Rockstar is one of the best names in the business. Take-Two’s premier group of institutions has cemented its place within the industry, thanks to a consistent and quality output of games over decades at this point. Many such games have gone on to garner great fandom and long-standing legacy, case in point, Grand Theft Auto which is Rockstar’s pinnacle of open-world offerings. Each entry in the franchise has been met with great critical and commercial reception, and rightfully so. Hence, the games do need to be preserved and the legacy needs to be carried on – which is best done through the use of remasters and remakes.
Rockstar knows this, and the released Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition is an indication that the studio wants its old games to be remastered. However, Rockstar Dundee’s efforts haven’t paid off and the remasters are apparently having a lot of issues so as to make them appealing to a modern audience. A shift to Epic’s Unreal Engine 4, a redone lighting system, increased draw distances – there’s a lot to appreciate about the game but the remasters are marred with bugs and other issues. Regardless, while it might not align with what many fans might be expecting from the release, the games certainly seem to be a decent step-up from the originals as they sit in a comfortable spot between a full-fledged remake and a low-effort by-the-numbers remaster.
With the original trilogy now being brought to a modern audience with a souped-up presentation, whether you like it or not, and Grand Theft Auto 5 still being Rockstar’s cash machine, thanks to hundreds of thousands of fans logging onto its online component on an almost-regular basis – 2008’s Grand Theft Auto 4 now sticks out like a sore thumb due in today’s gaming landscape, specially given how many fans consider it as one of the better entries in the franchise. Given the demand, it’s shocking that Grand Theft Auto 4 is yet to receive any remaster, and as such should be the next game to receive a similar treatment.
Grand Theft Auto 4 is a special game in this long-running open-world franchise, known for being one of Rockstar’s most earnest stories to date. The franchise is known for putting commentary on social issues front and center with the Grand Theft Auto games, such as the gang culture in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and would give a similar take on modern society with Grand Theft Auto 5. Grand Theft Auto 4 also does this by slowly uncovering the many realities of the dreams that bring many people to other locations, but all of this mostly plays second fiddle to a more grounded revenge story of war veteran Niko Bellic.
The game’s atmosphere and the city also stand out among other entries in the franchise. This can majorly be attributed to Rockstar’s great art direction which contrasts sharp visuals with a muted color palette which gives the environments a striking yet understated look. The city itself is in true Rockstar fashion – a playground of possibilities. There are a ton of secrets to find, jobs to carry out, and of course, many many opportunities to go bowling with Niko’s eccentric brother Roman Bellic.
Grand Theft Auto 4 is also the first mainline 3D Grand Theft Auto to get post-launch support. Originally a Microsoft-partnered Xbox exclusive, the downloadable pack was a fine addition to the already lengthy base game’s offerings of single-player content. The DLC features a decently-sized single-player campaign, which introduces us to some pretty interesting characters as they partake in equally daunting adventures.
Many have demanded similar single-player expansions from Rockstar for Grand Theft Auto 5 for a long time now, which is a prospect that currently seems highly unlikely at this point in time. By remastering or better yet, remaking Grand Theft Auto 4 for modern platforms, many such players might get something along those lines to satiate their thirst for Rockstar’s single-player campaigns.
Most importantly however, a Grand Theft Auto 4 remaster or a remake is needed because it’s almost impossible to play the game on any modern platforms now, well except the Xbox One and Xbox Series consoles, thanks to backwards compatibility. Grand Theft Auto 4‘s PC port was an unoptimized mess, and running the game even on modern hardware causes many issues both in the graphics and performance departments. On the Xbox, through backwards compatibility, a nasty bug makes the game almost impossible on the current-gen machines.
Grand Theft Auto 4 runs at 60 fps on the Series machines, which makes a quick-time event in one of the final missions almost unbeatable as the game wouldn’t register enough button presses thanks to an increased framerate. Those in the PlayStation ecosystem don’t have the option to play the game on either a PS4 or a PS5. Those who would even go back to the original game on their original platforms will have to put up with sub-par visual quality and framerates, which while not a big deal at the time of the game’s release – do become noticeable problems today.
Many big-name publishers have taken to remastering and remaking older entries of their beloved franchise for some time now. We have the likes of the Resident Evil series who has been getting remakes for some time now. We got Resident Evil 2‘s remake in 2019, which was followed soon after with Resident Evil 3‘s remake just last year. Take-Two Interactive knows the potential of Rockstar’s darling franchise. It also knows that remasters are relatively-lower effort projects that are known to sell well – more so in the case of Grand Theft Auto‘s monstrous market credibility. Perhaps this is why Take-Two and Rockstar decided to sell the Grand Theft Auto Trilogy as a separate package as opposed to bundling it with those who would buy Grand Theft Auto 5 on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, according to a recent Kotaku report.
Rockstar also recognizes that such projects can be entirely delegated to many of its smaller studios like Rockstar Dundee, while the bigger ones like Rockstar North, Rockstar Toronto and others work away at developing presumably the next entry in the franchise. Rockstar Dundee’s efforts of bringing back the PS2 classics haven’t exactly panned out as one would have wanted, but it is certainly a catalyst for a potential remaster or a remake of other entries in the franchise if sales turn out to be successful. That said, Grand Theft Auto 4 definitely needs to exist on modern platforms anyways, so why not a remaster at this point? Take-Two knows there’s a lot of money to be made with such a venture, and as such a remaster of Grand Theft Auto 4 would probably be in the cards at this point – making the whole affair not a question of if, but just when.
Let’s hope that the remaster is up to the task, whenever that happens.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.