User Rating: 6 | Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (UK) PC

Grand Theft Auto III was a tight, well paced game, everything about it was straight forward. Story, characters, game-play. It was open world, with a fair chunky of content, but never felt like it was overstaying it's welcome, compared to modern day titles like Assassins Creed or Mad Max, it never had content for the sake of it, Grand Theft Auto 3 has an heir of quality and character about it about it, an intrinsic confidence.

Vice City expanded upon it with more defined characters and new abilities like buying buildings, flying and dressing up your character, it still remained a tight experience though, improving upon III, while not getting bogged down by ambition, much like III, an extremely well paced bursting with character, arguably more so.

From the get go, San Andreas piles mechanic, after mechanic on the player. Hours of game-play feels like an extended tutorial. Learn how to ride a bike, learn how to eat, learn how to weight-lift, learn how to spray-paint, learn gang-turf, learn car bouncing, learn stealth and so on.... For hours, it feels like the game has yet to start.

Instead of peppering characters, gradually expanding as the story continued, from the starting line, we are barraged with a seemingly already established cast. The opening scene, the spark of the story, thanks to Samuel L Jackson, being Samuel L Jackson ends up being an expensive distraction.

The worlds, so carefully constructed, perfectly sized as to not overwhelm, readily comprehensible, is now bloated beyond all recognition. diluting one of the games key characters to an endless horizon of interchangeable buildings.

By this time as well, the "wacky characters" had been done multiple times over. It's no longer charming. We've seen all this, Vice City managed to alleviate it with a 1980's setting, but San Andreas doesn't have this potent character.

And that's generally the problem with the game, it's bigger, interested with the broad strokes rather than the finer details of the previous incarnations. In attempting to give the consumer everything, it losses a huge part of what made the series appealing in the first place.

San Andreas for me is the weakest entry in the series. Some people will love it, and for some it's their favorite game, it never clicked though, and probably never will. The tighter focus of III and Vice City remain eminently more appealing.

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