Universal acclaim - based on 80 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 79 out of 80
  2. Negative: 0 out of 80
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  1. The game's targeting system has also been adjusted. Using triggers and both analog sticks (a la "Manhunt"), players take more complete control of C.J., and can have him run and strafe, change targets, and shoot in almost any direction, even while moving in another.
  2. Holy f***ing s***. (Sorry...I'm swearing a lot more now because of San Andreas.) I can't wrap my head around how much stuff is packed into this one disc. It's grand, it's ambitious, and funny as this may sound, it's legendary. [Dan Hsu]
  3. It has such an enormous amount to offer (did I even mention the two player option?) and carries everything off with such confidence and style that it's hard to fault.
  4. It's not just the best Grand Theft Auto to date, it's possibly the best game you'll ever play on PlayStation 2. It's simply that good.
  5. A manifesto for every future video game. Now we've seen what can be done when truly brilliant people get to make a world brimming with variety, music, humour and sheer scale, very few other games are going to be able to live up to it. [PSW]
  6. I can't express in words to do the game justice how large and well drawn out these cities are.
  7. PSM Magazine
    A game that surpasses its genre-defining predecessors in every respect, not just in terms of gameplay, but also in terms of story, characters, and overall fun. It pops many caps in many asses. [Jan 2005, p.58]
  8. So good that it even drew Axl Rose out of hiding (he’s the DJ on the classic rock station, one of 11 listening formats), San Andreas cranks out even more action than "Vice City" as you engage in those wacky gang-related adventures you've grown to love in disconcertingly authentic versions of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Las Vegas.
  9. Take a large measure of "GTA III"; add a sprinkle of "Vice City", freshly sliced sprigs of nineties gang culture; stir in dashes of "Manhunt", "Fable", and "Dance-Dance Revolution" to taste, then mix in a nitro-powered-blender from hell. Result? Ten out of ten.
  10. Cheat Code Central
    It's like 5 games in one: part RPG, part adventure, part action, part racer and part sim. And it does it just as well as the best games in any of those genres...One of the best games ever released on any system.
  11. Computer Games Magazine
    Somehow, Rockstar keeps the same old ingredients, adds a handful of new ones, and manages to create a great new recipe. [Feb 2005, p.NP-9]
  12. Gaming Target
    Non-linear, absolutely packed with things to do, entertaining radio stations, great missions, great story, great characters, enough diversions to keep you playing for months, so much diversity in the cities that you may never stop discovering new aspects of town.
  13. But don’t forget we’re gamers, and you can be sure that if we get on two knees and kiss some ass, it’s not because we’re paid to, it’s because we’ve just played the kind of game that reminds us why we’re doing this in the first place.
  14. What does make it great is that it actually delivers on nearly everything it promises while still being fun to just pick up and play.
  15. Official Playstation 2 Magazine UK
    Massively expansive, even over "Vice City." The biggest game ever. [Jan 2007, p.106]
  16. Game Informer
    San Andreas breaks the video game mold and emerges as something far greater. This is more than a game. This is entertainment at its best. [Dec 2004, p.170]
  17. 100
    A masterpiece; the outstanding gameplay from the first two games has been extended, tweaked and applied to a fresh, original and fascinating setting. There's more than enough meat to keep you going for months, and the sheer variety of gameplay is bewildering.
  18. 100
    Not only a masterpiece, it's the finest game currently available for the PS2. Buy it now, but don't make any plans for a couple months at least.
  19. A true platform defining title; in 20 years time gamers will look back at the Playstation2 and hold GTA: San Andreas as the true epoch-making title of the times. Nothing can be understated, RockStar North have truly delivered beyond everybody’s expectations.
  20. San Andreas is shocking, not necessarily because of its typically contentious subject matter (though there's plenty in it to rub those of a conservative disposition the wrong way) but because of the sheer scale of the experience...Is it really the best game ever made? Quite possibly, yes.
  21. AceGamez
    The graphical effects in this title are far superior to anything GTA conjured up previously. On hot days you'll see an intense heat in front of you in the form of lots and lots of orange sunlight and heat waves in the distance. The sunsets and sunrises during hot times are absolutely blinding!
  22. I usually complain that many single player games these days do not have much in the way of "replayability". That is one aspect where San Andreas sets the bar so ridiculously high, that I can't imagine any non-GTA games coming anywhere near it for years to come.
