Review by GodOfWarFanatic
"Add very poor RPG elements with the GTA formula and you have San Andreas."
I was a fan of Grand Theft Auto III, it was revolutionary, new, and incredibly fun. I was an even bigger fan of Vice City as it upgraded almost everything in GTA III. Now there is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, some say it's the best GTA in the series, but I thought wrong. It still has the lovable Grand Theft Auto formula, it's even bigger, and there is more stuff to do. However, the RPG elements that Rockstar incorporated into this game screwed it up. Elements such as muscle tone, eating, whatever. These would be great in a real RPG, it just needs to stay away from games like this.
Now you may be asking yourself, "What makes the RPG elements in the game suck? I thought they were awesome?" Well, first of all, in a game like this, I don't want to have to worry about keeping my muscle mass to impress one of the seven girlfriends. That's another thing, each girlfriend likes a different thing. All of them like high sex-appeal, but some of them like you fat and some like you muscular. I'm sure there are more variations that I may have missed, I haven't played the game in a while. Now this is a pain in the ass. It simulates this kind of lifestyle good, but I don't want to worry about that. If you don't eat, you become skinny. If you eat too much, you become fat. If you eat and work out you become muscular. Sounds fine and everything, but ALWAYS alerting you when your body is physically changing gets annoying. Especially when I want to do other things, like kill civilians in several ways, jump out of a plane, steal 100 cars, etc which is always the things I do in GTA when I'm not doing the main storyline. That's another problem, but I'll get to that later.
I still don't see the need to add these elements when they ultimately fail. Yeah, I know there are cheats to make you fat, muscular, skinny, whatever, but always have to put in a cheat code to do that is dumb. Plus if you put too many cheats, your game will eventually freeze on many occasions. So now you see why I hate this game and think it's the weakest link in the series (As in the 3D versions, not the originals with the birds-eye view).
San Andreas has a lot to offer. The map is huge (yet, another problem), many story missions, side-missions, activities, etc. There are the Taxi missions, the vigilante missions, and all that. Also some newer ones, like burglary, which is boring as anything. Yeah, a lot to "satisfy" you when you're taking a break, or have already beaten the main storyline. Now earlier I said that the huge map was a problem. Most of the time, that is a good thing...not in this case. The map is too huge that traveling long distances is tedious, framerate problems are often, pop-up detection is frequent. So when you're driving a plane, sometimes a cliff or trees will pop-up out of nowhere. So basically, you're screwed. And there is a lot of unessacary land. If it was toned down a bit, these problems would be less frequent.
There are many things that Rockstar did to screw this game up. But there is some entertainment value within some missions and going around doin'g illegal stuff i.e. killing people.
Basically the story sucks. You're CJ, a "gangsta" who is returning home to the recent death of his mother. The gang you used to be involved with used to be big, but now anymore. So you can guess what the game is about. Making your gang big once more. Very creative, eh?
I understand that the graphics are going to be bad due to the incredible amount of stuff fit onto the disc, but that's Rockstars fault for cramming so much stuff into the game. You can basically tell what everything is, but it all looks horrible. Not one single redeeming quality about it's graphics. It basically looks the same as Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City, except with character models. They are horrible and blocky and bland. Vehicles are polished a little bit more than Vice City, but not that noticable.
The high point of San Andreas. The voice-acting is amazing, especially with actors such as Samuel L. Jackson, James Woods, Chris Penn, along with others. Sound effects aren't impressive. However the music is also good and there is a lot of different genre's to fulfill your tastes. And that's kind've surprising with a game that is mainly revolved in the 'hood. Sound gets a good score for impressive voice-overs and the music.
This is where the game fails. Gameplay. Before you yell "blasphemy" and "burn him," just hear me out. I've already explained my major problem with this game, the RPG elements. But that alone won't make gameplay suffer all the way, considering it isn't very important, except it changes your appearhence and stuff like that. The gameplay mainly fails because of the main story missions. My first problem with it is that the essential ones are far too easy. Hell, the last mission is one of the easiest in the game (It's just a bit long). However, the non-essential missions, like the plane missions, are relatively boring, hard, and pointless. They should be held as side-missions. It still holds the basic GTA formula, go to the dot, kill the guy, etc., but downgrades from its two predecessors.
In your free time, you can do a variety of activities. Also upgrade your weapons, your driving, and swimming. One of the only RPG elements that should be in a sandbox game. And much like Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, you upgrade these abilities by actually performing them. With heavier weapons like the double-barrel shotgun, when you get to the hitman level, you can wield two double-barrel shotguns. It's just not enough to save it from it's already poor gameplay.
When you don't want to do the missions, or really anything, you can just kill people or steal a variety of cars, motorcycles, bikes, planes, boats, and helicopters. Extending the vehicle amount to new heights is a nice new addition, but I like the vehicle choice in Vice City better, even with the smaller amount. There are also more weapons at your disposal. Doing this constantly is fun, but gets old after a couple hours. The targeting-system, however, is vastly upgraded and shows the amount of health your enemy has when aiming at him. (The reticle changes colors when your target's health depletes)
This is definitely a GTA game, but it suffers and makes me wonder..."Why am I not just playing Vice City?"
This game is incredibly long. But, I'm not making the score perfect since the entertainment value for me doesn't last as long as it should. Actually, this game can last over possibly 100 hours just by trying to achieve 100%. There really is no desired limit in this game, considering it's a sand-box game, there is always something to do. Even after completing the game.
Final Rating: 4/10
I respect Rockstar for trying something new. But sadly, it didn't end up like Zelda II and failed in the process. I know there are people that love this game more than anything, but for me, it didn't have the pleasing entertainment that Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City had for me. It's your same GTA, with displeasing, new elements, more boring activities, and several tedious missions with too much of a difficulty difference.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.0 - Poor
Originally Posted: 06/17/08
Game Release: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (US, 10/26/04)
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