In memoriam, Donald Sutherland

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

aka: GTA: San Andreas, GTA:SA, Grand Theft Auto: Sin City
Moby ID: 15393

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Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 93% (based on 138 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 442 ratings with 10 reviews)

Quintessence of free-form action

The Good
San Andreas is the logical next step in the growth of a series that continued to expand in size and variety. Suffice to say that this game absolutely dwarfs its already very impressive predecessor in size and content.

Like the previous games, San Andreas has a huge, open-ended world that you can explore to your heart's content. Unlike them, San Andreas has three large cities instead of one, and a lot of wilderness between them. The presence of countryside makes the open world seem more coherent and immersive, adding a sense of breadth and scope and re-defining the very concept: indeed, the playground here feels more like a real world than ever before in the series.

Everything in the world of San Andreas is detailed and created with love and attention. There are diverse neighborhoods bustling with activity, memorable landmarks and little atmospheric spots you'll be seeking out. One of the most fulfilling experiences for me was climbing up Mount Chilad, standing on the top, gazing at the beautiful world beneath, and then jumping down on a motorcycle.

The game's many story missions are an absolute triumph of inventive design - which is particularly remarkable considering the fact that the earlier games weren't exactly repetitive themselves. San Andreas has plenty of ridiculously fun missions ranging from simple races and chases to challenging, hardcore shooting levels and often hilarious arcade-like scripted events of all sorts. The amount of vehicles you can commandeer in this game is truly mind-boggling: from simple bicycles to war planes, from monster trucks to tractors, trains, and everything you can think of that has wheels or can fly. And don't forget fun equipment such as a jetpack on top of that.

The gameplay is generally more fleshed out and even more varied than in the two previous games. First of all, the interaction with the world was significantly expanded. You can finally swim. You can also dive and hunt for oysters. Another important addition is climbing. Don't see a way into the house? Climb over the fence. Climb onto the roof, maybe there is some weapon there. Or just go and jump on the roofs for fun.

Another interesting addition is the new RPG-like system. Run around a lot and your stamina will increase. Ride a bike and you'll gain better bike skill. It's a simple, effective mechanic, and it works quite well. People who disliked it may have not grasped the meaning of this system. Don't you think it was annoying to fail a mission in the previous GTAs, ending up in a hospital without your weapons? Most people just reloaded, to spare themselves the trouble of getting new weapons and going back to the starting point of the mission. In San Andreas, this feature finally has a meaning. You can fail a mission several times, but you can always gain something from it. You might gain muscle, maximum HP, weapon or driving skill, which are all saved. It's like leveling-up in an RPG - you can return and redo a hard mission, having more of an edge in it each time you try.

But there is a lot more. You can customize your protagonist's appearance, changing his clothes and haircut. You can also eat to gain health. If you eat too much, you'll become fat. You can exercise or simply run around to lose weight. But if you become too thin, you'll be exhausted. And no, you don't have to eat regularly to keep your character alive, as some people say. It is just attention to detail and design generosity.

As always, there are plenty of things to do outside of the main missions. You can be a taxi driver, get an ambulance and care for sick people, become a vigilante cop, break into people's houses, gain territory by starting gang wars, participate in races, and more. Some of those minigames return from the previous GTAs, some are exclusive to San Andreas. The best of those exclusive ones is probably the dating. You'll be able to have girlfriends in the game. You can take them to dinner, drive them around, give them presents, and build up your relationship. Finally, if you do everything right, the girl will invite you to "have coffee". As everyone knows, the official version of San Andreas was censored; the developers already programmed a whole explicit sexual minigame, but removed it from the final version. Luckily, you can download the "hot coffee mod" from many places. I don't quite see why game developers have to remove fairly meaningful sexual content from a game that focuses on killing other human beings - which, apparently, is quite alright to present in a digitized form.

The ability to download the mod is not the main reason why you should get the PC version. First, the graphics are much better than in the console version. Second, the controls are way more fitting. The console version has idiotic "auto-aiming" that makes shooting sequences a total mess. Every enemy takes several shots to kill, and more often than not you won't be able to target the enemy you want to kill first. In the PC version, it's very simple: just target with the mouse and practice headshots.

