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Really, really not for kids, but Gouranga quintupled baby! Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (GTA:SA) is, simply put, a great game. The six month wait for a PC port was worth it; although still not state-of-the-art, if you’ve got the rig for it graphics are noticably improved over the PS2. I’m a bit biased having been addicted since the original GTA came out – Gouranga refers to the easter egg you get for taking out a line of hare krishnas in the original – but the game is probably the best of the series as the world is richer and the missions more fun. My only reservation is that the violence and plot here have no place anywhere near kids, but for adults this is the best of the genre and deserves 5 stars.GTA has fully evolved from a pure-action game in the original GTA to an RPG with a good deal of action in GTA:SA. The majority of the game revolves around completing missions rather than simply jacking cars and running over people as in the early versions. The good news is that the RPG works. Missions are funny but brutal.It’s important to note this isn’t the tamer, slightly cartoonish Scarface-inspired Vice City. Instead, this is the very nasty world of early 90’s South Central LA with a gangbanger-influence and language that many will find disturbing. With the revelation that interactive softcore porn is included, this very much deserves the new AO rating. (All the infamous ‘hot coffee’ mod does is unlock some hidden but pretty rough sex simulations and take off the computer-generated clothes of those involved – if you’re disturbed by the gangbanging the in-genre scenes will make it even worse.) One wonders if the rumor that TakeTwo leaked information about the hidden code to the hacking community as a marketing stunt is true – if so, it’s massively backfired and it’s hard to argue they don’t deserve at least some criticism for at the very least not being far more upfront about its inclusion. Even before hot coffee this was pushing the upper limits of an M rating and probably deserved an AO one. Then again, any parent who let their kid near this game – or incredibly, a litigous grandmother buying this for an unsupervised 14 year old when M is clearly marked for 17 year olds – really isn’t doing their job either as its incredibly obvious this is not a game for kids. Caveat emptor, and it looks like the AO version is about to become a collector’s item.Regarding content, there are so many more things to do compared to even Vice City. The world is, in a word, huge. It takes at least 20 minutes to drive from one end of the world to another (although if you’re creative you just jump the airport fence and fly a plane for 2 minutes instead). Sure, there are standard GTA missions, like mugging drug dealers and drive-bys. But there is a lot more. Want to play death from above? Complete a ton of missions and get the easter egg of a Hunter gunship that can blow anything in the game away. Want an insanely fast car? Don’t steal one; go to the docks and import a Super GT. Want to show off your moves? Enter the lowrider contest or go dancing with a date. Where the change from action game to RPG is most noticeable is in the addition of skill-based character advancement. CJ needs to eat and be in shape, but more importantly needs experience with weapons if he wants to hit something besides his foot. It’s not onerous by any means, but it’s a noticeable difference. One other note for veteran GTA players: this is probably the first GTA in which you’ll use your keyboard a bit. The shooting missions are easier with mouse control for targeting, although I definitely prefer my Logitech gamepad for driving.The PC port is clean although several of the PS2 cheats I tested don’t work. Several things are better than the console versions. Besides making your own radio station from MP3s (although the GTA ads still air in between songs), graphics are improved. If you have the hardware to run it, high end tweaks like shadowing and draw distance (meaning you can actually decipher signs among other things) are nice. This isn’t a showpiece game like Half Life 2 for your 45″ LCD monitor by any means – the PS2 development still shows in a vaguely polygonish feel – but the port is a definite improvement over the consoles and the previous GTAs. (If Rockstar insists on an exclusive PS3 contract going forward, hopefully the 1080p PS3 will force improvements in the next game.) I like the special guest voices (like a corrupt Samuel L. Jackson) and the 5.1 surround in general, and have fortunately not experienced any of the numerous reported sound or running problems. (I’m running a 6800GT and a dual Opteron 246 setup which probably helps.)It’s probably not the best PC game of the year based on the legacy limitations of developing this for the PS2, but it is a genre defining game and is a must play for anyone who likes being bad. Five stars.
Great game I hope amazon does not submit to the pressure to stop selling this game. With the recent change to the rating on this game it’s making it very hard for ADULTS to find this great game. I’m tired of the retail industry thinking all games are suppose to be for kids. There are grown adults who enjoy playing games. These are the same adults that grew up with video games and now want games that reflect their age. The rating system is to educate people on the content of the game, not to punish the publisher by refusing to sell it. I don’t want the retail industry telling me what I can and can’t buy.
I Just Have To Say Something. If you’re angry about the violent and sexual content in this game, there is one easy way to make it all go away……DON’T BUY THE FREAKING GAME!It says right on the front of the box, RATED M FOR MATURE, AGES 17 AND UP.If you buy this for your 9 year old and you catch him blowing up hookers, it’s your own fault for buying it for him.And by the way, about the Hot Coffee mod…If your kid can go on the internet, search around enough, find the mod, download it, and install it, then he’s probably been looking at porn already.
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