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Grand Theft Auto V is an action-adventure video game developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games. It was released in September 2013 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, in November 2014 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and in April 2015 for Microsoft Windows. It is the first main entry in the Grand Theft Auto series since 2008's Grand Theft Auto IV. Set within the fictional state of San Andreas, based on Southern California, the single-player story follows three criminals and their efforts to commit heists while under pressure from a government agency. The open world design lets players freely roam San Andreas' open countryside and the fictional city of Los Santos, based on Los Angeles.

The game is played from either a third-person or first-person perspective and its world is navigated on foot or by vehicle. Players control the three lead protagonists throughout single-player and switch between them both during and outside missions. The story is centred on the heist sequences, and many missions involve shooting and driving gameplay. A "wanted" system governs the aggression of law enforcement response to players who commit crimes. Grand Theft Auto Online, the game's online multiplayer mode, lets up to 30 players engage in a variety of different cooperative and competitive game modes.

Development of Grand Theft Auto V began soon after Grand Theft Auto IV's release and was shared between many of Rockstar's studios worldwide. The development team drew influence from many of their previous projects such as Red Dead Redemption and Max Payne 3, and designed the game around three lead protagonists to innovate on the core structure of its predecessors. Much of the development work constituted the open world's creation, and several team members conducted field research around California to capture footage for the design team. The game's soundtrack features an original score composed by a team of producers who collaborated over several years.

Extensively marketed and widely anticipated, the game broke industry sales records and became the fastest-selling entertainment product in history, earning US$800 million in its first day and US$1 billion in its first three days. It received widespread critical acclaim, with praise directed at its multiple protagonist design, open world, presentation and gameplay. However, it caused controversies related to its depiction of women and a mission featuring torture during a hostage interrogation. Considered one of seventh generation console gaming's most significant titles and among the best games ever made, it won year-end accolades including Game of the Year awards from several gaming publications. The game is one of the best-selling video games of all time, having shipped over 90 million copies worldwide by 2018.

Gameplay

Grand Theft Auto V is an action-adventure game[2] played from either a first-person[3][b] or third-person perspective.[4] Players complete missions—linear scenarios with set objectives—to progress through the story.[5] Outside the missions, players may freely roam the open world. Composed of the San Andreas open countryside area and the fictional city of Los Santos, the world is much larger in area than earlier entries in the series.[6][c] It may be fully explored after the game's beginning without restriction, although story progress unlocks more gameplay content.[8]

Players use melee attacks, firearms and explosives to fight enemies,[d] and may run, jump, swim or use vehicles to navigate the world.[e] To accommodate the map's size, the game introduces vehicle types absent in its predecessor Grand Theft Auto IV, such as fixed-wing aircraft. In combat, auto-aim and a cover system may be used as assistance against enemies.[12] Should players takes damage, their health meter will gradually regenerate to its halfway point.[f] Players respawn at hospitals when their health depletes. If players commit crimes, law enforcement agencies may respond as indicated by a "wanted" meter in the head-up display (HUD).[13] Stars displayed on the meter indicate the current wanted level (for example, at the maximum five-star level, police helicopters and SWAT teams swarm to lethally dispatch players).[14][g] Law enforcement officers will search for players who leave the wanted vicinity. The meter enters a cool-down mode and eventually recedes when players are hidden from the officers' line of sight that displays on the mini-map.[16][h]

The single-player mode lets players control three characters: Michael De Santa, Trevor Philips and Franklin Clinton—criminals whose stories interconnect as they complete missions. Some missions are completed with only one character and others feature two or three. Outside the missions, players may switch between characters at will by means of a directional compass on the HUD. The game may switch characters automatically during missions to complete certain objectives. A character's compass avatar will flash red if he is in danger and needs help, and flash white if he has a strategic advantage.[19] Though players complete missions as any of the three protagonists, the more difficult heist missions require aid from AI-controlled accomplices with unique skill sets like computer hacking and driving. If an accomplice survives a successful heist, they take a cut from the cash reward[20] and may be available for later missions with improvements to their unique skills.[21] There are multiple options for completing heists; in a holdup mission, players may either stealthily subdue civilians with an incapacitating agent or conspicuously storm the venue with guns drawn.[22]

Each character has a set of eight skills that represent their ability in certain areas such as shooting and driving. Though skills improve through play, each character has a skill with expertise by default (i.e. Trevor's flying skill).[23] The eighth "special" skill determines the effectiveness in performing an ability that is unique to each respective character. Michael enters bullet time in combat, Franklin slows down time while driving, and Trevor deals twice as much damage to enemies while taking half as much in combat.[24] A meter on each character's HUD depletes when an ability is being used and regenerates when players perform skilful actions (for example, drifting in vehicles as Franklin or performing headshots as Michael).

While free roaming the game world, players may engage in context-specific activities such as scuba diving underwater or BASE jumping via parachute. Each character has a smartphone for contacting friends, starting activities and accessing an in-game Internet.[26] The Internet lets players trade in stocks via a stock market.[27] Players may purchase properties such as garages and businesses, upgrade the weapons and vehicles in each character's arsenal, and customise their appearance by purchasing outfits, haircuts and tattoos.[28]

Plot

See also: List of Grand Theft Auto V characters

Michael Townley, Trevor Philips, and Brad Snider partake in a botched robbery in Ludendorff, North Yankton. Nine years later, Michael is living under witness protection with his family in Los Santos, under the alias Michael De Santa. Across town, gangbanger Franklin Clinton is working for a corrupt Armenian car salesman and meets Michael while attempting to fraudulently repossess his son's car; the two later become friends. When Michael finds his wife Amanda sleeping with her tennis coach, he and Franklin chase the coach to a mansion, which Michael destroys in anger. The owner turns out to be the girlfriend of Martin Madrazo, a Mexican drug lord who demands compensation to avoid further violence. Michael returns to a life of crime to obtain the money, enlisting Franklin as an accomplice. With the help of Michael's old friend Lester, a crippled hacker, they perform a jewellery shop heist to pay off the debt. Trevor, who now lives in a trailer park on the outskirts of Los Santos and believes Michael was killed in their failed robbery, hears of the heist and realises that it was Michael's handiwork; Trevor surprises Michael and reunites with him after tracking down his home.

The personal lives of the protagonists begin to spiral out of control. Michael's increasingly erratic behaviour prompts his family to leave him, and when he becomes a movie producer at film studio Richards Majestic, he comes into conflict with Devin Weston, a self-made billionaire venture capitalist and corporate raider who vows revenge after his attempts to shut down the studio are thwarted by Michael and his lawyer dies in an accident. Franklin rescues his friend Lamar Davis from gangster and former friend Harold "Stretch" Joseph, who repeatedly attempts to kill Lamar to prove himself to his new brethren. Trevor's reckless efforts to consolidate his control over various black markets in Blaine County see him waging war against The Lost outlaw motorcycle club, several Latin American street gangs, rival meth dealers, hillbillies, private security firm Merryweather, and Triad kingpin Wei Cheng.

Federal Investigation Bureau (FIB) agents Dave Norton and Steve Haines contact Michael and demand that he perform a series of operations to undermine a rival agency, the International Affairs Agency (IAA).[i] Under Steve's direction and with Lester's help, they attack an armoured convoy carrying funds intended for the IAA and steal an experimental chemical weapon from an IAA-controlled lab. As Steve comes under increasing scrutiny, he forces Michael and Franklin to erase any evidence being used against him from the FIB servers. Michael takes the opportunity to wipe the data on his own activities, destroying Steve's leverage over him. Michael, Trevor, Franklin, and Lester start planning their most daring feat ever: raiding the Union Depository's gold bullion reserve.

Michael reconciles with his family. However, Trevor discovers that Brad was not imprisoned as led to believe, but killed during the heist and buried in the grave marked for Michael. Trevor's feelings of betrayal cause friction within the group and threaten to undermine their Union Depository plans. When Michael and Dave are betrayed by Steve and become caught in a Mexican standoff between the FIB, IAA, and Merryweather, Trevor, feeling that he is the only one that has the right to kill Michael, comes to their aid. Despite not forgiving Michael, Trevor agrees to perform the Union Depository heist and part ways with him afterwards.