The game's story is long and deals with a wider variety of themes than just the rise to power among greedy gangsters. The presence of family and friends make the protagonist seem more humane, though some missions do everything they can to overturn that assumption. The more down-to-earth atmosphere allows introduction of more believable characters joining the ranks of totally grotesque figures that surpass the wacky madmen of the previous games. The main villain is appropriately repulsive, and there are interesting moments in the story when the issues of trust and betrayal are brought forth.

Much of the dialogue is marked by careless, profane humor that distinguished the series - but it is also quite well-written. Voice acting is top-notch as well. There are weird characters with totally crazy lines, and sometimes the whole thing almost feels surreal. The game's script goes absolutely over the top, making mean fun of everyone and everything. Of course, there are also very funny pop culture references, And some of the stuff they say on the radio is absolutely hilarious.

The Bad
There are some problems with the pacing. The game is very long, and the story is just "smeared" over dozens of missions, most of which don't advance it at all. Which brings me to the next flaw: all the so-called "story missions" of the game must be completed. All of them. If you miss one, you won't trigger another one, and so on. You can often choose the order in which you want to complete the missions, but that's it.

Problem is, many of those story missions have nothing to do with the story, and the inclusion of some of them into the canvas of the narrative feels forced. Much of the material here turns the main character into a schizophrenic with mutually contradicting values and more than a vague personality. For example, during one of the missions CJ rescues a girl he has never met before from a house he himself set on fire. On another mission he has to drown two people he barely knows. You can do those two missions in a row if you so wish. This kind of jarring ambiguity could have been avoided if the game let you choose the missions you actually want to do.

Obviously, GTA games can't afford being too squeamish because of their very concept, but San Andreas can cross the line between understandable gangster violence and pure murder. There is a mission that forces you to kill an innocent valet, even though knocking him unconscious would have been a more plausible solution. In another mission you must bury a somewhat hostile worker alive in cement. I find this kind of black humor unnecessary in a game where violence is already easily glorified.

Again, the ability to choose your own missions among those often gratuitously violent escapades, the right to skip any or all of them and just stick with the gangster wars for the mandatory story missions would be welcome. The plot suffers from that as well, being actually involving only in the beginning and in the end, with the largest chunk of the game dedicated to absolutely disjointed activities in a deranged theme park.

The Bottom Line
San Andreas is more than just its series taken to the most radical heights: it is a massive sandbox adorned with incredible gameplay variety, a giant that throws fun at us with royal magnanimity and from a seemingly inexhaustible source. It may not be the deepest and most thought-provoking experience, but it is one of the most purely entertaining games I have ever played.

Windows · by Unicorn Lynx (181769) · 2014

Nostalgic

The Good
Immense scope and open-world gameplay Engaging storyline with memorable characters Impressive level of player freedom and exploration Diverse range of missions and activities Soundtrack that enhances the atmosphere

The Bad
Outdated graphics and visuals Clunky controls and mechanics compared to modern games Occasional technical glitches and bugs Controversial and mature themes may not appeal to all players Limited character customization options

The Bottom Line
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is an aged game that left a lasting impression on me as a kid. Its vastness and endless possibilities ignited my imagination and provided countless hours of fun. However, looking at it now, the game clearly shows its age, and my expectations have shifted. By today's standards, it falls short in various aspects. Nonetheless, playing San Andreas today still evokes a strong sense of nostalgia. While it may not live up to modern standards, it remains a cherished part of gaming history that takes me back to a time when its vast open world captivated my young mind.

