Another GTA PS2

This latest installment takes place in 1992 in the West Coast-themed state of San 
Andreas. San Andreas is an island containing three cities. You'll begin the game in 
the city of Los Santos, which is based roughly on Los Angeles and consists of a 
mixture of ritzy downtown areas and the gangland ghettos of South Central. San 
Fierro is based on San Francisco, reproducing the real city's hilly terrain and ever-
present fog. The game's third city is Las Venturas, which is a great take on early-
'90s Las Vegas , complete with a strip full of casinos  and the surrounding desert. 
While one-to-one measurements against previous games in the series are difficult in 
practice, San Andreas definitely feels like a much, much larger place than Vice City 
ever did, but at the same time, the growth is handled intelligently. There are 
plenty of things to do both in and out of the cities, which makes all this real 
estate matter. 

San Andreas draws its inspiration from the ghetto and gangsta struggle films of the 
early '90s. Movies like Menace II Society and Boyz N the Hood are the clear 
influences here. In San Andreas, you play the role of Carl "CJ" Johnson. The game 
opens with Carl returning to Los Santos after spending the last five years in GTA 
III's Liberty City. But his homecoming isn't a happy one--he's returning home 
because his mother has been killed. Carl isn't on the ground for more than an hour 
before he's picked up by a pair of crooked cops and thrown right back into the 
middle of the street life he left Los Santos to avoid. 

Your first order of business in Los Santos is to put your set back on the map. Your 
gang, the Grove Street Families, has fallen into disarray over the last five years, 
and their influence is minimal at best. So you, along with the three other leaders 
of the gang--the long-winded Big Smoke, the dust-smoking Ryder, and your stubborn 
brother, Sweet--set out to take back the streets from your rivals, the Ballas, who 
have turned to dealing crack to earn money  and gain influence in the hood. You set 
out on a series of missions to take back your territory, starting small with things 
like spray-painting over other gangs' tags (which is one of the many new types of 
actions that replace previous GTA games' more-generic hidden package collecting 
here), but quickly moving up to drive-bys and other acts of extreme gangsterism. But 
there's a whole lot more to San Andreas than just set tripping. 

You'll eventually need to get the heck out of Los Santos. You wind up in the country 
outside the city, where you'll encounter many more great characters and officially 
embark on your quest  to put right what's gone wrong. Once you get out of Los 
Santos, you won't really have to worry about gang warfare for a while, and the game 
settles down into a more GTA-like feel. 

San Andreas features a fairly linear story that takes you through the game's areas. 
You'll start off restricted to Los Santos--something the story justifies by claiming 
that an earthquake has taken out the bridges and roads that link Los Santos to the 
surrounding area--but it doesn't take long to unlock the other two areas. The game 
also throws in some pretty great surprises in the form of characters from previous 
entries in the series. These characters tie the GTA games together really nicely, so 
while San Andreas feels pretty different from the other games in the series, it 
still feels like you're playing in the same universe. 

Most of your progress is accomplished by completing missions for a variety of 
individuals.  You'll drive people around, take out specific individuals (an early 
mission gives you the straightforward objective of beating up a crack dealer, for 
example), do drive-bys on your enemies, and so on. But as you proceed through the 
game, the missions get crazier and crazier. Along the way you'll pull off a daring 
casino  heist, steal some wicked military hardware, "take care" of plenty of Mafia 
bozos, and much, much more. The missions in the game are a lot more exciting, on 
average, than they have been in some previous GTA games.  It does this with onscreen 
text that color-codes each specific piece of a mission differently. Yet while the 
basics of the gameplay--taking on and completing missions--are similar to past GTA 
games, there are plenty of details to uncover, and plenty of new things to try.