The heist is completed successfully, but Franklin is then approached separately by Steve and Dave, who contend that Trevor is a liability, and Devin, who wants retribution for Michael's betrayal. Franklin has three choices: kill Trevor, kill Michael, or attempt to save both in a suicide mission. Should Franklin choose to kill either Michael or Trevor, he ceases contact with the survivor and returns to his old life.[30][31] Otherwise, the trio withstand an onslaught from the FIB and Merryweather before going on to kill Steve, Stretch, Wei, and Devin. Michael and Trevor reconcile, and the three cease working together but remain friends.[32]

Development

Main article: Development of Grand Theft Auto V

Rockstar North began to develop Grand Theft Auto V in 2009, following Grand Theft Auto IV's release.[33] Development was conducted by a team of more than 1,000 people, including Rockstar North's core team and staff from parent company Rockstar Games' studios around the world. The proprietary Rockstar Advanced Game Engine (RAGE) was overhauled for the game to improve its draw distance rendering capabilities. The Euphoria and Bullet software handle additional animation and rendering tasks.[36] Having become familiar with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 hardware over time, Rockstar found they were able to push the consoles' graphical capabilities further than in previous games.[37] Analyst estimations place the game's combined development and marketing budget at more than GB£170 million (US$265 million), which would make it the most expensive game ever made at that time.[38][j]

The open world was modelled on Southern California and Los Angeles,[40] and its design and in-game render constituted much of the game's early work.[41] Key members of the game world production team took field research trips throughout the region and documented their research with photo and video footage.[37]Google Maps projections of Los Angeles were used by the team to help design Los Santos' road networks. To reflect and reproduce Los Angeles' demographic spread, the developers studied census data and watched documentaries about the city. The team considered creating the open world the most technically demanding aspect of the game's production.[33]

A fundamental design goal from the outset was to innovate on the series core structure by giving players control of three lead protagonists instead of one.[41] The idea was first raised during Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas' development, but contemporaneous hardware restrictions made it infeasible. Having developed two Grand Theft Auto IV episodic expansion packs featuring new protagonists in 2009, the team wanted to base Grand Theft Auto V around three simultaneously controlled protagonists. The team viewed it as a spiritual successor to many of their previous games (such as Grand Theft Auto IV, Red Dead Redemption and Max Payne 3), and designed it to improve upon their gameplay mechanics.[19][45] They sought to improve the action gameplay by refining the shooting mechanics and cover system,[46] and reworked the driving mechanics to correct Grand Theft Auto IV's difficult vehicle controls.

After an audition process, Ned Luke, Shawn Fonteno and Steven Ogg were selected to portray Michael, Franklin and Trevor, respectively.[48] Their performances were mostly recorded using motion capture technology, but dialogue for scenes with characters seated in vehicles was recorded in studios instead.[50] The game is the first in its series to feature an original score, composed by a team of producers collaborating with each other over several years.[51] Licensed music provided by an in-game radio is also used.[52] The team licensed more than 241 tracks shared between fifteen radio stations, with an additional two stations providing talk radio.[k] Some of the tracks were written specifically for the game, such as rapper and producer Flying Lotus' original work composed for the FlyLo FM radio station he hosts.[54]

The game was first announced by Rockstar Games on 25 October 2011.[55] They released its debut trailer one week later,[56] with an official press release acknowledging its setting.[57] Journalists noted that the announcement ignited widespread anticipation within the gaming industry, which they owed to the cultural significance of the series.[58][59][60] The game missed its original projected Q2 2013 release date, pushed back to 17 September to allow for further polishing.[61] To spur pre-order game sales, Rockstar collaborated with several retail outlets to make a special edition with extra in-game features.[62] They ran a viral marketing strategy with a website for a fictional religious cult, "The Epsilon Program", that offered users the chance to feature in the game as members of the cult.[63]

A re-release of the game was announced for Microsoft Windows (PC), PlayStation 4 and Xbox One at E3 2014. This enhanced version features an increased draw distance, finer texture details, denser traffic, upgraded weather effects, and new wildlife and vegetation.[64] It includes a new on-foot first-person view option, which required the development team to overhaul the animation system to accommodate first-person gameplay.[3] The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions were released on 18 November 2014.[65] The PC version, initially scheduled for simultaneous release with the console versions,[64] was delayed until 14 April 2015.[66] According to Rockstar, it required extra development time for "polish".[67] The PC version is capable of 60 frames per second gameplay at 4K resolution, and the Rockstar Editor lets players capture and edit gameplay videos.[68] Design director Imran Sarwar announced in October 2017 that the game would not receive single-player downloadable content, despite Rockstar's original plan for a 2014 release, citing the continued growth of Grand Theft Auto Online and the upcoming Red Dead Redemption 2 as reasons for the cancellation.[69]

Reception

Initial release

Grand Theft Auto V was released to critical acclaim.[82]Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating in the 0–100 range, calculated an average score of 97 out of 100 based on 50 reviews for the PlayStation 3 version[70] and 58 reviews for the Xbox 360 version.[71] The game is Metacritic's fifth-highest rated, tied with a number of others.[l] Reviewers liked the multiple lead character formula,[74][78] heist mission design[85][86][87] and presentation,[16][80][88] but some did not agree on the quality of the story and characters.[73][79][81][89]IGN's Keza MacDonald called Grand Theft Auto V "one of the very best video games ever made",[78] and Play considered it "generation-defining" and "exceptional".[80]Edge wrote that it is a "remarkable achievement" in open world design and storytelling, while The Daily Telegraph's Tom Hoggins declared it a "colossal feat of technical engineering".[91] It became only the second ever western developed game to be awarded a perfect score from the Japanese video game magazine Famitsu.[92]

CNET's Jeff Bakalar felt that the game encouraged players to engage with all three characters.[93]Edge found that switching players was helpful for avoiding long travel times to mission start points. Because of the switching mechanic, Game Informer's Matt Bertz noted that players are kept "in the thick of the action" during shootouts.[74]Eurogamer's Tom Bramwell wrote that switching added a tactical element to shootouts as characters set up in strategic outposts would cause fewer "shooting gallery" situations than previous instalments.[73] IGN's MacDonald felt the switching feature gave players more choice in their approach and made missions less predictable.[78]

Giant Bomb's Jeff Gerstmann considered the heist missions a welcome deviation from series typical mission structure.[85]Eurogamer's Bramwell likened them to "blockbuster set-pieces"[73] and GameSpot's Carolyn Petit cited the 1995 film Heat as a stylistic influence on their design.[76]Joystiq's Xav de Matos felt creativity and methodical approaches were encouraged.[79]Polygon's Chris Plante likened rapid character switching during heist missions to "film editing, with the player serving as editor, switching rapidly to the most interesting perspective for any moment".[86]Computer and Video Games' Andy Kelly felt that overall mission design was more diverse than and lacked the escort errands of its predecessors.[87]

Edge praised the game's graphical fidelity and absence of load screens.Play complimented the draw distances and weather and lighting systems.[80]Eurogamer's Bramwell considered the lighting system to be the game's biggest advancement.[73]Official Xbox Magazine (OXM)'s Mikel Reparaz thought that the game was "probably the Xbox 360's greatest technical achievement", and was surprised that the open world could render on the console.[89] Reviewers lauded the open world's design, some further complimenting the game for streamlining Los Angeles' geography into a well-designed city space.[16][73]GameTrailers' Brandon Jones considered the Los Angeles emulation authentic and the open world "full of voice and personality".[94] IGN and PlayStation Official Magazine (OPM) made favourable comparisons between Los Santos and Grand Theft Auto IV's Liberty City.[78][88]OXM's Reparez felt Los Santos surpassed the "grey and gritty" Liberty City.[89] Reviewers praised the world's satire of contemporary American culture[16][73][78][79][87]OPM's Joel Gregory opined that "the scathing social commentary is, of course, present and correct".[88]

Destructoid's Jim Sterling called the sound design "impeccable" and praised the actors' performances, original soundtrack and licensed music use.[16] IGN and Giant Bomb commended the music selection and felt that the original score enhanced dramatic tension during missions.[78][85] GameSpot's Petit wrote that the score "lends missions more cinematic flavour".[76]Edge said that the licensed music enhanced the city's "already remarkable sense of space" and that the original score improved the atmosphere of the gameplay. They summarised the game as "a compendium of everything Rockstar has learnt about the power of game music in the past decade".

