Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas 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 and fifth original game overall. Originally released for the PlayStation 2 in October 2004, the game has since been ported to the Xbox and Microsoft Windows, and has received wide acclaim and high sales figures on all three platforms. San Andreas was succeeded by Grand Theft Auto IV and was preceded by Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
The game is set in the fictional state of San Andreas, comprising three metropolitan cities. Set in late 1992, San Andreas revolves around gang member Carl "CJ" Johnson returning home from Liberty City to Los Santos after learning of his mother's murder. CJ finds his family and his old gang, the Grove Street Families, in disarray. Over the course of the game, CJ gradually unravels the plot behind his mother's murder while reestablishing his gang and exploring his own business ventures. Like other games in the series, San Andreas is comprised 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 gang wars, car customization, and character personalization.
Much like the previous 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, which was disabled but left within the game's code. Its discovery led San Andreas to be re-rated briefly as an adult game and pulled from retailers' shelves.
On March 1, 2004, Take-Two announced in a press conference that Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas would be released on October 19, 2004 in North America, October 22 in Europe, and October 29 for Australia. The first news of the game's content was revealed on March 11, when it was divulged that San Andreas would not be a city, but rather an entire state consisting of three whole cities and the surrounding territory.
On September 9, 2004, in Take-Two's third quarter financial results for 2004, it was announced that the release date would be pushed back by a week. In the same release, Take-Two announced the Microsoft Windows and Xbox versions of the game.
San Andreas was released for the PlayStation 2 on October 26, 2004 in North America and on October 29, 2004 in Europe and Australia. It was released in Japan on January 25, 2007. The Windows and Xbox ports were released on June 7, 2005 in North America and June 10, 2005 in Europe and Australia.
San Andreas is structured similarly to the previous two games in the series. The core gameplay consists of elements of a third-person shooter and a driving game, affording the player a large, open environment in which to move around. On foot, the player's character is capable of walking, running, swimming (the first GTA game in which swimming is possible), climbing and jumping, as well as using weapons and various forms of hand to hand combat. Players can steal and drive a variety of vehicles, including automobiles, boats, airplanes, helicopters, trains, tanks, motorcycles and bikes. Players may also import vehicles rather than steal them.
The open, non-linear environment allows players to explore and choose how they wish to play the game. Although storyline missions are necessary to progress through the game and unlock certain cities and content, they are not required, as players can complete them at their own leisure. When not taking on a storyline mission, players can free-roam. However, creating havoc can attract unwanted and potentially fatal attention from the authorities. The more chaos caused, the stronger the response: police will handle "minor" infractions (attacking people, pointing guns at people, stealing cars, killing a few people, etc.), whereas SWAT teams, the FBI, and the military respond to higher wanted levels.
The player can also partake in a variety of optional side missions. The traditional side missions of the past games are included, such as dropping off taxi cab passengers, putting out fires, driving injured people to the hospital and fighting crime as a vigilante. New additions include robbery missions, pimping missions, truck and train driving missions requiring players to make deliveries on time, and driving/flying/boating/biking schools, which help players learn skills and techniques to use in their corresponding vehicles.
Unlike Vice City and GTA III, which needed loading screens when traveling between different districts of the city, San Andreas has no load times when the player is in transit (which is notable, given how much larger the in-game map is than in the previous games). The only loading screens in the game are for cut-scenes and interiors. Other differences between San Andreas and its predecessors include the switch from single-player to multiplayer Rampage missions (albeit not in the PC version), and the replacement of the 'hidden packages' with spray paint tags, hidden camera shots, horseshoes, and oysters to discover.
The camera, fighting, and targeting controls were reworked to incorporate concepts from another Rockstar game, Manhunt, including various stealth elements, as well as improved target crosshairs and a target health indicator which changes colors from green to red to black depending on the target's health. The PC version of the game implements mouse chording; the player has to hold the right mouse button to activate the crosshairs, and then click or hold at the left mouse button to shoot or use an item, such as a camera.
In addition, players can swim and climb walls for the first time in the series. The ability to swim has a great effect on the player as well, since water is no longer a viable barrier to the player and can no longer instantly kill the player (although it is possible to drown). For greater firepower, players can also wield dual firearms or perform a drive-by shooting with multiple gang members. Also, due to the immense size of San Andreas, a waypoint reticule on the HUD map can be set, aiding the player in reaching a destination.
