After Kotaku was the first to tell you Rockstar was remastering the first three 3D Grand Theft Auto games, all manner of leaks and rumors have flown around until the developer finally officially confirmed their existence two weeks ago. Today, they’ve announced a release date—November 11 for the digital version—and an official price that’ll make your eyes water. And, at last, video footage comparing the originals to the remasters.
Rockstar’s official page for the games has just gone up, revealing that the trilogy of classic murder-fests—GTA III, GTA: Vice City and GTA: San Andreas—will be yours in 20 days if you get a digital version. For physical editions on all formats, it’ll be December 6 in Europe, December 7 in the United States. Any of those versions will cost you a blistering $60 on PC, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, and the Xboxes.
Of course, you’re getting three absolutely enormous games here, so $60 might not immediately seem so bad. It’s just that we’re talking games ranging from 17 to 20 years old. Which is to say, announcing the pre-orders with less than three weeks to go, and slapping on a premium price, is asking players to exercise a lot of faith.
However, we can finally see a short glimpse of how the three games will be looking, compared to the originals, in this just-released video:
The games’ site explains that the games have been remastered by Grove Street Games, the same Florida studio that ported the original versions across to mobile. They’ve always done a good job with those, but of course, no one’s hand a chance to play these yet, to get a feel for how they work, two decades later.
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As to what’s being updated? Rockstar explains the games will have “brilliant new lighting and environmental upgrades, with high-resolution textures, increased draw distances, Grand Theft Auto V-style controls and targeting, and much more, bringing these beloved worlds to life with all new levels of detail.” Combined with the video above, it doesn’t immediately suggest the dream of the classic games in the GTA V engine.
In fact, Grove Street used the Unreal Engine to make the improvements, which, as well as prettying up the textures, will upgrade the controls, UI, and all those trophies you kids like so much. Rockstar explains the updates also include,
“improvements to targeting and lock-on aiming, updated Weapon and Radio Station Wheels, updated Mini-Maps with enhanced navigation allowing players to set waypoints to destinations, updated Achievements, Trophies, and more. The Nintendo Switch version also features Switch-specific controls including Gyro aiming, as well as touch screen camera zooming, pans, and menu selections, while the PC version includes support for NVIDIA DLSS and additional new Accomplishments via the Rockstar Games Social Club.”
The PC specs offer some clues as to how grand the improvements might be, and they’re pretty low. The minimum requirements are an i5-2700/FX-6300 with 8GB RAM and a GTX 760 2GB/Radeon R9 280. The recommended tech still won’t be stretching many a PC: i7-6600K/Ryzen 5 2600, 16GB RAM, and a GTX 970 4GB/Radeon RX 570—those are five-year-old graphics cards. However, they will be occupying 45GB of your hard drive—the original version of San Andreas, the largest of the games, was only 4.6GB on release.
Things definitely look a lot nicer, and it’s leaned into a much more cartoony vibe—a smart move if this is really more of a texture upgrade than a true remastering. Cartoons forgive a lot, where an attempt at more realistic depictions would likely have looked pretty ropey. However, it’s a very different vibe from the originals, which you now cannot buy.
As ever, don’t pre-order video games, especially in this case, where no press have had their hands on this at any point.
Updated: 10/22/21, 09:05 a.m. ET: This post has been updated to add that Rockstar has, since original publication, uploaded video footage of the games running, along with releasing more specific details about the upgrades.