You can go into this bar and gamble your money away. And once you get home you can even play avideo game, so, you’re not limited solely to senseless violence, but of course we still have that, if you’re into that sort of thing. Oh, you don’t like that, do you? Well maybeyou should’ve thought about that, before you parked your ambulance on me, forcing me torestart and lose all my progress you stupid fuuuuuu-Oh, and you can rob people. In fact, that’s actually how we unlock the infinite sprintthis time. In the last two games you’d gain the ability to run forever if you completedthe paramedic side mission, but here you get it when you earn at least $10,000 from robbingpeople. This isn’t required for 100% completion, butat the same time, why wouldn’t you do it? It’s not that hard, you don’t even have toget $10,000 on one go, just $10,000 total. Plus it’s an easy way to make money. And you get the infinite sprint, the only downside to this is that it kind of takesthe fun out of leveling up your stamina stat. Oh yeah, that’s another new feature. Stats.There are dozens upon dozens of stats, but the ones you’ll be focusing on the most arethe following.
I found the easiest way to level this up to be shooting parked cars in random parkinglots, and remember, after the car lights on fire, walk away, cool guys don’t look at explosions.Then there’s vehicle skill, and I really like this feature. Remember in my Vice City reviewhow I complained about being knocked off bikes too easily? Well they fixed that here. Whenyou drive around on a motorcyle long enough, your skill for it goes up, and you get flungfrom it less often. This is perfect, I wouldn’t change a thing.Next is Stamina, which is useless once you do the aforementioned burglary mission.Muscle, which you get by working out at a gym, or simply running around, your choice.It makes your physical attacks significantly stronger.And the last stat that I’m going to talk about for now is, Fat, which you get by eating,but if you eat too much, you’ll become, <morbidly obese,
You may ask why you’d want to make CJ fat, since all it seems to do is slow him down,and make it harder for him to climb, there are actually two reasons to keep his fat upthough, one is that you need to have at least a littlefat, or else he’ll start losing muscle, and two is that he says REALLY funny things whenhe’s obese. This should help keep my belly full. Imma spend this on a good meal. Ay, it’s muscle under this fat, punk! Imma eatchu, fool! That’s another thing I’d like to bring up,while Tommy Vercetti was a vocal protagonist, he wasn’t really coded to talk that much outsideof cutscenes, and only did so occassionally. But with CJ, they have him as a lot more outspokenand he says some really funny things. Another thing is that CJ has a bit more personalitythan Tommy Vercetti, Tommy Vercetti wasn’t exactly a blank slate, but for the most parthe’s what I would imagine Claude would be like, if he could talk.Carl’s also the first protagonist who can swim. In order to prevent the player fromentering an area before completing required missions, Claude and Tommy would drown theminute they entered water, and this became a major problem when you had to get somewherein the water that couldn’t be accessed by a bridge, since you couldn’t even touch thewater. Here they have a different incentive to keepyou from entering a place too early. If you try to enter San Fierro or Las Venturas beforeyou’re allowed to, you’ll be met with a four-star wanted level, and get the crap blown out ofyou. While I’m not sure I’d agree with limitingthe player’s ability to explore,
I will say that I highly approve of this method of doingso, over the alternative. I think now would be a good time to talk aboutone of my first complaints: the extremely large map.I know that’s going to sound like a weird complaint, obviously having a large map isa good thing, but my problem is that there aren’t very many ways to traverse it.You’re on meth if you think you’re going to get anywhere just sprinting, even with theinfinite stamina. The only modes of transportation are the onesbrought over from previous games, and a couple new ones.The first new one is the plane, which is really tricky to learn how to fly, and it’s kindof hard to get it off the ground correctly, even if you do know what you’re doing. It’salso nearly impossible to land unless you have a huge open area to land on, so I endedup parachuting out of it most of the time.par The second one is the jetpack, and I reallylike it. You have all the mobility you would have on foot, and you can fly, it makes collectingthings a lot easier. The only downside is that while it’s faster than running, it’sstill not as fast as a plane. It also kind of sucks that it’s only availablefrom one place in the entire game, and it’s only available after the mission Green Goo.You can also fly using a local airport, but there are only three of them on the map, andyou’d have to travel all the way to them anyway, so I never ended up using them.I honestly think this was a major contributing factor to the game’s overall length.
