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Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

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Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Developer(s)Rockstar North[a]
Publisher(s)Rockstar Games
Producer(s)Leslie Benzies
  • Adam Fowler
  • Obbe Vermeij
Artist(s)Aaron Garbut
Composer(s)Michael Hunter
SeriesGrand Theft Auto
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is a 2004 action-adventure game developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games. It is the seventh title in the Grand Theft Auto series, and the followup to the 2002 game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. It was released in October 2004 for PlayStation 2, and in June 2005 for both Microsoft Windows and Xbox. The game, set within an open world environment that players can explore and interact with at their leisure, focuses on the story of a former gangster who is brought back home by the death of their mother, only to become in a long journey that sees them exploring the fictional U.S. state of San Andreas, which is heavily based on California and Nevada.[b]

The game features references to many real-life elements of the world, such as its cities, regions, and landmarks, with its plot heavily based on several real-life events in Los Angeles in the early 1990s, including the rivalry between real-life street gangs, the 1980s-early 1990s crack epidemic, the LAPD Rampart scandal, and the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Unlike its predecessor, San Andreas brought with it new elements of gameplay that would be later incorporated in future titles, including RPG-style mechanics, customization options with both clothing and vehicle appearances, a vast array of activities and mini-games, and the inclusion of gambling games.

Considered one of the sixth generation of video gaming's most notable titles, and by many reviewers to be one of the greatest video games ever made, San Andreas received critical acclaim, with praise directed at its music, story and gameplay. It became the best-selling video game of 2004, as well as one of the best-selling video games of all time. It has sold over 27.5 million copies worldwide as of 2011;[3] it remains the best-selling PlayStation 2 game of all time.

The game, like its predecessors, is cited as a landmark in video games for its far-reaching influence within the industry. However, the violence and sexual content of San Andreas has been the source of much public concern and controversy. In particular, a player-made software patch, dubbed the "Hot Coffee mod", unlocked a previously hidden sexual scene. A high-definition remastered version received a physical release for both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2015. In June 2018, the game was added to the Xbox One Backward Compatible library. San Andreas has been ported to various other platforms and services, such as OS X,[4][5] Xbox Live, PlayStation Network[6] and mobile devices (iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Fire OS).[7] The next main entry in the series, Grand Theft Auto IV, was released in April 2008.


The player driving a Banshee towards the Grove Street cul-de-sac in Los Santos around the afternoon.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is an action-adventure game with role-playing and stealth elements. Structured similarly to the previous two games in the series, the core gameplay consists of elements in a third-person shooter and a driving game, affording the player a large, open-world environment in which to move around. On foot, the player's character is capable of walking, running, sprinting, swimming, climbing and jumping as well as using weapons and various forms of hand-to-hand combat. The player can drive a variety of vehicles, including automobiles, buses, semis, boats, fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, trains, tanks, motorcycles and bikes. The player may also import vehicles in addition to stealing them.

The open, non-linear environment allows the player 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 the player can complete them at their leisure. When not taking on a storyline mission, the player can freely-roam and look around the cities of San Andreas, eat in restaurants, or cause havoc by attacking people and causing destruction. 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 pedestrians, pointing guns at people, stealing vehicles, manslaughter, etc.), whereas SWAT teams, the FBI, and the military respond to higher wanted levels.

The player can partake in a variety of optional side missions that can boost their character's attributes or provide another source of income. 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 burglary missions, pimping missions, truck and train driving missions requiring the player to make deliveries on time, and driving/flying/boating/biking schools, which help the player learn skills and techniques to use in their corresponding vehicles.

Not all locations are open to the player at the start of the game. Some locales, such as mod garages, restaurants, gyms, and shops, become available only after completing specific missions. Likewise, for the first portion of the game, only Los Santos and its immediate suburbs are available for exploration; unlocking the other cities and rural areas again requires the completion of specific missions. If the player were to travel in locked locations early in the game, they would end up attracting the attention of SWAT teams, police, and police-controlled Hydras if in an aircraft.

Unlike Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City, which needed loading screens when the player moved between different districts of the city, San Andreas has no load times when the player is in transit. 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,[8] as well as improved target crosshairs and a target health indicator which changes 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.

The player has a gunfight with members of an enemy gang.

Players can swim and climb walls for the first time in the series.[9] The ability to swim and dive underwater has a great effect on the player as well since water is no longer an impassable barrier that kills the player (although it is possible to drown). For greater firepower, the player can also dual-wield firearms or perform a drive-by shooting with multiple gang members who can be recruited to follow the player. Due to the size of San Andreas, a waypoint reticle on the HUD map can be set, aiding the player in reaching a destination.