Many reviewers found the land-based vehicles more responsive and easier to control than in previous games.[76][80][88][89]Game Informer's Bertz explained that "cars have a proper sense of weight, while retaining the agility necessary for navigating through traffic at high speeds".[74] In addition to the vehicle handling, most reviewers noted the shooting mechanics were tighter than they had been in previous games,[74][76][78] but Destructoid's Sterling felt that in spite of the improvements, auto-aim was "twitchy and unreliable" and cover mechanics "still come off as dated and unwieldy".[16] Some reviewers felt the game solved a continual problem by adding mid-mission checkpoints.[73][78][91]

The story and characters—particularly Trevor—polarised reviewers. Some felt that the narrative was not as well written as previous Rockstar games and cited Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption's plot strengths.[73][74][79][89] Others felt that the protagonists' contrasting personalities gave the narrative tighter pacing.[16][78][86]GamesRadar's Hollander Cooper thought the game negated inconsistencies in the story of previous entries, whose single lead protagonists had muddled morality.[77] GameSpot's Petit considered Trevor in particular a "truly horrible, terrifying, psychotic human being—and a terrific character".[76]Eurogamer's Bramwell found Trevor "shallow and unconvincing", and felt that his eccentricities hurt the narrative and overshadowed Michael and Franklin's character development.[73] Joystiq's de Matos faulted the protagonists' lack of likability for him, and found the ambivalence between Michael and Trevor a tired plot device as their conflict grew into a "seemingly endless cycle".[79]The Escapist's Greg Tito had difficulty connecting with the characters' emotions since they acted out of greed with no sense of morality and thus gave players little reason to support them.[81]

Re-release

Grand Theft Auto V's re-release, similarly, received critical acclaim. Metacritic calculated an average score of 97 out of 100 based on 66 reviews for the PlayStation 4 version[97] and 14 reviews for the Xbox One version,[98] and 96 out of 100 based on 48 reviews for the PC version.[96]Game Informer's Andrew Reiner considered the addition of first-person "another significant breakthrough for the series" in the vein of Grand Theft Auto III's shift to third-person from Grand Theft Auto's bird's-eye view.[100] GameSpot's Mark Walton found that playing in first-person heightened the impact of Grand Theft Auto V's violence, which made him reflect on morality and character motivation more than before.[99] VideoGamer.com opined that players feel like inhabitants of the world, rather than "guns attached to a floating camera".[104] IGN's Dan Stapleton found the game more immersive in first-person, creating a "surprisingly different experience".[101] VideoGamer.com praised the "finer details" in first-person animations like camera lean when players take corners on motorcycles, or the navigational instruments in plane cockpits.[104] Reviewers found playing the game more difficult in first-person,[99][101] but Game Informer's Reiner preferred the challenge.[100]

GameSpot's Walton thought the graphics improvements made the open world "even more spectacular", especially because of improved spatial anti-aliasing. Of the first-person view, he said that "at ground level everything looks bigger and more imposing" because of the improved graphics.[99] IGN's Stapleton favoured the PlayStation 4 version's graphics over the Xbox One, but thought both consoles rendered the game well and maintained mostly consistent frame rates.[101] He praised the increased frame rate and graphics options offered in the PC version.[106] VideoGamer.com called the console version's frame rate so consistent it was "scarcely believable",[104] although GameSpot's Walton cited occasional frame rate dips.[99] GameSpot's Peter Brown opined that the PC version let players "witness the full extent of Rockstar's admirable handiwork", but noted that it "retains evidence of its last-gen roots ... with simple geometry".[99] VideoGamer.com praised the Rockstar Editor's accessibility on PC but criticised some of its limitations, such as camera angle restrictions.[105] IGN's Stapleton appreciated the PC version's customisable controls,[106] and GameSpot's Brown felt that constant switching between the mouse and keyboard and a gamepad was necessary for "the best experience".[99]PC Gamer's Chris Thursten called the game "the most beautiful, expansive and generous" of the series.[103]

On the game's multiplayer, IGN's Stapleton reported low player counts in matches, long wait times in lobbies, server disconnection and occasional crashes. "Because of that," he wrote, "I can't strongly recommend ... the multiplayer experience alone".[101] VideoGamer.com found online character progression streamlined by comparison with the original version. According to them, the "grind of just doing PvP until co-op Jobs arrive with regularity"[104] was lost, and newcomers would likely find multiplayer enjoyable and balanced. However, they wrote of frequent server disconnection, especially during load screens.[104] GameSpot's Walton thought that Grand Theft Auto Online "still suffers from a lack of direction" for its open-ended and frenetic gameplay, but still is fun.[99]Game Informer's Reiner reported "minimal lag or issues in the expanded firefights and races".[100]

Accolades

Main article: List of accolades received by Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto Vreceived multiple nominations and awards from gaming publications. Prior to its release, it received Most Anticipated Game at the 2012Spike Video Game Awards.[58] The game was review aggregators Metacritic and GameRankings' highest rated for the year 2013.[107][108] The game appeared on several year-end lists of 2013's best games, receiving wins from independent journalist Tom Chick,[109]CNET,[110]Edge,[111] the 31st Golden Joystick Awards,[112] the 5th Annual Inside Gaming Awards the Spike VGX 2013 Awards,[114]Slant Magazine[115] and Time.[116] It was named the Best Xbox Game by Canada.com,[117] GameSpot,[118] and IGN,[119] and the Best Multiplatform Game by Destructoid.[120] Rockstar Games and Rockstar North won Best Studio and Best Developer from Edge,[121] and the BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award at the 10th British Academy Video Games Awards.[122]

Various in-game elements were recognised with awards. Two characters, Trevor Philips and Lamar Davis, received numerous nominations for Best Character, and Lamar won the award from Giant Bomb.[123] The music received awards from Spike VGX,[114]Hardcore Gamer[124] and The Daily Telegraph.[125]Grand Theft Auto Online won Best Multiplayer from GameTrailers[126] and BAFTA,[122] and Best Xbox 360 Multiplayer from IGN.[127]Online was also nominated for Biggest Disappointment by Game Revolution[128] and Hardcore Gamer.[129]Grand Theft Auto V won Best Technical Achievement in the Telegraph Video Game Awards,[125] and Best Technology at the 14th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards.[130] The graphical and artistic design received awards from IGN,[131]The Daily Telegraph[125] and BAFTA,[122] and a nomination at the Game Developers Choice Awards.[130]

The game received numerous other awards. It was awarded the title of Most Immersive Game at the Inside Gaming Awards. The general public voted for the game to receive the User Choice Award at the PlayStation Awards 2013[132] and the Community Choice award from Destructoid.[133] The game received the Platinum Award at the PlayStation Awards,[132] and was named the Best British Game from BAFTA.[122] At IGN's Best of 2013 Awards, it received multiple wins, including Best Xbox 360 Graphics,[131] Best Xbox 360 Sound,[134] and Best Action Game on Xbox 360,[119] PlayStation 3[135] and overall.[136]

