So, yeah, this is the part where I show you guys my Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas review from Leet Gamers Asia, which I'll get to in a sec. As it turns out, I already have a review of San Andreas on Gamespot, completely different from my LGA review. It is... unprofessional, to say the least, with no line breaks, and is a wall of text, but it was one of my first reviews as a hobbyist reviewer; so it does hold a lot of nostaliga, even with how bad it is. I'm going to present it to you here, beofre we move onto the LGA review; and this will be the final place you will be able to see the GS review, as after today, it will be replaced by my LGA review.
So without further ado, I present to you the final resting place of my O.G. San Andreas review:
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is the biggest GTA ever made, and 2nd best (GTA IV is all that needs to be said). The awesome mechanics of previous GTA games have been very refined, to give you what is one of the most fun experiences you can have on your PS2; actually, it is; Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is the best PS2 game ever made. Period. It is just so amazing. Never have I had so much doing a Base Jump off a canyon, and getting smashed into by an oncoming plane. The Story: Carl Johnson (CJ) returns to San Andreas, from Liberty City, after his "Moms" was killed in a drive-by retaliation from a rival gang (CJ's a part of the Grove Street Family); while headed back, CJ is framed for killing a police officer, framed by Officer Tenpenny (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson), and is forced to do some dirty work, along with his "homies". You can drive, shoot, and cause mayhem like any other GTA, but it's been refined, to a "T"; you can now aim manually, while moving, which is great; diving is nice and tight, fun "arcade" feel to it; the mayhem is awesome, with awesome new weapons, and the only time in the series you can ever control a plane; this is also the first game where you can swim, and underwater, at that. The music is fantastic, with Ice Cube, Lynard Skynard, Eddie Money, Rod Stewart, Rick James, Billy Idol, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and many more; the Xbox version allows players to import their own music into their own radio station, but with all the great music in this game, who would want to. The size of San Andreas is roughly the size of a small state (maybe?), as it takes Liberty City and Vice City and expands 3 times upon them; 3 cities: Los Santos, the striving ghetto area, beginning city; San Fierro, "San Fransisco" basically, 2nd city; and Las Venturas, the "Sin City" of San Andreas, final city of the game; and lots of country, forest, and desert in between. Sice this is a GTA game, the weapons and vehicles are obviously top-notch; vehicles can go unbelievably fast, and guns go boom, like usual. Since you are in a gang, you can take over other gang's turf; Ballas and Vagos turf can be taken over by killing a bunch of them on their turf, and they can be indicated by purple and yellow clothing, respectively. Speaking of clothes, you can now customize CJ a lot; not just tons of clothing items, but also hair and "tats", which makes the game very dynamic. Collectibles are also very much "there", with oysters, snapshots, horseshoes, numerous Unique Stunt Jumps, and tags you can tag over with spray paint. The game is also the first of the "GTA III Era" to have some sort of two-player; there are little races, 2-player Rampages, and Free-Roam games scattered around San Andreas that, if you find them, you can play with a friend (not through the story, but you can still cause hell, elsewhere). There are also some fantastic cheats for the game, which can make for some fun, just I recommend not using cheats past the 500 mark (you can see how many cheats you've entered in the stats section of the start menu) until you get past a certain "Madd" mission in Las Ventuas, because it could cause the mission to "happen to fast" and will be very hard to accomplish. Respect can also be earned, which will allow you to create little gangs of your homies, to go cause havoc with; you can earn more "slots" as you gain Respect, but make sure you have enough "slots" in your car for 'em. Bottom Line: This game is fantastic. That's it. So, get off (or more like on) your ass and play some SA; it's available on Xbox Live (definitely worth the money), and for PS2, Xbox, Windows, and Mac (might be coming to Playstation Network, GTA III and Vice City are). Oh, and Jetpacks!!!
Well, that was my shitty old review of San Andreas. It may suck, but it did help me as a reviewer. It helped me to realize that I DO NOT want to make a review like THAT ever again.
