Tons of variety Well-written dialogue Terrific casting Great surprises Same strong gameplay.
Unstable frame rate Gang AI not too bright Soundtrack could have been a bit better.
How do you follow up a runaway success like 2001's Grand Theft Auto III? Rockstar North responded a year later with GTA: Vice City, a game that took the gameplay of its predecessor and expanded it considerably. At the same time, Vice City gave the series an extensive and amazing stylistic makeover, drenching the experience in the sights, sounds, and attitude of Miami, Florida from the mid '80s. So where do you go from there? You take it statewide. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas expands the series' concept to encompass three entire cities, as well as the countryside between them. The gameplay similarly expands, packing in some explosive set pieces and amazing action-movie-like thrills while maintaining that same remarkably fun, freefom GTA feel. In short, Rockstar has done it again. San Andreas definitely lives up to the Grand Theft Auto name. In fact, it's arguably the best game in the series.
Carl Johnson is going (going) back (back) to Cali (Cali).
This latest installment takes place in 1992 in the West Coast-themed state of San Andreas. San Andreas is an island containing three cities. You'll begin the game in the city of Los Santos, which is based roughly on Los Angeles and consists of a mixture of ritzy downtown areas and the gangland ghettos of South Central. San Fierro is based on San Francisco, reproducing the real city's hilly terrain and ever-present fog. The game's third city is Las Venturas, which is a great take on early-'90s Las Vegas, complete with a strip full of casinos and the surrounding desert. While one-to-one measurements against previous games in the series are difficult in practice, San Andreas definitely feels like a much, much larger place than Vice City ever did, but at the same time, the growth is handled intelligently. There are plenty of things to do both in and out of the cities, which makes all this real estate matter.
While Grand Theft Auto III was inspired by movies like The Godfather and Vice City took several pages from the Scarface playbook, San Andreas draws its inspiration from the ghetto and gangsta struggle films of the early '90s. Movies like Menace II Society and Boyz N the Hood are the clear influences here. In San Andreas, you play the role of Carl "CJ" Johnson. The game opens with Carl returning to Los Santos after spending the last five years in GTA III's Liberty