For a start San Andreas itself is not a city but a whole fictional county, containing the San Francisco-esque San Fierro, the Las Vegas style Las Venturra and the Los Angeles inspired Los Santos. You can drive anywhere else you like in the countryside, between making the game four to six times the size of Vice City.
You can also now start up your own gang in the game, recruiting members and claiming territory--you can even build and operate your own casino once you get the necessary moolah. You cant just sit around and wait for the money to roll in, though--eat too much junk food and your character will grow fat and have to work out at a gym, as well as keep an eye on a new stamina meter.
The list of other additions and refinements are almost endless; above and beyond the usual claims of an improved aiming system for weapons you can now swim, ride bicycles, get your hair cut, take part in random break-ins and robberies... pretty much anything you were ever told not to do as a kid (except the getting a haircut bit). --David Jenkins
Beyond that, the core excellence of the game is intact. If you think of Vice City giving you a playground to have your fun in, San Andreas gives you Alton Towers. Drift away from the quality Boys In The Hood storyline to experience a few side games and you'll find that they're much more fleshed out and involving. Take the car missions like Taxi Driver. Its gone from being a fair old 30 second dash around the city to a game with speed bonuses for delivery, necessity to repair the taxi when it gets a bit pranged etc.Read more ›
The GTA series needs little introduction - it's the benchmark for free-roaming, go-anywhere games, and GTA:SA offers unparalleled freedom in a game-world 3 times the size of Vice City, adding almost RPG-like "consequence" elements similar to "Fable". Eat too many pizzas, you get fat. Work out, you get fit. Ride your bike a lot, you get better at it. Never change your clothes, you start to smell - and passers-by don't mind letting you know! Just like real life, eh?
I suppose the very fact that I was buying a game which I already owned on a different console is testament to how good this is, but when I pre-ordered it I was expecting the same leap in quality that was seen with "GTA III" and "Vice City", where the Xbox versions were far superior to the PS2 versions in terms of graphics and frame-rate. Strangely, considering "San Andreas" is far more ambitious than its predecessors, the difference is not so marked this time, and the Xbox version is actually a bit of a mixed-bag of better and worse.
60Hz mode is supported (as with Xbox GTA3 and VC) which is always a good thing, but graphically it's only slightly better. Pop-up is still prevalent, with trees in particular popping up worryingly close-by, but the overall look of the Xbox version is 'smoothed' where the PS2 version was 'grainy'.Read more ›