Since 1997 Rockstar North has been stirring up controversy and exciting video game fans with it’s Grand Theft Auto series.
Their newest title is called San Andreas.
I had never played any of the previous games, but I was intrigued by the new game after I saw a faux-Hollywood Sign in the commercial.
For most of the game you simply drive fast and run people over. You really get the feel of what it is like to BE Halle Berry (didn’t get that reference? CLICK HERE.)
During the game there are many challenges you must face. Each of these is like a mini game. Still, these mini games are surprisingly very well done and are fun in their own right.
The game layout is HUGE! You can drive on and on for what seems like forever.
You start in the city of Los Santos (which is Spanish for THE Santos.) Los Santos is modeled after Los Angeles. Most of the streets bear only a vague resemblance to any real place, but there were several streets and buildings that were almost perfect replicas of Golden State landmarks. Among them are:
Hollywood Blvd: The famous ‘street with stars under your feet’ is here in gritty polygon form. The Walk of Fame is there, but the detail is not clear enough to read the names.
Grauman’s Chinese Theater: On one of my first games I tried to make a right onto (what I thought was) a side street and I drove onto the forecourt crashing into the building over Van Heflin’s handprints.
The El Capitan Theater: Located (in the game and in real life) across the street from the Chinese is Disney’s El Capitan (which is Spanish for THE Capitan.) Of course the name and the movie on the marquee are obscured, but most physical details are there.
Encounters: This is a bizarre restaurant at LAX that is shaped like a spaceship. The version in the game is a perfect match.
The Hollywood Sign: Reading VINEWOOD, the sign looks very familiar to everyone. However, rather than being high atop Mt. Lee the sign is much closer to the road and very easy to hike to in GTA. I tried to jump off of it like Peg Entwhistle but that didn’t seem possible.
The Capital Records Building: The famed building that looks like a giant slinky is here too, but it’s on the wrong side of the street.
The Santa Monica Pier: I was stunned by the accuracy of this. The pier is represented really accurately. After entering under the famous ‘Yacht Harbor’ sign I ran to the end of the pier to find one of my favorite restaurants Mariasol Cocina Mexicana (which is Spanish for THE Mariasol Cocina Mexicana ) right where it should be only with a different name. Every detail of the exterior was dead on right down to the shape of the doors.
And, L.A. isn’t the only city in the game. There are also representations of Las Vegas, San Diego and San Francisco.
In addition to the great locals, you also get a pretty good mix of music and talk thanks to the radios in the stolen cars. Everything from gangsta rap to obscure bluegrass tunes populates the airwaves with over 150 songs. Plus, a stellar voice cast that includes Samuel L. Jackson and James Woods. Sadly they are not dueling gangsta rappers.
I can’t tell you much more about the plot, basically because I haven’t gotten very far in the game. I would have spent more time on it but I was busy working on that Halle Berry joke. I think I made the right decision.