Role-playing game features in character development

Rockstar has emphasised the personalisation of the main protagonist by adding role-playing video game elements. Clothing, accessories, haircuts, jewellery, and tattoos are available for purchase by the player, and have more of an effect on non-player characters' reactions than the clothing in Vice City. CJ's level of respect among his fellow recruits and street friends varies according to his appearance and actions, as do his relationships with his girlfriends. The player must ensure that CJ eats to stay healthy and exercises adequately. The balance of food and physical activity affects his appearance and physical attributes.[9]

San Andreas tracks acquired skills in areas such as driving, firearms handling, stamina, and lung capacity, which improve through use in the game.[9] CJ may learn three different styles of hand-to-hand combat (boxing, kickboxing and kung fu) at the gyms in each of the game's three cities. CJ can speak with some pedestrians in the game, responding either negatively or positively. According to Rockstar, there are about 4,200 lines of spoken dialogue for CJ when the cutscenes are excluded.[10]


In total, there are 212 vehicles in the game compared to approximately 60 in Grand Theft Auto III. New additions include bicycles, a combine harvester, a street sweeper, a jetpack and trailers amongst others. Car physics and features are similar to the Midnight Club series of street racing games, allowing for much more midair vehicle control as well as nitrous upgrades and aesthetic modification.

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 the street. Jets are fast, but usually need a runway to land. Helicopters can land almost anywhere and are much easier to control in the air, but are slower. While previous Grand Theft Auto games had only a few aircraft that were difficult to access and fly, San Andreas has eleven fixed-wing aircraft and nine helicopters and makes them more integral in the game's missions. There is also the ability to skydive from aircraft, using a parachute. Several boats were added, while some were highly modified.

Other additions and changes

Other new features and changes from previous Grand Theft Auto games include:

  • Gang wars: Battles with enemy gangs are prompted whenever the player ventures into enemy territory and kills at least three gang members. If the player then survives three waves of enemies, the territory will be won, and fellow gang members will begin wandering the streets of these areas. The more territory owned by the player, the more money that will be generated. Occasionally, the player's territory will come under attack from enemy gangs and defeating them will be necessary to retain these areas. Once all marked territories are claimed from one of the two hostile gangs for the protagonist's gang, the opposing gang can no longer attack. Once the player takes control of all the territories, none can come under attack.[11]
  • Car modification: Most automobiles in the game can be modified and upgraded at various garages. All car mods are strictly visual apart from the stereo system and nitrous oxide upgrade which increases bass and gives the car a speed boost when activated respectively; and hydraulics, which lowers the car's height by default and allows the player to control various aspects of the car's suspension. Other common modifications include paint jobs, rims, body kits, side skirts, bumpers and spoilers.
  • Burglary: Continuing the series' tradition of controversy, home invasion is included as a potential money-making activity.[12] By stealing a burglary van, CJ can sneak into a residence at night, and cart off valuables or shake down the occupants.
  • Minigames: Numerous minigames are available for play in San Andreas, including basketball, pool, rhythm-based challenges (dancing and 'bouncing' lowriders with hydraulics), and video game machines that pay homage to classic arcade games. Also, there are the aforementioned casino games and methods of gambling, such as betting on virtual horse races.[13]
  • Money: The money system has been expanded upon, compared to previous titles. Players can spend their cash on gambling, clothes, tattoos, meals, etc. Excessive gambling loss can force the player to sink into debt, which is shown in negative red numbers. When the player leaves a safehouse, CJ gets an unexpected call, and a mysterious person tells him about his debts. Four gang members suddenly appear and shoot Carl on sight if he does not erase the debt when the mysterious person calls him a second time.
  • Multiplayer: Rampages have been modified to allow two players to complete them. The players are both shown simultaneously on the screen, meaning they must stay within proximity of each other. The multiplayer rampages provide such functionality.



Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas takes place in 1992 within the fictional US state of San Andreas - based upon sections of California and Nevada - and the cities of Los Santos (based on Los Angeles), San Fierro (based on San Francisco), and Las Venturas (based on Las Vegas).[9] Many real-life landmarks and environments from the Southwestern region of the United States are recreated in the game and given fictionalized appearances, including the Hollywood sign, Hoover Dam, Area 51, and Mount Diablo. The State of San Andreas is 13.9 square miles (36 square kilometres),[14] and is vastly larger than the settings for GTA:Vice City and Grand Theft Auto III.


