Review by DrLuigee21
"Stealing its place as a grand game"
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is my first GTA game. After playing San Andreas, I realized that all the praise surrounding the GTA series was indeed well earned and deserved. The sheer variety and scope of GTA: San Andreas is astounding, unprecedented in all of gaming, (not counting the original PS2 title of course.) Such a sandbox-style game as GTA: San Andreas is hard to review accurately, and your enjoyment of the game depends largely on whether you like the free roaming variety of a game such as this, or a more linear game, which this certainly is not.
First and foremost, GTA: San Andreas, and the Grand theft Auto series in general, pioneered, and still are the leaders of the unique game style present here. Emulated and copied in many other games, this series has always been the king of the genre, a league above all other so called "GTA clones." When playing GTA: San Andreas, you enter a world where anything is seemingly possible, from flying a helicopter upside down under a high way bridge intersection, to shooting a heat seeking rocket launcher at oncoming FBI SUVs. These kinds of situations are commonplace in the San Andreas universe. There is a storyline, and GTA can be followed fairly linearly, but most of the fun comes from taking what you learn during missions, and taking it to the streets and countries of San Andreas. It is a living and breathing collection of three cities and their surrounding countryside. In this game there are a variety of mission types, as well as optional missions. Missions often include retrieving a guarded item, protecting someone, killing someone, or otherwise shooting one or more people. There are also the various racing or driving missions, an integral part of this game. Lastly there are the "gimmicky" missions which include piloting a remote control plane and using a mounted minigun to shoot down oncoming planes. While somewhat boring and a bit frustrating at times, these unique missions do break up the pace of the other missions. The game is very long, and doing everything and getting to 100% will take most people well over 50 hours. The incredible diversity of the game and its gameplay give GTA: San Andreas an easy ten, and the quality is a ten as well.
GTA: San Andreas is set in three unique cities, each with their own style of 90's life. The story involves you (C.J.) rising up the ranks as a gang member, and there are many smaller storylines within the larger picture. There is plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor and exciting storylines, but some of the longer storylines drag out a bit too long, or are a bit too dull. There are many though, and you can be sure that after finishing a mediocre part of the plot, another interesting part will come next. The story is moderately authentic, and even though Rockstar goes a little overboard on the swearing, it didn't bother me too much, although it wouldn't be appropriate for a younger audience,
The only iffy parts of the PC version of GTA: San Andreas are the controls. Although doubtlessly much better with a gamepad, the controls aren't always easy to use or convenient. Because of the mouse control, lock-on has been taken away, and while most shooting missions are easy enough without it, sometimes you wish for your shot to go right at enemies. The driving controls are good, although during certain driving tests, the controls just aren't up to par.
The graphics on the PC version of GTA: San Andreas are great, and the only points docked are for what could have been. The graphics aren't vastly improved over the PS2 version, especially the character models. The animations, explosions, and the great quantity of models onscreen at once are top notch. I wish that the character models and textures had been a little higher resolution, but you can't get everything I guess.
First off with the sound, this score can vary wildly with your musical tastes. The sound effects are accurate and plentiful, and the voice acting is in my opinion well done, but one of the most compelling parts of the GTA series, the radio stations are hit or miss. I like the variety of stations, and even the talk radio was great, but depending on your musical tastes the car rides will be marked by silence or engaging tunes. If you don't mind music that might be out of place in the 90's time period, you can always import your own songs into a custom radio station so that you will never be hurting for good music while cruising down the highway.
Replay Value: 10
This for me is always a key factor for a game. When I buy a game, I want my money's worth, and this game delivers your money's worth by the shovelful. Some people will almost literally never get bored of this title, engaged by the never-ending scenarios you can put yourself into in the world with endless possibilities. Even if you are one to stop your games at 100% completion, on the way there you can't help but spend hours in exciting and challenging situations. If I had to have one game (not a MMORPG) on a desert island with me, I would choose this one, bar none.
GTA: San Andreas is a great game, port or not, and worthy of a spot in anyone's collection. The only gripes are the controls which are sometimes iffy, and the fact that more could have been added from the PS2 version. Besides those small complaints, this game is magnificent.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 11/27/06
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