The game's artificial intelligence was also improved. No longer can the player beat a pedestrian to death on a busy street in broad daylight and have bystanders not respond. While most pedestrians will flee or duck for cover, some armed civilians such as drug dealers and enemy gang members will attack CJ, and friendly gang members will shoot at and pursue his opponents. Cops will now chase non-player characters who are committing crimes, instead of just the player.
San Andreas also tracks acquired skills in areas such as driving, firearms handling (when skills are high enough, double-wielding of certain weapons is possible), stamina, and lung capacity, which improve through use in the game. CJ may also learn three different styles of hand-to-hand combat (boxing, martial arts and kickboxing) at the gyms in each of the game's three cities. CJ can also speak with a number of pedestrians in the game, responding either negatively or positively; Rockstar claims that he has a total of about 4200 lines of spoken dialogue.
There are several different classes of vehicles that serve different purposes. Off-road vehicles perform better in rough environments, while racing cars perform better on tracks or on the street. Jets are fast, but usually need a runway to land. Helicopters can land almost anywhere, but are slower. While previous Grand Theft Auto games had only a few aircraft that were difficult to access and fly, San Andreas has 11 airplanes and 9 helicopters and makes them more integral in the game's missions. Several boats were added, while some were highly modified.
Like its real-life counterpart of Los Angeles, Los Santos comprises several diverse areas. This includes the gang-ridden neighborhoods of Ganton, Willowfield, Jefferson, Idlewood and East Los Santos, based on their actual counterparts of Compton, Willowbrook, Watts, Inglewood, and East Los Angeles, respectively. Also located in the city is a busy downtown section based on Downtown Los Angeles; the wealthy Rodeo and Mulholland districts (Rodeo based on Beverly Hills and named after Rodeo Drive); the beach-side districts of Santa Maria Beach and Verona Beach, representing Santa Monica and Venice Beach; and the glitzy Vinewood and the giant Vinewood Sign are based on Hollywood and its Hollywood Sign. Los Santos features landmarks reminiscent of Los Angeles, which include the Watts Towers, the Los Angeles Convention Center, the Capitol Tower, the Los Angeles City Hall, the U.S. Bank Tower, the Griffith Observatory, the Forum, the Santa Monica Pier, the Vincent Thomas Bridge, Rodeo Drive, the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, the Westin Bonaventure Hotel, and Grauman's Chinese Theater.
Like its real-life counterpart of San Francisco, San Fierro is characterized by a prominent cable car system and hilly terrain. San Fierro features several interpretations of many of San Francisco's districts and landmarks, including the Haight-Ashbury district (Hashbury), the Castro district (Queens), Chinatown, and the Golden Gate Bridge (Gant Bridge). Several other familiar landmarks have been recreated, from the Embarcadero clock tower and the Transamerica Pyramid (Big Pointy Building) to Lombard Street (Windy Windy Windy Windy Street), and the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge (Garver Bridge). San Fierro's City Hall closely resembles San Francisco's ornate city hall. San Fierro also contains remains of the Cypress Street Viaduct which collapsed in 1989 during the Loma Prieta earthquake. A naval base near the city's airport also has an aircraft carrier and submarine docked in the bay.
Like its real-life counterpart of Las Vegas, Las Venturas is home to legalized gambling and several casinos. In these casinos, the player can partake in blackjack, video poker, roulette, or play slot machines. In addition to gambling, strip clubs are also prevalent in Las Venturas. Many real Las Vegas Strip casinos are faithfully interpreted on Las Venturas' Strip, including the Excalibur Hotel and Casino (Come-a-Lot), the Sphinx and pyramid of the Luxor Hotel (The Camel's Toe), Treasure Island (Pirates In Men's Pants), The Mirage (The Visage), Circus Circus (The Clown's Pocket), Hard Rock Hotel and Casino (Las Vegas) (V-Rock Hotel), Flamingo Las Vegas (The Pink Swan), Imperial Palace (Four Dragons Casino), and Caesars Palace (Caligula's Palace). Other casinos are the Starfish Casino, the High Roller, and the Royal Casino. Other landmarks include a replica of the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign and interpretations of Vegas Vic and Vicki as Vice City characters Avery Carrington and Candy Suxxx. Suites in several of the hotels are available for purchase. Additionally, Las Venturas features a large surrounding desert region, residential areas, and strip malls, as well as a seedy area (Old Venturas Strip ) with several strip clubs and gambling parlors based on the Old Vegas Strip.
