Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
It's 11 am on an overcast Tuesday and I'm being taken into a darkened room at Rockstar's London HQ containing a kickass PC and a huge projection screen with a beautiful hi-res Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. My guide beckons me towards the keyboard and mouse: "Go ahead - have however long you want. Despite the fact that none of us are wearing gold jewellery and I've yet to order the diamond-encrusted incisor I've always promised myself, this is most definitely bling.
If you've managed to avoid playing the PlayStation 2 version of San Andreas released late last year, then it's almost time to remove the fingers from your ears, stop saying "la la la la la la" and open your eyes. San Andreas is actually an entire mythical US state (obviously based on California), containing the three Vice City-sized cities of San Fierro (San Francisco), Las Venturas (Las Vegas) and Los Santos (Los Angeles). There's vast countryside, forests and mountains in-between, teeming with slack-jawed yokels and trigger-happy Hillbilly cops.
Set in the early 1990s (with accompanying period soundtrack containing the likes of Public Enemy and Guns 'N' Roses), you play through the game as Carl Johnson, a streetwise black kid who returns to his 'hood in Los Santos after a family bereavement.
Do Believe The Hype
Rockstar North has basically "done a Vice City" with San Andreas, adding mouse control and improving the graphics with increased draw distance, more detailed textures, smoother frame-rate and extra environmental effects such as reflections and shadows. You can again create your own radio station from a mix of tunes, but also import DJ chatter and ads. Plus, new to the PC San Andreas is a unique feature that enables you to replay the last 30 seconds of gameplay, save it as a game file and swap it on the Net - great fun if you want to challenge friends to beat stunts or show off your best action sequences.
Other than that it's a case of "if it ain't motherf...kin' broke, don't motherf...kin' break it", retaining the series' trademark humour (a fast food outlet called Burger Shot, for example), ultra-violent shoot-outs and beautifully-handling vehicles, which now include a BMX bike, combineharvester and jumbo jet. All the recent gameplay additions are featured here too, with stealth missions similar to the hiding-in-the-shadows game mechanic of Manhunt, and CJ's role-playing element for stamina, respect and muscle - eat too many pizzas and he actually becomes too tubby to run away from the rozzers.
The only slight disappointment is the lack of a two-player co-op mode, which previously allowed console owners to go on Bonnie & Clyde-style killing sprees. However, in a great pointer to the future, Rockstar revealed that it's a huge fan and supporter of the GTA mod scene, especially the online Multi Theft Auto, so we're somewhat hopeful of some kind of multiplayer gang warfare in the next game. We'll shoot up the place with a review of San Andreas soon. Respect.
Wassup Homies!Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is the latest, and possibly the greatest, of Rockstar’s infamous crim sims. However, unlike the previous 3D excursions into Liberty City and Vice City, San Andreas is actually a whole state - basically a parody of California - that includes the three huge cities of Los Santos (Los Angeles), San Fierro (San Francisco) and Las Venturas (Las Vegas), plus acres of hillbilly, banjo-plucking countryside in between.
Set in the early 1990s, GTA: San Andreas follows the fortunes of Carl Johnson, who returns to his old, run-down ’hood in Los Santos after hearing that his mum has died. CJ must first earn respect from his local gang, joining up and completing missions such as robbing an army base, nabbing explosives from a moving train and popping a cap into rival gang members.
Rockstar North - never a developer to shirk from inserting brave new ideas into GTA - has excelled this time with, wait for it, role-playing game elements. Now obviously we’re not talking about shields, goblin magic and wizard hats (God forbid), but you do have a host of stats such as respect, stamina, muscle and sex appeal. The latter will be affected by the clothes, tattoos, hair and jewellery you buy, for example (all available in various stores), and any physical attributes will be affected by diet. Yep, CJ has to eat at certain points, and if you only scoff at fast food restaurants like the Cluckin’ Bell chicken restaurant, you’ll end up with a flabby body only a big mama would love. So, unless you want to keep getting busted - even by donut-eating cops - you’ll have to go running or haul your fat ass down the gym to burn it all off.
San Andreas has some tasty new vehicles to jack including a BMX bike, a very sleek low-rider car (that can be tilted in all directions), a tractor, a locomotive and - get this - CJ can even parachute or base jump from buildings! Almost too cool. You can now also swim (no more sad, drowning episodes), talk to pedestrians, play coin-op videogames in the arcades and even gamble in the casinos of Las Venturas. Rockstar North has even added an element of stealth, so you can sneak up on people to slice them from behind - useful when completing goon-heavy missions and burgling houses for loot.
There’s more. Probably even more exciting is the prospect of two-player missions, where you and a mate can choose a character and go on a killing spree, then kiss each other - just like Bonnie and Clyde. Rockstar is keeping the plans for its PC conversion of GTA: San Andreas close to its hairy, gold medallion-wearing chest, but we’re quietly hoping for online versions of the multiplayer mini-games for more than just two players. In any case, with its licensed radio stations pumping out Public Enemy, Faith No More, The Stone Roses and Cypress Hill, plus another A-list Hollywood cast including Samuel L Jackson, Peter Fonda, Shaun Ryder and Axl Rose, GTA: San Andreas is da bizniz. Word. Ahem.
Download Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Screenshots and Media
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