GTA: San Andreas Remaster vs Original – Attention to Detail, Physics, and More

We compared the San Andreas remaster to the original across a number of different scenarios- here's what we found.

Posted By | On 19th, Nov. 2021

GTA: San Andreas Remaster vs Original – Attention to Detail, Physics, and More

In an ideal world, the remaster for a game as universally beloved as GTA: San Andreas should have been a true labour of love- but as it turns out, we don’t live in an ideal world. San Andreas – The Definitive Edition is, like the other two games it’s packaged with, a disappointing remaster. Players have been ripping into its deficiencies since it launched, and we ran some tests on it ourselves to see how it stacks up against the original game when it comes to some of the smaller details. Here’s what we found.

RAIN

This is one of the most widely known issues with the new GTA remasters. When it rains in those games, especially during night time, visibility is reduced almost entirely. The rain effects here look like a filter rather than actual rain, with a constant sheet of droplets constantly obstructing vision. Things are marginally better in San Andreas than in, say, the GTA 3 remaster, but they’re still really, really bad.

CLAUDE

While the new art style used in the GTA remasters is, for the most part, pretty well-implemented, it isn’t a universal success. Some character models, for instance, look significantly worse in the new releases. Take Claude, for example- the GTA 3 protagonist has a brief cameo appearance in the game, and in the remaster, his facial model is completely messed up, looking smushed and unnaturally plasticky in all the wrong ways.

SHOOTING WATER

grand theft auto the trilogy the definitive edition

This is one of the areas where the San Andreas remaster showcases improvements over the original. Shooting weapons into a water body in the original game saw slight bubbles being created in the water upon impact. The effect in the remaster is much more pronounced, with the bubbled also being accompanied by ripple effects in the water. The ripples are still a static animation, but the end result is still better.

UNDERWATER EXPLOSIONS

Sadly, throwing a grenade into a water body yields much less satisfying results. Things are essentially unchanged- underwater grenade explosions in the original game were basically the same as any other grenade explosions with the same fire effects and no effect on the water whatsoever. The same is true in the remaster as well.

SHOOTING GLASS

grand theft auto the trilogy the definitive edition

Surprisingly, shooting at car windows is actually worse in the remaster than it was in the original. For starters, just like the original, the windows themselves don’t react to bullets at all, only the windshield does. Even here though, while in the original they would shatter and send shards of glass flying outward, in the remaster, when a windshield is destroyed, the glass simply disappears into thin air.

DAMAGING VEHICLES

This is yet another area where the San Andreas remaster is worse off than the original. Damaging vehicles with punches and melee weapons in the original game was quite satisfying, because you would see individual parts of the vehicle falling off. The remaster seems to have switched to scripted and static animations though, and parts of vehicles suddenly just teleport upon being damaged, and often not even in the right place.

BURNOUTS

Grand Theft Auto The Trilogy The Definitive Edition

Tire burnout effects are also disappointing to witness in the remaster. While the black smoke created by burnouts in the remaster is more pronounced than the white smoke in the original, it looks less realistic. Additionally, burnouts also left marks on the ground in the original, which doesn’t seem to be the case in the remaster.

DAMAGING PLANES

Just like cars, planes also don’t show satisfying damage effects in the San Andreas remaster. Where the original game exhibited surprisingly realistic animations for damaged parts while the plane was in the air, with trails of some and fire and what have you, in the remaster all you’ll get is a sudden torrent of flames appearing on your plane out of nowhere, and then vanishing just as abruptly.

FIRE

Grand Theft Auto The Trilogy The Definitive Edition

This is one area where things are largely unchanged in the remaster. Fires spread through environments at pretty much the same rate, and also leave scorch marks on the ground, and the effects for that are largely the same in both versions. You do get specific audio effects for the fire in the original though, which, bafflingly enough, isn’t always the case in the remaster.

INTERACTING WITH VEGETATION

The San Andreas remaster does have some minor improvements in physics when compared to the original. Vegetation, for instance, can be interacted with physically. Passing through bushes and walking on grass stalks in the original game yielded no visible results, but in the remaster, you can see vegetation reacting to CJ as he moves through it.

FOG

grand theft auto the trilogy the definitive edition

The PS2’s hardware constraints often meant that open world games had to resort to excessive fog to cover up deficiencies with draw distances. There is absolutely no fog in the remaster though, which means you can essentially see the entire map stretching out in front of you. And while that might seem like a good thing on paper, it’s actually… quite weird. Take a place to the edge of the map, for instance, and you’ll see literally all of San Andreas in the distance like a tiny Lego set. It makes the world seem much smaller than it did in the original game.

PUNCHING BAGS

Improvements to physics aren’t universal in the San Andreas remaster- in some cases, in fact, things are actually worse. You could, for instance, go to the gyms in the original game and physically interact with the punching bags, which would react to punches the way you would expect. In the remaster, they’re static assets that are just hanging there and do not respond to any physical contact whatsoever.

BLOCKING TRAFFIC

grand theft auto the trilogy the definitive edition

Taking cars onto busy roads, highways, and intersections and blocking the traffic is something every GTA player has done at some point, and you’ll notice some real differences to how the game reacts to that if you do so in the remasters. Doing so in the original often led to hilariously chaotic scenes, as cars would come flying in and crash into obstructions as if they weren’t there. In the remasters, things are much more realistic, and cars now patiently wait in the road rather than ramming into blockages. On the one hand, the realism is appreciated. On the other, however, we do miss the over-the-top nature of the original in this area.

SWIMMING ANIMATIONS

The San Andreas remaster has more than a few weird animation bugs, but the swimming animations take the cake. In an attempt to make thing look more dynamic and realistic, the remaster shows CJ bobbing up and down as if he’s reacting to ripples and tiny waves. Oftentimes, however, that will result in CJ either floating several inches into the air or even submerging underwater for a few seconds. Sure, the animation in the original was relatively more static, but at least it didn’t look this weird.

BOUNDARIES

Grand Theft Auto The Trilogy The Definitive Edition

Obviously, you expect every open world game to have map boundaries, but the way the remaster deals with them is surprisingly inept. For starters, you can visibly see white lines forming a box on the edges of the map. When you try moving past that boundary, the game suddenly just teleports you back behind them, facing in the other direction towards the map. It’s more than a little jarring. In the original game, while there was obviously nothing past the boundary, you could actually keep going past that boundary endlessly if you wanted to.


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