Now that we have that out of the way, here's my LGA review:
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is the most outlandish game Rockstar has ever made. While Rockstar has grown up a bit with more mature, dark storytelling, and realism; many fans will look back on San Andreas as their favorite, and one can understand why. It takes everything that made III and Vice City great, refines it, gives you even more to do, and throws in one of the wildest narratives, one that will take you to every corner of San Andreas, and throw a whole lot of silly your way. Not too much; a reasonable amount. This isnt Saints Row, in that regard; and thats a good thing. It contains the right mix of silly and seriousness, to keep the narrative resembling something coherent.
Carl Johnson (or as youll know him, CJ) is coming home from Liberty City, in the event of his moms death. Just off the plane, he is pulled over by some bent cops; Tenpenny (played by Samuel L. "Motherf*cking" Jackson), and Pulaski; who frame him for the murder of a cop (which will be happening a lot during this game). That makes you their dog.
Bitch, whatd I tell you bout them snakes!
You arrive at your old moms house, where you meet your life-long homies, Sweet (also your brother), Ryder, and Big Smoke; and all members of the Grove Street crime family. It turns out things went to hell while you were gone, and most of the families split from Grove Street. Led by the naive Sweet, you and your homies take to the task of bringing GS back to the top.
(Screenshot courtesy of IGN)
Plans quickly derail, and what results is one of the wildest narratives ever, filled with tons of memorable, lovable characters; most of which are well-voiced by well-known actors/comedians/rappers; and Rockstars most idealistic game ever, as opposed to their usual brass cynicism; though the wonderful taut political commentary is still there. Its also their largest-scale, with a whopping 3 cities to explore, all connected by vast countryside/forest/desert; and a mission count well over 100; this game will take you about 20-30 hours to beat.
You can now parachute off of tall buildings and out of helicopters.
The games map is mostly based on California, with Nevada thrown in for good measure; Los Santos=Los Angeles, San Fierro=San Francisco, and Las Venturas=Las Vegas. All with their own flare, and whatnot. The size of the map is one of the main reasons many people find this installment their favorite; it is really big, and it can be pretty fun to get from place to place (remember kids, we didnt have taxis back then); but it can also sometimes be easy to get lost, and you will be annoyed at least once; such as driving for like 5 minutes in the forest, before coming across a huge divide filled with water, between you and the rest of your path, forcing you to drive along the gap until you find a way to continue, taking up a considerable amount of time. It may sound like Im being nitpicky, but I truly do appreciate the size of the map, and it really immerses you into the world. Just an interesting fact, San Andreas is set in the same universe as III and Vice City (as well as Manhunt), so be on the lookout for cameos of past characters.
Speaking of water, if you happened to fall off of a cliff into it, as frustrating as it would be, for the first time in GTA history, it would not render you dead; as you can now swim! Underwater even (though this is rather useless, except for rare occasions, and drains your lung capacity meter). It is more fun on land, though; as swimming can get kinda boring, and annoying; sometimes spending many minutes trekking around in the water, just waiting to find a dock or something you can grab on to to get the hell out. Its still a heck of a lot better than dying instantly by merely standing in the water. Just try to stay on land, if you can. Water=Life Insurance. You can also use it to bypass the bridges blocking off the rest of the map, early in the game, by simply swimming past them, but I dont recommend this. You will get a lot of cops on you, and you will not get them off with anything less than your imminent death.
That thing floating next to you is an oyster, which is one of the many collectibles in this game.
I mentioned the lung capacity meter earlier, which is one of the many skills you can level up. You can level up your stamina (how long you can sprint, cycle fast, etc.), your skill with every weapon, every kind of vehicle type (by going to specific vehicle schools), and your physique. You can eat out and work out (not at the same place); and depending on how much of either one you do, your body and (in the fat case) voice will change. You eventually have to go to a Burger Shot (or Cluckin Bell, or Pizza Stack) and eat something, otherwise your hunger will go down, and youll start to lose health. Scrappy mechanic? Sure, but it doesnt happen too often. Still, that particular RPG element could have been left out, and no one would miss it. Your lung capacity meter dictates how long you can swim underwater. It can be leveled up with practice; you should start this early, as a mission 3/5 into the game requires you to have good lung capacity.
