|Release date:||29 October 2004|
It's the early 90s. Carl's got to go home. His mother has been murdered, his family has fallen apart and his childhood friends are all heading towards disaster. CJ is forced on a journey that takes him across the entire state of San Andreas, to save his family and to take control of the streets.
Americans like things 'big' - cars, burgers, waistlines - and games don't come much bigger than Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The GTA series is arguably the hottest thing to hit gaming since Space Invaders and this latest instalment turns the thermostat up to 11.
The free-roaming, car-jacking, 80's action of Vice City is brought forward to the early 1990s and expanded from a mere giant city, to fill an entire state - San Andreas. As small-time hood Carl Johnson, it's up to you to kick off your one-man crimewave, recruit a gang and climb the scum-encrusted ladder of criminal success until you are (crime) lord of all you survey.
This time you have three whole cities to pillage - Los Santos, San Fierro and Las Venturra - and all the expansive countryside in between. As well as the cars, bikes, boats and choppers of Vice City, San Andreas expands your transport options with bicycles (you couldn't 'do' the 90's without BMXs, could you?) and the much-demanded swimming ability.
But a bigger lawless playground demands more than just new ways to get around. San Andreas features a whole host of new ways to challenge budding virtual criminals, including burglary and fencing stolen goods.
Of course, there's loads more stuff for you to blow your dollars on too. During the lean years, head over to budget store 'Binco' to get all your cut-price clothing, but 'SubUrban' is the place to be for any self-respek'in gangsta to get his bad threads.
Ensure Carl remains the best looking gangster by getting a haircut from one of SA's best hairdressers. Afros, corn-rows and creative shaving are all on offer and the better Carl looks, the more respek he'll earn from his homies.
But as 'bad' as San Andreas is, developer Rockstar has its tongue firmly in its cheek, and while Carl's activities may be reprehensible, there's still a thick vein of black humour running throughout - just check out the name of the top sports shop, ProLaps [snigger].
Since GTAIII, the series has become synonymous with a kicking soundtrack and San Andreas is no different. With the whole back catalogue of the 1990's to choose from you can be guaranteed to find some rap legend, rock opus or Mad-chester, shoe-gazing classic on that in-car radio dial.
Welcome to San Andreas. Population: Fun.
- Latest in the astronomically popular GTA series
- Not just a city, now you have a whole state to 'play' in
- Recruit gang members to aid your crime spree
- Customise your anti-hero with clothes, hairstyles and bling to earn the respect of your 'crew'
- Stellar soundtrack made up of the biggest hits of the 1990s