Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Az Elias 22.11.2021

Review for Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition on Nintendo Switch

Not without its controversies, there are plenty of reasons why the Grand Theft Auto series has become the video game juggernaut it has. The defining PlayStation 2 era delivered three third-person action adventures, each progressively better than the last, that resonated massively with not just the video game hardcore, but people up and down the spectrum, whether teen or adult (let's face it: no one paid attention to the age ratings). Marking the first time GTA III, Vice City and San Andreas arrive on a Nintendo console, Rockstar has assigned its porting studio, Grove Street Games, to bringing this bunch to Switch in Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - The Definitive Edition.

Readers may have already seen other reviews and caught wind of just how much of a car crash this supposed "remaster" of such a high-profile trilogy of games has been across all platforms it has released on. Not content with delisting the originals from storefronts, ensuring they would be lost to time forever, and forcing future purchasers to only know of the "definitive" versions, it seems the developers and publisher involved in this project couldn't even muster up enough care or cash to deliver legitimate improvements to the games that put Rockstar where it is today.

The multibillion-dollar company has since walked back and announced it will be relisting the original versions, albeit only on PC and only through its Rockstar Games Launcher. Steam and console players look to be out of luck. The "unexpected" technical issues (Come on. Do they take us for idiots?) are to be addressed in future patches, Rockstar announced a few days ago. A tired, common trend with video games today, no matter if they are brand-new big-budget IPs or ports of decades old games with little financial backing.

Screenshot for Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition on Nintendo Switch

Even without extensive experience with this trilogy from the 2000s, it is quite clear where all three games have suffered, coming off worse than the originals in various aspects. Irrespective of game, each one has a darker, duller look to proceedings, with worse character models and awful lighting and weather effects. San Andreas has lost its orangey sheen and other delightful sky hues, and suffers the most from butchered character models, looking completely different to the original designs in many respects.

It may be the case in all games, but for whatever reason, it is particularly easy to see how jagged Tommy moves in Vice City, almost like he is a low framerate Minecraft character. GTA III naturally sees the most improvement overall, where it being the poorest looking game of the group on PS2 benefits from the Unreal Engine 4 enhancements.

Screenshot for Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition on Nintendo Switch

Apparently, the developers opted to use an AI system to automatically apply upgrades, upscaling the environment where possible, resulting in botched signs and repeated posters and billboards within close proximity. Glitches galore, broken and out of place textures, invisible holes in the ground - almost every street driven down can end up having something that shouldn't have passed quality assurance.

That isn't to say the originals didn't have glitches and mishaps - of course they did. The difference here is that not only does this so-called "definitive edition" not fix old mistakes, but it also adds in completely new ones. Grand Theft Auto V is the most financially successful video game of all time; there is no excuse for Rockstar to not put some money and people - not an AI - behind these remasters. It also can't be forgiven that the Switch version, while trying to keep to 30 frames per second, dips in performance far too often.

Screenshot for Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition on Nintendo Switch

It might be worth taking another angle, as well, though. While these games have existed for a long time on PC and been ported to each subsequent PlayStation console, this will be the first time many Nintendo fans will have had the opportunity to play them. Such people won't know any better and may find the release of this trilogy on Switch to be more than sufficient. That's a fair way to look at things, and it isn't as if the games aren't fun.

Bypassing any potential game-breaking glitches (and the rest), the Grand Theft Auto games are one heck of an escape into worlds only seen in gangster movies. It is no wonder they caught on. Being able to become a drug lord, taking out gang leaders and police, hijacking cars and stealing money - it can sound mindless and downright disgusting, to be perfectly honest. But it's a video game; an interactive gangster flick. It's ridiculous and it's fun. Add in the just plain silly storylines - San Andreas culminating in the peak of the pack in not just the narrative, but in gameplay, customisation and humour, too - and you can lose yourself for some time in these giant crime-filled cities.

Touch screen menus and gyro controls are the Switch-exclusive features, but the latter absolutely feels like it doesn't work well. No matter the sensitivity level, the aiming cursor just won't budge accurately when precise movements are made, rendering what could have been a great little shooting option effectively useless. Thankfully, modern GTA aiming controls using the shoulder triggers make playing these games much better than back in the day, even if they still feel off.

Screenshot for Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 4 out of 10


Good, fun games are good, fun games, and even with glitches and the numerous issues this trilogy brings, that's what these still are. However, seeing the state of Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - The Definitive Edition, there just isn't any way to let Rockstar off lightly here. This is one of the most successful video game companies in the world, with goodness knows how much raked in from GTA Online, so there can be no excuses to have loaned out these iconic games to a small team with a poor track record and showing absolutely no respect for its own creations. Fifty pounds is a big ask for such old games that have been what one might say "demastered", and even with numerous future patches, these may never be the upgrades they should have been, but Switch owners new to this trilogy can find plenty of entertainment - and not just because of the glitches. This is still a hard sell, though, with the advice being to hold off for a major sale.


Grove Street




Action Adventure



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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