GTA 6 is kind of a big deal. Few names are as industry-defining as the Grand Theft Auto series, so it’s no surprise that we’re all eagerly waiting to see exactly what Rockstar Games has in store for us next. But before the success of GTA 5, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Bully, it was the trilogy of GTA 3, Vice City, and San Andreas that truly elevated the company to, well, rockstar levels within the game industry, and if you’ve never experienced them yourself or simply fancy revisiting the classics, a new Steam sale is here to make it cheaper.
Released in January 2023, the Grand Theft Auto trilogy’s ‘definitive edition’ bundles together the best GTA game, Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, with the other two titles from the PS2-era trilogy, GTA 3 and Vice City, into one neat package. That’s three of the most important and beloved single-player games ever, all yours at a hefty discount thanks to a Steam sale following the announcement of the incoming first GTA 6 trailer.
Grand Theft Auto III was a real moment in time. Plunging Rockstar’s crime caper series into full 3D, GTA 3 sparked wonder in 2001 with its fully realized open world and a storyline that felt just like those of your favorite crime series. It also inspired plenty of controversy, with some shocked by its graphic violence and the freedom it gave the player to unleash said violence at will in such a realistic setting. That’s not forgetting its bawdiness, including the much talked about ability to hire sex workers.
While I was, at the time, primarily still a PS2 gamer, my first experience playing GTA 3 was on PC, with a friend bringing their copy over and telling me I had to try it. For all the talk of its mature themes, my defining memories were being wowed by this incredible world; marveling at the curved roads that its rival Driver was unable to offer; living out my very own cinematic crime epic. Gaming would never be the same.
GTA 3 wasn’t actually the game most people expected to be Rockstar’s breakout hit; going into E3 the year it was revealed, all eyes were instead on its arcade urban chaos shooter State of Emergency. Yet the hushed whispers from those who got hands-on with the new Grand Theft Auto began to spread, and soon enough a legacy was born.
Following just one year later, GTA Vice City was everything you could want from a sequel; the sun-drenched, neon-lit streets of ‘80s Miami, Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean on the radio, and a rags-to-riches tale inspired by the likes of Scarface and Goodfellas, fronted by Ray Liotta himself in the role of Hawaiian shirt enthusiast Tommy Vercetti.
After that came GTA San Andreas in 2004, which follows the journey of Carl ‘CJ’ Johnson as he returns home to a fictionalized ‘90s spin on California and Nevada. His tale spans cities inspired by Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Las Vegas, each with their own distinct feel, as he clashes with the corrupt police duo of Frank Tenpenny (Samuel L. Jackson) and Eddie Pulaski (Chris Penn).
For me, San Andreas remains the peak of the series – and still one of the best games of all time – narrowly nudging out the more thoughtful tale offered by sequel GTA 4 with its sheer scale, size, and spectacle. From helping your local gang take over an entire city to stealing Harrier jump jets from military aircraft carriers and even running your own casino on the Vegas strip, few games before or since have matched the immaculate vibe of GTA San Andreas.
Perhaps you missed the boat, and with news of the first GTA 6 trailer are wondering what made those games so special. Or maybe you just fancy revisiting those glory days ahead of the next game in the series. Either way, you can get all three games in the definitive edition bundle at half price right now on Steam.
Now, it’d be remiss of me not to mention the elephant in the room. Despite the name, the 2023 release of this classic trilogy isn’t quite as ‘definitive’ as might have been hoped for what is one of the most important game trilogies of all time. Bugs, poor quality textures, and the choice to use the less-involved minigames of the mobile versions rather than the original releases mean this isn’t quite the perfect remaster you’d want. You don’t even get Billie Jean.
There’s also the fact that these games are 20 years old now, and while the story, characters, and worlds still have plenty to offer, they still play like games from two decades ago – which is to say, not especially well by modern standards. You’ll get by, though, and I do genuinely believe that they’re still worth seeing for yourself if you haven’t done so before. While we might wish for more from Rockstar Games, this is still the best way to play the trilogy on a modern PC in 2023.
Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy Definitive Edition is 50% off on Steam until Tuesday November 21, 2023. You’ll get GTA 3, GTA Vice City, and GTA San Andreas in the package. Expect to pay $29.99 / £29.99 for the full thing. If you’re ready to experience a meaty slice of gaming history, despite the caveats, you can do so right here. In the meantime, we’ve been pondering what GTA 5’s success means for GTA 6.
After more of the best open-world games on PC? We’ve picked out the most magnificent lands to explore. If you’re sticking to the most recent entry in the series while we await the GTA 6 release date, take a look through the best GTA 5 mods to see just how much you can mix up Rockstar’s latest.
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