  23. Freedom has always been the GTA hallmark, and in that regard, San Andreas piles on the features to ludicrous proportions. Comparing San Andreas to any other game is like comparing King Kong to the other monkeys; it is the Overgame.
  24. 100
    There really is no other game like it, despite there being many imitators, and this is precisely the kind of experience that reminds why, exactly, we play games: to be liberated from the constraints of reality, and explore living, breathing worlds. Few games have come this close to realizing that promise.
  25. 100
    Once again, Rockstar Games and Rockstar North have changed gaming as we know it...The variety of missions in San Andreas is staggering, as there's literally hundreds of varied tasks that will help you gain respect.
  26. 100
    Despite minor flaws, this is by far the most enjoyable game in the GTA series, and will eat well over 100 hours of your time.
  27. The word “massive” doesn’t begin to describe the entire state of San Andreas and exploring it without any load times is like the cherry on top of an overly sweetened cake. Driving has been tightened to perfection and the changes to the targeting system makes popping caps on fools so much better.
  28. It's about being in one long and deeply worthwhile experience that manages to do the impossible and improve on what has gone before, and then has the confidence to expand itself to a size that defies belief. Pack some sandwiches, it's going to be a long trip.
  29. 99
    In short, it's a terrific unending masterpiece of a game -- and one that will never fall victim to an over-exaggeration of its lofty status. It's the defining piece of software for Sony's successful sophomore system, and it's almost impossible to imagine a PlayStation 2 library without it.
  30. Shudderingly comprehensive, divinely paced and - despite the million of words already written in feverish anticipation - it has the ability to surprise at every turn. This is PS2's defining masterpiece – a sunspot of rare polished magic from experienced developers working at the peak of their powers. [PSM2]
  31. Play mechanics, the movie-epic plot, the sheer scope of the landscape and the missions—all combine to create the most near-perfect experience that I have ever had with a game.
  32. Without a doubt the greatest game every created on the Playstation 2 videogame system. It is the best hands-down. No other game can come even close to this one...The possibilities of Grand Theft Auto San Andreas are endless.
  33. A stunning achievement for both Rockstar and Sony. It shows just how powerful the PS2 system is when used right. This game has the potential to last months and months on end, especially for the 100% target.
  34. The story to San Andreas is by far the best of any GTA game to date. As you progress, you will experience turning points to this story that drive you to see the next cutscene, something that has never been done in a GTA game before.
  35. The game’s targeting system has been improved and is very reminiscent of the developer’s "Manhunt," which overall makes it more cohesive. The game allows you to get better with guns and you’ll have different phases, which will give you more control over your shooting abilities.
  36. While I can't say that GTA: San Andreas is another revolution in gaming like GTA3 was, it is an evolution that goes light years beyond what we saw with the last two titles in the series.
  37. Only the graphical bugs, slow-down and other nit picks associated with the fact that the game is pushing the aging PS2 to its limits keeps this from being the first perfect entry into the series.
  38. Thanks to the sheer level of detail and the amount of gameplay you'll be able to engage in during C.J.'s adventures, San Andreas surpasses just about any game that’s come along in the PS2’s history.
  39. The amount of attributes that you can actually improve is staggering. CJ must learn how to drive, shoot, swim, workout, be healthy, sprint and participate in relationships.
  40. With its strong story, well-written dialogue, terrific voice cast, impressive graphics, great in-game sound, and extremely entertaining and varied gameplay, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is a stupendous thrill ride that shouldn't be missed.
  41. This could very well be remembered as the PlayStation 2's best game ever.
  42. As far as actual content goes, I don’t think there’s been a game in history with more, so you almost need to own this game just so you can see how packed a game can be.
  43. When you take the scope of the entire game into considerations, San Andreas is a real technical feat.
  44. It is hard to find a game with the perfect blend of unique, action packed missions and interesting and enthralling non-mission events, but Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas pulls it off in convincing fashion.
  45. 95
    There's so much to do in this game that it's outside of my range of imagination to be able to picture me reaching a 100% complete. Unfathomable.
  46. The second you start playing this game you realise that the latest Rockstar title is about a hundred times more complex than its predecessors. Not only is there a load of new weapons, cars and a huge new environment available, but the gaming experience itself has completely evolved.
