GTA: Vice City Remaster vs Original – Attention to Detail, Physics, and More

In all their wisdom, Rockstar decided that nuking the original versions of GTA 3, Vice City, and San Andreas and taking down their best mods just so they could release bad remasters would be a good idea. Unsurprisingly, fans haven’t responded to this decision kindly, because the new GTA remasters are actually worse off than the originals in a number of ways. We recently tested GTA: Vice City – The Definitive Edition across a number of areas to see how it compares to the original to see exactly how bad things are- here’s what we found.


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Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way first. The terrible rain effects in the new GTA remasters have been widely criticized by one and all, and there’s very good reasons for that. In Vice City (and the other two games), rain is a blinding sheet of barrages of opaque droplets that completely destroy visibility. Especially when it’s dark out in the games, driving around when it’s raining is next to impossible.


Water effects in the Vice City remaster are also quite disappointing. The water itself, of course, looks significantly better than it did in the original when it launched 2002, but drive a boat through it and you’ll see pretty tame water effects. The original game saw water reacting to boats with realistic frothing and splashes, and while the remasters still have the frothing effect, it’s much less pronounced, and the splashing is completely absent.


Grand Theft Auto The Trilogy The Definitive Edition

This area has seen small but noticeable improvements. Ramming a car into a wall or a building or even a tree in the original resulted in the car suddenly coming to a dead stop. In the remaster though, the car physically reacts to the crash much more realistically.


Thankfully, this is one area where the remaster has seen improvements. Shooting guns into water bodies in the original Vice City was disappointingly anticlimactic- the water didn’t react to bullets at all. In the remaster, you get proper splashes and ripple effects.


Grand Theft Auto The Trilogy The Definitive Edition

Here, the Vice City remaster takes a step back from the original. For starters, just as it was in the originals, the only glass in a car that breaks on being shot is the windshield- the windows don’t react to gunfire at all. More importantly though, even the way the windshield breaks is far less satisfying. The original game saw windshields shattering and sending shards of glass flying in all directions, whereas in the remaster, the glass pretty much just vanishes.


Unsurprisingly, the same issue exists with shooting any and all other glass windows in the game and isn’t just limited to car windshields. Glass would shatter quite realistically in the original game and you’d be able to see actual broken shards, but in the remaster, upon breaking, panes of glass simply vanish into thin air as if they were never there to begin with.


Grand Theft Auto The Trilogy The Definitive Edition

The original Vice City was ahead of its time in more ways than one, especially on a technical level. For instance, if you walked through pools of blood, you’d leave behind bloody footprints on the ground. Thankfully, the remaster makes improvements in this area. Not only do your footprints remain on the ground much longer, they’re also much more detailed than they were in the original game.


Not all footprint related details have been improved in the remaster though. Some are actually surprisingly worse off. For instance, walking on sand in the original Vice City left behind clearly visible footprints, as you’d expect. In the remaster, the sand doesn’t react to you at all. You can walk around on it all day long and leave no footprints behind. It’s shocking to see the nearly two decade-old original actually being better than the remaster in terms of such a basic detail.


Grand Theft Auto The Trilogy The Definitive Edition

Here, thankfully, the Vice City remaster makes improvements over the original. Try throwing a molotov on the ground in the latter, and the fire will quickly fizzle out, leaving behind next to no trace. In the remaster, however, the fire will stick around a little longer, and when it burns out, it’ll leave behind scorch marks on the ground.


Where some tiny details in the Vice City remaster are worse than the original and some are better, some are pretty much unchanged. Take the fire hydrants, for instance. Drive a car through a hydrant to break it in the original, and the jet of water spouting from the ground will simply go through your car as if it isn’t there. The same thing happens in the Definitive Edition as well.


grand theft auto the trilogy the definitive edition

Here, too, the Vice City remaster is noticeably more detailed than the original game. Not only are grenade explosions much better to look at, they also leave behind more visible damage. In the original, it’d be impossible to tell looking at any surface that a grenade had just exploded there, but in the remaster, you can see visible damage from the explosion both during and after the blast.


Again, the Vice City remaster makes visual and technical improvements here. Grass in the original game was little more than a low poly asset applied to surfaces. In the remaster, grass is a physical, fully 3D asset, and it even responds to your presence. Moving through a grassy field, you can see stalks of grass physically responding to you as you walk over them.


grand theft auto the trilogy the definitive edition

Torturing NPCs for no rhyme or reason is a time-honoured tradition in GTA games, and it is, thankfully, much more enjoyable in the Vice City remaster in one very specific department. In the original game, NPCs wouldn’t react to you pointing a gun at them at all. In the remaster though, they’ll visibly recoil and run off in the opposite direction while screaming.


Similarly, the remaster is also more reactive to you pointing a gun at a cop than the original was. In the latter, cops wouldn’t care about you holding them at gunpoint whatsoever (similar to any other NPC). In the remaster though, as soon as you point a gun at a cop, your Wanted level will go up, and the cop in question will start shooting at you.


grand theft auto the trilogy the definitive edition

Some smaller details on vehicle models have also been improved in Vice City’s remaster- like the license plates, for instance. In the original game, license plates were extremely blurry, and it was basically impossible to make out any details on them. The remaster features a number of newly made license plates on its vehicles, all of which are significantly easier to read as well.

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