Today we all know Rockstar as an industry leader and innovator at everything they lay their hands on. Every IP they are connected to suddenly turns into gold or retains every bit of its luster, with Max Payne 3 being the best example.
But we all must agree that what Rockstar absolutely perfected was the open-world life simulator and took it to heights that were unimaginable for any game, any developer or publisher at the time.
Their diverse and well-polished gameplay is paired with beautiful, gargantuan, fully living and breathing worlds, and characters who are both pop culture icons and love letters to pop culture at the same time.
Grand Theft Auto is the best-known franchise in the entire world, and for a video game franchise to be discussed extensively around most if not circles that a human being could find, is an extraordinary feat achieved by extraordinary people.
In this Grand Theft Auto San Andreas review, we discuss a time in Rockstar’s peak which could have crumbled the giant’s power to do what it can today and lost all the credibility that they had in their fans’ hearts and minds.
Instead, they made the best of it and how.
GTA San Andreas Review: The Beginning
The sixth-generation console era had seen Rockstar venture into several genres with titles such as Manhunt, Red Dead Revolver, and Midnight Club, finding immense success if most if not all of these.
But what they realized after releasing GTA: Vice City is that they had a blueprint for perfection. And that they could perfect it with the next iteration. Ideas came pouring out, and it was revealed that the scale of their next Grand Theft Auto would be way more than peeps in 2004 could fathom.
Every iteration had its own thing, with Vice City most prominently borrowing off the cocaine-infested south of the ’80s, and this time, we would go to the modern-day with gang violence and the ‘colored man’s war against authority.
The map was way bigger, and Rockstar wanted to test the limits of the Renderware engine before they would have to develop for newer, flashier hardware, which was around the corner. Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and San Francisco were all taken as real-life inspirations for world design.
Everything was either built from the ground up or revamped, Rockstar really wanted to go all out before they had to let go of the engine.
As a result, the devs said that the scale of the map and graphics would push the limits of the PS2 and Xbox.
And the fact that they still got it done and that GTA: SA is one of the best sellers of all time on the PS2 is testament to the fact that Rockstar had a real talent on board. They still do, evident with RDR2.
GTA San Andreas Review: Gameplay
San Andreas made improvements across the board. The world you inhabited now had even more events to partake in, and the excellent introduction scene put you right in the heart of the action, without locking any part of the world out of your reach.
Carl Johnson is probably the simplest protagonist in the history of the franchise, and it is important to realize why this decision was probably made. Although the player would be driven to become the murderous maniac they’d always feared they were, Carl was just a body that they were inhabiting, and their actions outside of the story would never be representative of Carl and what his nature was.
This way, the open world could create a necessary disconnect to ensure that immersion was maintained, and I think this is the most amazing thing to experience in a video game.
Along with that, changes were made to the weapons and shooting mechanics. Carl could now take cover while he was being shot at, and his movement was more vertical with climbable ledges scattered across the world.
One of the biggest changes was also the addition of swimming, which was a huge relief. Carl was able to and would require spending some time underwater to complete a part of the 30-hour campaign.
While some of the missions are forever in the annals of history as some of the hardest in video gaming history, Rockstar deserves praise for the incredible pacing and perfect synergy of the plot to the character, and the supporting cast.
And what a supporting cast it was. Officer Tenpenny, voiced by Samuel L. Jackson is one of the best and worst antagonists of all time, and the dialogue between him and CJ is an extreme but necessary reflection of their relationship and the relationship between CJ and the city of San Andreas.
It starts off with the return of Carl Johnson to the city of San Andreas, which he had left quite a few years ago to stay away from the constant gang wars.
Officer Tenpenny, a viciously corrupt police officer, decides to kill members of the gang Grove Street because they didn’t accept selling drugs for him, and in the process ends up having Beverly, the mother of one of the members, Sweet, killed by Ballas, a rival gang to Grove Street who are under Tenpenny’s thumb.
Just so, Carl was Sweet’s brother.
After receiving the call about the death of their mother, Carl immediately flies from Liberty City and ends up being dragged into a world of consistent hedonism, with one foot in the grave at all times.
Thereon, we know what happened next. GTA San Andreas is one of the most played titles in the history of video games.
Also Read: The 25 Best GTA 5 Mods You Must Try
There aren’t many things that you could even nitpick about San Andreas, but that kind of perfection isn’t what the game is all about. It is a crystal-clear reflection of what is really going on in our society, presented with a mask of satire and dark comedy.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games.
All philosophy aside though, the gameplay still holds up today and is supported spectacularly by the expansive storyline. If you want a fresh hot of good old Nostalgia, look no further than Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, available on PC.
GTA San Andreas was developed by Rockstar Games
Final Rating: 99%