Let’s Play #19: GTA San Andreas

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CJ walking near his house in Tanton, LS.

 

A masterpiece after another, GTA San Andreas is a masterpiece by name and by facts: highest selling Playstation 2 game ever. If it got number one, there must be a reason. What reason? Well there’s many of them.

If you are into videogames, it’s almost impossible you haven’t at least heard of GTA San Andreas. The GTA series produced very successful titles one after another (just think of the success of GTA V) but GTA San Andreas changed our lives. Not only the story itself was good, but there was so much more to do then the previous titles.

GTA San Andreas tells us about what’s happening in the state of San Andreas divided into 3 “countries”: Los Santos, San Fierro and Las Venturas. More importantly it tells us about the life of the street gangs, focusing on the life of Carl “CJ” Johnson. Before the game event’s took place, CJ’s brother was killed by a rival gang, the Ballas, because of CJ’s fault. After his brother’s death he left the country ashamed, for Liberty City where he worked for the son of the famous godfather Salvatore Leone. After 5 years, his other brother, Sean “Sweet” Johnson calls him to tell him that the Ballas now got down their mother. CJ goes back to Los Santos to participate in the funeral, and he’s determined to fix his mistakes and make his gang, the Grove Street’s OG, bigger and greater than ever. The bad news is, he can’t leave the country anymore. When he got off the plane, he was caught by surprise by the “C.R.A.S.H.” a team of three corrupted cops who threaten CJ to not leave the country and work with them, or they will accuse him of the homicide of a cop they killed.

The adventure features all the elements of the GTA series and is divided into 2 main parts: exploring and missions. Missions are mandatory. Even if some might be avaiable at the same time of others, you will eventually have to clear them all. Completing missions earns you money, new abilities, new weapons and bonuses, so they aren’t a waste of time. Oh yeah, they also progress the story. When you’re not on a mission, you are free do go and do whatever you want. Even if not all the world of GTA San Andreas is open from the start (you’ll get a 5 level of suspect if you enter an area you haven’t unlocked yet), the single counties still offer a really big and various environment to explore and have fun in. And when you unlock all three, your experience will be finally complete.

The map was one of the biggest map ever to be released (estimated real size is 14527 square meters) and can give you hours and hours of fun by only exploring. The missions will take you through the maps showing you the most important landmarks but if you want to know all the secrets, all the hidden weapons and veichles, you’ll need to explore the maps carefully. Heck, there are even hidden items you need to find in every country to get bonuses, and those really push you to the very limit by making you explore the maps deeply (I got all of those in my Let’s Play).

But the game mechanics were a little bit hard for me to understand when I first played it. You see, it’s not like you can push forward with doing mission without any problems. CJ has so many statistics you need to take into account: first of all “Fat” which decreases with time and increases when you eat. If you eat too much, CJ will become chubby and will slow down (even though he kind of gets a little more health) not eating a lot, will make him slim but be careful because he might not be able to run a lot if he doesn’t eat enough. Then there’s Stamina and Muscles. Stamina increases your sprint time, while Muscles your melee attacks. If you want better stats you have to go training in a gym, or outside on your own.

Another thing to take into consideration is the Weapon Skills. CJ starts with low skills on weapons, but as he practices by shooting around, he’ll become better and have better accuracy. Also, he might be able to dual-wield some weapons. Training in the use of fire weapons is a crucial point in the story of GTA San Andreas, especially near the end where being able to shoot enemies directly in the head is a must. There are so many bad guys to take down, that you have to be able to one shot them quickly enough with minimum ammo usage.

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Aiming at the head is a very quick way to dispose of enemies.

 

Once the story is over, the side missions are there for you (and there’s an insane amount of side missions) but honestly what made GTA San Andreas great were the myths: We’ve heard of many things back in the days GTA San Andreas was released: We’ve heard about Bigfoot, Aliens, The Ghost City, the possibility of going to the moon, The Ghost Cars, The Suicide Pedestrians, The Blood Tree and many more…

Some of those were confirmed to be fake, some other to be true and being either glitches or easter eggs. The Suicide Pedestrians is an example of both of these things. In a certain point of Las Venturas is possible to observe a pedestrian randomly falling from a building. That was confirmed to be a bug of the spawn point of the pedestrians. On the other hand, when you leave Los Santos from the south-west bridge and follow he coast, you’ll meet a pedestrian taking a picture at the sea, then walking in the water and dying. That is believed by most to be an easter egg, but might just well be an actual programming oversight.

Another confirmed bug is the one of the famous Ghost Cars. In Back O’ Beyond, in the middle of the woods, there’s a point where it’s possible to see some cars move on their own on a straight line until they crash on a tree. These cars are all wrecked and impossible to repair even with cheats. There are in game files for these cars, but the reason why they move on their own is because they spawn on a slope, and because of that, as soon as CJ enters the area near the car, it spawns and slides down. Apart from that, the cars are perfectly usable. There are other places to find Ghost Cars but this one is probably the most famous one.

All of that being said, GTA San Andreas is a game that, at least in my opinion will remain in the history of videogames for everything I’ve said above. It was also my longest Let’s Play, featuring a grand-total of 100 episodes in which I usually tackle 1 mission per each. It was a great project and a real great fun to record. I even created a compilation of my best reactions.

Let’s Play’s stats:

-First episode aired on: Mag 28, 2015
-Last episode aired on: Oct 5, 2015
-Number of episodes: 100
-Total time of Let’s Play: 21 hours and 44 minutes