Review by arcticpancake

"Still has a long way to go"

Grand Theft Auto - San Andreas Review

In my opinion a good game must do two things:

1. The game must be fun, put a smile on your face, make you laugh etc.
2. The game must not piss you off or irritate you in any way.

GTA San Andreas does only one of those things, namely number one. This game is incredibly frustrating! I have never been more pissed of with a game in my entire life! It's actually the reason I decided to do this review, to tell people how irritating this game is compared to how fun it is. Yes, this game can be quite fun at times, I suppose you could call it the perfect pick up and play game. However while this game is fun it will also frustrate you in equal measure. While in the process of trying to complete the final mission and failing for the third time, I think I almost punched my PC (Although I must say, I'm quite glad that I didn't!). That's right, I was that angry. Usually in a game when you fail, you just get disappointment, but in GTA - SA you get really pissed off. You see in normal game, the mission/objective is just difficult, that's why you failed, it was your fault. But in GTA that is not always the case, it can often be the game's fault. Not yours. Maybe it's the stupid missions you get stuck on, maybe it's the intolerably stupid AI, maybe it's the fact that cops chase you if they hit you, not you hitting them, maybe it's the way you see car, turn around and the car is gone. Maybe it's all of these put together to make one big mess of frustration on a DVD.

I said earlier that a good game must make you smile and laugh, GTA does not do this often. I can think of many games that have done this, Half-Life 2 jumps straight into my mind. Now that's a great game, that game wowed me and amazed me at every turn. To put it simply, GTA - SA does not. Half-Life 2 never pissed me off, not once. GTA has frustrated me so many times and on such a regular basis. An example of this is when I was doing a BMX challenge. I had to collect rings. All the rings were very easy to collect except the very last one which was perched on the top of a half-pipe. I failed the mission because I ran out of time. I was incredibly annoyed, I nearly reset my PC just to get out the game (Again, I'm glad I didn't). To go through all that only to fail anyway. In GTA when you fail a mission, have to start all the way from the beginning again. THIS GAME IS HIGHLY FRUSTRATING!!! It does not give as much fun as it does frustration.

Graphics : 5/10 - Pretty terrible when compared to modern standards.

The graphics engine in San Andreas is an improvement over GTA 3 (I'm not sure about Vice City as I have not played it for PC and I don't want to). GTA 3 ran at 640x480x32 on medium-ish as far as I remember on my PC. San Andreas runs at 1024x768x32 with every thing on high except the main detail setting. It looks a lot better than GTA 3 as well, not that that is very difficult mind you. Using other games such as HL 2, UT 2004 and Doom III as a reference, this game has very bad graphics. However the scale of the game is quite large, so the detail is understandably not as good as the other games. Even after taking this into account, the graphics still do not meet expectations. The graphics of GTA - SA did not impress.

Storyline : 3/10 - Storyline? What storyline?

I lost track of storyline a long long time ago. It's pretty vague and plot is rather boring (I did forget it after all). The characters are really nothing special, you play as an African American gangster guy and you live in the Grove Street "hood". You do stuff and go places and apparently the storyline develops. Wow. Great. Some of the characters are actually pretty weird, or disgusting. All the characters swear way too much as well, to the point that it doesn't convey any feeling of anger or hatred anymore. It's just swearing purely for the sake of swearing. It doesn't actually do anything for the game. The storyline of GTA - SA did not impress.

A.I. : 0/10 - Don't make me laugh.

Hey this is my review, I can give it 0/10 if I want to! People jump in front of you when they are trying to jump OUT of your way. People hit you and then go on a road rage because they think you hit them. It's like the game just registers a collision and it's automatically your fault. Cops will jump in front of you, die, and it's your fault, not his fault, YOUR FAULT! Gang members struggle to follow you, then mysteriously end up running in the complete opposite direction. The same happens when people are supposed to be attacking you, they run in the complete opposite direction, realize what they're doing and turn around and come all the way back. AI drivers cause blockades and pile-ups, and if you played even a teensy weensy little part in that, IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT! The AI of your character is also really bad. When you try to enter a vehicle, he always ends up running around in circles before he can enter it. Or he'll run up and down the vehicle as if he's trying to find the door. Get one thing straight, the AI of this game is TERRIBLE! AWFUL! REVOLTING! PATHETIC! SHOCKING! JUST DOWNRIGHT BAD!

