Want to experience actual grand theft auto? Play GTA: San Andreas!

OK, results may vary on this one. The year is 2004, and I'm late to the PlayStation 2 party (blame: EverQuest). My roommates and I are poor, finishing up our last year at Ohio State, and poor. We live in a cinderblock mansion. Three floors of verticality; the living room and kitchen on ground level, two rooms and a bathroom on the second floor, the same on the third. It's November, and I have just purchased the hot new hot, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, alongside the PS2. My roommate, Buzz, has the TV; I'm with games; Dirty owns the backpack; and Try Hard, well, she's the one with the car. Most of these details are important, I swear.

San Andreas is good. I don't need to tell you that, and even if I did need to, I couldn't possibly convey its genius right here and now in this article. What I'll say is that for that bright, beautiful week, Columbus' clouds and dreariness and coldness and dullness ceased to exist. Mostly because we never left the living room, thus rendering the outside world moot. There was only CJ and his bicycle, Los Santos and its stars.

But, as you tend to learn in college, life can become terrible at a moment's notice. I've named Dirty as I have here not because he's a crook, but because he's the single most filthy, slovenly, irresponsible human being I've ever met. I lived with the guy for four years (blame: EverQuest), and in that time, I don't recall him ever throwing anything away. We moved three times, and still he never threw anything away. Walking into his room was to wade into a knee-high midden heap. He never washed his socks; he simply bought new ones when the old became so sodden with sweat and grime that they maintained their shape when he removed them from his feet. I literally found a sock on the floor that was still in the shape of his foot! Just a stiff tube! (Come to think of it, the shape may have been due to a different reason... oh God, I touched it!)

But I digress. Dirty had a way of leaving the front door unlocked whenever he came home, despite being reminded on a near-daily basis not to do so, because, you know, crime-infused college town. But Dirty being Dirty came home late one night after we'd had the game for a week, left the door unlocked, and when Try Hard awoke at around 7 a.m., heard someone rummaging about on the ground floor. She thought it was me--I have no idea why--and went to class, oblivious. Try Hard comes home a few hours later, notices the missing TV, screams--I have no idea why. The rest of us wake up, head downstairs, and scream--at Dirty, for being such a lousy asshole and leaving the door unlocked yet again.

We take stock. My beautiful, new PS2 is gone, of course, as is the Xbox and myriad games. Buzz's TV has been pinched. The thief rifled through Dirty's backpack, dumped its contents on the floor, and then, presumably, loaded it up with my stuff. Try Hard, though. Try Hard is smug. "Haha," she says. "What have I told you boys about playing with your toys in the living room?"

And then, two hours later, "Hey, has anyone seen my car keys?"

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  • HybridSteel - September 29, 2013 2:07 a.m.

    *Spoilers alert for people who havnt played it yet* I loved san andreas it is my favorite out of the series or was my favorite, GTA5 has taken that spot with three main characters, the shear size of the game, the twisty story line between all three rockstar has brought back my flame for gta considering the huge dissapointment of gta4 i was hoping that maybe they would leave the franchise alone for a bit and they did, spending 5 years making this masterpiece has been worth the wait.... i cant see how someone has dubed it fast and the furious its GTA were stealing stuff, shooting people and generally making money robbing people and banks thats what GTA id all about. The side missions and random encounters makes this game as well adding that little bit of sillyness on the side with getting stoned and seeing aliens to clowns, Also the kidnapping mission was pretty cool..not to mention the different ways you can do your heist missions giving you the control of how you want to do them to the way you play the game. All in all i feel rockstar saw the comments from the fans and saw they messed up a bit went back to the drawing board and decided to really go for it on this... and they did in a big way... welldone rockstar.
  • Terrorrizor - September 28, 2013 7:12 p.m.

    GTA V was kind of a disappointment, it felt more like a Fast and Furious game shooting for a Kane and Lynch-esque darkness while trying to be somewhat lighthearted and satirical. It just felt like all heists and 0 character development. CJ went from petty thug to man of the world expanding his horizons. Niko learned revenge doesn't bring happiness and that his past will always haunt him. I'm pretty close to the end of the story and it seems like there is only superficial growth in the characters, I mean, all they do is get richer...
  • HybridSteel - September 29, 2013 2:19 a.m.

    in every gta game the characters only got richer thats the main thing of all the gta games well except gta 4 obviously you havn't paid attention to the story of the 3 characters... franklin goes from boosting cars for small cash to getting out of the ghetto and finding a better way to live along the way learning that money isnt everything and can now go about his life in comfort and without taking the risks of boosting cars and getting shot at... it was a quick way out for him and he go what he needed. Michael retired now out of retirement is now learning where he went wrong in his life while building back on his family who broke becasue of him, now learning how to control himself with his family he goes back to becoming the man he should have been. Trevor learnt his friend who he thought was dead was still alive gave him the closure he needed and venting of his anger.. also finding out that brad was dead all along and having to build a relationship with michael again and kind of straightening himself out and rebuilding his life... maybe i read into games too much but if you didnt see this you didnt play the game right.. you need to watch all the cut scene and listen to the characters throughout the game to understand where each one is coming from.. you dubbed it as a fast and furious kain and lynch game.... gta is all about shooting people stealing cars and getting rich... what more did you expect
  • Terrorrizor - October 4, 2013 1:46 a.m.

    You're just assuming now, when I play any game I take the time to listen and redo missions and everything like you probably do. Think about it, it's a shallow game. Most of it is Heists, and then like 8 out of the like 60 or so missions is about them personally. Remember Franklin and Lamar missions? Those were personal and let the players get to know them, they made Trevor into a psycho killing machine and Michael into a rat and did nothing with it. It feels like there was no story. I could sum it up so quickly. Michael faked his death for his family, relives his glory days through Franklin, Trevor comes back to find he's not dead (they spend like 40 missions not talking about it much), fight the feds, steal millions of dollars in gold, the end. Every other GTA had a better story. The GTA 5 story is all bare, it's not character driven, it's situation driven. And I didn't mean it's driving and shooting when I said it was what KL should've been and like FF. I mean it was like they tried to design a heist system for Kane and Lynch or something, and that it was all about heists like Fast and Furious.
  • duffer00 - September 22, 2013 6:51 p.m.

    I really want to play San Andreas because I feel like it may be difficult to go from V to San Andreas but hey I'll try it out. Probably get it on PSN for pretty cheap.
  • Redeater - September 21, 2013 11:30 p.m.

    While my favorite GTA remains Vice City, I loved the shit out of SA. My jaw constantly dropped every time there was a riot in CJ's neighborhood. It was an incredible technical marvel at the time.

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