Sales

Within 24 hours of its release, Grand Theft Auto V generated more than US$800 million in worldwide revenue, equating to approximately 11.21 million copies sold for Take-Two Interactive.[137][m] The numbers nearly doubled analysts' expectations for the title.[139][140] Three days after release, the game had surpassed one billion dollars in sales, making it the fastest selling entertainment product in history.[141][n] Six weeks after its release, Rockstar had shipped nearly 29 million copies of the game to retailers, exceeding the lifetime figures of Grand Theft Auto IV.[143] On 7 October 2013, the game became the best-selling digital release on PlayStation Store for PlayStation 3, breaking the previous record set by The Last of Us, though numerical sales figures were not disclosed.[144][145] It broke seven Guinness World Records on 8 October: best-selling video game in 24 hours, best-selling action-adventure video game in 24 hours, highest grossing video game in 24 hours, fastest entertainment property to gross US$1 billion, fastest video game to gross US$1 billion, highest revenue generated by an entertainment product in 24 hours, and most viewed trailer for an action-adventure video game.[2] A digital version was released on 18 October for the Xbox 360,[146] which went on to become the highest grossing day-one and week-one release on Xbox Live.[147] As of May 2014, the game has generated over US$1.98 billion in revenue.[148] As of August 2014, the game has sold-in over 34 million units to retailers for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.[149] By December 2014, the game had shipped 45 million copies, including 10 million copies of the re-released version.[150] As of February 2018, the game has shipped over 90 million copies worldwide across all platforms.[151]

In the United Kingdom, the game became the all time fastest-selling, selling more than 2.25 million copies in five days. This broke the record set by Call of Duty: Black Ops at two million copies over the same period. It broke the day one record by selling 1.57 million copies and generating £65 million.[152] In two weeks, the game sold more than 2.6 million copies and generated £90 million, which accounted for 52% of games sold September 2013.[153] After three weeks on sale, it beat Grand Theft Auto IV's lifetime sales in the United Kingdom.[154] In its fourth week, it became the fastest-selling title to break the three million barrier in the UK, thus overtaking Black Ops II's lifetime sales.[155] In November 2014, the game became the best-selling game of all time in the UK, overtaking Black Ops.[156] The game was similarly successful in North America: it was the best selling game in September, representing over 50% of software sales[157] and boosting overall software sales by 52% compared to September 2012.[158]

Grand Theft Auto Online

Main article: Grand Theft Auto Online

Developed in tandem with the single-player mode, the online multiplayer mode Grand Theft Auto Online was conceived as a separate experience to be played in a continually evolving world.[159] Up to 30 players[o] freely roam across the game world and enter lobbies to complete jobs (story-driven competitive and cooperative modes).[160] The Content Creator toolset lets players create their own parameters for custom jobs, like racetracks and deathmatch weapon spawn points.[161] Players may band together in organised player teams called crews to complete jobs together. Rockstar Games Social Club extends crews formed in Max Payne 3's multiplayer mode to those of Grand Theft Auto Online. Players may create their own crews and join up to five total. Crews win multiplayer matches to earn experience points and climb online leaderboards.[162]

Grand Theft Auto Online launched on 1 October 2013, two weeks after Grand Theft Auto V's release.[163] Many players reported connection difficulties and game freezes during load screens.[164][165] Rockstar released a technical patch on 5 October in an effort to resolve the issues,[166] but problems persisted the second week following launch as some players reported their character progress as having disappeared.[167] Another technical patch was released on 10 October combating the issues[168] and Rockstar offered a GTA$500,000 (in-game currency) stimulus to the accounts of all players connected to Online since launch as recompense.[169] Because of the widespread technical issues present at launch, many reviewers bemoaned their Grand Theft Auto Online experience, but generally recognised its open-ended exploration and dynamic content as strengths.[170][171][172][173][174]

Post-release content is continually added to Grand Theft Auto Online through free title updates. Some updates add new game modes and features,[175][176] and others feature themed gameplay content, such as the Independence Day Special update that added patriotic-themed content on 1 July 2014.[177] The widely anticipated[178][179] Online Heists update launched on 10 March 2015 and suffered some initial technical difficulties due to the increased user load.[180] Shortly after the game's PC release, some players reported being banned from Grand Theft Auto Online for using field of view

Players may take cover behind objects during firefights to avoid taking damage from enemies.
A comparison of the PlayStation 4 (left) and PlayStation 3 (right) versions of the game. The enhanced re-release features greater draw distances and higher-resolution textures than the original versions.
Los Santos, the city featured in the game's open world. Reviewers praised its design and similarity to Los Angeles. The departure from Grand Theft Auto IV's Liberty City was also well received.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is an action-adventurevideo game developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games. It was released on 26 October 2004 for PlayStation 2, and on 7 June 2005 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox. A high definition remastered version received a physical release for both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on 30 June 2015 and 1 December 2015, respectively. It is the seventh title in the Grand Theft Auto series, and the first main entry since 2002's Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. It was released on the same day as the handheld game Grand Theft Auto Advance for Game Boy Advance.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is played from a third-person perspective in an open world environment, allowing the player to interact with the game world at their leisure. The game is set within the fictional U.S. state of San Andreas, which is heavily based on California and Nevada.[b] The state of San Andreas consists of three metropolitan cities: Los Santos, based on Los Angeles; San Fierro, based on San Francisco; and Las Venturas, based on Las Vegas. The single-player story follows Carl "CJ" Johnson, who returns home to Los Santos from Liberty City after his mother's murder. Carl finds his old friends and family in disarray, and over the course of the game he attempts to re-establish his old gang, clashes with corrupt cops, and gradually unravels the truth behind his mother's murder. The plot is based on multiple real-life events in Los Angeles, including the rivalry between the Bloods, Crips, and Hispanic street gangs, the 1980s crack epidemic, the LAPD Rampart scandal, and the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

Considered one of the sixth generation of video gaming's most significant titles, and by many reviewers to be one of the greatest video games ever made, San Andreas received rave reviews by many critics who praised the music, story and gameplay. It became the best-selling video game of 2004, and has sold over 27.5 million copies worldwide as of 2011;[3] it remains the best-selling PlayStation 2 game of all time. The game, like its predecessors, is cited as a landmark in video games for its far-reaching influence within the industry. However, the violence and sexual content of San Andreas has been the source of much public concern and controversy. In particular, a player-made software patch, dubbed the "Hot Coffee mod", unlocked a previously hidden sexual scene. The next main entry in the series, Grand Theft Auto IV, was released on 29 April 2008, also to critical acclaim. San Andreas has been ported to various other platforms and services, such as OS X,[4][5]Xbox Live, PlayStation Network[6] and mobile devices (iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Fire OS).[7]

Gameplay

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is an action-adventure game with role-playing and stealth elements. Structured similarly to the previous two games in the series, the core gameplay consists of elements in a third-person shooter and a driving game, affording the player a large, open world environment in which to move around. On foot, the player's character is capable of walking, running, sprinting, swimming, climbing and jumping as well as using weapons and various forms of hand-to-hand combat. The player can drive a variety of vehicles, including automobiles, buses, semis, boats, fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, trains, tanks, motorcycles and bikes. The player may also import vehicles in addition to stealing them.

The open, non-linear environment allows the player to explore and choose how they wish to play the game. Although storyline missions are necessary to progress through the game and unlock certain cities and content, they are not required as the player can complete them at their own leisure. When not taking on a storyline mission, the player can freely-roam and look around the cities of San Andreas, eat in restaurants, or cause havoc by attacking people and causing destruction. Creating havoc can attract unwanted and potentially fatal attention from the authorities. The more chaos caused, the stronger the response: police will handle "minor" infractions (attacking pedestrians, pointing guns at people, stealing vehicles, manslaughter, etc.), whereas SWAT teams, the FBI, and the military respond to higher wanted levels.

The player can partake in a variety of optional side missions that can boost their character's attributes or provide another source of income. The traditional side missions of the past games are included, such as dropping off taxi cab passengers, putting out fires, driving injured people to the hospital and fighting crime as a vigilante. New additions include burglary missions, pimping missions, truck and train driving missions requiring the player to make deliveries on time, and driving/flying/boating/biking schools, which help the player learn skills and techniques to use in their corresponding vehicles.

