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Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas ["AO" Version] (Sony PlayStation 2, 2004)

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Product Information
Rockstar Games' cornerstone Grand Theft Auto series returns for a third run through the 128-bit generation, with this violent, mature-themed third-person shooter and mission-based driving game. Set in the early-'90s gang culture of "San Andreas," a fictional U.S. region modeled after California, the adventure plays out across the entire virtual state, with action centered in its three main cities: Los Santos (based on Los Angeles), San Fiero (San Francisco), and Las Venturas (Las Vegas).

Like its immediate predecessor, Vice City, San Andreas strives to provide a wide, deep foundation for its free-form criminal gameplay by setting the story in a slightly exaggerated representation of a familiar (if not glorified) American subculture. As Vice City seemed inspired by Miami Vice, and the pastel-decked, "me generation" ideals of the early '80s, San Andreas is set in a time and place suggested by films like Boyz N the Hood, Menace II Society, or Colors, where riots eventually brought a whole city to a halt and awakened new consciousness across the country.

Players take the role of a young man named Carl "C.J." Johnson, who thought he had escaped the gangland lifestyle by moving away from his Los Santos home. When his mother is murdered, he returns to the neighborhood of his childhood, only to become embroiled with threats and danger from all sides. Because of his family and friends who remained in Los Santos, he's considered an enemy-on-sight to rival gang members. Even worse, perhaps, the corrupt local law enforcement frames him for a crime he did not commit.

To clear his name and save his family, C.J. sets out on a long journey that will lead him all across the state. More than any earlier GTA game, San Andreas features strong elements of role-playing and character development, encouraging players to customize their version of C.J. as they play through his adventure on their own terms. Unlike the protagonist of GTA 3, or Vice City's Tommy Vercetti, C.J. isn't really working for some underworld organization or crime boss mastermind -- he's out to take care of himself and his own family. He is not driven by the immediate promise of wealth or promotion; his goals are far more personal. He must steer the direction of his exploits, to follow them to a satisfactory end.

Also in the theme of giving more control over the lead character's development, players will take care of C.J.'s day-to-day needs. Food presents the easiest way to replenish lost health, so when he is hungry, he'll need to eat -- perhaps at one of San Andreas' fast food chains, like "Cluckin' Bell" or "Burger Shot." If he doesn't eat enough, C.J. will become thin and weak, but too much fast food without any exercise will cause him to grow fat and slow. Players can also choose the clothes that C.J. wears, and have him get customized tattoos.

C.J. has to come up with any money he needs for these things on his own, however, since there won't always be some boss character waiting to pay him off as he completes his missions. One way to scratch up some quick cash is by robbing homes at night. When he jacks the right kind of van and puts on his ski mask, C.J. enters a stealth mode, and is more likely to be able to sneak into a house, nab some valuables, and head off to the local fence before the residents even wake up.

Overall, San Andreas is in the same format and style that won millions of fans for GTA 3 and Vice City, but it features a number gameplay adjustments and improvements. In addition to C.J.'s stealth mode, he can also swim; a wrong turn off the pier will no longer result in an instant trip to the emergency ward, and if all else fails, the protagonist may even be able to evade pursuers by taking a quick dip. The game's targeting system has also been adjusted. Using triggers and both analog sticks (� la Manhunt), players take more complete control of C.J., and can have him run and strafe, change targets, and shoot


Product Highlights
Video

Product Identifiers
PublisherRockstar Games
GameGrand Theft Auto: San Andreas ["AO" Version]
MPN710425274107
UPC4012160231138, 4976219653541, 710425274107

Key Features
PlatformSony PlayStation 2

Tech Details
ESRB DescriptorBlood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Sexual Content, Strong language, Use of Drugs
Control ElementsGamepad/Joystick
Number of Players1-2
Release Year2004
Game SeriesGrand Theft Auto Series

eBay Product ID: EPID30045872

Reviews & Research

Customer Reviews

Average review score based on 532 user reviews

94%

of customers recommend this product

Rating distributions

Created: 09/24/05

Really, really not for kids

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (GTA:SA) is, simply put, a great game. The six month wait for a PC port was worth it; although still not state-of-the-art, if you've got the rig for it graphics are noticably improved over the PS2. I'm a bit biased having been addicted since the original GTA came out - Gouranga refers to the easter egg you get for taking out a line of hare krishnas in the original - but the game is probably the best of the series as the world is richer and the missions more fun. My only reservation is that the violence and plot here have no place anywhere near kids, but for adults this is the best of the genre and deserves 5 stars.