Gameplay : 5/10 - Some good, some bad and some in between.

Well this was a mixed bag. Some parts of the game were a joy to play while others had me kicking my chair in frustration. Most, however was just mediocre. Not frustrating but not an experience to write home about. Most of the good parts entailed car or bike chases. These were truly tense with a good sense of speed. These parts did put a smile on my face, even if I failed them because they were fun. One of the bad parts I remember is having to chase a train. The guy with me was doing the shooting. He was unable to shoot all of the enemies, however this ended up being my fault because apparently I didn't keep up with the train. I remember keeping up with the train perfectly well... The missions are pretty varied though, I'll give it that. No two missions are really identical, and there's 70 odd missions in this game. The game area is massive as well. Big enough to get lost in! Frequently! You do learn the area eventually though. Oh and another thing, during the mission briefings, the text used to tell the player what to do is in big bold writing and moves soooo slowly, and you can't skip it. I mean, hello I can actually read faster than that. God, have a little respect to the players by not insulting their intelligence. Another irritating thing I noticed is that when you enter a building, 95% of the time, when you exit, your vehicle is gone. Disappeared without a trace. It's the most annoying thing in the world. Along similar lines when you are driving around a you see a car, you'll turn around only to find that the said car has completely vanished. Amazing. In fact it happens so much that I'm afraid to leave my car for than a few seconds or walk away from it because I'm so sure it will disappear. I remember playing a game called Morrowind, there dead bodies stay there for pretty much the entire game. GTA can't even remember it for a few seconds. GTA is a fairly new game, Morrowind is about 4 or 5 years old! It's almost like GTA is going backwards instead of forwards. Anyway there's a lot of fun to be had here, but there's also a lot of the opposite extreme as well.

Replayability/Longevity : 10/10 - Folks, this is one loooooooong game.

Apparently it takes the average player 100 hours to complete 100% and a "Pro-gamer" 75 odd hours. However I question this, I'm on 60% and I've been playing for 31 hours. So if I keep going at this ratio I'll beat the "pro-gamer" (Whatever that is). There's lot of stuff you have to do to beat his game 100%. Races, vigilante missions (One thing I noticed about the cop vigilante missions is that even though you are a cop, cop's will still chase, and try to arrest you. How odd), collecting stuff, taking pictures of things, learning to drive and fly, taking over gang territory... The list goes on. This is where GTA - SA really shines. However some may say that this game is too long, and I think I agree. You want to finish it 100%, but it's just so long. Too long.

Final comments

I've heard a lot about GTA - SA in the media lately. Video games get into the media for one reason and one reason only. The age restriction. I haven't seen the rating on GTA - SA but I can guess it would be some thing like 18 Violence, Language, Sex and Prejudice. I've seen all manner of things in the media, from the fact that your character is black to the whole "hot-coffee" sex cheat thing. I mean what kind of moron wants to play a GTA sex mini game? Not me, that's for sure. If I want porn I'll look to the internet, not my nearest Rockstar game. Another thing, what has Rockstar been doing since GTA 3? Everything that was broken in GTA 3 is still broken in GTA - SA. All they've done is added more stuff, raised their age restriction and racked up more bad media coverage. Well if you can take being frustrated and aggravated and get kicks from seeing a polygon-porn-show, GTA - SA may be for you. Otherwise steer clear. This game doesn't quite make it to my "worst game I have ever played" title, but it comes perilously close. Most definitely the worst game I have played this year. Well I've got nothing more to say about this game, thanks for sticking with me until the end of this long winded review. Nothing left except the final score...


Reviewer's Rating:   2.0 - Poor

Originally Posted: 08/23/05, Updated 10/02/05

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