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By Asher Madan
Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy on Xbox Series X — Cult classics lacking polish
by Asher Madan
Last week, Rockstar Games released Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition for Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S. The package includes remasters of Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. All three titles are regarded as cult classics, but how do they play with modern controls and upgraded visuals on Xbox Series X? Read on to find out.
Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas run at 4K resolution and up to 60 frames per second (FPS) on Xbox Series X. They offer two modes, Fidelity and Performance, which appear to lock the frame rate to either 30 or 60 FPS. By default, the game is set to Fidelity so you don't notice any FPS drops. Unfortunately, the input lag is horrendous at 30 FPS so I'd recommend switching all three of the titles over to Performance from the Options menu.
Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy features upgraded visuals like car reflections, water reflections, high-resolution rendering, and different character models, but the games still look quite dated. It's clear that the remastered bundle is meant for existing fans of the franchise. They won't attract that many new players in my opinion.
Despite the upgrades, including revamped controls, Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas need a lot more work to look like contemporary games. Had these titles been along the lines of the recent Resident Evil remakes, they would've been more appealing. While all three games still tell amazing and relevant stories, they suffer from performance and visual issues that detract heavily from the overall experience.
Grand Theft Auto III
Grand Theft Auto III was released before Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Due to this, it feels rougher around the edges than the other two. While all three exhibit performance issues to some degree, Grand Theft Auto III on Xbox Series X has the most frequent frame rate drops to 20 FPS, even when the 60 FPS mode is engaged. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is a close second.
Apart from that, I noticed that the default brightness and contrast needed adjusting. I had to raise the brightness to 100% and lower the contrast to 25% to clearly witness the action. Even during the day, the title looked dark. Since Grand Theft Auto: Vice City didn't exhibit this issue, I think it's a bug with the high-dynamic-range (HDR) lighting in the Grand Theft Auto III remaster.
Luckily, the game's plot redeems this port to some degree. You step into the shoes of Claude who's betrayed by his girlfriend Catalina. It's an old-school tale of revenge and involves making a name for yourself in the city by causing all sorts of mayhem.
The controls are standardized across all three games. However, the sensitivity seems a little too high when you're playing with an Xbox Series X|S controller. Again, this is mostly an issue in Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Depending on what you prefer in terms of thumbstick sensitivity, you'll have to spend some time tweaking various settings to figure out what you like.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City tells my favorite story out of the three because it plays out like an old-school Martin Scorsese film. Plus, beloved actor Ray Liotta voices the protagonist Tommy Vercetti. It's all about experiencing 1980's flair and ruling the city, two combinations that are hard to beat. A major drug deal goes south due to unknown assailants and it's up to you to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is probably the most polished remaster out of the lot. The only change I made was to switch the game to Performance mode from Fidelity to improve controller responsiveness. Unfortunately, even then I noticed some stuttering during gameplay, especially when driving around town, but it didn't detract too much from the title because the drops were few and far between. The drops are less frequent than in the Grand Theft Auto III or Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas remasters.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City uses bold colors so they pop on a modern display. Additionally, the reflections on cars are the most noticeable in this version. They add a layer of complexity to the visuals that wasn't there before. The controls are relatively good, but I'd still recommend turning down the sensitivity a little to gain more precision, especially when aiming and firing weapons.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas tells the story of Carl Johnson, simply known as CJ, as he returns to the city of San Andreas due to his mother's murder. You have to help rebuild your gang while also uncovering what really happened to her. It's a compelling journey even though there are a lot of performance and visual glitches, some that can even cause your console to crash.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas also suffers from the dark HDR lighting issue like Grand Theft Auto III. Luckily, it's not as severe so you just need to turn the contrast down to 40% and the brightness to 70%. As expected, the performance issues are back and the frame rate drops to around 25 FPS when you're driving around town. Unfortunately, it gets stranger.
All three games feature weather effects like rain, but Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has some odd lighting during storms. When it's dark, rainfall streaks across the screen like white bullets. It's the strangest phenomenon I've ever witnessed in a game. It actually hurts your eyes and makes it impossible to see anything. I would've taken a screenshot, but at that moment the game also crashed my Xbox Series X. Luckily, many users on YouTube managed to record it.
It's clear that Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy needed to be delayed to 2022. All of the games suffer from performance issues and some feature bizarre visual problems like dark lighting and white rain. As I mentioned in my Battlefield 2042 Xbox Series X preview, I understand that game development is also a business, but releasing products in such a poor state — where months of polishing are required — isn't acceptable. It only damages the reputation of the publisher, studio, and franchise.
Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy costs $59.99 on all platforms. In its current state, I simply cannot recommend purchasing it. Hopefully, developer Grove Street Games, with the assistance of Rockstar Games, will rectify this in a timely manner. It's unclear if that's possible because game development has shifted dramatically due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Many titles, including expansions and updates, have been hit with severe delays due to the adjustment required to work from home.
Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy is available on the Microsoft Store or the platform of your choice. The package launched on November 11, 2021. Due to some controversial files that are part of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the title has been pulled from PC until they're removed.
Rockstar Games provided a code for Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy. The game was tested on an Xbox Series X console.
By Usama Jawad96
Apple's $19 Polishing Cloth is backordered into 2022 due to immense popularity
by Usama Jawad
Apple held its Unleashed event a few days ago where it took to the stage to announce a bunch of stuff including new colors for the HomePod mini, third-generation AirPods, and a Macbook Pro refresh with enhanced M1 Pro and M1 Max chips.
However, if you were thinking that that the aforementioned items are things that Apple fans would be most excited about, you'd be mistaken. It appears that the tech giant's $19 "Polishing Cloth" stole the show as the item is backordered well into 2022 and is expected to ship after 10-12 weeks if you place an order right now.
And if you're wondering "what is this supposedly magical piece of fiber that the company is selling for $19 a pop?", wonder no more. As stated on the product's dedicated listing:
Apple then goes on to list all of its devices that the Polishing Cloth is "compatible" with, truly mind-blowing stuff.
In a statement to the New York Times, an Apple official, who requested not to be identified, stated that the company is not at all surprised by the Polishing Cloth's strong demand. A quote from the outlet's piece reads:
Of course, if you're looking to burn some money own a revolutionary Apple product, you can head over to the Polishing Cloth's $19 listing here.
By News Staff
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by Steven Parker
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By Asher Madan
Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack costs $49.99 a year
by Asher Madan
In September, Nintendo revealed that Nintendo Switch Online would receive a new tier that included Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games. Nintendo Switch Online is the gaming giant's subscription service along the lines of PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold. Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack is the upcoming membership option that launches on October 25.
Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack's price point wasn't announced back then, but the company gave us a complete rundown today. Keep in mind that the standard Nintendo Switch Online membership comes in at $19.99 a year, or $34.99 for the family plan. However, Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack will cost $49.99 for 12 months.
There's also a family plan in the works that'll cost $79.99 a year, and you can add 8 Nintendo Account holders. You can take a look at the video above for an explanation of the benefits and differences.
Fan reactions have been quite mixed since this announcement. While many gamers are praising the ability to play Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games on the Nintendo Switch, the limited library and high price point have been criticized by others. The fact that the newly announced Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Happy Home Paradise expansion is included with Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack is also seen as a positive given the popularity of the base game.
More titles like Banjo-Kazooie and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask will be added down the line. We'll have to wait and see how many Nintendo Switch owners upgrade to this tier come October 25. Are you interested in Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack? Let us know in the comments below.
Nintendo shoots down the Switch Pro 4K rumor... again
by Chandrakant Isi
Nintendo is all set to launch the updated Nintendo Switch OLED on October 8. However, that hasn't stopped speculations regarding a Switch Pro model with 4K gaming support. A recent report from Bloomberg claimed that third-party game developers including Zynga have access to Nintendo's 4K development tools. Hinting at the initial development of a 4K Switch console, this news spread like wildfire, and eventually, the Japanese company had to step in to address the situation.
Nintendo Japan's official Twitter account stated that Bloomberg's report "falsely claims that Nintendo is supplying tools to drive game development for a Nintendo Switch with 4K support." In the following tweet, the Japanese company reiterated that it has no plans for any new model save for the Switch OLED.
The latest update from Nintendo is going to be a bit disappointing for the fans who have no option but to make a "switch" to the latest PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X to experience 4K gaming. However, it is worth noting that Nintendo usually focuses more on gameplay experience rather than a mere visual upgrade. So, packing in more powerful hardware at this point may not align with its strategy.
Launched in 2017, Nintendo's Switch still brings in strong sales numbers. Going by the figures from June, the Japanese company has moved over 89 million units of its Switch console. It has surpassed the lifetime sales of the Sony PlayStation 3 that sold around 88 million units. These numbers are expected to jump further with the launch of Switch OLED, which is priced at $349.99.