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on 13 June 2005
Well here it is. Finally the BIG game of the PS2 arrives on the Xbox. No doubt you already know the quality of this game, its worthy of bypassing all reviews instantly and heading straight up to the 'Buy' button. I've already played through, completed and reviewed this once on the PS2! Yet I have instantly rushed out to grab this Xbox version to once again relive the San Andreas experience. What can I say? From the moment the game opens up its like seeing San Andreas through a rather sharp and expensive pair of glasses as opposed to the slightly more value brand that you use to view the PS2 version through. The state is rendered oh so more crisply with sharper graphics, more detailed textures, absolutely fantastic! Everything from the orange haze of Los Santos to the foggy streets of San Fierro to the purple night times of the Las Venturas desert look absolutely stunning. You also get the bonus of proper Dolby Digital 5.1 sound as opposed to Dolby Pro Logic II. Also the Xbox hard drive shows its genius as you can get your own spooled soundtrack pumped into the game alongside the very hip hop biased main radio stations. Everything points towards making San Andreas a fuller experience for the senses.
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. Rather than taking 5 minutes out for a quick jaunt on this I've found myself dedicating a whole hour to ferrying people around Los Santas. This applies right across the board, you'll find basket ball to play, pool, Dance Dance Revolution style rhythm games, street races... the list goes on. This all set in the massiveness that is San Andreas.
Quality has been extended to the fighting controls with a much more accomplished auto aim method. Of course it still isn't perfect, I still find I get the odd bizarre occasion of CJ running around blindly firing in the air, but its certainly less frustrating than in the previous games. The Xbox conversion brings with it its own new problems, namely being the lack of analogue buttons aside from the shoulder triggers. This means that all driving has to be done with the shoulder buttons, something totally alien when you approach the game from a perspective of the PS2s X button being the main action/drive button. Also the naff old black/white buttons make it a touch difficult to view backwards in a car/select targets to shoot at without having a right hand with 20 fingers. Also inherited from the PS2 version is the games insistence to draw textures right in front of you, thankfully less criminal than in the PS2 version.
Of course the games catalogue of faults are well known to all, but the sheer ambition and quality of the entire package bring with it a host of Pros that overwhelm the Cons from the first moment you play. Like an old friend, a favourite of the house, you learn to forgive the faults and enjoy the good times.
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on 2 December 2010
If you want to play this on an xbox 360, you will need to download an update (free) from xbox live. If you dont have your xbox connected to the internet like me, you can take your harddrive to a mates house and do it there, providing they are connected to the internet. (took me ages to figure this out for myself) happy gaming :P
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VINE VOICEon 30 June 2005
I think the other reviewers here have already covered most of the relevant stuff about the Xbox version of GTA: San Andreas. I'd been playing the NTSC PS2 version since release, and was impressed enough to place my pre-order to "upgrade" to the Xbox version, so consider this as more of a comparison review.
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'. However, the Xbox version has some all-new graphical 'quirks' of its own, like flickering walls that can't decide whether they're in shadow or not, and tree branches that blend to sky-blue at the edges - fine if they're actually framed against the sky, just plain weird-looking if they're framed against other branches! And then there's the way the night sky flickers horribly between midnight and 2am... The PS2 version may look grainy and lo-fi compared to the Xbox version, but it didn't have these curious 'glitches', so it's hard to say that one is intrinsically 'better' than the other graphically.
The frame-rate is definitely higher on the Xbox but the draw distance isn't much different to the PS2, if at all, and it's still prone to going choppy at times. The biggest problem with the Xbox version though is the control layout. The "look-left, look-right, hold-both-to-look-behind" buttons, mapped to L2+R2 on PS2, are mapped to the black and white buttons on the Xbox controller because it lacks a second set of triggers. This means that what felt natural on a PS2 controller is now rendered nigh-on impossible for the human hand to do - especially looking behind when you're driving which requires you to mash your thumb across both buttons and hope for the best. As with the graphics, it's swings and roundabouts with the controls too, because the Xbox version boasts the ability to rotate the camera freely and smoothly with the right thumbstick at all times. Other Xbox additions include a 30-second instant replay function and the ability to use custom soundtracks from your own CDs - cool features which probably outweigh those graphical niggles and control issues.
All in all, it's the game that matters - and the bottom line is that GTA:SA is a superb game whatever format you buy it on. Both PS2 and Xbox versions have their own good and bad points so I'd say the two versions come out fairly equal, with a slight advantage going to the Xbox version - as long as you can live with those control issues. It's not that much better than the PS2 version, though, and certainly nowhere near enough to make your PS2-owning mates turn green if that's your aim. Hey, forget about the hardware, and just enjoy the software!
One last thing... As a white middle-class male, the incessant "hangin' wit' my homies in da hood" "urban" thing doesn't half grate! Sorry guys, I know it's supposed to sound all "hard" and "street" and stuff, but talking the way these guys do is every bit as much of an affectation putting on a camp voice as far as I'm concerned! It's all a bit Ali G for me, coming off like GTA: Staines or something. Anyone who doesn't speak fluent "street" might wish the subtitles weren't just verbatim - in fact, I really think Rockstar missed a cool trick here... Anyone remember the classic "I speak jive" scene from the movie "Airplane"? It would have been SO funny (and helpful!) to have an alternative subtitle track that translated what your homies lay on you into the Queen's English! "Thank you my friend, I wholeheartedly agree with you" Haha! Fo' Sho'.
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on 22 September 2005
If you want to become immersed in a game for months then this is the game for you.
It starts by drawing you into the characters, especially CJ, who you play in the game.
Initially the stories are quite simple and let you get to grips with the gameplay, which isn't difficult, but very addictive.
As you get further into the game the characters grow and the storylines become more involved and complex, plus they are real-life (all be it that of a gangster).
There are some amazing scenes of total devastation, which all adds to the gameplay.
There are little things always ongoing, such as going to the gym, getting your hair cut, which all add to the overall feel.
The actual gameplay is as simple as it needs to be, but does all it has to do.
If you only buy one game in your life, let it be this one.
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on 20 September 2005
After having completed the PS2 version of this I decided I'd try it on XBox, I expected great things.
The game is simply huge. If you've played the previous games you'll know what to expect in the way of gameplay as it's all here plus tons of extra goodies to boot. The sheer map size is incredible compared to Vice and Liberty City, I hear it's over 3 times the size but it seems a lot more.
The roaming freeplay which we all know and love is what makes these games and of course it's still here with San Andreas.
I didn't particularly like the XBox control system though, for viewing left - right & behind cams inside vehicles. They've nominated the black&white buttons for this role which is barmy and impossible in the mids of a frantic 'wanted star' chase. Bad show.
That aside the graphics are only slightly improved upon the PS2 but they were almost perfect there anyway, although there is a cool shadow effect now which maps over the surface of your vehicles. The colours seem slighly diluted compared to PS2 but not really a matter unless you have them running side by side.
All in well worth the purchase, the game itself ain't too hard if you are used to the previous games and the shooting aiming thingy has been improved so missions involving being on foot and killing people with guns are pretty much a doddle. It's all the sub missions and side games that will have you wanting to throw your telly out the windows, but that's what we love innit.
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on 2 October 2009
Completed San Andreas a few years back. Has you hooked from start to finish. Characters, plot line, weapons, customisation, vehicles, side missions, hilarious scripting, great action, it has it all in abundance.