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 (portrayed by Young Maylay in his acting debut), a young African-American gang member who serves as the game's protagonist.

Each city features its own variety of criminal outfits that the player encounters: Los Santos features three prominent street gangs consisting of the Grove Street Families, the Ballas, and the Vagos, who all fight for territory and respect; San Fierro features mostly east Asian gangs, including the Triads, a Vietnamese gang called "the Da Nang Boys", and a force of Hispanic thugs working for the local "Loco Syndicate"; and Las Venturas features the Triads, alongside the three notable Mafia families of Liberty City: the Leones, the Sindaccos, and the Forellis.

Like the previous two Grand Theft Auto games, the voice actors of San Andreas include notable celebrities, such as David Cross, Andy Dick, Ron Foster, Samuel L. Jackson, James Woods, Peter Fonda, Charlie Murphy, Frank Vincent, Chris Penn, Danny Dyer, Sara Tanaka, William Fichtner, Wil Wheaton, rappers Ice-T, Chuck D, Frost, MC Eiht and The Game and musicians George Clinton, Axl Rose, Sly and Robbie and Shaun Ryder. The game earned a place in The Guinness World Records 2009 Gamer's Edition for having the largest voice cast of any video game of the time, featuring a credited 861 credited voice actors, and including 174 actors and 687 additional performers, many of whom were fans of the series who wanted to appear on the game.[15]


In 1992, former Grove Street Families gangster Carl "CJ" Johnson returns home to Los Santos to attend the funeral of his mother, killed in a drive-by shooting. Upon his return, CJ is intercepted by a group of corrupt police officers — Frank Tenpenny, Eddie Pulaski, and Jimmy Hernandez — who frame him for the murder of another officer, in return for his obedience to them. After reuniting with his brother Sweet, his sister Kendl, and friends Big Smoke and Ryder, CJ agrees to assist them in their fight with the Ballas. During this time, CJ aids another friend, OG Loc, in becoming a rapper, and befriends Kendl's new boyfriend Cesar, leader of the Varrios Los Aztecas. Shortly after the Grove Street Families rebuild, Sweet makes plans to attack the Ballas in a large fight. Before CJ can join him, Cesar contacts him for a meeting regarding the drive-by shooting.

The meeting leads to CJ learning that Tenpenny ordered the shooting, and that Big Smoke and Ryder have sold out the gang. Despite his best efforts, CJ fails to prevent his brother from being arrested. Tenpenny forces him to leave town and conduct jobs for him that will cover up his corruption. With his gang disbanded and the Ballas bringing in cocaine into Los Santos, CJ decides to make money to support his sister, and competes in races. His work effectively secures him a garage in San Fierro that he, Cesar and Kendl decide to turn into a business. Seeking to stop the drug shipments, CJ works to infiltrate the criminal syndicate supplying the Ballas, aided by blind Triad crime boss Woozie, whom he met during one of his races. After earning the trust of the syndicate's leader Mike Toreno, CJ turns on the group. Along with killing its key members, he destroys their drug lab, and kills Ryder when he arrives for a meeting.

CJ becomes surprised when Toreno, having survived his assassination, contacts him for assistance. Although reluctant, CJ agrees to help him in his work as a government agent, in exchange for securing Sweet's release from prison. Woozie later contacts CJ for help in Las Venturas, where the Triads are seeking to open their own casino despite opposition from the mafia, who run their own establishment. CJ assists Woozie, ultimately culminating in him being made a partner in the Triad's casino. Eventually, Tenpenny has CJ acquire evidence from federal agents and bring it to him. When the job is completed, Tenpenny turns on CJ and orders him killed. Hernadez, betrayed by the group, helps CJ escapes, who promptly kills Pulaski. With the casino a success, CJ finds himself approached by rapper Madd Dogg, whom he saved from committing suicide after inadvertently ruining his career for OG Loc. Agreeing to be his manager, CJ returns to Los Santos with his sister and Cesar.

After dealing with OG Loc for his betrayal and restoring Madd Dogg's career, CJ assists Toreno in one last task, whereupon he honors his promise and has Sweet released early. Although delighted to have his brother back, CJ is berated for thinking about money rather than supporting his gang, forcing him to assist in rebuilding the Grove Street Families. Tenpenny eventually faces trial for corruption, but is acquitted, provoking a riot across Los Santos. After assisting Sweet and Cesar, CJ goes to confront Big Smoke with Sweet's help, apologizing to his brother for abandoning the gang and his family. After killing Big Smoke for betraying the gang, CJ finds himself forced to pursue after Tenpenny, rescuing Sweet in the process. The brothers pursue after Tenpenny who steals a fire engine, and force him to crash, causing him to die from his injuries. With the riots over and the gang enjoying success, CJ and his family celebrate in their family home.