GTA has fully evolved from a pure-action game in the original GTA to an RPG with a good deal of action in GTA:SA. The majority of the game revolves around completing missions rather than simply jacking cars and running over people as in the early versions. The good news is that the RPG works. Missions are funny but brutal.

It's important to note this isn't the tamer, slightly cartoonish Scarface-inspired Vice City. Instead, this is the very nasty world of early 90's South Central LA with a gangbanger-influence and language that many will find disturbing. With the revelation that interactive softcore porn is included, this very much deserves the new AO rating. (All the infamous 'hot coffee' mod does is unlock some hidden but pretty rough sex simulations and take off the computer-generated clothes of those involved - if you're disturbed by the gangbanging the in-genre scenes will make it even worse.) One wonders if the rumor that TakeTwo leaked information about the hidden code to the hacking community as a marketing stunt is true - if so, it's massively backfired and it's hard to argue they don't deserve at least some criticism for at the very least not being far more upfront about its inclusion. Even before hot coffee this was pushing the upper limits of an M rating and probably deserved an AO one. Then again, any parent who let their kid near this game - or incredibly, a litigous grandmother buying this for an unsupervised 14 year old when M is clearly marked for 17 year olds - really isn't doing their job either as its incredibly obvious this is not a game for kids. Caveat emptor, and it looks like the AO version is about to become a collector's item.

Regarding content, there are so many more things to do compared to even Vice City. The world is, in a word, huge. It takes at least 20 minutes to drive from one end of the world to another (although if you're creative you just jump the airport fence and fly a plane for 2 minutes instead). Sure, there are standard GTA missions, like mugging drug dealers and drive-bys. But there is a lot more. Want to play death from above? Complete a ton of missions and get the easter egg of a Hunter gunship that can blow anything in the game away. Want an insanely fast car? Don't steal one; go to the docks and import a Super GT. Want to show off your moves? Enter the lowrider contest or go dancing with a date. Where the change from action game to RPG is most noticeable is in the addition of skill-based character advancement. CJ needs to eat and be in shape, but more importantly needs experience with weapons if he wants to hit something besides his foot. It's not onerous by any means, but it's a noticeable difference. One other note for veteran GTA players: this is probably the first GTA in which you'll use your keyboard a bit. The shooting missions are easier with mouse control for targeting, although I definitely prefer my Logitech gamepad for driving.

14 of 24 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes | No

Created: 02/22/06

GTA Series Hitz Another Home Run!!!

From the Hood to the Riches!

