Grand Theft Auto V is set to become one of the few games to be playable across three consecutive generations of consoles when it releases on PS5 and Xbox Series X later this year. Whether this new edition of GTA 5 will actually be the “same game”, however, is now up for debate. At a recent conference, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick stated that the PS5 and Xbox Series X version will not be “simple port” but rather a “remaster” with improved “technology” and “visuals”.
It’s no surprise that Take-Two Interactive are keen to release the game for a third time: GTA V has placed in the UK top 10 every year since it launched besides 2018, when it placed 11th. And that’s before you even consider GTA Online, which just enjoyed its biggest year yet in 2020.
Once More, With Shiny Graphics
But what exactly will that entail? Remasters have become something of a muddy concept in games as of late. They encompasses both minor technical upgrades – like the Last of Us Remastered, which doubled the frame rate and upped the resolution of the original along with some small graphical tweaks – and full-on overhauls like the Spyro: Reignited Trilogy and the PS5 version of Demon Souls, both of which rebuilt their respective games in new engines with entirely new visual assets.
We don’t know yet where on this spectrum the new versions of GTA will fall, though Zelnick’s comments would seem to point towards the latter.
We’ve done [remasters] differently than the competition – we don’t just port titles over, we actually take the time to do the very best job we can making the title different for the new release, for the new technology that we’re launching it on.Strauss Zelnick, CEO Take-Two Interactive
That said, it’s hard to know exactly what Zelnick’s means when he says Take-Two have done remasters “differently” than other publishers given the broad range of remasters on the market, not to mention within Take-Two’s own portfolio.
A Tale of Two Trilogies
On the one hand you have The Bioshock Collection, which repackaged the trilogy more or less as-is for modern consoles with some technical enhancements. On the other, you have Mafia: Trilogy, which included a complete recreation of the first game in a new engine called Mafia: Definitive Edition and a graphically updated, “4K ready” version of the sequel called Mafia II: Definitive Edition.
2K Games’ marketing materials for the Mafia: Trilogy distinguish between the first two titles, referring to Mafia: Definitive Edition as a re-make while Mafia II: Definitive Edition is explicitly called a “visually upgraded remaster”. Though Mafia II: Definitive Edition’s redrawn textures and effects were praised by critics, many players reported significant bugs, frame rate drops and other performance issues.
At the very least, it seems certain that the GTA V remaster will offer frame rate and resolutions upgrades, but whether it’ll sport a complete visual makeover remains to be seen. Either way, it’s sure to give “the most profitable entertainment product of all time” a new lease of life and opens the door to the possibility of more Rockstar remasters in the future.
Recently, we covered the news that Take-Two reportedly put a stop to a fan project which was reverse engineering GTA 3 and Vice City to create a new source code, opening all sorts of modding potential. Could it be that Take-Two was so quick on the ban hammer because it has its own plans for those games? And don’t forget fan favourite San Andreas. Wouldn’t it be great so see a fully reimagined version for next gen consoles? Fans certainly think so – a trailer for an Unreal 4 fan remake of San Andreas was pulled from YouTube last year at Take-Two’s request.
Whatever the extent of these GTA remasters, they’re an exciting prospect and could well be just the beginning for the future of GTA’s past.