San Andreas: Initial Review and Thoughts
After going to a couple of Walmarts last night in search of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, I finally found a store who had the PC version on the selves and happily snatched one up. This was at about 1am. By 4am, I was already putting the Grove St. gang back on the map. I had beat down some local crack dealers, tagged over some other rival gang's graffiti, and taken my homies to the Cluckin' Bell for some Cluckin' good grub. Life in San Andreas is good.
The game and game mechanics are well polished and a pleasure to play. If I were going to have one complaint, I would say that when using the keyboard and mouse, the driving controls are a little wonky. There is a setting so that you can use a gamepad and I think I may end up trying this because I found some of the cars a tad counter-intuitive to drive. You can definitely tell this was a console port. This is okay though because it is a very good console port.
Graphically, I expected more. My system specs are: A P4 550 CPU, 1gig Crucial Ballistix DDR2 533, a 74gig Raptor HD, Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS, and a Radeon X800XT PCI Express video card. In my opinion, this should be ample to run the game at its highest settings for the most part. I turned up the Anti Aliasing to 3, the draw distance all the way up, the resolution to 1024x768, and the visual FX were as high as they would go. The game looked choppy to me and I am not sure why. Some of the graphical aspects of the game look very very nice but the models themselves look kind of gritty. I am going to try to turn the draw distance down a tad and see if this helps me out. The graphics are not bad by any stretch of the imagination but I expected better for some reason.
The sound in this game is awesome. So awesome that I usually end up turning off the radio because it starts to get kind of noisy between the radio, people talking, the car sounds, and the other background noise that envelopes you as you drive through the city. Oh yeah, the radio stations are badass. There are eleven of them and all of them have their own distinct feel and sound. As in previous GTA games, the radio station really add some very nice flavor to the game. In the PC version of San Andreas, you can also make your own radio station if your musical tastes are different than that of your homies. Very cool.
The other thing I would like to mention is the manual and the overall package of the game. It rocks. The game comes in a regular DVD package that you may mistake for a movie if you didn't know that it was a game and the manual is very cool. It is a hardbound travel guide of the three big cities in the game. Rockstar put a lot of effort into the manual and it shows. I like thumbing through the pages and looking at all of the adds as well as the maps. This is the way all game manuals should be designed. Rockstar made it to where the manual is no longer a book you go to as a ditch attempt to figure something in the game out, but more of a thing that adds flavor and depth to the game itself. It is a joy to look at and read through.
Overall, I enjoy the game. I am going to do some more tweaking with the graphics to see if I can't get things looking a little nicer but other than that I have very few gripes with the way Rockstar pulled off this immense world. Now if they could only make GTA: Online. I will have died and gone to heaven. Now it is time to do some more bangin' with my OGs on Grove St.