you haven't played San Andreas on the PS2 yet, you're
either not a big fan or you've just arrived on Earth.
Perhaps you're one of those "Meh. I'll wait til
it gets to the Xbox or PC in 6-7 months" kind
of gamers. I admire your restraint. In many respects
it was worth the wait for this franchise phenomenon
to reach the two most powerful gaming systems, but
as previous GTA ports have shown us, not everything
is always hunky dory.
am going to break the game journalist code for a moment
and assume you know what this game is about and jump
right in. You can read the rest of the review which
will immediately follow the Xbox and PC segments to
fill in the holes.
would love to tell you that the horrific load times
present in the PS2 are all but a memory, but I'd be
lying. If anything they might be a hair faster, but
we're talking milliseconds here. I hated the costume
change load times in the first game and they're just
as insufferable in the Xbox version. This meant I
never changed my clothes unless it was important.
I detested Rockstar North for those self-glorifying
stock animations of CJ coming out of the changeroom
to display his latest threads. Should it really take
20 seconds for him to put on a cowboy hat?
has improved is the framerate. But that seems to be
dependent on what type of drive you've got in your
box. On the Phillips and Samsung drive I experienced
very little in the way of slowdown. On the box in
the office with the Thompson drive, it stuttered and
chugged in certain areas - and it also DDE'd a few
times which pissed me off.
graphics have been prettied up and the orange glow
of Los Santos is gone. There were times in the PS2
version when I couldn't even see due to the orange.
Thank god someone eradicated that. The character models
haven't underwent any significant changes although
everything has been crisped up so most models in the
game (people, vehicles, buildings) appear to look
enhanced over the PS2 version.
controls have been altered to accomodate the Xbox
controller and it's definitely not a perfect fit.
They really blew it by not allowing configurable controls.
You're stuck with them the way the are and some of
you may not like that too much. The drive by controls
will require contortionist finger dexterity because
you'll need to use the L and R triggers for acceleration
and braking while using the black/white buttons in
conjunction with the A button. For those lucky enough
to own a PS2, Xbox and an adapter that allows you
to plug a Dual Shock into your Xbox, let me recommend
it highly. I found the control to be the worst aspect
of any of the versions and therefore it lost a half
point from the overall score.
story remains the same and plays out identically to
its PS2 brethren. Let me say for the record that Rockstar
did not include all of those insane little myths like
Bigfoot, UFOs, ghosts in the graveyard et al that
captivated gamers after the release of the original
game into these latest ports.
bonus to the PC and Xbox version is the custom soundtrack
support. While that may not make or break the purchase,
it's a great option. The downside of the this is that
you'll miss certain aspects of the DJ's whom are hilarious
at times, but if you've already heard their shtick
while playing the PS2 version, it might be a wonderful
Xbox version isn't miles ahead if you've already played
and beaten the first release. Aside from the toned
down orange glow, crisper framerate and enhanced visuals,
there really isn't anything here to jump and down
about. It's the same San Andreas game in slightly
be fooled by the minimum requirements posted on the
outside of the box. You will need one hell of a system
to run San Andreas properly on your PC and even then,
you might run into problems depending on your choice
of videocard, RAM etc.
San Andreas with a keyboard and a mouse is a little
like shooting fish in a barrel. Due to the instant
mouse aiming, firefights are over in a matter of moments.
Some of you will love this; some will hate it. Personally
I have always preferred to play these kinds of games
with a controller. They are meant for analog control.
Running CJ around using the keyboard is a huge pain
in the ass as far as I'm concerned. I finally just
gave up and plugged in a controller so I could play
the game the way I was used to.
you've got a sweet tooth for eye candy, then the PC
version is your drug of choice. With a powerful system
you can eliminate the pop in that is rampant in both
the Xbox and PS2 versions (with an easy to use slider)
and of course the high res graphics you've always
dreamed of will be front and center.
isn't perfect. Due to circumstances beyond my control,
the game crashed to the dekstop about a half dozen
times and I'm running the game on an Alien Ware system
that the office just brought in about a month ago.
