Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004)

It seemed like my computer was always just good enough to play the latest version of Grand Theft Auto.  When I got GTA: San Andreas, it would just barely run.  I didn’t mind so much until my computer crashed and I had to reformat.  I gave up until just recently when I got a new laptop.  With the onset of COVID-19, I decided to take it upon myself to delve into the fictionalized version of Southern California once again.

The story revolves around Carl “CJ” Johnson.  He’s returned from Liberty City for his mother’s funeral.  His siblings, Sean and Kendl, still live in Los Santos.  There is some animosity because Carl hasn’t been there.  The real problems come from the gangs and corrupt police.  Officers Tenpenny and Pulaski harass Carl.  Most gangs will attack Carl just because he’s a member of Grove Street Families.

As with previous entries into the GTA franchise, you assume the role of Carl.  There are about 100 missions for you to go through.  The first few missions deal with game play and game mechanics.  In one, you’re show how to spray over the tags of rival gangs.  Spraying over all the tags isn’t important for the main storyline, but doing all 100 tags does have its benefits.

Each set of missions comes from a character.  As you finish most of the missions, a new set will open up for you.  Each set has to be completed in order, but if you have several sets going at the same time you can alternate.  If you get frustrated with one, try another.  There’s no penalty for failing a mission unless you die or get arrested.  If that’s the case, you’ll lose your weapons and a small amount of money.

There are also side missions, such as the aforementioned tags.  There are 100 of them for you to find in Los Santos, as well as 50 pictures to take in San Fierro, 50 horseshoes in Las Venturas and 50 clams underwater scattered throughout the whole map.  Each one comes with a bonus if you complete all of them.  There are also fire trucks you can use to put out fires, police vehicles for vigilante missions and taxis for collecting fares.  Again, each has a benefit for completion.  (If you go through all twelve levels of putting out fires, you become fireproof.)

If that’s not enough, you can play pool or basketball.  There are also races for you to compete in.  And, if you like, you can even go to one of two casinos to gamble.  I have to admit that the gambling isn’t as fun as the real thing.  Not only can you not take it with you, but the rules are simplified.  There are certain bets you can’t make in the in-game roulette and a blackjack only pays as a normal win.

Most of the missions are pretty straightforward.  You may not get a lot of them on the first try, but you will learn how to do it pretty quickly.  The only exception to this is the Learning to Fly mission.  You may have come here hoping for some pointers on how to complete the third and fourth lessons, where you have to go through the coronas.  I’m sorry.  I can’t help you.

The best I can tell you is to adjust course a little bit at a time, but even that only helps a little.  If you miss a corona, it’s easier to crash and start over.  (As long as you don’t crash into the water, you just have to press space bar to restart the lesson.)  It took me months of playing on and off to finally complete them.

The good news is that Toreno will stop calling you after the third phone call.  This means that you can go and try something else.  I was able to complete all of the tags, all of the photographs and get the car dealership before completing the third lesson.  It’s going to be long and hard.  I thought of quitting several times, but I did finish them.  You just have to keep at it.

At least the play area at that point was vast.  I had the entire play area open to me, meaning I could explore everything.  There are a lot of little towns and forests you can go through.  There are a lot of weapons.  You can even get a dildo and a vibrator, although not at the same time.  (Weapons have slots and you can only have one of each type at a time.)  I do recommend getting the minigun.  That was a fun weapon.

Once I did get past the flying lessons, it was smooth sailing to the end of the game.  At that point, I was so invested that I was kind of sad that I wouldn’t be seeing the other characters again.  (Actually, that’s not entirely accurate.  I still have a few optional missions I can play.)  I don’t think I’ll ever look at a plane the same way.  I can fly them, but it’s generally easier for me to jump out and use the parachute than to land the plane unless I have to.

My stats show that I have 90 hours of game play, but that’s somewhat deceptive.  There were a few times I reloaded a game to save my weapons.  I don’t know if any time was lost.  Through dating of some girlfriends, you can keep your weapons after dying or being arrested.  Once this happens, reloading becomes more a matter of convenience.  Some mission sets are near enough to a save point that I usually just reloaded so that I didn’t have to go all the way back.

I should note that you’re given only a few save points.  You start out with the Johnson Family house, for instance.  You can buy other properties to use as a safe house, which will prove beneficial later in the game.  It gets tedious to have to travel back one of a few save points.  They do cost in-game money, but you should have plenty by the time it becomes necessary.  (If you need money, this is another reason to do the fire missions.  Those pay relatively well.)

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas ended up being a big improvement over Vice City.  Aside from the huge play area, it was a lot more complex.  You had to exercise and worry about your fitness.  You could get haircuts and tattoos.  Some of these could even be used to evade police.  At its core, it’s still Grand Theft Auto.  While the Learning to Fly mission did take its toll, I might look into Grand Theft Auto IV if I can get some extra money together.  I’d like to see what kind of progress they made with that.

No comments :