PlayStation 2 · by ramenrolled · 2023

Nostalgic

The Good
Immense scope and open-world gameplay Engaging storyline with memorable characters Impressive level of player freedom and exploration Diverse range of missions and activities Soundtrack that enhances the atmosphere

The Bad
Outdated graphics and visuals Clunky controls and mechanics compared to modern games Occasional technical glitches and bugs Controversial and mature themes may not appeal to all players Limited character customization options

The Bottom Line
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is an aged game that left a lasting impression on me as a kid. Its vastness and endless possibilities ignited my imagination and provided countless hours of fun. However, looking at it now, the game clearly shows its age, and my expectations have shifted. By today's standards, it falls short in various aspects. Nonetheless, playing San Andreas today still evokes a strong sense of nostalgia. While it may not live up to modern standards, it remains a cherished part of gaming history that takes me back to a time when its vast open world captivated my young mind.

Windows · by ramenrolled · 2023

A great game with a lot you can do.

The Good
In one word, this game is: Freedom. Freedom to do anything you want. Be anything you want. Do-gooder. Fireman. MEDIC!!! Delivery man. Pimp. Arsonist. Scene kid. Some gay hobo who stands at a corner all day. And, best of all, criminal.

The gameplay is, in my opinion, the definition of a "sandbox style game". R* did not have to put all of the stuff they put in it. But they did anyway. That is what I wish all game producers would do: focus on the game, not the fancy-shmansy graphics.

Speaking of graphics, they're... wellllll... not horrible. But not great either. Granted, it is quite old. But they do quite suck badly. But they aren't bad.

The story is your typical "gang vs. law" story. Not too bad, but kind of generic to me. But story isn't too important. A good story is nice, but it's still gameplay that counts. The characters are funny and memorable, however (especially Caesar and Wu Zi Mu).

The music is a mixed bag for me. I hate rap, but even I heard a few decent ones here. I find country utterly repulsive and bad, even here. The funk station has catchy songs. The classic rock station is okay. The alt. rock is pretty good. Master Sounds is also very good. But WCTR, while it has no music, is all of the music I need.

However, the sound isn't too great. Most weapons sound nothing like their real versions. For instance, the rocket launchers in game are like "Fwoooooo... boom.", but real ones are more like "PWOOOoow.... BOOM!" (I think...lol).

One of the best parts of the game in the sound department is definitely the dialog. Lines such as "You're between me and the joohnn!!!!!!" and "I'm too high fo' dis shit- MOVE!" make this the only time traffic jams are good. Many others like "Do ya showa in doo-doo?" and "Don't matta 'cus I'm short, I hit hard!" make me laugh very hard.

The Bad
There was very little I had to complain with. The camera was not very good and there were the occasional frustrating deaths. Also, you clearly can't put mods here, so that REALLY sucks. That is why I'm getting the PC version soon.

The Bottom Line
Overall, this game is an absolute masterpiece of games this style. I recommend it to any one who like shooting, spying, laughing, and having fun.

PlayStation 2 · by Deleted (197) · 2021

Possibly the most over rated game in history

The Good
Story and setting. The cities do feel real.

The Bad
Tedious gameplay. The territory system. The RPG elements. The tedious car journeys to begin and re-start missions. The labrynthine map. The poorly controlling cars. The janky controls. The awful combat and shooting. The bugs, e.g. where you can get insta-killed once you step out of a car. The bad balance. The convoluted story. The anti-climactic endings to character arcs. The padding.

The Bottom Line
Despite all the many flaws, I found myself coming back to advance the plot, but also found myself getting very frustrated and bored at multiple times and asking myself 'do I really want to keep playing this'. In the end I stopped just before the end and the tedious territory recapture missions.

PlayStation 2 · by Reachout Andtouch · 2023

The GTA series just keeps getting better and better.

The Good
In this installment you play CJ, a Los Santos native returning to his home town for his mother's funeral, who quickly re-acquaints himself with his brother, sister and other members of his old 'hood. As with the other GTA games, you find yourself quickly drawn into a world of crime, both organized and not-so-organized. The story has real depth and the various plots and sub-plots are well developed and quite immersive. Some of the missions can be a little tricky to crack, which adds to the challenge, but some are just pure unadulterated fun. Imbed yourself deep enough in the character and you can get really wound-up by the various twist and turns that CJ experiences.

Now for how it looks and plays...

