Courtesy of WhatCulture Gaming

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition was released in November this year, but the release wasn’t as well-received as Rockstar Games had hoped it would be. The games that the studio decided to remaster – GTA III, Vice City, and San Andreas – are all masterpieces, and the consensus was that the new release hadn’t done these classics justice. Rockstar Games has barely put a foot wrong with GTA over the years, but it may have been wiser to leave these games alone or put more effort into restoring them. Still, a slightly underwhelming release like this is not going to overshadow the amazing popularity of the series throughout its history.


Trailer for GTA: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition

Longstanding Tradition of Locations and Gimmicks to Please Players

One of the main ways that GTA has stayed relevant all these years since the first release in 1997, has been in its continuation of themes that were popular in previous games. A recent example of this was the introduction of the casino in San Andreas. This was greatly expanded upon in GTA V online, perhaps because of the rise of the online casino industry in mainstream culture. A vast number of players log on to online casinos now to play a range of table games and slots, and Rockstar Games realized that it could attract these people by including a similar setup in its game.

As the games have evolved and changed, there are numerous things that stay the same and give players a sense of familiarity. For example, the weapon selection has barely changed throughout. Players can still access a variety of guns and melee options from their weapon wheel. It’s not exactly realistic, but GTA players don’t mind that and would rather have the abundance of choice. Another thing that has always stayed the same is the “wasted” writing that appears on the screen when the player dies. They then end up outside the nearest hospital with a considerable amount of money taxed from their accounts.

There are also numerous tropes that are carried over from game to game that has become expected in GTA titles. For instance, the game creators always like to include references to scenes from their favorite movies. In the latest release alone, there are missions that are reminiscent of scenes from No Country for Old Men, Die Hard, and Lethal Weapon 2.

Stayed True to Mainstream Culture by Recognizing Rise of iGaming Industry

The introduction of the casino in GTA V online also reminded players of the knack that Rockstar Games has for always staying true to popular culture. This is one in a long list of occasions that the developers have identified a common interest of players and done something to appease them. The iGaming industry is now worth more than $265 billion, so it was impossible for GTA to ignore.

Another example of how GTA has included growing trends was in the inclusion of its social media equivalent, Lifeinvader. This appeared in GTA V in 2013, around the same stage that Facebook was completing its global dominance with purchases of Instagram and WhatsApp for $1 billion and $16 billion in 2012 and 2014 respectively. GTA games have included technological advances when they have emerged too. For example, the two most recent games featured smartphones.


The Friend Request mission in GTA V

GTA Games Were Pioneers of Themes

The GTA games mirror iGaming offerings in many ways, which is another reason why they manage to appeal to casino fans. At online casinos, players are faced with a multitude of options when deciding which slot they want to play. Each slot has its own theme, and this is designed in a way to allure different people to them. For example, there are slots based on movies like Justice League, television series like Hell’s Kitchen, and popular natural phenomena like Gold Volcano.

Each GTA game followed a different theme and managed to convey its own unique style in the process. This was particularly apparent in Vice City and San Andreas, which were both highly memorable for their widely different approaches. The 2002 offering was set in the 1980s and drew inspiration from the Brian de Palma classics, Scarface and Carlito’s Way. The setting and storyline were more closely related to the former, but Ken Rosenburg was clearly directly taken from Sean Penn’s David Kleinfeld in the latter. Vice City was also highly influenced by one of the most popular US television series of the 1980s, Miami Vice. The theme of San Andreas was the 1990s, and there were many references to the growing hip-hop scene of the era. The main city, Los Santos, is inspired by Los Angeles and has several similarities.

The storyline of the game focuses on numerous events that actually occurred in LA throughout the decade, such as the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Some of the characters were inspired by real-life rap stars. For example, the lead character, Carl “CJ” Jackson, could easily have been Rockstar Games’ take on Curtis Jackson, otherwise known as 50 Cent. The Candy Shop rapper had just hit the big time in 2002 and was a pop culture sensation at the time of San Andreas’ release. Big Smoke could have been inspired by the Notorious B.I.G, Ryder shared many similarities with Easy-E, and OG Loc was reportedly designed as a mocking reference to Ja Rule.

GTA fans now have the privilege of choosing the theme that they feel the most affinity towards and going back to play that in its remastered form. The great thing is that, as gamers have grown older, their preferences may have changed. This means that they can revisit one of the GTA titles and find that they enjoy it more the second time around.

The GTA series is nigh on perfect thanks to the fact that it always stays true to popular culture and includes familiar features that keep players coming back for more. The recent trilogy remaster may not be the best way for fans to remember the older games, though. Rockstar Games should aim to appease fans by revisiting these and putting more time into making them perfect.