I was able to contact someone in support and there
seemed to be no apparent reason for this or known
issues with any of the hardware. There is NOTHING
this system can't handle. Except San Andreas that
PC version is only available on a DVD-ROM, which means
if you don't have a DVD-ROM drive, you can't play.
But hey, don't freak out. The other GTA games for
the PS2 and Xbox are also on DVD, because the music
takes up a GB of space. The only difference is that
the consoles already have DVD drives, so don't be
hatin' Rockstar. They had no choice but to put this
bad boy on DVD for the PC.
far this is the best version of the game available,
simply because of the graphics and reduced load times.
You will need a workhorse to have it run smoothly,
but it's definitely worth it in the end, whether you've
an old homie of CJ's or you've just been introduced.
not a huge fan of either GTA 3 or Vice City, I respected
the vision of DMA - now under Rockstar's umbrella
- for turning this quirky little top down game into
a 3D world where anything goes and often does. The
more I read about San Andreas, the more the concept
of creating an actual state complete with three cities
and surrounding countryside intrigued me.
level of freedom in the GTA franchise has always been
it's biggest selling feature. Any gamer will tell
you that.the over the top violence is wildly funl,
but every action game these days has over the top
violence. The coolest aspect of GTA is that you can
literally do anything you want to and I'm here to
tell you that San Andreas takes this concept beyond
anything you've experienced in a GTA game.
me address the issue of San Andreas being nothing
more than an upgrade which has been floating around
forum boards for many weeks and months. In many ways
this is true. The fundamental gameplay elements remain
almost identical to what Rockstar accomplished with
GTA 3 and VIce City. That being said, the sheer amount
of growth, character development and freedom afforded
to the player is unparalleled and when you pack your
bags for San Andreas I imagine many of you won't be
returning for weeks, possibly months.
can imagine the pressure of having to review a title
like this. With 107 main story missions and countless
hidden items to locate such as gang tags, oysters
etc not to mention simply experimenting with insanely
cool extras such as base jumping, it's simply impossible
to test everything out in the time given to review
San Andreas. I managed to see and do quite a lot and
I still don't believe I've scratched the surface as
to what can be accomplished with a little devilish
imagination. I suggest playing SA with a pen and paper
and jotting down all the cool places you want to investigate
and things you want to experiment with. After awhile
you will forget because so many new ideas are popping
is no point rehashing the story (located below). Needless
to say you're CJ who reluctantly rejoins his gang
in the city of Los Santos. While the entire state
appears to be opened from the beginning, you won't
be able to make your way into other areas until you
pass certain objectives or you'll be met with force.
Don't attempt "border crossing" either as
that won't work. Trust me on that one.
the beauty of this game is being able to decide when
you do anything. If you play the game straight through,
mission after mission, you'll miss out on awful lot.
Some will argue and have, that the extra side missions
in the series have been useless busy work artificially
prolonging the game until the inevitable linear end
and yes, San Andreas continues the tradition of screwing
around for hours, days, weeks maybe even months of
exploration without even touching a mission. But it
should be noted that this time around, you'll need
to progress through the storyline to actually progress
has been written about the cosmetic enhancements that
you can put CJ through in the game and it works to
incredible effect. Not only do the clothes make the
man, but also the tattoos, food, hair and attitude.
As you get further on in the game, your character
will be a direct result of how you have treated him.
