With all the Grand Theft Auto V talk of late, I decided to take a trip to Los Santos as we once knew it in San Andreas, and wow, that game still delivers. While Vice City is arguably the better game, San Andreas is the irrupted king of sandbox games when it comes to creating your own adventure within a thriving landscape.
There are a bunch of PC mods out to spruce things up a little, but for a game that’s nearing its 10th birthday, it doesn’t look all that bad.
Here are seven reasons to go back and play GTA: San Andreas, even if none of them have anything to do with the core game itself.
Ambitious Plane Landings
Sneak in under the bridge. Ignore the smoke.
I’ve spent countless hours trying to land planes in ambitious areas of San Andreas. It’s still fun; none more so than getting the AT-400 (the imitation 737) onto bridges and out the front of CJ’s crib. It’s challenging, very challenging, but possible.
A few of the larger houses also have garages big enough to fit a stunt plane. The wings are too wide for most, but you’ll know it when you see it. Landing close enough and then backing it in (without using cheats to get it nearby) is challenging but rewarding. The reward: starting with a stunt play every time you load your save.
Granted that’s more useful when you’re actually playing through the game, and perhaps something to remember for GTA V.
Jet packing into Vegas
If you don't keep moving, it's just falling with style.
How would you arrive into Las Venturas, San Andreas’s rendition of Vegas? By jet pack, of course. It also spawns nearby in the Verdant Meadows, towards the north of Bone County, but only if you’ve complete “The Truth,” a mission in which CJ steals the jet pack from the hidden lab in Area 69.
Once obtained, cruise the strip in style. $60 million worth of style. Imagine this bad boy in Liberty City.
Evade a six star chase (infiltrate Air Force base)
Assuming you’ve unlocked all of the islands, you’ll be able to get a wanted level of up to six stars, by which stage every law enforcement agency in the country will be trying to blow you up with little thought of collateral damage. Actually, no thought. Committing six stars worth of crime can be challenging, but infiltrating the air force base and murdering lots of national servicemen gets it up there pretty quickly.
Once you’ve mustered up at least four stars, see how long you can survive. It’s a stalwart of every open world game now, but none are close to matching the rebellious entertainment of San Andreas.
Climb to the peak of the tallest mountain. Jump
GO! Oh wait, too late.
The tallest mountain in San Andreas can be found in the south-west corner. Work your way up there -- the hover-jet makes easy work of it -- only to come flying off again. There’s a bike and a campervan up there, as well as whatever vehicle you supply.
Ride or drive off the ramp and enjoy the plunge. Be aware that the bike will lead to certain death if you don’t deploy the parachute, while the ‘van is surprisingly sturdy. CJ can walk away without a scratch and an extra $500 in his pocket for style.
CJ can also base-jump off the tallest building and out of any plane to see a visual effect way ahead of its time.
Explore the diverse world
The fastest way to see everything (very briefly)
The world of San Andreas is still amazing. Sure, I’d love a new HD upgrade, but if GTA V offers Los Santos with even more detail, we’ll be a spoilt bunch. It’s the sheer scope of San Andreas that still makes it one of the best open worlds to explore today.
Nothing’s pipped it for size, and every corner of the map is totally different. There’s the lower-class ghetto, corrupt casinos, the homes of the rich and famous, hick country, area 51, and everything in-between.
Having not played San Andreas for over five years, it’s amazing to go back and remember key locations, then stumble across new areas that I never realised where accessible.
A plethora of side missions you probably missed
If you’re interested in the main game, there are a plethora of side missions you probably missed during your first 50 hours in 2004. Assuming we’re not cheating, any money earned is all towards the goal of expanding your real estate network and owning every home and business available to buy in San Andreas.
CJ is the people’s protagonist
That's not me, I don't know what you're talking about....
Carl “CJ” Johnson is the player’s protagonist because he could be anything you wanted him to be. Tommy Vercetti was the perfect gangster, but like Niko, he was a pre-determined character.
CJ can be anyone the player wants him to be, including a morbidly obese sex-fiend who enjoys being beaten with dildos by whorish women. I mean, that’s just one example, not what I became.
By Ben Salter