Graphically superb. With a decent system it looks simply stunning. Night and day are handled very well as are the various weather effects. The cars, bikes, planes, boats, etc., all look great and the buildings are very nicely drawn. Up close, the people look a little odd due to the less-than-stellar polygon count, but it's easy to forgive given the scale and depth of the game.

The sound effects and speech are excellent and help develop the fully immersive nature of this game. Music was well presented, as always. Usually I turn off in-game music, but I kept it on for ages in this game. While the music is not to my particular tastes, it does fit the game very well.

The cars, bikes, planes and boats all handle convincingly for the most part. The motion blur at high speeds can be a little disorientating, but I enjoy it. It helps you realize that you're not travelling as fast as you would like to. The layout of the cities and countryside is excellent. Take a long drive to San Fiero and you feel like you're actually going somewhere, although if you grab a bike or a 4WD and go cross country you notice how small the world actually is.

There are plenty of little sub missions which don't advance the story in any way, they just add to the depth. You've got the stadium races, the road races, the flying courses, delivering various 'packages', and so on. They all have a reward which makes them worth doing, but they're not essential - just fun!

I love the open nature of this game. Just as it's predecessors, you can go anywhere and do almost anything. You can spend ages just wandering around and admiring the beauty of the scenery. And there's a lot of fun to just messing around - go for a cruise in a cool car, try some insane stunts on a motorbike, low flying a jet under bridges, checking out your neighbourhood on a BMX, or base-jumping off skyscrapers.



The Bad
This game, as with the previous GTA titles, was developed for the PS2 and ported to the PC. As a result, some of the control concepts and systems are console-inspired which can be a little frustrating to long-term PC gamers, like myself. For example, the flight controls are non-intuitive for someone brought up on classic Microprose flight sims. And if you change your keys so you can fly easily, you'll find other actions like running and driving completely messed up.

Some of the missions annoy me, not because they were hard or stupid, but because they just didn't seem to fit well in the game. I won't spoil anything for anyone who hasn't played it yet, but it's a personal thing - everyone will probably have missions that bug them.

Then there are a few minor niggles that always seem to crop up in these games. The talk radio station lacks the humour of the previous GTA titles, the need to eat to keep your strength up (actually I don't mind this, but I know a lot of people do), the whole dating sub-plot (easily ignored unless you crave that 100% completion). On the whole these do little to detract from the overall game experience.

The Bottom Line
When the original Carmageddon came out almost a decade ago, I was blown away by the ability to drive anywhere I liked. At the time I thought: "All we need now is the ability to get out and wander around, and it'd be perfect." The GTA series was the first games that really brought that out. GTA3 and GTA4 were awesome, but it always bugged me that I couldn't swim. Now you can. In fact you can walk, run, swim, fly, cycle, drive, ride and even jump in the back of someone's pickup truck and be driven around to explore this world. In fact, there's practically nothing this game won't let you do.

Windows · by Steve Hall (329) · 2006

Taking The Series To The Next Level

The Good
First of all, I admit that I’m biased: I’m a sucker for ghetto movies. My favorite movie of all times is Menace II Society, so any game in this genre automatically gets bonus points from me.

That said, let’s have a look at the newest installment of Grand Theft Auto. I can’t help but make comparisons with True Crime occasionally since the games do have a similar theme… but who is better? We’ll find out.

The graphics aren’t extraordinary, but adequate. They don’t shine in quality, but they simply work. Los Santos really looks like Los Angeles, including the tall buildings of downtown, the dirty homes of South Central, and the luxurious mansions on the hills in Hollywood.

What’s even better is the variety: There are three cities and rural areas in-between, and they all have their own, distinct style – just one look at the screen and you can instantly tell in what city you are in right now. It really shows that each area has been designed by a different artist.

From the very first part, Grand Theft Auto has had a tradition in having an excellent soundtrack, and San Andreas is no exception here. Quite the opposite: There are many different radio stations, each one with its own genre of music. The most important one of course is Radio Los Santos, which features excellent work from artists like Dr. Dre and Eazy E from the early 90s (which also is the setting of the movie).

