Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Review
publisher: Rockstar Games
developer: Rockstar North
PIII 1000, 256MB RAM, 3.6GB HDD, 64MB video card
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Jun 07, 05
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When girls find out that I work for a website that reviews videogames, I often have to answer one of two questions. The first being, "Have you played the Sims?" and the second being, "Do you play Grand Theft Auto?" While the question itself is ridiculous because I work for a video gaming website and those are two insanely popular series, it stands to prove something about both The Sims and Grand Theft Auto. They are both insanely popular, even with the ladies.
That's one way to stop the traffic.
Nothing says "I love police" quite like a loaded shotgun.
As a result, I'm going to assume that you've played Grand Theft Auto 3 or Grand Theft Auto: Vice City in at least one form or another, and you've got the basic idea of what the series is about. I'm willing to wager that you probably have your mind made up about purchasing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas or not based on the other two. If you liked the others, yeah, you're going to like this one, and if you're one of those rare people that don't like the series, chances are that this one isn't going to change your mind.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is, for the most part, a copy of its predecessors. You can steal cars, buy houses, kill people, do missions, and get in trouble with the cops. However, the leap from Vice City to San Andreas is so great that it is more comparable to the jump made from Grand Theft Auto 2 to Grand Theft Auto 3.
Every feature you could want is here. This is the opus that Rockstar has been building towards over the past five years; this is the summit of all crime games.
And there are a lot of crime games. In Rockstar's defense, they would be just plain stupid to significantly alter the core gameplay mechanics. How many games are coming out that are clones of this series? True Crime is just a shitty knock off, 25 to Life is coming soon, and that's really just the same thing too. With the massive urban environments, the drivable vehicles, the engrossing story and dialog, as well as the outrageous characters, Grand Theft Auto, as a series, has made a huge impact on gaming, and indeed, our society as a whole. We're approaching a point where entertainment is being transcended in favor of art, and I bet we'll have to tell our kids about when we sat down, started up GTA, jacked some bitch's fly ride, and ran from the cops. I wonder where gaming will go in the future, and if old games will ever be forgotten. I don't think we'll be able to put aside Grand Theft Auto.
All of this literary fellatio towards Rockstar aside, let's get into what separates Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas from Vice City and Grand Theft Auto 3.
First off, you're in a completely different place. San Andreas is huge. The first city you start in, Los Santos, is gigantic, and combined with the outside areas around it, it dwarfs Vice City. And while I remember Liberty City being gigantic, I'm sure that it would feel claustrophobic in comparison to San Andreas. There are still parts of Los Santos I haven't been to yet, and I've moved on to other parts of the state. Everything in it has a feel, from the hood to the downtown area, to the richer Hollywood parts; everything has a distinct atmosphere and feel.
The music helps this too, I cannot get enough of K-DST and Radio X, and it basically reminds me of the early nineties, when I was but a wee lad. All the sounds are lovely, realistic. The voice acting is downright brilliant; I've only ever spotted one time where it got bad, and that was a ten second conversation with a very, very minor character. Samuel L. Jackson gets into his character; Young Maylay is f---ing amazing as Carl Johnson.
The story is brilliant, and very, very engrossing. While the other Grand Theft Autos had decent enough stories, this one is everything you'd want. It is at least partially unpredictable, and makes me want to play more of the missions as opposed to claiming more turf for my gang, just to advance the character development. The dialog is fantastic; sounding completely authentic, even the Spanish (which is mostly swearing like regular Spanish, I know, I'm from New Mexico, pinche cabron). After playing the game for a few hours, I noticed that I wanted to speak and write like the characters in the game, and call everyone a "motherfucker". This brings us to what is bound to be the biggest complaint and compliment about the game, the content.
I have never seen more drug references in a videogame. I have never seen a videogame character walk around with a joint in his hand and/or mouth before. I have never seen a videogame character take multiple hits off of what looks like a sweet bong. At one point, I was forced to torch an entire crop of marijuana before the cops showed up, and I broke down into sobs. In case there wasn't enough crime in Grand Theft Auto, now most characters are using the most accessible drug around. I can't wait until a congressman decides that this game is probably not only turning our children into violent killers, but also stoners and crack addicts as well. Of course, the main character never seems to smoke, and is against the crack usage that is plaguing the streets, but most others seem to be pretty enthusiastic about it.
Also, this game is really, really immersive high. (He meant *highly* immersive, really. - Ed)
Everything. The perfect crime game. Everything you could want is in here. A true work of art;
The content is going to have the Senate in an uproar, some AI and minor physics issues.