Not all locations are open to the player at the start of the game. Some locales, such as mod garages, restaurants, gyms, and shops, become available only after completing certain missions. Likewise, for the first portion of the game, only Los Santos and its immediate suburbs are available for exploration; unlocking the other cities and rural areas again requires the completion of certain missions. If the player were to travel in locked locations early in the game, they would end up attracting the attention of SWAT teams, police, and police-controlled Hydras if in an aircraft.

Unlike Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City, which needed loading screens when the player moved between different districts of the city, San Andreas has no load times when the player is in transit. The only loading screens in the game are for cut-scenes and interiors. Other differences between San Andreas and its predecessors include the switch from single-player to multiplayer Rampage missions (albeit not in the PC version), and the replacement of the 'hidden packages' with spray paint tags, hidden camera shots, horseshoes, and oysters to discover.

The camera, fighting, and targeting controls were reworked to incorporate concepts from another Rockstar game, Manhunt, including various stealth elements,[8] as well as improved target crosshairs and a target health indicator which changes from green to red to black depending on the target's health. The PC version of the game implements mouse chording; the player has to hold the right mouse button to activate the crosshairs, and then click or hold at the left mouse button to shoot or use an item, such as a camera.

In addition, players can swim and climb walls for the first time in the series.[9] The ability to swim and dive underwater has a great effect on the player as well, since water is no longer an impassable barrier that kills the player (although it is possible to drown). For greater fire-power, the player can also dual wield firearms or perform a drive-by shooting with multiple gang members who can be recruited to follow the player. Due to the size of San Andreas, a waypoint reticle on the HUD map can be set, aiding the player in reaching a destination.

Role-playing game features in character development

Rockstar has emphasised the personalisation of the main protagonist by adding role-playing video game elements. Clothing, accessories, haircuts, jewellery, and tattoos are available for purchase by the player, and have more of an effect on non-player characters' reactions than the clothing in Vice City. CJ's level of respect among his fellow recruits and street friends varies according to his appearance and actions, as do his relationships with his girlfriends. The player must ensure CJ eats to stay healthy and exercises properly. The balance of food and physical activity has an effect on his appearance and physical attributes.[9]

San Andreas tracks acquired skills in areas such as driving, firearms handling, stamina, and lung capacity, which improve through use in the game.[9] CJ may learn three different styles of hand-to-hand combat (boxing, kickboxing and kung fu) at the gyms in each of the game's three cities. CJ can speak with a number of pedestrians in the game, responding either negatively or positively. According to Rockstar, there are about 4,200 lines of spoken dialogue for CJ when the cutscenes are excluded.[10]

Vehicles

In total, there are around 250 vehicles in the game[11] compared to approximately 60 in Grand Theft Auto III. New additions include bicycles, a combine harvester, a street sweeper, a jetpack and trailers amongst others. Car physics and features are similar to the Midnight Club series of street racing games, allowing for much more midair vehicle control as well as nitrous upgrades and aesthetic modification.

There are several different classes of vehicles that serve different purposes. Off-road vehicles perform better in rough environments, while racing cars perform better on tracks or on the street. Jets are fast, but usually need a runway to land. Helicopters can land almost anywhere and are much easier to control in the air, but are slower. While previous Grand Theft Auto games had only a few aircraft that were difficult to access and fly, San Andreas has eleven fixed-wing aircraft and nine helicopters and makes them more integral in the game's missions. There is also the ability to skydive from aircraft, using a parachute. Several boats were added, while some were highly modified.

Other additions and changes

Other new features and changes from previous Grand Theft Auto games include:

  • Gang wars: Battles with enemy gangs are prompted whenever the player ventures into enemy territory and kills at least three gang members. If the player then survives three waves of enemies, the territory will be won and fellow gang members will begin wandering the streets of these areas. The more territory owned by the player, the more money that will be generated. Occasionally, the player's territory will come under attack from enemy gangs and defeating them will be necessary to retain these areas. Once all marked territories are claimed from one of the two hostile gangs for the protagonist's gang, the opposing gang can no longer attack. Once the player takes control of all the territories, none can come under attack.[12]
  • Car modification: Most automobiles in the game can be modified and upgraded at various garages. All car mods are strictly visual apart from the stereo system and nitrous oxide upgrade which increases bass and gives the car a speed boost when activated respectively; and hydraulics, which lowers the car's height by default and allows the player to control various aspects of the car's suspension. Other common modifications include paintjobs, rims, body kits, side skirts, bumpers and spoilers.
  • Burglary: Continuing the series' tradition of controversy, home invasion is included as a potential money-making activity.[13] By stealing a burglary van, CJ is able to sneak into a residence at night, and cart off valuables or shake down the occupants.
  • Minigames: Numerous minigames are available for play in San Andreas, including basketball, pool, rhythm-based challenges (dancing and 'bouncing' lowriders with hydraulics), and video game machines that pay homage to classic arcade games. In addition, there are the aforementioned casino games and methods of gambling, such as betting on virtual horse races.[14]
  • Money: The money system has been expanded upon, compared to previous titles. Players can spend their cash on gambling, clothes, tattoos, meals, etc. Excessive gambling loss can force the player to sink into debt, which is shown in red negative numbers. When the player leaves a safehouse, CJ gets an unexpected call and a mysterious person tells him about his debts. Four gang members suddenly appear and shoot Carl on sight if he does not erase the debt when the mysterious person calls him a second time.
  • Multiplayer: Rampages have been modified to allow two players to complete them. The players are both shown simultaneously on the screen, meaning they must stay within close proximity of each other. The multiplayer rampages provide such functionality.

Synopsis

Setting

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas takes place in 1992 within the state of San Andreas, which is based on sections of California and Nevada. It comprises three major fictional cities: Los Santos corresponds to Los Angeles, San Fierro corresponds to San Francisco, and Las Venturas corresponds to Las Vegas.[9] The environments around these cities are also based on settings within the Southwestern region of the United States. Players can drive up the half-mile (800 m) tall Mount Chiliad (based on Mount Diablo), parachute from various peaks and skyscrapers, and visit 12 rural towns and villages located in five counties: Red County, Flint County, Bone County, Tierra Robada, and Whetstone. Other notable destinations include Sherman Dam (based on the Hoover Dam), a large secret military base called Area 69 (based on Area 51), a large satellite dish (based on a dish from the Very Large Array), Vinewood (based on Hollywood) and the Vinewood sign (based on the Hollywood sign) which is located in Mulholland, and many other geographical features. The bridges in San Fierro are based on the Forth road and rail bridges which link Edinburgh, the home of Rockstar North, to Fife although the road bridge is highly similar to the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge. San Andreas is 13.9 square miles (36 square kilometres),[15] almost four times as large as Vice City and five times as large as the Grand Theft Auto III rendition of Liberty City. The three cities are linked by numerous highways, a train system, and air travel. While its predecessors' areas were limited to urban locations, San Andreas includes not only large cities and suburbs, but also the rural areas between them.

Gangs

The main character is a member of the Grove Street Families street gang, a set of a gang that also includes the initially-hostile Temple Drive and Seville Boulevard Families. The two main rival gangs are the Ballas and Los Santos Vagos, both based out of Los Santos. The Varrios Los Aztecas also operate in Los Santos. The main gangs of San Fierro are the San Fierro Rifa, led by T-Bone Mendez; the Da Nang Boys, a Vietnamese gang; and the San Fierro Triads, whose leader Wu Zi Mu forms an alliance with Carl. In Las Venturas, the only gangs are the Triads (run by Wu Zi Mu) and the Italian Mafia (consisting of the Forellis, Sindaccos, and Leones). The "Loco Syndicate" appears in the San Fierro mission chain, essentially made up of T-Bone Mendez's Rifa gangsters, Mike Toreno and a pimp Jizzy B. In addition, the Russian Mafia makes a few small appearances in the storyline.

Characters

Main article: List of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas characters

The characters that appear in San Andreas are relatively diverse and relative to the respective cities and locales which each of them based himself in. This allows the game to include a significantly wider array of story lines and settings than in Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City. The player controls Carl "CJ" Johnson (Young Maylay), a young African-American gang member who serves as the game's protagonist.

