9GAME believes that if you are a GTA games lover, you would not miss GTA San Andreas.
No one’s going to be mistaking this for Grand Theft Auto V, but they may need a second glance as the two games are set in the same fictional state and Los Santos and the surrounding area is meant to be the same place in both games (sort of, Rockstar now consider the PlayStation 2 era games to be in a different continuity to Grand Theft Auto IV and V so they’re not exactly the same).
Although it’s physically smaller than the newer games San Andreas is still the biggest in terms of scope, with three major cities and all the countryside in-between. In terms of story you play the role of gangster ‘CJ’, who returns to the city in 1992 after his mother is killed. The early part of the game finds you trying to restore your gang’s past glories but quickly diversifies into stealing jetpacks and jump jets for the most spurious of reasons.
Grand Theft Auto IV’s more grounded (read: boring) missions were a direct reaction to San Andreas’ uncaring attitude to plausibility and realism but in hindsight San Andreas’ attitude makes for far more fun. From playing pool and basketball to burgling random houses and, for the first time, flying real planes it’s obvious that this was the inspiration for Grand Theft Auto V in terms of more than just location.
San Andreas is also the first time the idea of changing your character’s role-playing style stats emerged, although the more organic system in Grand Theft Auto V works much better than spending tedious hours (well, minutes) in San Andreas’ gyms.
The touchscreen controls are a compromise, but you’d have to assume that anyone downloading a nine-year-old PlayStation 2 game on an Android knows what they’re getting themselves in for. Besides, you’re just as likely to be put off by the frustrating mission designs as you are the actual controls. San Andreas betrays its age in terms of more than just the graphics and there’s only so much a checkpoint system can do to alleviate the finicky objectives and sudden difficulty spikes.
The driving and shooting work better than you’d think but they’re still not actively good, and never really were. Indeed that’s why Grand Theft Auto V was such a revelation, because at last the gameplay mechanics had begun to catch up with the quality and complexity of the game world.
No matter how popular they are at the time none of the Grand Theft Auto games tend to have much value once their successor is released, and as a result San Andreas is more fun as a nostalgia piece than it is a classic video game. But even today there are few titles so wildly ambitious and so densely packed with things to do, no matter which format you’re playing them on.
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