Back in 2001 a game came out called Grand Theft Auto: 3 and the game world changed after that. Ok, not really but developers have been trying to copy it (cough gun, narc, true crime cough) because it seems that every game nowadays has to have a free-roaming element whither or not it makes the gameplay different. Many gamers probably remember the first time they played GTA:3, I sure as hell do and I don't remember things like I use to. Why was this game so good? Well I could tell you, and in fact I will. The things that made Grand Theft Auto:3 different than the other games were its free-roaming many things to do gameplay, its fun factor (ah ill never forget the first time I ran over a hooker), and of course its great storyline and graphics.
Capitalizing on the success of GTA:3 Rockstar released GTA: Vice City. This was an improvement over 3 and included many more things to do, and of course more vehicles and weapons. Of course both of these were great games and both made headlines for their immense violence and sexual content, but back in 2004 when GTA: San Andreas was released for the PS2 both of these were left in the dust.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is a bigger, badder, awesomer GTA:3. It has a much bigger map it has more weapons, more vehicles, more things to do, a longer storyline I could go on but you get the picture. Now lets start our look at this game with a look at the gameplay, which luckily has remained untouched. Throughout the game you'll roll around like a badass killing any who get in your way with your patented auto-aim system, which is easier than ever to use. Simply lock onto your target and keep firing till theres nothing left!
The car handling is tight and precise and the motorcycles are very fun to drive. The new vehicles (four wheelers, lawn mowers, bicycles and various other random things with wheels) all handle differently and add more variety to your driving experience. The best addition to the vehicles are the bikes, they provide a quick and easy way to get from point A to point B, which you'll be doing a lot. The fact that different vehicles can only be found in certain areas of the map makes it so players will drive a ways just to find a certain car then turn around and drive were they wanted to go in the first place. The car physics are excellent and going off of jumps has never been this much fun, of course i have to talk about the car upgrades. Nitro and hydraulics and spinners, O my! The best vehicle is your own two feet of course (not really your kinda slow and you do get tired so in fact your one of the worst but anyway) and now those two feet can take you places in the water, yup Carl visited the Y a few times and learned how to swim unlike his water wing needing predecessors meaning crashing into the water isn't game over.
The most fun to be had in this game is probably the violence, and I know violence is bad blah, blah, blah I've heard it all before but this game is just so much fun. Take out your sniper rifle and a few clicks will have the people running in terror as you pop head left and right, or simply blow them up with a RPG. The hand to hand combat is also better than ever thanks to upgradeable moves like kick boxing and Kung Fu. And of course you can still jump in any car or on any bike or boat to simply run people over.
The biggest change to the gameplay is the new stat based system in which you will work out in the gym, go to the shooting range and take a bike for a ride to upgrade various stats. During the game you must also eat not only to gain health but to make sure you don't die of starvation.
Your character in all of this stat handling mayhem is Carl 'CJ' Johnson. Carl was living in liberty city (the game from GTA:3 don't you remember, it was New York for those that didn't figure it out) but when hearing that his mother had been killed by gangs he returned to where he grew up: Los Santos (los Angeles). The former gang he was in is broken and his street cred is nonexistant. You know what this means, yup thats right, rebuild the gang, build street cred and find who killed your mother. Throughout the story you will, in classic GTA fashion, unlock the two other areas on the map: San Fiero (San Francisco), and Las Venturas (Las Vegas). Or you could just cheat and get to Las Venturas right away considering its the awesomest of them all. Carl's story is interesting and is told through excellent voice acting, even Samuel L. Jacksons in this game.
The story is long and there is a seemingly infinite things to do around town so you should never get bored, but the problem with the storyline is that its too long. Most of the gamers that start this game will never finish it, or even make it to Las Venturas (which is the coolest). The missions can become hard and frustrating and you will find yourself doing them over and over again, which is torture because the missions are long and there is no restart button, you have to go from the hospital to where you started the mission to retry, which might take upwards of ten minutes. If you are a seasoned gamer and are looking for a game that will take you longer than a day this is it.
While driving, flying or boating around the city you will be able to listen to the radio stations, which provide classic tunes from the mid 90's (when the game is set) and hilarious commentary from the various hosts. The radio is one of the best things as the songs provide an excellent soundtrack to your brutal slaughter and the comedy a nice way to settle down between killing sprees. Of course you can just buy the cd's of the radio stations and listen to them where ever you wanted but that would be weird.
The most intriguing thing that will bring you back to this game day after day after sleepless day is the amount of stuff. One day maybe you want to work as a valet the next you might be driving a truck around town or maybe your buying some property, how 'bout going to the gym to work on your muscles or maybe checking out one of the many tattoo, clothing and barber shops where you can pimp Carl out with everything needed to be number one. Returning from the last game are the taxi, firetruck, and ambulance missions so even if you don't feel like killing anybody you can still have fun. There are also pimp missions, vigilante missions, weird dance dance revolution side challenges where you either dance to the beat or show off your car hydraulics. Then there are the races, some which you must complete to advance the story, these races can be frustrating but others can be immensely fun. If your not feeling to good about your driving, biking or flying skills you can go to school and upgrade your precious stats.
I'm leaving one of the most fun things 'till last, can you guess what it is, you can't? Ok I'll just tell you. Its the parachute, yeah thats what I said when i first heard about it but it is possibly the best thing (besides swimming) now if you fall from a building or god forbid you jump out of a helicopter or plane on purpose you can now land perfectly safe on the ground in style too, because the parachute looks so cool.
Anyways if you've been reading this whole thing you already know the bottom line but just in case you skipped down here I'll tell you. The storyline is good but too hard and long for some. The graphics lack some behind most games but the voice and sound work is incredible, the gameplay is top notch and this game is some of the most fun you'll ever have, the side missions are plentiful and will extend the already long replay value. This game just is a must have for any gamers because it is now on the Xbox and PC so you have no excuse for not buying it (unless you own a gamecube and no computer, but then theres no hope) so what are you waiting for this game is amazing.