There are a few valid reasons why some GTA fans prefer the 3D universe of GTA titles over its HD counterpart.
Fans will always have their preferences. Some believe the 3D universe of GTA games is the best in the series, whereas others believe the HD universe is the best. For the sake of this article, it is important to see why some fans prefer the former over the latter.
The 3D universe of GTA games consists of GTA 3, Vice City, San Andreas, Advance, Liberty City Stories, and Vice City Stories. By comparison, the HD universe of GTA games consists of GTA 4, The Lost and Damned, The Ballad of Gay Tony, Chinatown Wars, GTA 5, and GTA Online.
Some fans might just prefer one game out of the batch, whereas others will prefer the entire batch over the other universe of GTA games.
Note: This article is subjective and solely reflects the opinion of the writer.
Why GTA fans like the 3D universe more than the HD universe
5) Easier to explore
Generally speaking, the 3D universe of GTA games has smaller maps compared to the HD universe. Something like GTA 5 has an absolutely gargantuan map compared to the rest of the series. Unfortunately, there is a case to be made that it is quantity over quality.
Not everybody is interested in spending too much time on a single video game. Bigger maps mean that players have to travel longer, which can be an issue in some situations where they cannot quick-travel.
GTA San Andreas is the one exception to this generalization. But even then, it's noticeably smaller than GTA 5's map.
4) More consistent tone
The HD universe of GTA games is all over the place in terms of tone and atmosphere. On the one hand, players have a game like GTA 4, which is incredibly serious and plays more toward realism. On the other, they have Chinatown Wars, which returns to the old-school style, except with wittier writing.
Add in how GTA 4's own expansion packs seem different from the base game, and then it becomes readily apparent how inconsistent the series is in terms of tone. GTA 5 is similar to Chinatown Wars in some ways, except more on the nose regarding parodies.
The 3D universe was largely the same in terms of its tone, with San Andreas standing out the most. The themes were different between the 3D universe of GTA titles, but the tone was majorly the same in most of them.
People tend to love video games they grew up with. For some fans, GTA 5 is the greatest game of all time simply because they grew up with it. Likewise, some GTA fans grew up with the 3D universe of games. Sometimes, even more old-school fans grew up with the 2D universe of games and prefer that.
This applies to all avenues of life, whether it's music, video games, or anything else that's changed between two different periods of time. Predictably, this applies to GTA games as well. The vast majority of GTA games are great, so it's fair to have one of the old-school games as one's favorite in the series.
That said, sometimes GTA fans are blinded by nostalgia. And sometimes, they just hate the HD universe for not being the 3D universe. Likewise, the opposite also holds true, except the former is more relevant for this type of article.
2) It's easier to emulate/play
Whether or not a player chooses to play a GTA game legally is up to them. Either way, they will need a system that can reliably play the said game without much of a hiccup. For the most part, the HD universe of games doesn't run that well on ancient software, which makes up a surprisingly high amount of computers globally.
A game like GTA San Andreas is extremely easy to run compared to a game like GTA 5. Players can still run mods like a multiplayer mod to replicate GTA Online as well, so there are still ways to modernize these old-school games, even on primitive hardware.
On a side note, most of the 3D universe is available on mobile devices for players to purchase. Unfortunately, only Chinatown Wars is available to represent the HD universe of GTA titles.
1) Quicker developmental cycles
One of the biggest flaws with bigger and more detailed video games is a longer developmental cycle. For example, GTA 5 was released in 2013, with no sight of GTA 6 anytime soon. Before that, GTA Chinatown Wars was released four years before GTA 5 was a thing.
The entire 3D universe of GTA titles happened in nearly five years. 3, Vice City, San Andreas, Advance, Liberty City Stories, and Vice City Stories were all released between 2001 to 2006.
This is largely thanks to how much cheaper and quicker it was to make popular and successful video games. Unfortunately, it seems like release dates are only going to get wider from now on as the GTA series continues to evolve within the HD universe.