Insane in the mainframe...
Over this past weekend, Rockstar Games was kind enough to give me the full playa treatment by letting me into their fancy penthouse (complete with rooftop pool) to knock back a few beers and take C.J. for a little drive around the streets of San Andreas with a mouse instead of a PS2 controller. Although it's largely an exact port of the superb PS2 smash, the upcoming PC version contains a few extra refinements that fans of the series, all five billion of you, might find interesting.
The most noticeable improvement lies in the graphics. Assuming you have the fancy computer to get the most out of the experience, PC players will enjoy better textures and the ability to see much, much further into the distance. The overly blocky models of the PS2 version will be replaced with smoother, tighter ones. Plus, the keyboard and mouse controls give you total camera freedom, so you can check out the action from any cinematic angle.
Which, by the way, can get particularly impressive in the replays. Was that last drive-by particularly awesome? Thanks to the PC's hard drive, just hit the replay button and instantly relive the last 30 seconds of beautiful mayhem. This feature was in the port of GTA Vice City and makes a welcome return here. If ever there was a game that demanded replays, this is it.
The sound gets the red carpet treatment as well. Although the soundtrack to the original GTA San Andreas was nothing short of stunning, now you can load the game up with your own MP3s and jam to your own tunes. If you like, you can even have the game insert DJ patter in between your tracks, really allowing you to customize the radio. Man, there's nothing like gunning down some cops while swinging to the sounds of Benny Goodman. No, really. Try it.
What we're probably looking forward to most is what happens when the mod community gets their grubby hands on the game. Though San Andreas won't ship with mod tools, the modding kits created by users for GTA 3 and Vice City should transfer over easily. Forget just murdering to the sound of Benny Goodman – how about murdering as Benny Goodman? Hey, I can dream.
Wannabe Grove Street gangbangers, however, will have to wait until June 7th (coincidentally, also the release date for the Xbox version) before their fantasy becomes a reality. In the meantime, start stocking up on ammo and 40s of malt liquor and witness the hardcore, official facts straight from the Rockstar's mouth. And dig them screenshots!
Rockstar Fact Sheet
Five years ago Carl Johnson escaped from the pressures of life in Los Santos, San Andreas...a city tearing itself apart with gang trouble, drugs and corruption. Where film stars and millionaires do their best to avoid the dealers and gangbangers.
Now, it's the early 90s. Carl's got to go home. His mother has been murdered, his family has fallen apart and his childhood friends are all heading towards disaster.
On his return to the neighborhood, a couple of corrupt cops frame him for homicide. CJ is forced on a journey that takes him across the entire state of San Andreas, to save his family and to take control of the streets.
Liberty City . Vice City. Now San Andreas, a new chapter in the legendary series. Grand Theft Auto returns to the PC this June.