Grand Theft Auto San Andreas

The latest chapter in the controversial Grand Theft Auto series has arrived and Rockstar has not only continued the trend by crafting a slick and engrossing game that is going to be the most controversial game ever released.
Combining the same driving and on foot missions that made the series, especially Grand Theft Auto 3 and Grand Theft Auto Vice City runaway hits, Grand Theft Auto San Andreas casts players as Carl Johnson, a one time hood who moved on to Liberty City to clean up his life five years ago. When his mother is killed, Carl is called back to his own neighborhood to face the life and friends he left behind.
No sooner is Carl off the plane and on his way to meet his family when he is stopped and framed by two cops who want Carl to do a series of favors for them. Carl is forced to go along with the plans, especially when he is left deep in gang territory and must find his way back to the old neighborhood.
Carl soon discovers that all is not right in the old neighborhood as open warfare between gangs has turned the streets into a war zone and his return to town has not been received well by his brother who accuses Carl of running out on him and his friends years ago.
To say that GTA San Andreas has a plot would be a huge understatement as it is a deep and richly developed storyline that is filled with many supporting characters who grow as the story develops. This leads to a new level of character development as you care about those characters around you as they care about you.
While the game follows the same mission structure as previous games, the sheer depth of the game is staggering. The game is 5-6 times larger than Vice City in terms of map space and with three distinct cities and suburbs including countryside. And weather patterns. I can tell you this, riding a bike in rainstorm not only increases the challenges in the game but ads to the realism. As before, Carl obtains all manner of vehicles for his needs by carjacking and in doing so, can draw the attention of the police as well as rival gangs who will not want you entering their territory.
In some of the grander additions to the game, GTA San Andreas requires you to feed and cloth your character to increase status and stamina. This also affects how others respond to you as failing to get a new physique via a workout and bulking up on junk food will cause others you encounter to react negatively towards you.
It is also vital to recruit new members into your cause and take control of areas, to increase your area of safety and support as these are some mean streets. So while GTA San Andreas is bigger, better written, and offers more complexity, how does it play compared with others in the series? To many it would be about the same as the same driving and combat engine and techniques powers the game. The addition of a better sighting system that targets the closest enemy is a big help and will cut down on some of the games frustrations. I still do not like the fact that you must return to certain places to save games and how some missions require you to finish them to get on with the game as one such motorcycle chase, though thrilling, became tedious having to do it over and over again. Thankfully the plethora of real life music over the various in game radio stations helps pass the time.
Graphically the game is showing its age as it is clear that the folks at Rockstar have taken the game as far as they can with the limits of PS 2 technology. If the series is to continue, then it should wait for the next generations of consoles or move to the PC.
The sound in the game is good but again, starting to show its age as aside from the good voice acting from Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Penn, and Ice-T to name a few, the game offers nothing new sound wise from previous titles.
The game is sure to establish controversy and be on the hit list of every politician and parents group with an agenda as drive by shootings, graphic violence and harsh language abound. There are also going to be issues with the drug themes and sexuality of the game which does render the title highly inappropriate for gamers under 18 and even then, many gamers may not be mature enough to separate the lines between reality and fantasy. Some may also take issue with the constant stereotypes of inner-city life that the game contains but it is in fact just a game intended to entertain not a grand form of social commentary such as “Menace II Society”.
That being said, if you are a fan of the previous games and a fan of well-written and deep action games, and a mature and sensible gamer, than Grand Theft Auto San Andreas is a must have and a true classic.
Gameplay 5
Sound 4
Graphics 4
Value 5
Fun 5