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Grand Theft Auto--San Andreas


Let's put it plainly:  "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" is the best game available on PlayStation2.  Some have already called it the greatest game of all time, but I can't go that far...I CAN say that it is the biggest single-player videogame of all time, easily surpassing anything else ever made in the history of anything, ever.

How big is "GTA: SA"?

  • I have played the game for about 15 hours, and I'm not even 10% of the way through it.
  • Once you have opened up all three cities in San Andreas (essentially California), it will take you almost 30 minutes of real time to drive from one end of the northern part of the state to the other.
  • Although there are more missions this time around, they are easier, and that means you will spend more time outside of missions trying to make money while also doing things like learning how to pop wheelies on your BMX, go to the gym to work out, rob people's houses or pick up hookers.  No, I'm not kidding.
  • There are 11 radio stations, and almost 15 hours of radio footage.
  • There are more than 200 Secret Package-style things you have to pick up or spray paint in order to unlock other goodies.

I got through "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" in about four days when I was unemployed in San Francisco a couple of years ago.  Having a job and a life right now, it will take me the rest of the year to get through "San Andreas", easy.  In fact, with "Halo 2" moments away from my hot little hands, I won't need to buy any more video games this year.

But, back to "San Andreas" for just a moment.  This is also the most profane video game ever produced; they allowed the f-word in this year's installment, and with a backdrop set in the early 90's to a "Colors"-like theme, the voice work is so profane that I have not been through a single cut-scene without the f-word interlaced poetically throughout the dialogue.  In fact, with uncut rap songs, uncut dialogue, rampant sex and violence and the ability to run pimp missions if you find a Cadillac-style vehicle, you need to make sure this game does not find its way into the hands of America's youth for any reason whatsoever.  The game is offensive from the moment you turn on your PS2.  The dialogue from your lead character, CJ, as he drives through the streets of San Andreas is a combination of "I can't believe they put that in the game" and..."I can't believe they put that in the game!"

Wow.  But, this is one hell of a ride, and it's the new definition of "open-ended gameplay."  In terms of scope, it does a lot of things well, and for my $50 this almost can't be beat.

Rating:  Opening Weekend


Feedback?  Comments?  Hot doughnut tip?


Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  Buy this game right away, and don't ask me any questions as to why that's a good move.  A game experience that will almost guarantee repeated controller abuse, lots of ManScreaming and high resale value, you will assuredly play this bad boy for months on end. 

"$40":  Usually after games have been out for a while, they drop in price slightly, or can be bought for slightly cheaper in combination with other new games.  Usually, that's about $40.  You'll feel good getting the game for this price, since it isn't quite run-out-and-get-it-right-now good, but it has enough game in the box for a few weeks' worth of enjoyment.

"eBay":  This game is not too bad, but you'd be better off buying it used from either or eBay.  You also might let a friend buy this game, let s/he beat it, and then try to buy it from them to make them feel better.  Yes, this does tend to feel like "Sloppy Seconds."

"Rental":  Like my cousin Ron, you should always rent games that you aren't sure about first, to make sure that your $50 is going towards something worthwhile.  For games in this category, this is the maximum amount of money ($5) and/or time (3-5 days) you'll need to either gain satisfaction from the game, or beat the game in its entirety.  Rental-rated games are also sometimes perfect for a weekend when you are going to be at home on your ass, with some time to kill.

"Dogshit":  Games like this should have never been released.  If you play this game for any reason, you will regret every second of the experience.  Further, if you can get this game for free, don't do it, because even for FREE, it will still be a negative experience for you!

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09