The characters that appear in San Andreas are relatively diverse and relative to the respective cities and locales which each of them based himself in. This allows the game to include a significantly wider array of storylines and settings than in Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City. The player controls Carl "CJ" Johnson, a young African-American gang member.
The Los Santos stages of the game revolve around the theme of the Grove Street Families gang fighting with the Ballas and the Vagos for territory and respect. East Asian gangs (most notably the local Triads) and an additional Vietnamese gang are evident in the San Fierro leg of the game, while three Mafia families and the Triads who all own their respective casino are more prominently featured in the Las Venturas section of the game.
Like the previous two GTA games, the voice actors of San Andreas include notable celebrities, such as David Cross, Andy Dick, Samuel L. Jackson, James Woods, Peter Fonda, Charlie Murphy, Frank Vincent, Chris Penn, Danny Dyer, Sara Tanaka, William Fichtner, rappers Ice T, Chuck D, Frost, MC Eiht and The Game and musicians George Clinton, Axl Rose and Shaun Ryder.
Young Maylay makes his debut as the protagonist, Carl.
Carl steadily befriends new allies, among them blind Chinese Triad leader and businessman Wu Zi Mu, an old hippie called The Truth, and Cesar Vialpando, a Hispanic gang member who, like Carl, has been betrayed by his old friends. Carl and his friends open a garage in San Fierro while they wait for an opportunity to return to Los Santos. After finding and killing Ryder, Carl becomes immersed in the affairs of a shady government agent, Mike Toreno, who implies that he will release Sweet if Carl helps him with his covert operations. Then, Carl works alongside Wu Zi Mu to promote the growth of a new casino in the mafia-run Las Venturas. Carl also aids a failed famous rapper Madd Dogg back on the spotlight by becoming his manager (since he caused his career's downfall). Consequently, Carl enjoys newfound wealth and eventually returns to Los Santos. Toreno makes good on his earlier promise to release Sweet, but much to Carl's surprise, his brother wants no part of Carl's new lifestyle. Sweet insists on returning to the hood and working to reestablish the GSF rather than rest on the laurels of Carl's success.
Tenpenny goes to trial for several felonies, but the charges are dropped for lack of evidence, as all the prosecution's witnesses are either missing or dead (as a result of Carl's errands for Tenpenny). Tenpenny's release sends the citizens of Los Santos into a citywide riot, similar to the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. Fueled by Sweet's resolve to topple Big Smoke, who has become the city's biggest drug kingpin, Carl reacquires lost gang territory and hunts down the traitors responsible for pushing drugs that destroyed the Families. He kills Big Smoke in a shootout, escapes from the burning crack palace and Tenpenny shows up and flees with Smoke's drug fortune, hoping to catch a flight to leave San Andreas. Carl pursues Tenpenny through the streets of Los Santos in a car chase while Sweet hangs on to the end of the ladder of Tenpenny's stolen firetruck. Tenpenny loses control of his firetruck, and he drives it off a bridge. Carl is about to shoot him, "just to make sure it's finally over," but is stopped by Sweet. Sweet simply tells him, "No need to put a bullet in him. He died in a traffic accident. No one to blame." Tenpenny then dies from his injuries. The final scene shows the Johnson family reunited. As his friends and allies celebrate their success, Carl turns to leave. When asked where he's going, he replies, "Fittin' to hit the block, see what's happening."
Ken Rosenberg and Kent Paul, from GTA: Vice City, feature prominently in several Las Venturas missions in connection with Salvatore Leone, the Liberty City mob boss featured in GTA: III and Liberty City Stories. Maria, who later becomes Salvatore's girlfriend, also appears as a waitress in Caligula's Palace. CJ also mentions that he worked for Joey Leone, Salvatore's son.
