Review by NeonEvaXephon

"Grand Theft Auto : San Andreas doesn’t even feel like a GTA game. It tries to do too many things at once, and fails. Miserably."

4 out of 10 – That is what this game gets from me. I bet you're wetting your pants wanting to know why.

The main reason is that San Andreas tries to do far too many things at once. Although the game gets its parts down cold, they are simply not fun when mixed together. All of these different gameplay elements combined just make for a confusing mess.

Does this mean that San Andreas is not worth your money? No, it is – past the things that just frustrate you and waste your time are a few aspects that make San Andreas worthwhile…it's just that San Andreas is not a good game. The story, dialogue, voice acting, and graphics are all above normal in quality.

Actually, the use of the word ‘story' is probably incorrect. San Andreas does not have much of a story. What I find impressive is the way that the events in the game are shown; it feels as if you are watching a movie, and a very good movie, at that. The dialogue between characters is extremely entertaining, whether the conversation is meant to be humorous, serious, emotional, or whatever the theme is. The voice acting is of superb quality, and that goes for every single character.

I hear a lot of bashing when it comes to the graphics on the Grand Theft Auto games, but I really have no problem with them. I don't even have a problem with the slightly block-shaped hands of the main characters. They look okay to me. I disapprove of the slight cel-shading effect placed on them, but it is really not that bad. Last, some people complain about the frame rate skipping, but I find this completely tolerable.

Pretty much everything in the game looks nice and clear, but what makes the game's graphics special are the many nice effects. The game takes on different looks based on the weather, such as shimmering during the heat, graininess during the rain, and an orange glow in Los Santos. This is all not to mention my very favorite effect – once you crank a car up to its top speed, the screen will start to blur, and eventually shake, creating a sense of extreme speed.

Sadly, I cannot give the game's music my approval. San Andreas contains the same flaw that Vice City did – the songs and the stations don't sound very different from one another. There is a rap station, a classic-rock station, a classic-rap station, a country station, an alternative station, a funk station, and a talk-radio station, off the top of my head. I cannot rate how well these stations did of delivering the music of the era, but I can tell you that I don't find the music pleasing to listen to. I don't really find myself compelled to listen to the music that is playing – it does not feel that engaging, unlike Vice City's soundtrack.

Now that I have covered the good points, let us return to the bad.

The first bad point is the cursing. A typical conversation in San Andreas goes like this:

"What the **** are you doin', *****?"

"I'm mad at some mutha****ing Balla mutha*****s."

"Let's go kill some mutha****in' Ballas!"

"Yo, *****, you are mutha****in' a'ight."

"HEY YOU SON OF A ***** BALLA ******* I'M GONNA RIP YA MUTHA****IN' HEAD OFF YA MUTHA***IN' *****Y NECK AND **** DOWN IT!!!!!"

"That's right, mutha*****s!"

It is worse – far worse – than your typical movie. Were the early 90's really like this? Even in the ‘hood? Once Rockstar Games realized that they could put as much cursing as they wanted into San Andreas…they went far, FAR overboard. The game would be MUCH better if there was a decreased amount of swearing.

From the beginning of the game, this game does not feel like Grand Theft Auto. There are lots of explosive, amazing, action-movie-like thrills and lots of fun, but, San Andreas definitely does not live up to the Grand Theft Auto name. In fact, it's arguably an entirely different genre than the one GTA3 created upon its release.

And, then, to top it all off, just when you have finally worked up a tolerance to all of this gangsta ghetto garbage, you are transported to the countryside, my most unfavorite part of the game. I probably would have given this game an eight if it were not for the countryside.

Driving around in the countryside is an interesting experience, because it is unlike anything that has ever been in a GTA game before. There are car and dirt roads winding all over the place, very nice looking small towns, some great spots to go wild on an ATV or dirtbike on, and tons of beautiful foliage. But, you forget all of these things as soon as you want to get from one place to another.

You are constantly traveling from one side of the countryside to the other. This usually takes at least five minutes, and that's not including getting lost, finding your way back on track, losing your vehicle, finding a new vehicle, and swimming and walking without a vehicle. This is just a frustrating waste of your time that was almost enough to make me throw San Andreas in the trash.

If you lose your car in the countryside, kiss about ten minutes of your time goodbye. You'll trek through the forest, mindlessly tapping X to run, looking for a road. Once you reach a road, you will have a selection of tractors, trailer homes, pick up trucks, and other redneck hillbilly cars. All of the cars in the countryside are rubbish (AND tuned to the country music station).

The same goes for you if you just fell into the water; mindlessly tap X for a few minutes until reaching shore…and then run around looking for a road. What were the guys at Rockstar Games smoking when they came up with the time wasting idea of the countryside?

And, what's worse is that, even after reaching the countryside, the game does not even settle down into a more GTA-like feel yet.

While the game was in production, we received much news about one of the new features – staying in shape. Disappointingly, this new feature barely affects gameplay at all. What a waste. There are dozens of different statistics that increase and decrease as you play the game, but none of them seem to do anything noticeable except go “BONK!” whenever you raise or lower a stat.

Respect is another worthless stat. It is only usable in Los Santos, where you spend very little of your time. By the time you have worked up enough respect to get a couple of gang members to follow you…a plot twist occurs, and you must leave for a different area in the game. Wonderful.

The missions are more frustrating this time around, and the game does a horrible job of pacing the missions, especially when it comes to keeping you informed about what you're supposed to do next.

In conclusion, although I admit that the story, dialogue, voice acting, graphics, and sound are outstanding, San Andreas is far too frustrating to be a great game.


Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 10/27/04


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