Where Vice City took its cues, with tongue firmly in cheek, from the 1980s television series Miami Vice, San Andreas is a sincere homage to early 1990s innercity gangster films like Menace 2 Society and Boyz ‘N the Hood. This is an honest effort to create an engaging story about sympathetic characters caught up in a brutal environment that is on par with a movie or novel. If that effort hits a few flat notes (you would have to be totally desensitized not to wonder if it's OK to make entertainment out of driveby shootings), it may also mark the first step toward video games growing up. The first thing that fans of earlier GTA games will notice is the range of action is much wider now: Along with shooting, running, and driving, there's now swimming, eating, working out, shopping, and, yes, getting a haircut. All this means the game has a fairly steep learning curve. But, though the pick-up-and-play appeal of Grand Theft Auto III may be long gone, your access to the action becomes fairly transparent after a little practice. My only serious complaint is that, with the controller now crowded with such previously unheard-of functions like "Gang Active" and "Talk Positive," you can drive only with the left analog stick. A minor point, but it makes cars a lot more difficult to handle.
Vehicular Variety
It would be hard to surpass the variety of automobiles available in earlier games, and San Andreas wisely does not for the most part try to compete on that score. Instead, it's bicycles of all things that steal the show. The bikes' speed and flexibility are perfect for many of the missions, and there is something about cruising through the streets and basketball courts on a BMX that just feels right. If you play far enough into the game, you will also be rewarded with the chance to fly a number of aircraft, and flying is something Rockstar makes a greater effort to get right this time (welcome news for anyone who struggled with the planes and ‘copters of the earlier games).
Lackluster Graphics--but a Real Feel
Graphics--never a huge priority for Rockstar--actually take a step backward from the luscious, tropical look of Vice City. Textures are rendered with only a cursory attention to detail, and contours are often blocky. It scarcely matters, though, because no matter how San Andreas looks, it feels real. This is due in no small part to voice work by an all-star cast including Samuel L. Jackson, Ice T, James Woods, Peter Fonda, and Outkast's Big Boy and a stellar soundtrack with tunes by Soundgarden, 2Pac, Public Enemy, and even a few country classics from the likes of Willie Nelson. But it's not just realistic, San Andreas is also vast, encompassing three big urban centers and huge swaths of rural land (complete with shotgun-toting farmers) between them. This vastness does mean, however, that there can be a lot of tedious driving to get to the missions, which, along with some awkward sequencing of the cut scenes (they are in places stacked one on top of the other), means that there is a bit too much downtime. But never mind the quibbles. Ladies and gentlemen, we have another classic on our hands. --David Stoesz

Pros:

Astonishingly vast game space
Vivid character development
Complex, engaging plot
Enormous range of available actions

Cons:

Occasionally awkward game design
You can no longer steer cars with the directional buttons
Steep learning curve

2 of 3 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes | No

Created: 02/15/06

Tweaked what works, then expanded everything

Gaming Gangsters
Where Vice City took its cues, with tongue firmly in cheek, from the 1980s television series Miami Vice, San Andreas is a sincere homage to early 1990s innercity gangster films like Menace 2 Society and Boyz ‘N the Hood. This is an honest effort to create an engaging story about sympathetic characters caught up in a brutal environment that is on par with a movie or novel. If that effort hits a few flat notes (you would have to be totally desensitized not to wonder if it's OK to make entertainment out of driveby shootings), it may also mark the first step toward video games growing up. The first thing that fans of earlier GTA games will notice is the range of action is much wider now: Along with shooting, running, and driving, there's now swimming, eating, working out, shopping, and, yes, getting a haircut. All this means the game has a fairly steep learning curve. But, though the pick-up-and-play appeal of Grand Theft Auto III may be long gone, your access to the action becomes fairly transparent after a little practice. My only serious complaint is that, with the controller now crowded with such previously unheard-of functions like "Gang Active" and "Talk Positive," you can drive only with the left analog stick. A minor point, but it makes cars a lot more difficult to handle.
Vehicular Variety
It would be hard to surpass the variety of automobiles available in earlier games, and San Andreas wisely does not for the most part try to compete on that score. Instead, it's bicycles of all things that steal the show. The bikes' speed and flexibility are perfect for many of the missions, and there is something about cruising through the streets and basketball courts on a BMX that just feels right. If you play far enough into the game, you will also be rewarded with the chance to fly a number of aircraft, and flying is something Rockstar makes a greater effort to get right this time (welcome news for anyone who struggled with the planes and ‘copters of the earlier games).
Lackluster Graphics--but a Real Feel
Graphics--never a huge priority for Rockstar--actually take a step backward from the luscious, tropical look of Vice City. Textures are rendered with only a cursory attention to detail, and contours are often blocky. It scarcely matters, though, because no matter how San Andreas looks, it feels real. This is due in no small part to voice work by an all-star cast including Samuel L. Jackson, Ice T, James Woods, Peter Fonda, and Outkast's Big Boy and a stellar soundtrack with tunes by Soundgarden, 2Pac, Public Enemy, and even a few country classics from the likes of Willie Nelson. But it's not just realistic, San Andreas is also vast, encompassing three big urban centers and huge swaths of rural land (complete with shotgun-toting farmers) between them. This vastness does mean, however, that there can be a lot of tedious driving to get to the missions, which, along with some awkward sequencing of the cut scenes (they are in places stacked one on top of the other), means that there is a bit too much downtime. But never mind the quibbles. Ladies and gentlemen, we have another classic on our hands.©Kevin Starnes©

Pros:

Astonishingly vast game space
Vivid character development
Complex, engaging plot
Enormous range of available actions

Cons:

Occasionally awkward game design
You can no longer steer cars with the directional buttons
Steep learning curve

9 of 13 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes | No

Created: 12/06/06

Bloody, Graphic and Good Ol' Fashioned Family Fun.