Just like the unedited soundtrack, the dialog is extremely explicit and pretty authentic. It sets new standards as far as language goes. I loved it (and at the same time I wish the M-rating would be taken as serious as the MPAA's R-rating).

The missions deserve a special mention: SA is loaded with missions, and they are all very different. Unlike True Crime, where each mission is simply one of the few types (fight, shoot, drive, with only the character models and background art replaced), every single mission here has its very own flavor. The variety of the missions is as diverse as in barely any other game.

Not just are the missions unique by gameplay, the details also make them worthwhile. In one early mission, you are rapidly driving through the city with three of your homies in the car, trying to shake off some bangers from an enemy hood... while one of your passengers keeps complaining about his fries spilling all over the car.

You might find yourself sneaking into military bases, hijacking cars, scaring people with some aggressive driving (and the person tied to the windshield), speeding through the LA River-equivalent on a motorcycle… it is simply amazing.

Also, as is tradition with each new version of GTA, there are new moves and features: It is now possible to climb over walls, there is a more sophisticated hand-to-hand combat system. There are also lots of minigames, including a DDR-alike dancing game and even a 2-player game where you can go on drive-bys with your girl-friend.

The greatest thing however is the sheer vastness of the possibilities the game offers: In addition to virtually anything you could always do in the previous games, you can now also try to pick up girl-friends, assemble clothes for your character (you can mix and match pants, shirts, tattoos, jewelry, shoes, hats), you can work-out to show off your muscles or eat too much to become a meatball – this is a step towards a role-playing system in the game.

And, as usual, the voice talent has been chosen with great care: While the cast isn’t as star-ridden as Vice City (with exception of Samuel L. Jackson), people who are into this genre will love the classic voices: Mc Eiht and Clifton Collins Jr. (aka Clifton Gonzalez Gonzalez) had both been in Menace II Society, other talents - like Kid Frost or Yo-Yo – were big artists in the early 90s. People from Southern California will also recognize Big Boy from the Power 106 radio station.

I haven’t been talking about the story yet – for a reason. Let’s go for that one next:

Carl “CJ” Johnson, an ex-gangbanger, left for Liberty City several years ago but returns to his home in Los Santos after hearing about the death of his mother. Arriving at home, he finds his old hood torn apart, his friends disrespecting him, and corrupt police officers framing him for murder. As the game progresses, Carl will have to work on all that….

One thing I didn’t like about True Crime was that the missions didn’t seem to accomplish anything. You got into a mission, “do hand-to-hand combat with [generic character A]”, you won, but that character ran away, and that was it. You didn’t feel like that mission helped you in away.

In GTA however, each mission gets you a step closer to a goal. The storyline has several threads; sometimes they run parallel; later on, the plot focuses on a particular thread, then moves to another one, but in the end, it all comes together again. It is not strictly linear, although you will eventually have to work on all threads to progress.

You can feel how you advance – as you help your hood, you see more gangbangers with your color on the streets. As you have more money, you can buy better clothes and homes. Then, when something bad happens, your environment changes. There is one particular event close to the end of the game where the entire city changes. The world seems very dynamic in this way.

The Bad
But why did I put the storyline to the end of the “good” section? Because it’s good and bad. In the beginning, the story starts off just like you would expect: You’re in the hood, you put in work with your homies, the police is after you. You advance, things get better, then something bad happens. This is all very well done and drags you into this entire story… but then, the storyline digresses. A little bit. Then more, and more. At that point, you expect the story to turn back soon – but that doesn’t happen. It makes another turn and another turn, and what started as a ghetto drama with a hoodlum in South Central now involves jet-packs, parachuting, top secret CIA missions, running a casino, helping an annoying nerd…. And feels miles away from the original premise.

This might not be necessarily bad – maybe the game would have been too boring if it had stayed on the same track the entire time. Besides, as you could imagine by just reading the paragraph above, there are many more interesting missions. But still – it felt out of place to me. Then, finally, finally, as you couldn’t get away any further, you end up going back to the hood and start more gang wars to control territory, like you did what seems like years ago.

