Also Known As: GTA: San Andreas, GTA: SA
Genre: 3rd Person Action-Adventure
Platform: PS2/PC/X-box
Allegiance: Rockstar Games
Vintage: 2004
Rating: M
Intelligence Agency Report by: Dave K
You are Carl Johnson, and you have just come back from a trip to the East Coast after you got word that your mother is dead. When you arrive you find that your friends and gang have been having some tough times. It’s up to you to put your gang back in prominence by lootin’ and shootin’ while getting the cops off your back anyway you can.

Weapons Expert Report by: Dave K 
Story/Premise
Gameplay
Impact
Visual
Audio
6.75
7.00
9.50
8.00
8.75
Overall 8.00
(not an average)
Version Reviewed: Playstation 2 

San Andreas is perhaps the most hyped and anticipated title of all the Grand Theft Auto games. While the hype given to the game was rather warranted, one gets the feeling that it falls ever so short of the mark. 

The storyline of San Andreas is better than all the other GTA games put together, but it still is nothing to marvel at. San Andreas is a mission based game, yet the missions lack a certain amount of continuity and realism. Occasionally, you run into a mission where you can’t help but wonder about either its purpose or its sheer difficulty. On top of that, San Andreas is full of stereotypes: every single black urban gangster stereotype that you can think of is in here from the guy always smoking weed to drive-by shootings. Some people may find this offensive, while others, myself included, may enjoy it for its likely intended purpose: comedic relief. 

In San Andreas you have the ability to customize your character more than you could in previous games. You can make your character look like Mr. T, Dennis Rodman or just about any other black male celebrity. You also are able to have your character work out and eat. This affects your character’s build – if you eat a lot your character will get fat, while if you workout a lot he’ll be totally ripped. If you don’t do either he’ll just be skinny. Each weight has its own minor effects on gameplay, largely affecting your characters speed. The downside of all this is that you can get so involved in the micromanaging of your character’s skills and end up forgetting to complete missions. 

You can also do more than you could in any previous GTA game. Most noticeable is the ability to swim. Now if you drive a car into water you can possibly get out and swim to safety instead of immediately drowning. San Andreas also has DDR-esque dancing and hydraulics competitions. Driving is how it has always been in just about any driving game where you don’t have an actual pedal – gas button to the floor all the time. Selecting and using weapons are decently mapped. The targeting system is the generic one made popular by Ocarina of Time where a click of the L trigger targets the nearest enemy. There is also a first person targeting mode that is best used only with the rocket launcher, since moving in this mode can at times be dangerous since you can be, and often are, shot from behind. 

The soundtracks of the last 3 Grand Theft Auto games have been amazing, but I found there was too much rap in this one. Rockstar does try to put a little bit of everything on the soundtrack to try and please everyone though. The voice acting cast is a huge improvement over the previous games. It features some well known names include Ice T and Samuel L. Jackson. The characters come across as genuine, even if they are blatant stereotypes. 

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is like Preparation H on hemorrhoids – kind of gross, but feels real good. Definitely a title worth owning for the hours of fun it will give you, unless you’re opposed to violence.