar was, and continues to be, aware of the issues with GTA: The Trilogy and boy, are there a lot of them.

First Impressions

The lighting is far worse, harsher at times and masks the art direction, while making some scenes impossible to make out. Character models have been butchered, rendering old favorites into Lovecraftian, vaguely human-shaped, creatures. Claude was turned from a human being, into a plasticene doll cosplaying as a human.  Performance is wretched, with Xbox One X players experiencing frequent slowdowns, stutters, and even outright crashes.

The environmental and weather effects are also lacking and seemingly tacked on. Rain doesn’t appear in the environment but is an overlay, which, taken alongside the fact that the rain is milk white and has a persistent grid patterns, renders certain areas, such as tunnels, difficult to see in.

On PC, performance has been atrocious, with players reportedly unable to maintain 60 FPS with a RTX 3090 GPU. Switch players have it worse and there have been reports of FPS dropping down to the mid-teens. With some users on Reddit noting that their FPS went below 10 during scenes with rain, which is beyond unacceptable for a twenty-year-old game.

A Scummy Pre-Release

To distill the outrage into something that is tangible and a little more concrete, here are the two primary things that Rockstar shouldn’t have done. First, they shouldn’t have released the game in a state with game-breaking performance problems, unfinished character models, unfinished and seemingly tacked on lighting, and a bevy of other minor bugs and annoyances that haven’t been addressed. Secondly, and more important from a business-practice standpoint. They should have been transparent about what the game was or was not going to be.

For a company that has been in the industry for so long, they surely know, and this is putting it lightly, that it isn’t best practice to refuse to send out review copies, to delist your original game from marketplaces, or to air just a few minutes of a trailer as a gameplay preview. In retrospect, this all seems like a willful attempt by Rockstar to mislead potential consumers about what the game would be. And considering the state the game released in, consumers are understandably upset.


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