Home of the Heart Stopper; six pounds of meat and cheese that will someone in five seconds.
Also, depending on your physique, you can (if you know where to look) acquire girlfriends. This mechanic flat-out sucks, and is so time-consuming and boring for what your eventual reward is (one for instance can get you out of jail with all of your weapons). There is only 1 instance where you have to date somebody, but other than that, there are much better things you can be doing with your time.
Youre not worth it.
Yo CJ! Dont be a busta! There are various spots all around Los Santos, which are all controlled by one of the two rival gangs. You can mount an attack on these spots, and claim them for your own. This will earn respect for you (along with any mission you do for your homies). You can use respect to recruit gang members to help you with random things, such as certain missions and taking down rival gang turf. This mechanic disappears 1/5 into the game.
This is the best way to win a turf war.
You can pick and choose what CJ wears, his hair-do, and his tattoos, making him the most customizable protagonist of the entire series. There are different clothes stores, all corresponding to different social classes. Binco is for the poor, bargain shoppers, while Rodeo is for the rich. You can find various barbers and tattoo parlors all around the city.
Another thing that can be leveled up is CJs melee. Once you reach a certain level of buff, you can learn new moves at either the local Los Santos gym or the San Fierro martial arts dojo. It equips the triangle/Y button with sweet, ball-busting moves. This of course is completely optional, as you wont really be doing much melee.
Along with the usual cars, boats and motorcycles; for the first time in the series, you can fully fly airplanes (not just that damn Dodo). One of the best missions in the game is a flight school, which is mandatory. It will piss a lot of people off, though. Also new to the series is the ability to move while free-aiming, though you have to level each gun up to a certain level before you can move while shooting. While its not perfect, its still a lot better than past GTA gunplay, though that really isnt saying much. The series isnt about pin-point accurate shooting mechanics.
Once you reach Las Venturas, you can put your hand and wallet to various gambling, such as video poker, blackjack or the roulette table. Its a pretty sure-fire and fun way to make hefty amounts of cash, which you can then use to play more poker.
The less you play, the luckier you get!
The soundtrack is great (with my personal favorite radio station being K-DST). While there are a lot of misses (mostly on the non-rock and rap stations), there are still a lot of great songs to keep you rocking. The public radio is a favorite, as well; with its hilarious social/political commentary; though its still not quite as good as IIIs Chatterbox. The little adverts in-between songs and the such are as funny as ever.
Word of advice: do not go into this expecting anything resembling easy or fair in terms of difficulty. There are some missions that are almost impossible unless you know what to expect, and what to bring with you in preparation. Couple that with the fact that (like every GTA before) THERE ARE NO CHECKPOINTS. These are some pretty long, sadistic missions we got here, and a very expansive distance between the mission start, and the local hospital. So, unless you save nearby the starting point (which you should always do; and be sure to save regularly, as there is no autosave, and Im sure you dont wanna lose precious hours of progress), youre gonna have to go through a lot just to gt back to the point you died, make it a little further, and then die again. There is also at least one (optional) mission branch that you forces to PAY to start it; and these are some of the best missions of the game. And then there are the races, which. I dont really have the stomach to talk about right now. Lets just say that if you can make it through the two mandatory races, the rest of the game will be a lot of fun, and a hell of a lot easier!
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is a very idealistic game, in terms of tone. While most other Rockstar games wind up depressing, San Andreas teaches you that no matter who you are, or where youre from, you can prevail, and be somebody. San Andreas is a rocking package filled with silly, rocking tunes, idealism and fun; and one of the greatest games on the PS2.
I hope you guys enjoyed my review, and for now, this is rigbybot127, signing off.
(Now available on Playstation Store and Xbox Live Marketplace, for $15 and 1200 Microsoft Points respectively. You can also find it on PS2, Xbox, PC, and Mac.)