GTA San Andreas gets RTX Remix makeover, but it’s not perfect yet

The classic Grand Theft Auto game has been given a path traced ray tracing makeover, and while it shows promise, there is clearly still work to be done.

CJ, the protagonist from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, stands with a shocked expression, hands behind his head

Following the release RTX Remix Open Beta, modders aplenty have started working on remixing classic PC games, including Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. However, while Grove Street can clearly benefit from path tracing, there’s still plenty of work to be done before this mod is ready for prime time.

Whether you’re playing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas or otherwise, you’ll need one of the best graphics cards in your PC to run an Nvidia RTX Remix project if early examples are a good indicator of performance. More specifically, opting for a GeForce RTX 4060 or better should provide optimal performance with DLSS 3 in play.

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The GTASA RTX-Remix Project, showcased above by MxBenchmarkPC, is one of the first publicly available RTX Remix mods for GTA: San Andreas. Given how little time the toolset has been available, the mod is still very much in its early stages of development, but it gives us an enlightening glimpse of just how much work is required to get RTX Remix in games to look “right”.

There are some undeniable positives from path-traced lighting here, such as the more realistic way shadows and sunlight interact in the scene, in which CJ is standing below some archways. The original game looks very flat by comparison, but the RTX Remix is by no means flawless. If we look at the leftmost arch, flickering artifacts can be plainly seen without an obvious root cause.

We need to note that this RTX Remix doesn’t feature the original textures from GTA: San Andreas. Nvidia’s toolset can be used to enhance existing textures through AI, as well as outright replace them, as in Half-Life 2 RTX, and this has clearly been done to many of the materials in the game. This is by no means a drag-and-drop system, though, as evidenced by some of the unnatural-looking scenes in the video above.

For example, in the clip recorded inside CJ’s house, the character model goes from being unnaturally lit to oddly shadowed. Even in natural light, CJ looks transformed for the worse, with oddly shiny textures that give him a part oily, part Plasticine look.

The biggest shift for me, however, is the change in the color temperature. San Andreas simply looks like a different place altogether without its warm hues, and the absence of the original artistic intent is keenly felt in every comparison above.

I’m aware that I’ve spent the majority of this piece pointing out all the flaws present in the GTASA RTX-Remix Project, but I hope it’s clear that I’m not doing this out of spite. I personally can’t wait to see the mod in a more complete form, where I’m sure many of the issues I’ve highlighted will be addressed.

However, its current state serves as a critical reminder that RTX Remix is by no means an easy-to-deploy silver bullet, and it requires the hard work of talented modders to get games looking great using the tool. Even then, remixing classics while respecting artistic intent requires a great deal of discipline and a keen eye.