The “Get To Know” line of articles are built to get a better impression of what I love/hate, and why, through a more direct means. While my tastes have been quite unconventional to the “norm” we’ve seen, I feel as if it’d be beneficial to run a series of articles that go into what I adore, and deplore, about gaming, and why.
I alluded to a major project I was going to work on throughout 2018, but due to repeated illnesses, I was unable to produce a healthy enough queue to get it going. That project was going to be my top 100 games of all-time, in which I would go into a great bit of detail on each game, and why it has a position on said list.
With this miniseries I have going with Get To Know, it’s given me a renewed sense of urgency to try and get some portion of this project revealed and shared with everyone. Instead of being overly ambitious, I’ll truncate the list to a top 25; that’s more than enough to show the kinds of games I adore the most, and the genres that they represent.
- Developer: Rockstar North
- Publisher: Rockstar Games
- Platform: PS2
- Genre: Open world adventure
- Release date: 10/24/04
- Rating: 9.8
What is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas?
The third release of the franchise on the PlayStation 2, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was perhaps Rockstar’s magnum opus. Taking place in three fictional cities on the west coast, this open world title was filled to the brim with places to go, people to see, activities to partake in, planes to fly, ambulances to carjack, and so, so much more
What warrants Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas‘ inclusion on this list?
Out of every game on this list, only three others have matched the sheer playtime I’ve logged onto Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. It was an absolute obsession from day one, and it was more towards just exploring than actually playing through the story.
To this day, San Andreas still has an open world that has yet to be beaten. The size and scope of the game world is staggering, but in conjunction for such an absurdly massive game world, there always seemed to either be something to see, something to do, or something to discover. A couple of years ago I randomly picked up San Andreas from a save point I had, went roaming around and, by some voodoo magic, only then discovered that I could commandeer a train and take a joyride from station to station.
It almost seems as if there’s still a lot I have not discovered yet, and I’ve gone up and down the road, from the mountain tops to the seedy Las Venturas. Even still, coming back after being away for months, it’s just a relaxing journey to steal someone’s car and go joyriding through each of the cities, checking out all the homes I purchased, etc. It’s an experience I often dip back to throughout each year, and am amazed at how it seems like there’s always something new to discover.
That soundtrack was a piece of work as well. Many would point out Vice City as being the premiere soundtrack of the GTA franchise, but everything that came out of the car radio was tailored for the experience, from top to bottom, and added another layer of excitement, whether it was simple exploration, or out on a mission.
I could gush over San Andreas for hours, and by doing so, it would come off as it being my favorite game of all-time, even though it’s not. It’s probably the best game I could zone out to; if I need to relax and tune out the world, I can power my PS2 up, put San Andreas on and just find anything to do. I can gamble; I can fly a plane; I can joyride; I can take a leisurely walk. Hell, I can change my hairstyle if I feel daring. I love the amount of freedom and flexibility that comes with San Andreas.
I honestly feel that it’s the game world that seals San Andreas into a top ten slot. I don’t know why anyone, even Rockstar themselves, have been incapable of crafting a world with as much to do and as many places to go as this one. This was several years into the PlayStation 2’s lifecycle too; imagine if San Andreas was the game released on the following console generation, with the visual power and extra memory to work with. I mean, we did get San Andreas on the Xbox 360 with Grand Theft Auto V, and while I did enjoy the game as a whole, its incarnation of San Andreas wasn’t as profound compared to the one from a generation before that.
It’s a wonder how San Andreas still has the single greatest open world I have ever visited. The only game that came close to it was Sleeping Dogs, which was a magnificent title in of its self. Grand Theft Auto V failed miserably at creating an updated San Andreas, and I don’t think Rockstar will ever get it right again. But luckily they got it right once, so I can revisit my favorite game world anytime I please. While Skyrim and Breath of the Wild have their own spectacular worlds, still, nothing compares to all the options available within San Andreas.
I make it a habit not to do midnight launches for games, however I mad an exception for two games, Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. I don’t remember much about waiting on line other than it was for about four hours, and I was close to the front of the line (which would eventually wrap around the block). Nowadays I just find places that sell games early.