What is really horrible though is the aiming system. The idea is not too bad: You press R1 and end up in free-aim mode where you can aim at whatever you want and shoot. If there is an enemy nearby, R1 will automatically lock on to this target. Sounds good so far… with the only problem being that if you press R1 and happen to go to free-aim mode, the camera looks at a random position.

Imagine you’re being shot at by somebody, and you can even see that person somewhere in a corner of the screen. You press R1, but the aiming system decides that that person isn’t close enough to the center and switches to free-aim mode, so the camera now looks behind you for whatever reason and you end up turning your back to your enemy! This has cost me many lives and would have been totally avoidable. I can’t believe that QA didn’t catch that.

Most of the missions are balanced neatly, but some of them are just too long. The problem is that if you fail it, you’ll have to go back to the mission’s origin, wait through the loading times, and play that mission again from the beginning. Some of them have several sub-sections, some of them easy but long… so you’ll end up playing the same thing again and again.

The role-playing element is nice, but could have used some more tweaking. You are supposed to eat to bump up your health after getting hurt, which in turn will make you fat so you have to work out to avoid becoming a greaseball… but in the end, all I did was save the game after each mission, which automatically filled my health back to max. So what’s the point of eating then? I finished the game without eating once.

Speaking of which, I’m still not fond of the saving system. You can only save at property you own. This is an inconvenience that doesn’t a lot of sense. After each mission, I had to drive to a property to save. If you die, you end up in front of the police or a hospital with all your weapons gone. And you still have to somehow get back to a mission origin to restart a mission. So I ended up just reloading the game instead.

And, like most games, well, there are still some bugs left. The collision system particularly has some flaws, I fell through the collision several times (i.e. slipped through the ground).

And a final note about the CJ character: He is supposedly a thug from the hood, he says all those badass one-liners when killing people… but then again, he often acts like a wuss. He helps out this stereotypical nerd – okay, it is for his own advantage since he later benefits from that nerd’s technical knowledge – but a real banger would never act in that way. It is simply out of character.

The Bottom Line
This game is awesome. I love it. A lot of work has gone into it, and you can tell. I loved the huge amount of possibilities this game offers.

One last thing I’d like to add though. This is more of a pet peeve of mine, but still: Back in the early 90s, the age of movies like Boyz N The Hood, Menace II Society, and the story of San Andreas, hip-hop was real, because gangbanging was real.

Now, things have changed a lot. There are still countless Blood and Crip sets, but things are very different, and therefore hip-hop has turned into a commercial franchise. It has become very popular among white people who all of a sudden start pathetic attempts at speaking Ebonics and talking about blastin’ their nines, yo. This is starting to be really annoying, and I fear that San Andreas will just make all this more popular. Its huge success has moved other game companies to follow suit – there are many more games like this released very soon.

And, as I mentioned before, I’m also worried about the lax regulations regarding M-rated titles. My girl’s 10-year-old nephew (who is black) knows about this game, and so do his friends. Virtually every line of dialog in this game talks about my motherf<span style="background-color: #000000; color: #000000">@#</span>ing n<span style="background-color: #000000; color: #000000">!$</span>az, and this is nothing I want the kids to be exposed to. I love movies and games for mature audience, but I wish parents had more sense to make sure that the audience stays mature only – this game just raised the bar by a tremendous amount.

PlayStation 2 · by EboMike (3094) · 2004

As good as it gets

The Good
What more can I say about San Andreas that you didn't read anywhere else?

The Game is as good as it gets, GTA 3 blow me away when it came out and I thought that Rockstar couldn't do much better than that but I was dead wrong first with Vice City and now with San Andreas.

San Andreas is everything it's predecessors were plus more, The level of interaction is equal to none, you get plenty more of side missions, the state of San Andreas is huge and very well designed, the missions are more scripted and there are so many different aspects in this game that probably you'll come back and replay it just to see what you missed.