Marketing and release

The Introduction short film

As part of the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Special Edition re-release for the PlayStation 2 and the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Official Soundtrack, a DVD was provided containing a short 26-minute long film made through San Andreas' in-game-engine. The film, titled The Introduction, incorporates locations from both the game and Grand Theft Auto III, and focuses on events that take place before the start of the main story, providing insight into various characters from San Andreas prior to CJ meeting or reuniting with them, and the fateful drive-by shooting that brought him back to Los Santos. Alongside the short film, the PS2's DVD also included a live-action documentary on the custom car culture (featured prominently in the game) called Sunday Drive.


As with the previous two entries in the Grand Theft Auto series, San Andreas has music taken from the time in which the game is based.

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 1980s and '90s hip-hop artists), K-Jah West (dub and reggae; modelled after K-Jah from Grand Theft Auto III), CSR (new jack swing, modern soul), Radio X (alternative rock, metal and grunge), Radio Los Santos (gangsta rap), SF-UR (house music), 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 mainly 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. This system would be used in Grand Theft Auto IV. WCTR, rather than featuring licensed music and DJs, features spoken word performances by actors such as Andy Dick performing as talk show hosts and listener callers in a parody of talk radio programming.

Lazlow again plays as himself on the show "Entertaining America" on WCTR in the same persona as in III and Vice City. He takes over after the former presenter, Billy Dexter, is shot on air by in-game film star Jack Howitzer. Lazlow interviews guests such as O.G. Loc, who is one of the four characters Carl encounters during the game that is on the radio, along with Big Smoke, Madd Dogg, and The Truth.

The Xbox, iOS, and Windows versions of the game include an additional radio station that supports custom soundtracks by playing user imported MP3s, allowing players to listen to their music while playing the game. This feature is not available on the PlayStation 2 version of the game or when played on the Xbox 360.[16]


Review scores
TouchArcade5/5 stars[25]N/AN/AN/A
Aggregate score
IGN's Best of 2004PlayStation 2 Game of the Year,[26]
Best PlayStation 2 Action Game,[27]
Best Story for PlayStation 2[28]
GameSpot's Best
and Worst of 2004
Best PlayStation 2 Game,[29]
Best Action Adventure Game,[30]
Readers' Choice — Best PlayStation 2
Action Adventure Game,[31]
Readers' Choice — PlayStation 2
Game of the Year,[32]
Best Voice Acting,[33] Funniest Game[34]
2004 Spike TV
Video Game Awards
Game of the Year,[35]
Best Performance by a Human (Male),[35]
Best Action Game,[35]
Best Soundtrack[35]

Upon its release, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was met with critical acclaim. It received an average review score of 95/100, according to review aggregator Metacritic, tying for the fifth-highest ranked game in PlayStation 2 history.[19] IGN rated the game a 9.9/10 (the highest score it has ever awarded to a PlayStation 2 game), calling it "the defining piece of software" for the PlayStation 2.[13] GameSpot rated the game 9.6/10, giving it an Editor's Choice award. Jeff Gerstmann said "San Andreas definitely lives up to the Grand Theft Auto name. In fact, it's arguably the best game in the series."[9] San Andreas also received an A rating from the network[36] and a 10/10 score from Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine. Common praises were made about the game's open-endedness, the size of the state of San Andreas, and the engaging storyline and voice acting. Most criticisms of the game stemmed from graphical mishaps, poor character models, and low-resolution textures, as well as various control issues, particularly with auto-aiming at enemies. Some critics commented that while much new content had been added to San Andreas, little of it had been refined or implemented well.[37]

Nevertheless, since its release, San Andreas has been regarded to be one of the greatest games of all time, placing at number 27 in Edge's Top 100 Games to Play Today. Edge declared that the game remains "the ultimate expression of freedom, before next-gen reined it all back in".[38] In 2015, the game placed 8th on USgamer's The 15 Best Games Since 2000 list.[39]

