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‘Grand Theft Auto: Vice City – The Definitive Edition’ Mobile Review – The Best GTA Game Returns, Again

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I almost gave up hope on Rockstar Games’ remake/remaster of the classic GTA trilogy ever making it to mobile after multiple delays. When it was confirmed for mobile through Netflix Games, I thought Netflix would finally have its killer app despite the release’s issues on PC and consoles. Fast forward to a few days ago, and Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition hit mobile as three individual games available through Netflix and also as premium standalone releases priced at $19.99 each. I’ve been playing them on iPhone 15 Pro, iPad Pro (2020), and I also redownloaded the games on Nintendo Switch and Xbox Series X to see how this new release compares. I’m surprised by how much better Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition is on mobile despite a few annoyances. I’m going to be covering all three games, and this review will focus on GTA: Vice City – Definitive ($19.99) and GTA: Vice City – NETFLIX (Free).

The original GTA: Vice City is one of my favorite games of all time. I’ve played it on everything, and own almost every version of it including multiple regional variants like the PS2 Japanese release I got a few months ago. I adored it when I played it years ago, and loved revisiting it on iPhone through its 10th anniversary edition. I still get chills with that trailer. I love the game so much that I even bought that awful PS2 on PS4 version they released when Sony was trying to get developers to bring PS2 classics to PS4 with trophy support. So when the trilogy was announced to get a remake, I was excited but nervous.

The collection hit PC and consoles including Nintendo Switch back in 2021, and it wasn’t great. Read my review of the trilogy on Switch here. Since then, the games have improved, but many issues still remain. For the mobile release, I didn’t expect much, but this release surprised me. When I launched GTA: Vice City – Definitive on Netflix and finished the 1.27GB download in-game, I thought I was imagining things, but the actual game looked different. I played a bit more and wondered why it looked better than I remembered from my time with the Definitive version on Xbox and Switch. I booted up those versions and forgot the lighting was different there. Then I noticed GTA: Vice City – Definitive has a new Classic Lighting option which looks so much nicer. GTA: Vice City – Definitive now felt like GTA: Vice City. I was ecstatic to have the vibe back, but there were some issues I noticed.

Without looking into the game’s settings, I was surprised at how blurry it looked on iPhone 15 Pro. I checked the options and found a setting for the resolution. I turned it up to max, and it looked a lot nicer. For some reason, this doesn’t save and you need to turn it up manually each time you boot up the game. Barring that, the game seems capped to 30fps which is disappointing. I hope both of these can be fixed in future updates. The graphics tab is where you can enable or disable Classic Lighting. I recommend trying both options if you’re familiar with GTA: Vice City. Once you manually fix the resolution, GTA: Vice City – Definitive looks excellent with fullscreen support on all iOS devices I tested it on.

On the control side, GTA: Vice City – Definitive includes the new modern control options, and I tested it with both touch and controller. I used my DualSense controller, but the game seems to only have Xbox button prompts. The touchscreen controls work well, and the game is responsive enough. There are camera sensitivity options, movement options to play with modern or classic controls, and more here. I was glad to see a haptic feedback option here.

Since these are a huge part of the experience for me after I finish the story, I wanted to highlight how GTA: Vice City – Definitive includes cheat codes. You can either use a controller and input the controller cheats with button combinations, or go into accessibility and input the PC cheat codes. Both work.

Yes, I know I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the port and features, but GTA: Vice City itself is incredible. I don’t care what you use to play it, but it is one of the all-time greats, and right up there with GTA V and Red Dead Redemption II as Rockstar Games’ best. The story is amazing, dialogue memorable, radio stations despite cuts are still excellent, and it has gameplay that remains fun even today thanks to control enhancements.

I don’t own GTA: Vice City – Definitive on Steam to test on Steam Deck, but GTA: Vice City – Definitive on Netflix and iOS is massively better than the Switch version. Not only does the Classic Lighting option drastically help, but the game loads much quicker on iOS compared to Switch while looking a lot better. The Xbox Series X version runs at a higher resolution with 60fps support though, but I still don’t see myself going back to that until we get the mobile improvements. Speaking of improvements, I’ve been noticing little things like some models being better on mobile, animation improvements, and more.

The only real issues GTA: Vice City – Definitive has on mobile now are the frame rate cap, resolution not saving for some reason on iPhone 15 Pro or iPad Pro on the Netflix version, and the few issues I have with the game like the one super annoying mission that remains the only annoyance in GTA: Vice City itself. While this game (and the trilogy in general) deserved better, I think we are finally at the stage where the Definitive part of the name is actually applicable. This mobile version of GTA: Vice City – Definitive is great, and can be even better with a few updates. The screenshot below shows the Classic Lighting (right) versus the PC and console lighting (left):

While I’d say the original mobile release on modern iPhones and iPads is the best version of GTA: Vice City even now, GTA: Vice City – Definitive complements it nicely and is something I see myself dipping into for years to come, just like the original. GTA: Vice City – Definitive is worth buying, but I think this is the first actual killer app Netflix has to get people onboard its games initiative. Having the original GTA: Vice City would have been enough, but this release is actually better than the PC and console versions in almost every way. I don’t even think I’ll go back to those versions without the Classic Lighting option. The original game is a timeless classic, and my favorite GTA game, so I’m glad we now have a great version of the remake on mobile alongside the original which is still available.

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