The voice acting is great to a degree were you believe you are watching a movie more than playing a game, the radio stations are always a plus in GTA games and this time they are interactive to what happens in the game.

The plot is good and with some nice touches that keep you playing to see how things work out.

Unlike most new games it doesn't rely on graphics only to keep you playing.

The Bad
There are (in my humble opinion) a few things that Rockstar should improve for the next game of the series :

The food system is rather useless, I finished the game having only 3 or 5 meals and never because the game told me to.

Some missions seemed weird and forced into the plot, I don't want to put any spoilers here but there are times when you are doing things that don't have any logic or sense and make CJ look more like James Bond than himself.



The Bottom Line
If you liked GTA3 and Vice City you probably own this game already, if you didn't play the other games I suggest you play them in order since the plot in San Andreas has characters from the previous games.

GTA San Andreas is a game you must have at least to be able to cruise around the most amazing virtual city to date.

Windows · by Shin_Akuma (15) · 2005

I am a bit too mature for this.

The Good
The Grand Theft Auto series is always one of the best sandbox games out there and you could probably lose hours in this game by just driving around, fighting gang members and police officers. I used to play a lot of Vice City and I know how great it feels to take down helicopters with the rocket launcher and fight off hundreds of soldiers afterwards before driving off in one of their tanks. The fun of dicking around has remained intact with this new installment and with new additions it only got better.

If you ever get bored of the same boring old town there is the option to take a car and head straight for the countryside. This redneck-infested land full of farms and tractors is a very welcome refreshment and home to some of the most insane missions in the entire story mode. The best thing about it is that like in Red Dead Redemption it is different enough by removing a lot of the buildings, but it stays interesting due to the rough and dangerous nature of the outside world.

There is the option to play this game with a friend, allowing you to tear up Grove Street with not one, but two crazed murderers. The trick is that there are these symbols which allow you to have a second player join in, this will have both of you on a shared screen (so you can't move too far away from each other) and both of you play like you normally would alone. The fun thing is that it doesn't limit your options too much, you can still use cheats and do all the stuff you'd otherwise do alone.

The Bad
I am usually the one defending video games, but I have to admit that San Andreas is as racist as it can possibly get. You take on the role of Carl Johnson, a black ex-gangster who returns to his city to join up with his old gang again. I swear almost 90% of the characters in this game are black and every single one of them uses more than three swear words in every sentence they say and every single one of them is either using drugs or constantly talks about gang violence and murder like an eight year old after watching a Mission Impossible box set. There is simply nothing dignified about any of the characters, you are in no way any better than the people you are trying to kill and, like other reviewers have pointed out, the things you are ordered to do border on the psychotic.

Every single mission within the story mode has to be finished in order to complete the game, there is not a single one you can skip or reserve for later, you have to do every mission within a chapter to unlock the next ones. Most of the time it doesn't even make sense, such as the missions from OG Loc which all involve stealing stuff for him or killing people he doesn't like to boost his rap career (that he doesn't have). There are like four missions and none of them help the gang and he never does anything for it in return.

This also adds the problem that you are naturally not going to be good at everything, especially not in a game with such a broad supply of mechanics. You might be good at gunning down people, but a sniper might be too much for you. Or you might be really good at sneaking, but suck at driving. The mission where I decided I had enough of this game was in the earlier mentioned countryside where I had to race over the rocky terrain against insanely fast cars that I couldn't steal anywhere in the area. I think I managed to drive like eleven cars into the water at one godforsaken turn before I banished the disc to the back of my collection.

If you fail a mission you don't just start it over, hell the option is not even given to you. If you die during a mission you are transported to a hospital where they take a part of your money away and ALL your weapons. So if you died during a very tough mission with lots of combat, you'll get to eat shit when you have to do that all over again with maybe the starting pistol and a SMG if you are lucky. However, if you simply fail the mission because a character escapes or a friend dies, you will simply have to drive ALL THE DAMN WAY back to the location where you started the mission.