Sales and commercial success

By March 2005, the game had sold over 12 million units for the PlayStation 2 alone, making it the highest-selling game for PlayStation 2.[40] The game received a "Diamond" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA),[41] indicating sales of at least 1 million copies in the United Kingdom.[42] As of 26 September 2007, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has sold 20 million units according to Take-Two Interactive.[43] As of 26 March 2008, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has sold 21.5 million units according to Take-Two Interactive.[44] The Guinness World Records 2009 Gamer's Edition lists it as the most successful PlayStation 2 game, with 17.33 million copies sold for that console alone, from a total of 21.5 million in all formats.[15] In 2011, Kotaku reported that according to Rockstar Games, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has sold 27.5 million copies worldwide.[45]


San Andreas was criticised by some for its perceived racial stereotyping.[46] Some saw the alleged stereotyping as ironic,[47] while others defended the game, noting that the storyline could speak to people of different backgrounds.[48] A study of how different groups of youths engaged with the game found that "they do not passively receive the games' images and content".[49]

Hot Coffee mod

In mid-June 2005, a software patch for the game dubbed the "Hot Coffee mod" was released by Patrick Wildenborg (under the Internet alias "PatrickW"), a 38-year-old modder from the Netherlands. The name "Hot Coffee" refers to the way the released game alludes to the unseen sex scenes. In the unmodified game, the player takes his girlfriend to her front door, and she asks him if he would like to come in for "some coffee". He agrees, and the camera stays outside, swaying back and forth a bit, while moaning sounds are heard. 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. The fallout from the controversy resulted in a public response from high-ranking politicians in the United States and elsewhere and resulted in the game's recall and re-release.

On 20 July 2005, North America's organisation who establish content ratings for video games, the ESRB, changed the rating of the game from Mature (M) to Adults Only (AO), making San Andreas the only mass-released AO console game in the United States. Rockstar announced that it would cease production of the version of the game that included the controversial content. Rockstar gave 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 store regulations that kept them from selling AO games. That same month in Australia, the Office of Film and Literature Classification revoked its initial rating of MA15+, meaning that the game could no longer be sold there.[50]

In August 2005, Rockstar North released an official "Cold Coffee" patch[51] for the PC version of the game and re-released San Andreas with the "Hot Coffee" scenes removed (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Version 2.0), allowing the game to return to its "M" rating. The PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions have also been re-released with the "Hot Coffee" scenes removed in the Greatest Hits Edition, the Platinum Edition and the "Grand Theft Auto Trilogy Pack".[52]

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 court approves the proposed settlement, 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.[53]

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.[54]


Rockstar released two follow-ups to San Andreas: Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, both by Rockstar Leeds. Unlike San Andreas and its predecessors, Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories were developed for the PlayStation Portable handheld, and there was no Windows or Xbox version although a PlayStation 2 port was released afterwards. San Andreas thus marks the last major Grand Theft Auto release across the sixth-generation consoles to be produced by Rockstar North, as well as the last one to introduce an entirely new setting.

Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories are prequels to San Andreas' predecessors, so both games derive their maps from Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City, respectively, each of which covers a considerably smaller area than San Andreas. Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories eliminated gameplay elements introduced in San Andreas, including the ability to swim (in Liberty City Stories, but re-introduced in a limited capacity in Vice City Stories) and climb. Both Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories include references to characters featured in San Andreas, with Liberty City Stories set about six years after the events of San Andreas (in that game, for example, radio reporter Richard Burns, featured in news bulletins in San Andreas, returns as a radio call-in guest) and Vice City Stories set about 8 years before the events of San Andreas. Except for news bulletins, radio programming in Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories does not change based upon player progress. While character customisation elements such as wardrobe changes are retained, for later games, Rockstar eliminated the need for the game protagonists to eat and exercise.[55]

San Andreas marked the technological pinnacle of the Grand Theft Auto III era (also known as the "3D Universe") and also the end of that continuity (albeit for the handheld-focused Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories spin-offs). Rockstar launched a new canon (the "HD Universe") with Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto V for the seventh-generation consoles. The celebrity voice acting that had been so prominent in the "3D Universe", especially in Vice City and San Andreas, was scaled back in the "HD Universe". Rockstar also took a new direction in the series, focusing on realism and details instead of greater area and added content. For instance, although the explorable sandbox area is smaller than San Andreas, the primary setting for Grand Theft Auto IV is comparable to San Andreas in terms of scope when "the level of verticality of the city, the number of buildings you can go into, and the level of detail in those buildings" are taken into account.[56] The goal for the HD Universe layout of Liberty City was to have no dead spots or irrelevant spaces, such as the vast deserts found in San Andreas state.[55] Ars Technica wrote Grand Theft Auto IV's "slight regression of the series from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is surprising: there are fewer vehicles, weapons, and story missions, less character customisation, and even the size of the city itself is smaller".[57]