Conversations with characters on the street can be
handled nicely or not (with a directional d-pad selection)
and you'll notice that if you take CJ one way or the
other (call it the dark side or light side if you
will) his responses will start to gravitate towards
his "attitude" whatever that happens to
be. You will also notice the insane amount of voicework
in the game - not only through the hundreds of conversations
CJ will have with scripted characters during scripted
events - but the comments made by passerby who just
can't help themselves and need to comment on the way
CJ looks. You can also listen closely as they'll be
talking to each other this time around.
of the elements I have sorely disliked in the series
is the terrible shooting and aiming. It has always
been the weakest part of the franchise. I was surprised
to see that Rockstar has made an attempt to change
this for the better in SA, considering they didn't
seem to think it was "broken" after GTA3
because Vice City was more of the same. In SA CJ will
have to get a lot of experience with handling weapons
before he can start using them to great effect. The
more you practice, the better you will become and
what I discovered was that just shooting people on
the street didn't help. You'll need to fight in real
up and education is an underlying mechanic in SA,
in some ways giving the game a pseudo RPG feel, which
I really like. From driving to shooting to skydiving
(and more!) you will need to educate your character
before you can really dig in to the depth of control
that Rockstar North has afforded you. These usually
come in the way of schools where you can test your
abilities. Some players won't take kindly to this
dramatic addition to the series, but I welcomed it
as it added challenge and depth to the foundation
of the gameplay. Without it, SA might have been too
much of a cakewalk for vets of the series.
that as segue point, I can assure you that even oldskool
vets will have their asses handed to them over and
over again. Even carjacking this time around isn't
like taking candy from a baby. These guys fight back.
But harkening back to the education system, spend
some time weightlifting and CJ will be able to handle
himself in physical situations. One of the best innovations
in SA is the ability to not have to rewind the tapes
to the beginning of a particular mission if you fail.
It's a godsend and makes the game flow much smoother,
while still allowing you a chance to get it right.
you loved about previous GTA games is present and
accounted for: the numerous vehicles (land, sea, offroad,
air) with quite a few suprises that you haven't seen
in screenshots, plethora of side missions, empire
building, drivebys, hidden items and so much more
that I literally cannot remember it all. Rockstar
didn't just leave it at that though; there are a lot
of new gameplay modes and minigames you've never seen
before. Hint. Better bring a friend along.
you are able to travel freely between cities, San
Andreas literally and figuratively opens up to the
player. Making your way from Los Santos to San Fierro
or Los Venturas is an adventure on its own. Encountering
rural life is often hilarious and you can tell that
Rockstar enjoys skewering the simple folk as much
as they do the urban folk. That's not too say rural
people are simple. I meant they lead a simpler lifestyle.
Throw in CJ and you've got one fish out of water story
going on in the backwoods of Flint County.
much as I hate to do so, I have to rag a little bit
on the visuals in San Andreas. I think it might be
too ambitious for the aging PS2, but as you might
argue, that's not the fault of Rockstar. It's too
bad they couldn't have released this on the Xbox which
could have used the HD and extra horsepower to good
effect. With the sheer amount of area taken up in
San Andreas corners had to be cut in the graphics
deparment and I'm sure the one thing you'll all notice
is that the game never looks as good at home as it
does in those high res screens Rockstar sends out
in abundance. While the engine has been tweaked in
terms of control, the graphics engine holds up admirably
but at times you can tell it wants to gasp for breath.
San Andreas suffers from framerate drops, graphic
glitches and of course, pop in, and while it's awesome
that the entire area streams from direct from the
disc, it's obvious that new technology would fix these
problems in a jiffy.
an audio point of view San Andreas is as fresh and
fantastic as ever. A great voice cast punches up a
script that would have delivered a well received Hollywood
movie and the soundtrack is second to none. The radio
stations are back in full force and you might just
find yourself taking a midnight stroll in the countryside
just to listen to them.
all this, I feel I'm not even close to finishing this
review because there is just so much going in San
Andreas it's like 5 games in one: part RPG, part adventure,
part action, part racer and part sim. And it does
it just as well as the best games in any of those
genres. It's daunting simply to review a game like
this, nevermind give birth to it. Rockstar has created
one of the best games ever released on any system...and
remember, I wasn't a fan of the last two games. As
I sit here staring at this page I suddenly realize
that the only possible way this review can ever be
finished is if you, the reader, buys the game and
experiences it for yourself. I don't remember the
last time I gave a game this close to a perfect score,
but I stand by this one. It is a masterpiece of gaming
even with it's visual flaws.