Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

November 23, 2004

[floatleft][/floatleft]Most of you know that we here at Snackbar are not huge [i]GTA[/i] fans. I could not stand [i]Vice City[/i] and was hoping that San Andreas would be a total disaster as well; but to my dismay, I found myself getting a copy of San Andreas. After hearing so much about all the new features and the miles upon miles of city blocks, I was really intrigued.

Set in the 1990s, [i]GTA: San Andreas[/i] takes place in the cities of Los Angeles, San Diego, Hollywood, Sacramento, and San Francisco, along with parts of Sin City. Your character is Carl Johnson, a.k.a. C.J., and you have returned to San Andreas from [i]Liberty City[/i] to hear quite a bit of disturbing news. Your mother and brother have been murdered. Gangs rule the city streets, and it’s your job to seek your family’s killers and take back the streets. The good thing is that you are not all on your own. Your hood buddies-Big Smoke, OG Loc, Sweet, B-Dup, Ryder, and plenty more-come in to play. These aren’t the only folks you will encounter throughout the game; you will see the colorful “rainbow” of the San Andreas community, from mobsters to actors to rappers to cokeheads to strippers.

Since the [i]Liberty City[/i] version, the graphics in the [i]GTA[/i] series have not changed one bit. Detailed faces and body structure along with bland landscapes and mediocre building textures still remain, making it obvious that graphics were not on Rockstar’s priority list. The story is top priority, with added RPG elements-this was the feature that pulled me into San Andreas. You can choose whether or not you want to be a fat tub of lard or COCK DIESEL! This is all decided on the amount of exercise you do (hitting the weights is a requirement, not eating pizzas, tacos, or chicken buckets). Trust me when I say that there are a lot of those around the city.

[floatright][/floatright]Another feature I enjoyed was the amount of XP you receive the more you use a certain weapon. The more missions you accomplish, the more respect you get on the street. It’s all about street credibility when you “wanna roll with the right peeps.” Rockstar does a great job in breaking down your stats in order for you to manage your character. Several types of stats are represented, including sexual appeal, style, stamina, fat, muscle, bank account, property value, and even girlfriends. Yes, you get girlfriends! The days of having to honk your horn to get some action are over. Now you can just woo her into the bedroom. Remember, in order to get a girlfriend you have to dress the part, which means going to the clothing store and buying some nice threads is a must.

I was impressed to learn about the wide variety of voice talent that participated in [i]San Andreas[/i]. Chris Penn, James Woods, Ice-T, and Kid Frost are among some of the voice actors in [i]San Andreas[/i]. My favorite is Samuel L. Jackson as the corrupt cop, Officer Tenpenny.

While cruising in your vehicles, listening to the radio is always entertaining. This is obviously no surprise to [i]GTA[/i] lovers, as the music is always top-notch with a variety of stations to choose from. Let’s not forget the crazy commercials and obnoxious disc jockeys. Playing [i]San Andreas[/i], I found myself laughing most of the time, mainly because of the dialogue that you have with your buddies and the people on the streets. I also enjoyed the low-riding contests; it pretty much uses the same directional controlling system as [i]DDR[/i]. Missions aren’t just run-and-gun anymore-you have to use your social skills, stealth, and even your dancing skills in order to complete them. Stealth missions resemble the style of gameplay present in the game [i]Manhunt[/i], which is no surprise.

[floatleft][/floatleft]Overall, the variety of missions and gameplay in [i]San Andreas[/i] really changes the pace of the series. Especially with the addition of RPG elements, this is by far the best [i]GTA[/i] of the series. I am still playing [i]San Andreas[/i] and enjoying every minute of it. If you’re not a big [i]GTA[/i] fan, I would say that you should rent it and give it a shot. Since you don’t have just one set path to choose from, you will be amazed at the difference in gameplay. This is definitely a keeper for those of you who like involving games with a lot of variety.

Score: 5/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.