Thank god its backward compatible with the 360 as I gave away the old xbox a while ago and always want the option to pick up and play.

Can't see many people even reading this review, but if you happen upon it and haven't played San Andreas you have to buy it!

At the very start the cops dump you in an alleyway, you jump on a BMX and cycle to the dot on the map. After that it's up to you to rob, steal, beat, buy, drive, fly, swim, cycle, race and cause mayhem wherever you go. On top of that there's a great storyline with twists and turns and some of the most memorable ingame characters you will ever meet.

I almost wish they'd just give it a quick re-release for the PS3/360 because it would be a shame for anyone to have missed a true epic.
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on 12 July 2005
Well I have played all of the GTA series with varying amounts of dedication over the years and the shift from the latest outing (San Andreas) from the original is spectacular to say the least. The game does keep the essence that made the original game such a genre breaker, but does add in some really slick graphics to boot. When I played Driv3r I found the game to have slick graphics and had quite fast action, GTA though blows it away, the game play is so fast and furious that you really do have to concentrate very hard to ensure you keep up with the speed of the vehicles!
One element that often lets games like this down (and indeed did let the earlier versions down) is the out of car action. Often this is jerky, hard to master and generally feels like an unnecessary add on to the game, and nothing more important than a way of moving from one car to another. Thankfully GTA San Andreas doesn't make this mistake and the game play outside of the car really is as good as the game play within.
On a more serious note the violence in the game is frequent and unrelenting. I don't particularly have a problem with this, it is quite cartoony in nature, but when you actually think what you are doing (after shooting the 11th policeman after storming a building) you do realise that this can be a little close to the bone. I am not preaching censorship, just an understanding of what you are buying. The same thing goes for the language, like I said doesn't bother me but it may bother some.
Back to the game play... Every time you jack a car its preset to the radio station of the occupant, this can get a bit annoying as if like me you occasionally like the radio off it takes a while to cycle through the stations, at the same time as trying to get the car away from the owner / police. A minor point though. An excellent feature (once you get used to it) is the auto targeting with the guns, this combined with the ability to strafe your opponents really makes for exciting on foot scenes, in fact the ability to "drive by" adds something too...
My final point is to emphasise the size of this game - its huge. It will keep even the most ardent gamer busy for quite a while, this is solely down to the way the game brings you in to the environment and the story lines whilst never dragging. A truly excellent game.
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on 21 July 2006
It's not the violence that makes GTA games, it's the wacky sense of humour, hidden gems (both physically and visually) and sheer scope and scale that has gone into the game. San Andreas is no different.

I'm playing this on my 360 through a VGA cable, and my word does it look sweet! I don't need to tell you what the game entails, that's what magazines and other websites are for, but you just need to know that you need this game if you own an Xbox or a 360.
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on 2 April 2013
I've played this game on Ps2, PC and now Xbox. I love it so much, had to have it in the collection for each platform.

The story is engaging. The controls are intuitive. The mechanics are supportive. With many things to do outside of the story missions.

The biggest GTA they've done. And to my mind, the best.
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on 15 December 2014
Great game, originally owned it for the PS2, how ever the system stopped reading CD's over two years ago. So since I owned a CRT television and a working Xbox, I thought I'd get a copy of this. It does look quite nice and polished in comparison.

It is similar to the PC copy, certain objects in Grove Street appear only in these two copies, at least I remember it that way. Nothing significant, just clutter in the street.

The Custom soundtrack for a console is a great touch!
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