The Los Santos stages of the game revolve around the theme of the Grove Street Families gang fighting with the Ballas and the Vagos for territory and respect. East Asian gangs (most notably the local Triads), an additional Vietnamese gang (the Da Nang Boys), and a force of Hispanic thugs working for the local "Loco Syndicate" (the San Fierro Rifa) are evident in the San Fierro leg of the game, while three Mafia families and the Triads who all own their respective casino are more prominently featured in the Las Venturas section of the game.

Like the previous two Grand Theft Auto games, the voice actors of San Andreas include notable celebrities, such as David Cross, Andy Dick, Ron Foster, Samuel L. Jackson, James Woods, Peter Fonda, Charlie Murphy, Frank Vincent, Chris Penn, Danny Dyer, Sara Tanaka, William Fichtner, Wil Wheaton, rappers Ice-T, Chuck D, Frost, MC Eiht and The Game and musicians George Clinton, Axl Rose, Sly and Robbie and Shaun Ryder.[16]Young Maylay made his debut as the protagonist, Carl.

The Guinness World Records 2009 Gamer's Edition lists it as the video game with the largest voice cast, with 861 credited voice actors, including 174 actors and 687 additional performers, many of those performers being fans of the series who wanted to appear on the game.[17]

Plot

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas stars Carl "CJ" Johnson, a former gangbanger for the Grove Street Families gang in Los Santos. The game begins when CJ learns that his mother was murdered in a drive-by shooting. CJ returns to Los Santos for her funeral, but is intercepted by a group of corrupt police officers led by Frank Tenpenny. Tenpenny coerces CJ into working for him by threatening to frame CJ for the murder of an Internal Affairs officer (whom it is strongly implied that Tenpenny killed himself).

After Tenpenny lets him go, CJ meets his surviving family at his mother's funeral: his brother Sweet and his sister Kendl. Sweet angrily confronts CJ about his long absence from Los Santos and blames CJ for the Grove Street gang's declining fortunes. However, CJ wins Sweet's grudging acceptance by promising to stay and help rebuild the gang. The two brothers work closely with their friends, Big Smoke and Ryder, to reunite the divided Grove Street Families and reconquer their old turf from their rivals, the Ballas. During the gang war, CJ is occasionally sidetracked by orders from Officer Tenpenny, who forces CJ to assist him with black market and drug racketeering. Later, Sweet asks CJ to investigate Kendl's new boyfriend Cesar. Despite his preconceptions, CJ discovers that Cesar genuinely cares about Kendl, and the two men become friends.

With Grove Street stronger than ever, Sweet plans to ambush a major group of Ballas and end the war. However, before CJ can get to the fight, he receives a call from Cesar to meet elsewhere. Cesar shows CJ a shocking scene: Big Smoke, Ryder, Tenpenny, and the Ballas working together to hide the car used in the shooting which killed CJ's mother. Big Smoke and Ryder had arranged the shooting, and were working with Tenpenny and the Ballas to sell out Grove Street. CJ rushes to warn Sweet, but by the time he arrived, Sweet was already badly wounded by the Ballas counter-ambush. Tenpenny shows up and arrests them both. With Grove Street's leadership decapitated, Big Smoke and Ryder openly declare their alliance with the Ballas. They take over Los Santos and flood its streets with drugs, and with Tenpenny protecting them from police interference, they appear unstoppable.

However, Tenpenny decides to get more use out of CJ. Instead of throwing CJ in prison, Tenpenny drives him into the rural country outside Los Santos, and threatens to arrange Sweet's death in prison if CJ doesn't cooperate. Exiled in the countryside, CJ is forced to carry out favors for C.R.A.S.H, under threat of Sweet being transferred to a cell block where Ballas affiliates are housed. He also works with Cesar's cousin Catalina to make money by carrying out several heists in the area. He also befriends a hippie named The Truth and a blind Chinese-American Triad leader named Wu Zi Mu. After winning the deed to a garage in San Fierro in a race against Catalina and her new boyfriend, CJ goes there with The Truth, Cesar and Kendl to get it up and running so they can make a living. While in San Fierro, CJ crosses paths with the Loco Syndicate, Big Smoke and Ryder's drug connection. CJ infiltrates the organization and identifies its leader, Mike Toreno. CJ kills Ryder and the other Loco Syndicate leaders, Jizzy B and T-Bone Mendez, and shoots down Toreno's helicopter. CJ then destroys the Syndicate's drug factory.

Soon after, CJ is called by an unknown man using a digitally distorted voice and encourages CJ to meet him at a ranch in the desert. There, CJ finds Mike Toreno alive, thus revealing Toreno as the caller. Toreno reveals that he is actually a government agent spying on criminal operations and enlists CJ's help in several shady operations in exchange for Sweet's freedom. Meanwhile, CJ travels to Las Venturas, where Wu Zi Mu invites him to become a partner in the Four Dragons Casino, where the organisation is facing problems from the mob families that control the city. Seeking to wrest control of Venturas from them, CJ helps Wu Zi Mu plot a robbery of the mob's casino and gains the mob's trust through various jobs for mob boss, Salvatore Leone. Eventually the heist is carried out successfully, earning the Triad a place of power in Las Venturas, although causing the mob to detest CJ. CJ also encounters rapper Madd Dogg, from whom he stole a rhyme book to help rapper OG Loc become a name in the business. After rescuing Madd Dogg from a suicide attempt, he asks CJ to be his manager once he returns from rehab.

Tenpenny, fearing his arrest is inevitable, tasks Pulaski with killing CJ and Hernandez, whom Tenpenny found out was informing on them to Internal Affairs. While Pulaski forces CJ to dig his own grave, Hernandez, severely injured after being hit over the head with a shovel, manages to attack Pulaski, leading to his death. Pulaski attempts to escape, but CJ kills him.

Madd Dogg returns from rehab, prompting CJ to return to Los Santos to get his music career started again. Toreno contacts CJ for one last favor, and finally has Sweet released from prison. Now rich and successful, CJ attempts to cut Sweet in on his businesses, but Sweet becomes angry that he ran away and let their home be taken over by rival gang members and drug dealers to make his fortune. While CJ helps Sweet once again kill the rival gangs, Tenpenny is arrested and tried for felonies that he has been charged with, but the charges are dropped due to lack of evidence, prompting a citywide riot. CJ helps Cesar regain control over the barrio and also regain territory for his gang, so as to have enough power to obtain knowledge of Big Smoke's whereabouts.

Sweet soon learns that Big Smoke is holed up in a fortified crack den in the city, and he and CJ go there to confront him. CJ enters the building alone, fighting his way to the top floor and confronting Smoke. CJ attempts to reason with Big Smoke, but the latter engages CJ in a gunfight. CJ defeats him and Big Smoke confesses that he betrayed the GSF in order to gain more power and money, and dies shortly after from his injuries. Just then, Tenpenny appears, holds CJ at gunpoint and steals Big Smoke's money, intending to use it to leave the city. Tenpenny escapes and CJ and Sweet pursue him. During the pursuit, Tenpenny loses control of a fire truck that he was using as a getaway vehicle, driving off the bridge over the Grove Street cul-de-sac and crashing at the entrance to it. CJ and his friends watch as a fatally wounded Tenpenny crawls from the wreckage and dies.

In the aftermath, CJ's family and friends arrive at the Johnson house for a meeting. Madd Dogg announces his first Gold record. As his friends and allies celebrate their success, CJ turns to leave.

Marketing and release

Film

The Introduction, an in-engine video, was provided on a DVD with the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Official Soundtrack, as well as the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Special Edition re-release for the PlayStation 2. The 26-minute video chronicles the events leading up to the events in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and provides insight on the development of the characters of the game, to the point when Carl learns of his mother's death in a phone call from Sean "Sweet" Johnson & returns to Los Santos to find his life is ruined. The film incorporates locations from the original Grand Theft Auto III game. The PS2 release also includes a live-action documentary on the custom car culture (featured prominently in the game) called Sunday Driver.