Well... all except the "family" part.

The 5th installment of the insanely-popular GTA series features Carl Johnson, who, if I'm not mistaken, rode alongside Tommy Vercetti in GTA3 after the jailbreak in the opening sequence.

Having played this game a bazillion times before actually buying my own copy, I more-than-knew what to expect from the time-honored principles of shoot-em-up gameplay courtesy of our friends at Rockstar North.

But the era -- early 90s -- along with the soundstrack -- if it lived in California... it's in this game -- were major selling points.

Carl, b.k.a. CJ, has an onslaught of phrases sprinkled throughout this gangland bloodfest. Plus... he can *really* interact with people on the street, as opposed to previous installments in which player/AI-interaction was more along the lines of "watch where you're going."

Carl can recruit gang members; he can give them directions; he can win -- and just as quickly lose -- ladies' hearts, and he can LEARN how to do a lot of things.

The realism aspect brings this game to a new level, in that CJ must: change his wardrobe and/or haircut to win respect of the homeys and affection of the honeys; go the gym or he'll be a pushover who can't fight; eat or he'll lose weight; practice shooting/driving/flying/etc or he'll suck at all.

Car modifications are available for purchase from hydraulics to bass boosts to nitrous oxide. It's all good. All of it.

The game is big -- San Andreas aint no Liberty City. And best of all for transport: there are no loading screens when traveling from one part of the map to another.

In any event -- it's a great game but has no place in the library of a kid. It has a Mature rating for a reason, and no, I don't mean about the "sex scenes," if you can even call them that.

It's bloody -- and it's okay to kill anyone. To those who can appreciate it as a game and not a blueprint for how to live one's life... it's one hell of a ride.

Just be sure to buckle up -- and strap on your body armor.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes | No

Created: 01/11/11

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (commonly abbreviated as GTA: SA) is a sandbox-style action-adventure computer and video game developed by Rockstar North. It is the third 3D game in the Grand Theft Auto video game franchise, the fifth original console release and eighth game overall. Originally released for the PlayStation 2 in October 2004,[2] the game has since been ported to the Xbox and Microsoft Windows (PC), and has received wide acclaim and high sales figures on all three platforms, and is the highest selling game of all time on PlayStation 2. It was made available on Steam on January 4, 2008.[12] Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was succeeded by Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories and was preceded by Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

The game is set in the fictional state of San Andreas, comprising three metropolitan cities, Los Santos, based on Los Angeles, San Fierro, based on San Francisco and Las Venturas, based on Las Vegas, with deserts, rivers, forests and even a mountain separating the cities. Set in late 1992,[13] San Andreas revolves around the gang member Carl "CJ" Johnson returning home from Liberty City to Los Santos, San Andreas, after learning of his mother's murder. CJ finds his old friends and family in disarray. Over the course of the game, CJ gradually unravels the plot behind his mother's murder while exploring his own business ventures. Like other games in the series, San Andreas is composed of elements from driving games and third-person shooters, and features "open-world" gameplay that gives the player more control over their playing experience. The game adds several features, such as car customization, and character personalization.

Much like the previous and future entries in the Grand Theft Auto series, San Andreas's critical and commercial success has not been without controversy. The most notable controversy was over the explicit "Hot Coffee" sex minigame found on the Microsoft Windows game, which was disabled but left within the game's code. Its discovery led San Andreas to be re-rated in the United States briefly as an adults only game and pulled from retailers' shelves in the US. After the 'Hot Coffee' minigame code was removed, the game was re-rated as M for mature again.

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