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GTA Trilogy – Definitive Edition Sucks on the Steam Deck, too

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GTA Trilogy – Definitive Edition

Now that the Rockstar-ridiculous, staccato-titled Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – Definitive Edition is out on Steam, this terrible trio of remasters has bailed out of Rockstar Store exclusivity and rolled into the speeding bumper of easy Steam Deck compatibility.

While this isn’t an exhaustive technical teardown, I can’t tell where, if anywhere, the Steam release actually enhances these notorious remasters. It is glitchy messes of dull upscaled textures, lifeless lighting, malformed character models, and ropey animations that we all had a desperate chuckle at back in 2021. The main contrast is that with Steam Deck support, they can waste your time outdoors as well.

On the Deck, all three of the GTA Trilogy’s component titles now deliver exciting new ways to be disappointed, particularly through their bad performance. On Low quality, they’re competent at hitting 60fps, but will often suddenly lurch down to 30fps. Then rising to somewhere in the 40-50fps range, then crumpling again, then twitching upwards again, and so on.

The problem here isn’t just the bigness of the numbers – to own a Steam Deck is to come to terms with the fact that 30fps can be playable, and some of the best Steam Deck games can only reach that level on their lowest settings. But at least those perform consistently. The GTA Trilogy can run smoothly enough that activating SteamOS’ built-in 30fps cap feels like leaving good frames on the table, yet that smoothness might only last for a few seconds before another 50% drop. It’s bafflingly common for these oscillations to occur several times in the time it takes to drive through a single city block.

It’s not clear what causes these drops, though I doubt it’s the Trilogy’s overall fidelity. Those Low/30fps champions I had in mind were along the lines of Elden Ring and Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection, not half-hearted spit’n’polish jobs on three games that didn’t look particularly great two decades ago. GTA III, the oldest and ugliest, actually sputtered below 30fps a few times. Just… how. HOW.

This Steam release isn’t so much a redemption moment for GTA Trilogy – Definitive Edition as it is one, hopefully, last shot at recouping its costs.

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