ROLE WITH IT
Other additions include RPG-style skills, which become improved through practice: bump up your rifle skill and shooting becomes sharper; increase your motorcycling proficiency and you won't tumble off as often. Another important stat is 'Respect', which rises as you plough through missions. The higher it is, the more gang members you can entice into your entourage. San Andreas has a turf war system that requires you to grab rival gangs' territory and claim it as your own. Any areas you control will be populated by recruitable thugs who follow you around, attacking enemies and performing drive-bys. While not the best fighters, they do provide a welcome extra dimension to GTA's combat.
|Ah, combat. This brings me nicely to the point I touched on earlier. Like I said, I wish I'd waited for this version of San Andreas before picking up my digital Glock and embarking on a pixellated life of crime, as the newly arrived PC version is better than the PS2 version in a couple of significant ways.
Thanks to the mouse and keyboard combo, combat is vastly improved. You can actually manually aim the guns accurately and quickly, which is nigh-on impossible to do on the PlayStation 2. Gunfights are more tactile, enjoyable and far, far less frustrating. Then there's the visual side of things.
OH YOU PRETTY THING
You can probably tell from the screenshots that San Andreas is not particularly impressive when compared to the likes of Half-Life 2 - most of the textures are blurred and fuzzy, and none of the latest graphical effects have been implemented. But it's still far superior to the PS2 version: the draw distance is further, the frame-rate is better and the resolution is higher. Real-time shadows replace indistinct blobs. All told it's a smoother,
Rockstar has also thrown in some new features for the PC. Photos and stats can be exported, there's a 30-second replay function, and should you get bored of the ludicrously fantastic soundtrack and fancy yourself as a bit of a Dave Lee Travis, you can create your own radio station using MP3s. Commercials are even spliced in between tracks to create a more authentic feel, and the game is now moddable - something that will open things out even more.
One thing that's missing is the co-operative two-player mode of the PS2 version, which Rockstar claims wouldn't work given the PC's control options. Debatable perhaps, but it was a pretty insignificant part of the game to begin with, so it won't be missed too strongly.
So has San Andreas on PC been worth the wait? Well, yes, quite frankly: it's a marked improvement on what was already a bloody brilliant game. If you've played through the PlayStation 2 version then we wouldn't suggest spunking another 35 notes on it, but if you've been more patient than stupid old me, go out, buy it and play on, playa.
- Massive game world
- So much stuff to do
- Some improvements over the PS2 version
- Top-notch soundtrack and voice acting
- Graphics engine showing its age
- No two-player mode