Los Santos, one of the three central cities in San Andreas, is the primary location of the latest game in the franchise, Grand Theft Auto V.[58][59] Although GTA: San Andreas included three cities separated by open countryside, Grand Theft Auto V included only one city, Los Santos, as well as adjoining countryside and desert areas.[60] By focusing their efforts on one city instead of three, the team were able to produce Los Santos in higher quality and at a grander scale.[61] For both games, Los Angeles was used as the model for Los Santos,[62] but the team felt that the ambition of having three cities in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was too high and that the game did not emulate the cities as well as they had hoped.[63] Houser elaborated that "to do a proper version of L.A., [...] the game has to give you a sense of that sprawl — if not completely replicate it", and dividing the budget and workforce between multiple cities would have detracted from capturing "what L.A. is".[61] Garbut felt that in the PlayStation 2 era the team did not have the technical capabilities to capture Los Angeles properly, resulting in the San Andreas rendition of Los Santos feeling like a "backdrop or a game level with pedestrians randomly milling about".[61] Therefore, the team disregarded San Andreas as a jumping-off point for Grand Theft Auto V, as they had moved on to a new generation of consoles since the former and wanted to build the city from scratch. As Garbut explained, with the move to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 hardware, "our processes and the fidelity of the world [had] evolved so much from San Andreas" that using it as a model would have been redundant.[61]

Other versions

Steam version

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is distributed on the digital distribution platform Steam. The game received a notable amount of updates raising the version from 1.1 to 3.0. On 7 November 2014, an update caused controversy after 17 tracks from the soundtrack were removed due to expired licenses.[64] Other drawbacks of the update include removal of widescreen support (which was later fixed via another minor update), and certain regions were incompatible with older saves. Both old and new owners were affected by the update, unlike with Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, where only new owners were affected due to a similar update. Additionally, the game received native support for XInput-enabled gamepads and the removal of digital rights management software.

Mobile version

Gameplay of the iOS version

A port of San Andreas for select iOS devices was released on 12 December 2013.[65] It was followed closely by ports to Android devices on 19 December 2013,[66] Windows Phone devices on 27 January 2014,[67] and Fire OS devices on 15 May 2014.[68] The upgrades and enhancements from the original game include newly remastered graphics, consisting of dynamic and detailed shadows, greater draw distance, an enriched colour palette, plus enhanced character and car models.[22]

Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions

In 2008, the original Xbox version was released on Xbox 360; an emulated port as part of the Xbox Originals line-up. However, in late 2014 it was removed from the Xbox Live Marketplace and replaced with a port of the mobile version on 26 October 2014, the game's tenth anniversary. It featured HD 720p resolution, enhanced draw distance, a new menu interface, and achievements. While it introduced many new features, around ten songs were removed from the HD version that were present in the original due to licensing issues, and numerous new bugs were introduced.[69] A physical release followed on 30 June 2015 in North America[70] and 17 July 2015 elsewhere,[71] under the "Platinum Hits" banner ("Classics" in PAL regions).

San Andreas was first released on PlayStation 3 in December 2012 as an emulated PS2 Classic. This version was also removed in late 2014, leading to rumours of a PS3 HD release. However, this was not the case at the time, and the PS2 Classic later returned. In early November 2015, the game was re-rated by the ESRB for an upcoming PS3-native release. The HD version was released on 1 December 2015, replacing the PS2 Classic on the PlayStation Store, and on physical media, gaining instant "Greatest Hits" status in North America.[72] There has also been a PlayStation 4 version released, though unlike the port for the PlayStation 3, it is the PlayStation 2 game running via emulation, although it still has trophies and some songs edited out due to licensing restrictions.


  1. ^ Ported to iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Fire OS, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 by War Drum Studios.[1]
  2. ^ Games in the Grand Theft Auto series are grouped into distinct fictional universes, which share interconnected plots and characters. The "3D universe" consists of Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City (2002), Advance (2004), San Andreas (2004), Liberty City Stories (2005), and Vice City Stories (2006). The San Andreas rendition of Los Santos is different from the rendition in Grand Theft Auto V (2013).[2]


  1. ^ "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas". War Drum Studios. Archived from the original on 19 January 2016. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
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External links