That’snot to say that it’s without its content, but I spent quite a bit of time trying toget from one place to the next. I didn’t really bother with the radio stationthis time, I’m sure they’re good, but you know how YouTube is with copyright.As for the art style, I like it. It’s not as colorful as Vice City, but it looks fairlyrealistic, but at the same time it doesn’t look all gray and bland, and sometimes iteven looks like something straight out of a creepypasta.Now let’s talk about the characters, I don’t think they’re really as memorable as the onesfrom Vice City, but they’re pretty decent.par I guess for starters are the Grove StreetOGs, they’re written pretty well, they’re given the personalities of ghetto black dudes,but it never feels like they’re trying to beat you over the head with the fact thatthey’re black. And they are distinguishable. It feels like an improvement over their firstattempt. Ay! Yo! I’m so black, man!Another noteworthy character that I’d like to talk about here is OG Loc, his story isbasically that he wants to be a gangster rapper, but he’s simply not cut out for it, I honestlyfeel sorry for him. One character who I can almost assure youthat you’re not going to forget is Officer Tenpenny, a rather corrupt cop who’s voicedby the Samuel L. Jackson. Yeah, that Samuel L. Jackson.We also get a lot of returning characters from Vice City and III.Hey, look it’s Claude! Or as CJ likes to call him. CJ: Mute a**hole! I’m going to play that from now on when Italk about mute protagonists. And what do you know? It’s Ken Rosenburg.And then there’s, OH GOD! IT’S CATALINA! DIE YOU STUPID WITCH! DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEThe only character who I would say was unmemorable but I still remember is Mike Toreno, I onlyremember him because of this one line. Now I’d like to talk about hostile gangs again. GTA III had them, Vice City improved on them,but San Andreas is the first game to get it right. The two hostile gangs in this gameare the Ballas, and the Vagos. So why do they work? For one thing they’remostly hostile at the beginning, so it doesn’t feel like the game is punishing you for completingmissions. More importantly they don’t always immediately start shooting at you when youenter their field of gravity.
But most importantly, they actually give youa way to fight back. Between the missions Doberman and the GreenSabre, as well as after the mission Home Coming, you’ll be given the ability to initiate gangwars, and if you successfully take out three waves of enemies, you’ll take over their territory.Once you take over every last bit of territory, all the hostiles will be wiped off the streets,and you won’t have to worry about them. This is a MAJOR step up from how the previoustwo games handled it. Although I do feel that the turf war system could have been handleda bit better. Basically to initiate a gang war, you haveto enter an enemy’s gang territory, and kill at least three enemy gang members. Interestinglyenough, it doesn’t even have to be the enemy gang that owns the turf, you can kill threevagos and start a war with the ballas, and vice versa.My main problem with this is that starting a war can be somewhat tricky, you have toactually be standing within a territory you don’t own, not just near it, you have to bewithin it. Another catch is when you can’t find any hostilegang members to kill, if there aren’t at least three gang members nearby, you’re out of luck.And then there’s the process of taking over land. Like I said before, you have to takeout three waves of enemies, and while you’re doing this, you CAN’T leave the area, at leastnot for too long. And this proves to be a problem as sometimesyour enemies are far away from the battlefield, and their crappy AI sometimes proves detrimentalto your ability to dispatch of them. Another problem is with defeating enemies.You’ll often find yourself heavily outnumbered, and if there are enough of them, it won’ttake long to bring you from full health, to wasted within a few seconds.Fortunately, you can recruit members of your own gang to help you out. They’re kind oflike the bodyguards you can hire after completing Vice City. And the game seems to expect youto do this, but it proves to be troublesome for the following reasons.One being that you can only recruit up to seven of them, and that’s only if you havemax respect. Two is that their AI is kind of crappy, you’llfind that this game has a pretty bad case of AI running into walls syndrome. Or AIRIWS,as I like to call it. Another thing is that in order to start awar, YOU need to kill three gang members, and having your homies take them out for you,makes it kind of difficult. Lastly, if you accidentally shoot an allyin cross-fire, you suffer a respect penalty. So overall, I can’t recommend using this feature,regardless of how cool it is.
And probably one of the biggest complaintsI have are with the cops. Once again they have never heard of self-defense, and willtarget you, and only you. Not to mention, there almost always seemsto be at least one cop around when you’re trying to start a war. How about you start by getting your buddiesto quit picking on me? The last problem I have with it isthat enemies can try to take over your territory as well, which makes sense, but it’s alsoextremely tedious and you have to stop whatever you’re doing and drive all the way down toprotect your land. I know it sounds like I’m being harsh on thisfeature, but I really do prefer this over how the previous two games handled hostilegangs. I just feel that it could be improved upon. I’d also recommendnot trying to take over all the land before the mission Green Sabre, since you’re justgoing to end up having to reclaim it all anyway, so unless you’re trying to earn a piss tonof respect, you’re better off waiting until Home Coming.One positive thing I definitely want to mention is that while the gang territory feature isactive, it generates money that you can collect at CJ’s house, and the more land you takeover, the more money it generates. I really like this because it makes takingover territory feel even more rewarding. And this brings me to the next topic I wantto discuss: assets. Assets are a feature that started in Vice City, and luckily make a returnhere, unlike in Vice City though, they’re not required for the storyline missions, butthey are required for 100% completion. They also range a lot more, for example, theassets that you have to earn by completing deliveries, similar to the Pizza Boy missionin Vice City, there are three of these assets, one for each island.Then there are some assets that have to be earned by completing various side missions.One in particular haunts players to this day, Supply Lines.I actually didn’t have that much trouble with this mission, to be honest.The only downside is that the assets here don’t really generate all that much, and likeI said before, the map is so huge that I couldn’t really find the time to collect from themthat often. The last two games had you collecting hiddenpackages, which, once you collected 10, you’d get a new weapon delivered to some of yourmain hideouts. This game sort of changes that up a bit.Instead of 100 hidden packages, we have 100 tags found in Los Santos, 50 snapshots inSan Fierro, 50 horseshoes in Las Venturas, and 50 oysters, found in watery areas aroundall three islands. Once you complete each collectible, otherthan the oysters, you’ll have four weapons delivered to one of the selected hideoutsin each island.
