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
There are bikes, street cleaners, Choppers, motorbikes and i believe aeroplanes, helicopters. TRACTORS, there are so many vehicles in this game you could probably waste a good couple of days messing around with them, thats without going into the customising. You can add alloys, bumpers, colours, nitro, hydraulics. Plus the handling is a damm sight better than in vice city, and since it was pretty ok this is a revelation.
Talking, as i was, about customisation, you can have beards, Elvis hair, B.A HAIR ( y'know B.A Baracus ). AWESOME. tatttos are there for the choosing, chains, tracksuits, jeans. The possibilities are endless.
Then there is the 'keep fit' element. Its strange at first, having to keep and eye on your muscle and stamina, but the excercises that you complete are so intuitive that you can't help but feel they add a certain 'something' to the game.
The visuals are awesome, the sounds are impressive. Pop-up's present but in a game of this size that streams off the disk you can allow some 'minor' flaws. Loading times are vastly improved.
I could go on but i won't since i'm off to play this awesome game some more!
Buy this game, you won't regret it. Just make sure you get it when you've got plenty o spare time.
- I don't think there's quite as much humour compared to vice city, but it's still really funny.
- Some of the blue 'blip' markers on the map are hard to spot when you're trying to speed across town.
- There is a girlfriend 'sims' aspect, which I find a bit annoying. You have to keep taking her out to keep her happy, which is kind of dull. I personally play these games to escape from female nagging, so understand my annoyance when this needy chick turns up on the scene!
- You can carry around a spray can or a camera - but not both at the same time - annoying!
Not many faults I've found so far. There are still all the plus's from the past games, but now other little gems like a skate park for your bmx skills, a fully-usuable basketball court, and usable arcade machines! The music's still great, the visuals great, the missions are much more varied than before - not just shooting and driving, but now challenges such as rescuing peeps from housefires and rhythm challenges along the lines of pa rappa the rapper.
Buy it now or be sorry later.
But what about looks? Well, I bought this game along with my first PS2 console on its release date, and being a veteran of Xbox and Gamecube, the graphics were initially very underwhelming on my big TV. However, it is clear when you venture further into the game, that this game has a certain sheen that graphically gives it the advantage over the previous two installments.
There is less popup, which means that the massive (and I mean MASSIVE) environment looks all the more beautiful than that of its two older brothers. San Andreas is not a city, but a *state*, containing three entire cities. I found myself driving around having fun for over an hour, only to check the map and realise that what I had seen was but a quarter of one city, and that I had yet to see not only the other three quarters of it, but ALL of the other two cities, and ALL of the massive expanse of lush countryside that connects them all together.
Luckily, the mission stucture is intuitive and leads you gradually into the game, which has been a strength of the entire PS2 series so far, so you never feel lost, even when you drive out into the country and lose your car. The same "bridge under construction" mechanic has also been used to stop the player from getting lost miles and miles away from his initial set of missions.
The three cities follow the same routine as Vice City and Liberty City, whereby Rockstar have based them upon real cities, namely Los Angeles (Los Santos), San Francisco (San Fierro), and Las Vegas (Las Venturas). The three cities stick loyally to the cities that they are based upon, which makes them fun to explore. However, being fictional cities, Rockstar have taken advantage of their artistic license to make the environments feel homely and huge, without being too much of a labyrinth to navigate.
This game is also very customisable, taking similar character mechanics as Fable, one of Xbox's most anticipated titles, which seems to almost mock Microsoft's big game that has been brewing for around twelve years, by simply chucking in things like new haircuts, tattoos, food to make you fat, exercise to make you strong and bulgy with muscles. This also doesn't feel like a gimmick. It gives the game certain RPG qualities, encouraging you to go on your own adventures to boost your statistics and improve your experience.
This game is packed with special features. You can now burgle peoples' houses at night, get yourself a pilot's license, play basketball, go dancing in a nightclub (and, quite bizarrely, in a "Lowrider" car with manual suspension). Play a game of boxing if you like, or perhaps go and get yourself kitted up with bling at the Binco clothes emporium - or maybe if you want, go around with a Desert Eagle robbing shops.
Of course, Rockstar wouldn't dream of taking out the things that made its first two PS2 GTA games so great, to expect to see the return of the Dodo, the taxi, paramedic, fire service, and vigilante missions, and a great selection of music from the early nineties - along with a hilarious selection of radio stations.
So, the verdict.
Should you get this game? Yes. It's an essential.
Should you buy a PS2 to get this game? If you have an Xbox, it might be worth waiting for - otherwise, yes.
Is it a revolution? No. But was it really meant to be? It's more of the same, only bigger, badder, and better.
Game of the Year? Maybe... but my vote's with Halo 2...
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