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Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas review

Explore a state and enrage your parents

Pros

  • Gigantic and a blast to explore
  • No shortage of fun things to do
  • CJ an extremely likable anti-hero

Cons

  • Combat is still clunky
  • The graphics are still ugly and blocky
  • Hot Coffee no longer served

Given the endlessly bad pressit receives, you'd almostthink Grand Theft Auto was the ruin of Western civilization. But while its hooker-beating and indiscriminate violence come up every time some culture critic wants to rag on digital entertainment, gamers have their own reasons for liking it. Reasons like limitless freedom, unfettered exploration and infinite possibilities for running over old ladies at high speeds. And with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, you'll get more of that stuff than most people can handle.

Giving players three full-sized cities to go nuts in, San Andreas is the biggest chapter in the urbancar-crime series, as well as one of the most convincing virtual worlds ever created. As former gangsta Carl "CJ" Johnson, you'll explore the massive, fictional state of San Andreas, a California/Nevada hybrid complete with analogues of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas, with miles of countryside andsmall towns in between. It's all supported by an epic, misison-basedstoryline thattakes CJ and friends from fighting lowly turf battles to pulling jobs for the CIA to planning a massivecasino heist.And then, as the game winds down, they'llfinally go gun-to-gun with the people behind CJ's misfortunes.

Until then, the gameplay is classic GTA, which means players are generally free to do as they please in a big, open 3-D world. Any vehicle you see can be taken for a joyride, and thanks to GTA's mix of tongue-in-cheek mayhem and fine-tuned controls (when driving, at least), this is a hell of a lot of fun even when cops are chasing you around town (and they will, the second they see you doing something illegal).

The rest of the action still revolves around shooting or beating folks, and thisis a little less enjoyable thanks to an auto-aiming system that locks on to the nearest person, rather than the nearest threat. Is there a gang member shooting at you from across the block? Too bad! You're locking onto that old lady behind you, whether you want to or not. And since she's behind you, CJ will just point his gun straight up until you turn him around.To be fair, San Andreas adds a first-person-style control scheme that makes aiming a little easier, but it still gets clumsy in firefights with squads of enemies.

Given the endlessly bad pressit receives, you'd almostthink Grand Theft Auto was the ruin of Western civilization. But while its hooker-beating and indiscriminate violence come up every time some culture critic wants to rag on digital entertainment, gamers have their own reasons for liking it. Reasons like limitless freedom, unfettered exploration and infinite possibilities for running over old ladies at high speeds. And with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, you'll get more of that stuff than most people can handle.

Giving players three full-sized cities to go nuts in, San Andreas is the biggest chapter in the urbancar-crime series, as well as one of the most convincing virtual worlds ever created. As former gangsta Carl "CJ" Johnson, you'll explore the massive, fictional state of San Andreas, a California/Nevada hybrid complete with analogues of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas, with miles of countryside andsmall towns in between. It's all supported by an epic, misison-basedstoryline thattakes CJ and friends from fighting lowly turf battles to pulling jobs for the CIA to planning a massivecasino heist.And then, as the game winds down, they'llfinally go gun-to-gun with the people behind CJ's misfortunes.

Until then, the gameplay is classic GTA, which means players are generally free to do as they please in a big, open 3-D world. Any vehicle you see can be taken for a joyride, and thanks to GTA's mix of tongue-in-cheek mayhem and fine-tuned controls (when driving, at least), this is a hell of a lot of fun even when cops are chasing you around town (and they will, the second they see you doing something illegal).

The rest of the action still revolves around shooting or beating folks, and thisis a little less enjoyable thanks to an auto-aiming system that locks on to the nearest person, rather than the nearest threat. Is there a gang member shooting at you from across the block? Too bad! You're locking onto that old lady behind you, whether you want to or not. And since she's behind you, CJ will just point his gun straight up until you turn him around.To be fair, San Andreas adds a first-person-style control scheme that makes aiming a little easier, but it still gets clumsy in firefights with squads of enemies.

More Info

GenreAction
DescriptionA hell of a lot of fun, even when the cops are chasing you around town.
Franchise nameGrand Theft Auto
UK franchise nameGrand Theft Auto
PlatformPS3, PS2, Xbox, PC, GBA
US censor ratingMature
UK censor rating18+
Alternative namesGTA: San Andreas, Grand Theft Auto: SA, Grand Theft Auto: SA
Release date8 October 2005 (US), 29 October 2004 (UK)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.
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