Jethro and Dwaine also appear in San Andreas, they were seen when Tommy Vercetti buys a boat yard in Vice City, The Truth mentions that their business was bought by the Mob.
According to interviews with the developers, Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Liberty City Stories, Vice City Stories, Grand Theft Auto: Advance, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas are considered part of the Grand Theft Auto III canon, while Grand Theft Auto IV marks the beginning of a new series canon where different game play rules are observed. For example, motorcycles were supposedly banned from Liberty City in GTA III; however, in GTA IV this restriction does not seem to exist.
Just like the previous two entries in the Grand Theft Auto series, San Andreas has an extensive amount and variety of tracks taken from the time period the game is based in. Notable inclusions to the game's soundtrack include The Who, Toto, Faith No More, Depeche Mode, James Brown, Soundgarden, KISS, Rage Against the Machine, Danzig, Cream, Alice in Chains, Guns N' Roses, Snoop Dogg, N.W.A., 2Pac, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Stone Temple Pilots, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Ozzy Osbourne.
San Andreas is serviced by eleven radio stations; WCTR (talk radio), Master Sounds 98.3 (rare groove, playing many of the old funk and soul tracks sampled by 1990s hip-hop artists), K-Jah West (dub and reggae), CSR (New Jack Swing, Modern Soul, Hot Adult Contemporary), Radio X (alternative rock and grunge rock), Radio Los Santos (gangsta rap), SF-UR (house), Bounce FM (funk), K-DST (classic rock), K-Rose (country) and Playback FM (classic hip hop).
The music system in San Andreas is enhanced from previous titles. In earlier games in the series, each radio station was essentially a single looped sound file, playing the same songs, announcements and advertisements in the same order each time. In San Andreas, each section is held separately, and "mixed" randomly, allowing songs to be played in different orders, announcements to songs to be different each time, and plot events to be mentioned on the stations.
The Xbox and Windows versions of the game include an additional radio station that supports custom soundtracks by playing user imported MP3s.
|IGN's Best of 2004||PlayStation 2 Game of the Year, Best PlayStation 2 Action Game, Best Story for PlayStation 2|
|GameSpot's Best and Worst of 2004||Best PlayStation 2 Game, Best Action Adventure Game, Readers' Choice - Best PlayStation 2 Action Adventure Game, Readers' Choice - PlayStation 2 Game of the Year, Best Voice Acting, Funniest Game|
|2004 Spike TV Video Game Awards||Game of the Year, Best Performance by a Human (Male), Best Action Game, Best Soundtrack|
After installing the patch, users can enter the main character's girlfriends' houses and engage in a crudely rendered, fully clothed sexual intercourse mini-game. Later in June 2005, a console 'hacker' known as Jay "FNG" released an "Action Replay Power Save" for the Xbox console, enabling the "Hot Coffee" mini-game. On July 12, 2005, Jay "FNG" released codes for the Action Replay game enhancer that allowed the scenes to be accessed in the PlayStation 2 console version. The fallout from the controversy resulted in a public response from high-ranking politicians in the United States and resulted in the game's recall and re-release.
On July 20, 2005, production of the game was suspended and the game received a revised ESRB Rating of Adults Only, making San Andreas the only mass-released AO console game in the US. Rockstar has given distributors the option of applying an Adults Only ESRB rating sticker to copies of the game, or returning them to be replaced by versions without the Hot Coffee content. Many retailers pulled the game off their shelves in compliance with their own store regulations that kept them from selling AO games. Rockstar North released a "Cold Coffee" patch for the PC version and re-released San Andreas with an M rating. The PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions have also been re-released in a "GTA Trilogy Pack for Xbox, and a Special Edition for PlayStation 2 that includes the documentary film Sunday Driver.
On 8 November 2007 Take-Two announced a proposed settlement to the class action litigation that had been brought against them following the Hot Coffee controversy. If the proposed settlement is approved by the court, neither Take-Two nor Rockstar would admit liability or wrongdoing. Consumers would be able to swap their AO-rated copies of the game for M-rated versions and may also qualify for a $35 cash payment upon signing a sworn statement.
A report in The New York Times on 25 June 2008 revealed that a total of 2,676 claims for the compensation package had been filed.
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