I like this more than the hidden packagesin GTA III, but not as much as the packages in Vice City, because the way it was set upin Vice City, you could get a flamethrower before you even had to unlock the second island,which I thought was pretty cool. You don’t really get too much in terms ofhigh-end weaponry, like the minigun, even if you collect all of them, sadly, but youdo get one step closer to completion.par I think probably my biggest criticism is thatthis game is significantly less polished than the previous two. I experienced quite a bitof crashing, especially near the end of the game.This wouldn’t bother me too much, but they released a patch that removed songs from thegame awhile back, you’d think they’d be able to release something that could fix some ofthese glitches. Now let’s talk about my favorite and leastfavorite mission or missions. I think two of my least favorite missions would be BeatDown on B Dup, and, Grove 4 Life. My reason for disliking these two is thatthey take the harshest aspects of the gang warfare feature, and blow them up tenfoldby giving the ballas extremely powerful weaponry. It’d be kind of hard to name my favorite mission,since there are so many, and they all have you doing several different things, but Ithink I’d like to talk about Black Project. Basically for this mission, you’re told toenter Area 69, hurr hurr hurr. And steal a jetpack.You’re advised to sneak around in order to avoid detection, but if you are detected,you’ll have to resort to less subtle methods. I like how the mission doesn’t immediatelyfail you just because you didn’t complete it the way you were expected to, that’s onething I really like seeing in Grand Theft Auto missions, giving the player freedom tocomplete a mission the way they want to. After all, this is a game that most peopleplay for the sense of freedom that they get. One more thing I wanted to touch upon is theexports and imports feature. Import/exports are nothing new to the game, they were inGTA III and Vice City as well. Basically what would happen is, you collecta car, drive it to be exported, and you get a reward for it. And after you collected allof them, you’d get a bigger reward. San Andreas made several changes to the systemhere, some that I liked, others I didn’t. One of the changes that I did like was thatwhen you enter an eligible car, it’ll actually notify you, something that I would have greatlyappreciated in the previous two installments, and am glad to see here.Another benefit to it is that unlike the last two games, where you had to roam around untilyou got lucky enough to find the right vehicle, this game always has each car available inat least one area, as long as it’s needed for exporting.Now, one of the problems I have here, is, like I said before, the map is huge, and oftentimes you’ll find yourself having to go pretty far out of your way to collect one.There are also times where a car won’t spawn for some reason, although this is usuallyfixed once you run around a little bit. Also, in GTA III, once you collected everycar, you’d be able to import any one of them on a whim. Here though, you can only importeach car on a certain in-game day of the week, and you have to pay money for them.Vice City didn’t allow you to import any of the collected cars, but I didn’t really carethat much since it could be completed within a few hours. San Andreas on the other hand,will take you at least a day of non-stop playing, or about a week of inconsecutive playing inorder to find all 30 vehicles. One thing I’m a little mixed on is the whole,the car has to be in perfect condition, or else you suffer a payment penalty.It makes sense to do this, but all it ends up doing is making it more tedious, sinceyou’re just going to end up storing the car in a nearby garage, and if you bump into someone,you have to drive all the way back and do it again.Also there are times where you’ll be unable to detect any damage, and suffer a penaltyfor something you didn’t know about. Also, you know when I said this game is glitchy?Well one of the glitches I experienced was after I tried to store a car to get it repaired,I opened the garage to find out it disappeared, but apparently it still counted as a storedvehicle. So my garage that used to be able to holdfour vehicles can now only hold three, which really is crap.So it took me awhile, and I mean QUITE awhile, but I finally managed to complete this game100%. And do you get anything out of this? Of course you do! Just for finishing the game,you get this post-mission phone call. That… Wasn’t exactly how I expected to learn Claude’s name. But. All right…Now to get that out of my head, let’s talk about what you get for 100% completion.Just like in Vice City, you get double vehicle strength, and unlimited ammo. You also geta crapload of money, a tank delivered to the bridge near CJ’s house, and a Jet on top ofhis brother’s house! Although they didn’t really give you a clearway to get to it… So that was San Andreas, and I have to admit,I’m pretty impressed. GTA III was a really good first attempt, andVice City felt like a wonderful retooling, but San Andreas went above and beyond in simplyimproving the GTA formula. They added tons of new features beyond simplecriminal acts, that I really enjoyed seeing.par Granted, there are still things that botherme, like I said, this game crashes a lot, and they ought to have fixed that.But overall, I’d say this game is definitely a grand improvement. I managed to get thisgame on sale, as part of a bundle, I got literally all three of these games, as well as GTA IVfor only $10, which is how much GTA III normally costs by itself, so if you can catch it onsale like that, I definitely recommend it. See you next time! NOW IZ COWARD KEELING TIEM!