The auto-targeting was probably what caused the most deaths that I encountered. In the heat of battle it is very likely you are going to want to quickly switch between targets, but the targeting system has no sense of priority and will assume that after murdering one of the twelve gang members firing at you, you will be in a rather cruel mood and switch to a random NPC located somewhere behind a wall. I suppose you could say that I should aim myself than, but that doesn't work very well either.

A game should really be ashamed when missing textures and rendering problems are not the exception, but the standard. I am not really one for graphics, but roughly 70% of the time there is always something wrong with this game and its textures. Sometimes they get all blurry, sometimes they are somewhere they shouldn't be (too high or too low) and sometimes they are just not there, leaving me walking on thin air or hitting a wall at full speed that appears five seconds afterwards. It looks terrible, it creates huge problems for gameplay and it shows the developers took no time to polish this game at all.

The game is rather determined to make you date some of its characters, but as you might have expected after reading the first problem I mentioned none of the characters are really likable and this includes the females too. At first I wanted to ignore these missions altogether, but then the game would throw me to death with notifications telling me their status with them had decreased. I tried to ignore it, but when I arrived on the countryside I was FORCED to do missions with one of most despicable characters ever, each and every single one of them was a "date" in its own psychotic way. I felt insulted to be saddled up with this stain of a character and then I was even forced again into hearing one of those off-screen "sex-scenes" that is just two minutes of female moaning. This is sickening, this is displaying a lack of respect for the female race and for the personality traits she had been given (won't spoil) and this can't be justified solely by pointing at the rating on the box.

Finally and fatally, there is a severe lack of pacing. I already mentioned that the story is stuffed with missions that don't have anything to do with it, but to top it off the few missions that do have something to do with them are very repetitive and show little to no progress. You just go around robbing places, killing a few enemies and going to a few meetings until the chapter ends with one or two missions that actually change the world around you. After robbing a military base I couldn't see any gang-members using new guns or after doing a drive-by on some local enemies I didn't notice a decrease in enemy presence, so why did I have to do them? I tell you why: It is too pad out the game as much as they possibly could.

The Bottom Line
San Andreas could be a pretty decent game if it would focus on what made Vice City so much more edible: organized crime, dignified characters and humor that relied on absurdity rather than on swearing. Instead the game suffers heavily from psychotic and immature design and writing that displays a severe lack of respect for the problems it addresses and gives enemies of the industry more ammunition against us. I have nothing against a game that wants to play to the violence crowd, but at least Vice City did it with a sense of restraint.

If you are in dire need of a ton of violence and you are one of those people who skip every cut-scene and enter entire lists of cheats before firing at a single enemy than this game is quite edible due to the fact you will miss all the idiocy anyway. Anybody with a sense of self-respect and with an intelligence higher than that of a plank should stay far away from this game and try Red Dead Redemption instead.

PlayStation 2 · by Asinine (956) · 2011

The gaming mecca.

The Good
San Andreas has beautiful graphics, from the sun rising to every single rain drop falling it looks amazing. The vehicles are incredibly realistic with bumpers, doors, headlights and windows can all be broken. There is a lot of missions that will keep you hooked and plenty of side-missions. It has a soundtrack for everyone's taste and the True Grime billboard is hilarious.

The Bad
The incredible amount of glitches like falling through the floor, the unmarked pay n' spray and if you kill someone when they're on the floor they stand up and suddenly fall. The missions are a bit too long, hard and sometimes boring.

The Bottom Line
If you can afford one game, buy this. It's the greatest game ever made.

PlayStation 2 · by James Kitson (2) · 2005

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by chirinea, Flu, Big John WV, Jacob Gens, Yearman, ☺☺☺☺☺, nyccrg, NIL8R153, Cantillon, Wizo, Patrick Bregger, Jeanne, Zaibatsu, Alsy, Cavalary, Alaka, Masakari, Xoleras, Sciere, Tim Janssen, tarmo888, yenruoj_tsegnol_eht (!!ihsoy), Emmanuel de Chezelles, Jack Torrance, GTramp, DreinIX, Paolo Richetti.