Soundtrack

Main article: Music of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

As with the previous two entries in the Grand Theft Auto series, San Andreas has music taken from the time in which the game is based.

San Andreas is serviced by eleven radio stations; WCTR (talk radio), Master Sounds 98.3 (rare groove, playing many of the old funk and soul tracks sampled by 1990s hip-hop artists), K-Jah West (dub and reggae; modelled after K-Jah from Grand Theft Auto III), CSR (new jack swing, modern soul), Radio X (alternative rock, metal and grunge), Radio Los Santos (gangsta rap), SF-UR (old school Chicago house music), Bounce FM (funk), K-DST (classic rock), K-Rose (country) and Playback FM (classic hip hop).

The music system in San Andreas is enhanced from previous titles. In earlier games in the series, each radio station was essentially a single looped sound file, playing the same songs, announcements and advertisements in the same order each time. In San Andreas, each section is held separately, and "mixed" randomly, allowing songs to be played in different orders, announcements to songs to be different each time, and plot events to be mentioned on the stations. This system would be used in Grand Theft Auto IV. WCTR, rather than featuring licensed music and DJs, features spoken word performances by actors such as Andy Dick performing as talk show hosts and listener callers in a parody of talk radio programming.

Lazlow again plays as himself on the show "Entertaining America" on WCTR in the same persona as in III and Vice City. He takes over after the former presenter, Billy Dexter, is shot on air by in-game film star Jack Howitzer. Lazlow interviews guests such as O.G. Loc, who is one of the four characters Carl encounters during the game that is on the radio, along with Big Smoke, Madd Dogg, and The Truth.

The Xbox, iOS, and Windows versions of the game include an additional radio station that supports custom soundtracks by playing user imported MP3s, allowing players to listen to their own music while playing the game. This feature is not available on the PlayStation 2 version of the game or when played on the Xbox 360.[18]

Reception

Reception
Awards
PublicationAward
IGN's Best of 2004PlayStation 2 Game of the Year,[23]
Best PlayStation 2 Action Game,[24]
Best Story for PlayStation 2[25]
GameSpot's Best
and Worst of 2004
Best PlayStation 2 Game,[26]
Best Action Adventure Game,[27]
Readers' Choice — Best PlayStation 2
Action Adventure Game,[28]
Readers' Choice — PlayStation 2
Game of the Year,[29]
Best Voice Acting,[30] Funniest Game[31]
2004 Spike TV
Video Game Awards
Game of the Year,[32]
Best Performance by a Human (Male),[32]
Best Action Game,[32]
Best Soundtrack[32]

Upon its release, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was met with critical acclaim. It received an average review score of 93/100, according to review aggregatorMetacritic, tying for the fifth-highest ranked game in PlayStation 2 history.[21]IGN rated the game a 9.9/10 (the highest score it has ever awarded to a PlayStation 2 game), calling it "the defining piece of software" for the PlayStation 2.[14]GameSpot rated the game 9.6/10, giving it an Editor's Choice award. Jeff Gerstmann said "San Andreas definitely lives up to the Grand Theft Auto name. In fact, it's arguably the best game in the series".[9]San Andreas also received an A rating from the 1UP.com network[33] and a 10/10 score from Official US PlayStation Magazine. Common praises were made about the game's open-endedness, the size of the state of San Andreas, and the engaging storyline and voice acting. Most criticisms of the game stemmed from graphical mishaps, poor character models, and low-resolution textures, as well as various control issues, particularly with auto-aiming at enemies. Some critics commented that while a lot of new content had been added to San Andreas, little of it had been refined or implemented well.[34] Nevertheless, since its release, San Andreas has been regarded to be one of the greatest games of all time, placing at number 27 in Edge's Top 100 Games to Play Today. Edge declared that the game remains "the ultimate expression of freedom, before next-gen reined it all back in."[35] In 2015, the game placed 8th on USgamer's The 15 Best Games Since 2000 list.[36]

Sales and commercial success

By 3 March 2005, the game had sold over 12 million units for the PlayStation 2 alone, making it the highest selling game for PlayStation 2.[37] The game received a "Diamond" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA),[38] indicating sales of at least 1 million copies in the United Kingdom.[39] As of 26 September 2007, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has sold 20 million units according to Take-Two Interactive.[40] As of 26 March 2008, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has sold 21.5 million units according to Take-Two Interactive.[41] The Guinness World Records 2009 Gamer's Edition lists it as the most successful PlayStation 2 game, with 17.33 million copies sold for that console alone, from a total of 21.5 million in all formats.[17] In 2011, Kotaku reported that according to Rockstar Games, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has sold 27.5 million copies worldwide.[42]

Controversies

San Andreas was criticised by some for its perceived racial stereotyping.[43] Some saw the alleged stereotyping as ironic,[44] while others defended the game, noting that the storyline could speak to people of different backgrounds.[45] A study of how different groups of youths engaged with the game found that "they do not passively receive the games' images and content".[46]

Hot Coffee mod

Main article: Hot Coffee mod

In mid-June 2005, a software patch for the game dubbed the "Hot Coffee mod" was released by Patrick Wildenborg (under the Internet alias "PatrickW"), a 38-year-old modder from the Netherlands. The name "Hot Coffee" refers to the way the released game alludes to the unseen sex scenes. In the unmodified game, the player takes his girlfriend to her front door and she asks him if he would like to come in for "some coffee". He agrees, and the camera stays outside, swaying back and forth a bit, while moaning sounds are heard. After installing the patch, users can enter the main character's girlfriends' houses and engage in a crudely rendered, fully clothed or nude sexual intercourse mini-game. The fallout from the controversy resulted in a public response from high-ranking politicians in the United States and elsewhere and resulted in the game's recall and re-release.

On 20 July 2005, North America's organisation who establish content ratings for video games, the ESRB, changed the rating of the game from Mature (M) to Adults Only (AO), making San Andreas the only mass-released AO console game in the United States. Rockstar announced that it would cease production of the version of the game that included the controversial content. Rockstar gave distributors the option of applying an Adults Only ESRB rating sticker to copies of the game, or returning them to be replaced by versions without the Hot Coffee content. Many retailers pulled the game off their shelves in compliance with their own store regulations that kept them from selling AO games. That same month in Australia, the Office of Film and Literature Classification revoked its original rating of MA15+, meaning that the game could no longer be sold there.[47]

In August 2005, Rockstar North released an official "Cold Coffee" patch[48] for the PC version of the game and re-released San Andreas with the "Hot Coffee" scenes removed (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Version 2.0), allowing the game to return to its "M" rating. The PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions have also been re-released with the "Hot Coffee" scenes removed in the Greatest Hits Edition, the Platinum Edition, the "Grand Theft Auto Trilogy Pack"[49] for Xbox and PlayStation 2, as well as a Special Edition for PlayStation 2 that includes the documentary film Sunday Driver. The updated game disc has "SECOND EDITION" text under the "M" rating logo.

On 8 November 2007, Take-Two announced a proposed settlement to the class action litigation that had been brought against them following the Hot Coffee controversy. If the proposed settlement is approved by the court, neither Take-Two nor Rockstar would admit liability or wrongdoing. Consumers would be able to swap their AO-rated copies of the game for M-rated versions and may also qualify for a $35 cash payment upon signing a sworn statement.[50]

A report in The New York Times on 25 June 2008 revealed that a total of 2,676 claims for the compensation package had been filed.[51]

Follow-ups

Rockstar released two follow-ups to San Andreas: Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, both by Rockstar Leeds. Unlike San Andreas and its predecessors, Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories were developed for the PlayStation Portable handheld, and there was no Windows or Xbox version although a PlayStation 2 port was released afterward. San Andreas thus marks the last major Grand Theft Auto release across the sixth-generation consoles to be produced by Rockstar North, as well as the last one to introduce an entirely new setting.

Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories are prequels to San Andreas' predecessors, so both games derive their maps from Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City, respectively, each of which cover a considerably smaller area than San Andreas. Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories eliminated gameplay elements introduced in San Andreas, including the ability to swim (in Liberty City Stories, but re-introduced in a limited capacity in Vice City Stories) and climb. Both Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories include references to characters featured in San Andreas, with Liberty City Stories set about 6 years after the events of San Andreas (in that game, for example, radio reporter Richard Burns, featured in news bulletins in San Andreas, returns as a radio call-in guest) and Vice City Stories set about 8 years before the events of San Andreas. Except for news bulletins, radio programming in Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories does not change based upon player progress. While character customisation elements such as wardrobe changes are retained, for later games, Rockstar eliminated the need for the game protagonists to eat and exercise.[52]

San Andreas marked the technological pinnacle of the Grand Theft Auto III era (also known as the "3D Universe") and also the end of that continuity (albeit for the handheld-focused Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories spin-offs). Rockstar launched a new canon (the "HD Universe") with Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto V for the seventh-generation consoles. The celebrity voice acting that had been so prominent in the "3D Universe", especially in Vice City and San Andreas, was scaled back in the "HD Universe". Rockstar also took a new direction in the series, focusing on realism and details instead of greater area and added content. For instance, although the explorable sandbox area is smaller than San Andreas, the main setting for Grand Theft Auto IV is comparable to San Andreas in terms of scope when "the level of verticality of the city, the number of buildings you can go into, and the level of detail in those buildings" are taken into account.[53] The goal for the HD Universe layout of Liberty City was to have no dead spots or irrelevant spaces, such as the wide open deserts found in San Andreas state.[52]Ars Technica wrote Grand Theft Auto IV's "slight regression of the series from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is surprising: there are fewer vehicles, weapons, and story missions, less character customisation, and even the size of the city itself is smaller".[54]

Los Santos, one of the three central cities in San Andreas, is the main location of the latest game in the franchise, Grand Theft Auto V.[55][56] Although GTA: San Andreas included three cities separated by open countryside, Grand Theft Auto V included only one city, Los Santos, as well as adjoining countryside and desert areas.[57] By focusing their efforts on one city instead of three, the team were able to produce Los Santos in higher quality and at greater scale.[58] For both games, Los Angeles was used as the model for Los Santos,[59] but the team felt that the ambition of having three cities in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was too great and that the game did not emulate the cities as well as they had hoped. Houser elaborated that "to do a proper version of L.A., [...] the game has to give you a sense of that sprawl — if not completely replicate it", and dividing the budget and manpower between multiple cities would have detracted from capturing "what L.A. is".[58] Garbut felt that in the PlayStation 2 era the team did not have the technical capabilities to capture Los Angeles properly, resulting in the San Andreas rendition of Los Santos feeling like a "backdrop or a game level with pedestrians randomly milling about".[58] Therefore, the team disregarded San Andreas as a jumping-off point for Grand Theft Auto V, as they had moved on to a new generation of consoles since the former and wanted to build the city from scratch. As Garbut explained, with the move to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 hardware, "our processes and the fidelity of the world [had] evolved so much from San Andreas" that using it as a model would have been redundant.[58]

Other versions

Steam version

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is distributed on Steam. The game received a notable amount of updates raising the version from 1.1 to 3.0. On 7 November 2014, an update caused controversy after 17 tracks from the soundtrack were removed due to expired licenses.[61] Other drawbacks of the update include removal of widescreen support (which was later fixed via another minor update) and certain regions had incompatibility with older saves. Both old and new owners were affected by the update, unlike with Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, where only new owners were affected due to a similar update. Additionally, the game received native support for XInput-enabled gamepads and the removal of DRM.

Mobile version

On 12 December 2013, San Andreas was released on select iOS devices.[62] The upgrades and enhancements from the original game include newly remastered graphics, consisting of dynamic and detailed shadows, greater draw distance, an enriched colour palette, plus enhanced character and car models.[63] The Android and Amazon Kindle version was released on 19 December 2013 and Windows Phone version on 27 January 2014.

Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions

In 2008, the original Xbox version was released on Xbox 360; an emulated port as part of the Xbox Originals line-up. However, in late 2014 it was removed from the Xbox Live Marketplace and replaced with a port of the mobile version on 26 October 2014, the game's tenth anniversary. It featured HD 720p resolution, enhanced draw distance, a new menu interface, and achievements. While it introduced many new features, around ten songs were removed from the HD version that were present in the original due to licensing issues, and numerous new bugs were introduced.[64] A physical release followed on 30 June 2015 in North America[65] and 17 July 2015 elsewhere,[66] under the "Platinum Hits" banner ("Classics" in PAL regions).

San Andreas was first released on PlayStation 3 in December 2012 as an emulated PS2 Classic. This version was also removed in late 2014, leading to rumours of a PS3 HD release. However, this was not the case at the time and the PS2 Classic later returned. In early November 2015, the game was re-rated by the ESRB for an upcoming PS3-native release. The HD version was released on 1 December 2015, replacing the PS2 Classic on the PlayStation Store, and on physical media, gaining instant "Greatest Hits" status in North America.[67] There has also been a PlayStation 4 version released, though unlike the remake for the PlayStation 3, it is an emulated port of the PlayStation 2 game, but it still has trophies and some songs edited out due to licensing restrictions.

Notes

References

  1. ^"Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas". War Drum Studios. Archived from the original on 19 January 2016. Retrieved 6 January 2016. 
  2. ^R*Q. "Grand Theft Auto III: Your Questions Answered – Part One (Claude, Darkel & Other Characters)". Rockstar Games. Archived from the original on 9 April 2016. Retrieved 23 November 2013.  
  3. ^Good, Owen (15 September 2011). "GTA IV Overtakes San Andreas in Lifetime Sales". Kotaku. Archived from the original on 31 May 2016. Retrieved 22 May 2016. 
  4. ^Clover, Juli (December 11, 2013). "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Hits the U.S. App Store". MacRumors. Retrieved January 17, 2018. 
  5. ^"Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas". iTunes. November 9, 2014. Retrieved January 17, 2018. 
  6. ^van Allen, Eric (December 1, 2015). "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas released on PSN today". IGN. Retrieved January 17, 2018. 
  7. ^Gaston, Martin (November 26, 2016). "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas will be released for iOS and Android in December". GameSpot. Retrieved January 17, 2018. 
  8. ^Greg Kasavin (13 August 2004). "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Weekend Update: Robbery and Home Invasion". GameSpot. p. 2. Archived from the original on 27 April 2006. Retrieved 22 March 2008. 
  9. ^ abcdeGerstmann, Jeff (25 October 2004). "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 20 July 2008. Retrieved 22 March 2008. 
  10. ^Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Weekend Update: Street TalkingArchived 25 October 2004 at the Wayback Machine., GameSpot, 23 October 2005.
  11. ^"Vehicles Guide with images GTA: San Andreas". G-unleashed.com. Archived from the original on 11 July 2011. Retrieved 5 February 2011. 
  12. ^"GTA San Andreas — Gangs". Gta-sanan.ucoz.net. Retrieved 5 February 2011. 
  13. ^Greg Kasavin, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Weekend Update: Robbery and Home InvasionArchived 18 August 2004 at the Wayback Machine., GameSpot, 13 August 2004
  14. ^ abDunham, Jeremy (25 October 2004). "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas review". IGN. Archived from the original on 3 April 2008. Retrieved 22 March 2008. 
  15. ^"Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Q&A — Under the Hood, GameSpot, June 1, 2005"
The player driving a Banshee towards the Grove Street cul-de-sac in Los Santos around the afternoon.
The player has a gunfight with members of an enemy gang.
Gameplay of the iOS version
  1. ^Ported to Android, Windows Phone, Fire OS, iOS, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 by War Drum Studios.[1]
  2. ^Games in the Grand Theft Auto series are grouped into distinct fictional universes, which share interconnected plots and characters. The "3D universe" consists of Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City (2002), Advance (2004), San Andreas (2004), Liberty City Stories (2005), and Vice City Stories (2006). The San Andreas rendition of Los Santos is different from the rendition in Grand Theft Auto V (2013).[2]

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