  47. It is, in my opinion, the best single player experience available right now.
  48. A weaker soundtrack and nagging problems with the interface take the game down just shy of getting a full 10, but this is the digital embodiment of a killer app.
  49. Calling this game huge is an understatement...All told, San Andreas is about four times the size of any previous GTA game.
  50. This is arguably the most important videogame this year - yes, even more important than "Halo 2" - not only because it's a superbly crafted videogame, but because it's also a bona fide sociological artifact, one that manages to effectively evoke a specific time and place in American history—in this case, a hot and hazy California during the nascent days of hip-hop culture.
  51. The minor control problems, reoccurring graphical bugs, and the generally similar core gameplay as before keep the game's score down a tad from what it could be, but the ridiculous amount of content and pure value available here is second to none. It doesn’t completely redefine the series.
  52. A masterful blend of storyline, exciting action, and freeform gameplay that will keep you hooked for hours on end.
  53. There is personality and atmosphere everywhere in this game and even small things such as the body language of pedestrians sets the scene in every neighbourhood you visit.
  54. 92
    Surprisingly easy to pick up, and startlingly difficult to master, San Andreas offers the most complete gaming package ever made on the current generation of consoles.
  55. No one should deny that San Andreas is a great storytelling game. It's just that, between gradually caring less and less about the main characters, and performing many game actions that are nearly identical to those of previous titles in the series, San Andreas could easily begin to wear a bit thin.
  56. This game has so many new innovations that it leaves its predecessors in the dust.
  57. 92
    My biggest beef with San Andreas is the implementation of the gang warfare system...It takes away a certain element that was found in the earlier games, that of the feeling that you were running an entire city.
  58. netjak
    Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is to the gaming world what "The Matrix" was to the film industry: it breaks so much ground and introduces so many significant things that it will no doubt have an impact on how games are made for a long time to come.
  59. 91
    GTA may be looking its age and some of its more favoured structural ideas are beginning to feel a little dated, but Rockstar continue to revel in the mastery of presenting a consuming environment to the player and inviting them to do within it what they wish.
  60. 90
    San Andreas's chief advantage over "Vice City" is size. And for many players, that's good enough. But another group of fans will come to quietly understand that, at least for the time being, "Vice City" remains the high point of the GTA series.
  61. 90
    The fact that you can do whatever you want, gunning down rival gang members, impressing the girls, robbing the rich, breaking into the Army Depot, whether it is flying a plane, or pimping out your car, playing some pool, riding across country, the game play is endless.
  62. Edge Magazine
    As with previous GTA games there's lots to criticise, but San Andreas survives, scathed but still walking tall, buoyed by the kind of ambition that sees most games crumble under the weight of it all. It's a multi-faceted, multi-achieving experience, a rough-edged but massively substantial landmark. [Christmas 2004, p.78]
  63. I have to subtract a point for what, in my opinion, is a total lack of overall upgrading. While there are hundreds of more things to do in San Andreas, I feel, in my heart of hearts, that the game looks and plays just like its two predecessors.
  64. One of the game's biggest achievements, however, is that it actually gets you to care about Carl and his friends - the other gang members who ride and fight with you on most missions. They all seem to have their own personalities and come across as being fully-realized characters.
  65. There is also a distinct lack of overall polish, mostly noticeable in the smallest ways: ugly character models, cluttered maps (the custom waypoint is a welcomed and downright necessary addition), unnecessarily complex wardrobe management, odd misspellings ("Cobra Marital Arts"), and even repeated references to Los Angeles instead of Los Santos.
  66. San Andreas' greatest success is that it gives us more space for our imaginations than most other games do, and ties together the edges neatly with a well-crafted story and missions, adding up to a whole that few games can compare to.
  67. San Andreas is a true epic, but no game should be this frustrating.
  68. 90
    The seamless way in which the DJs react to the in-game environment, and from an intertextual standpoint, merge better with the player's situation far more effectively than in the previous games is just inspiring.
  69. 90
    Enormous, diverse, engrossing, daring, liberating, sophisticated and -- most of all -- ambitious. Yet at the same time it can be restrictive, banal, childish, unpolished and -- most of all -- frustrating.
  70. What you have here is the most polished, feature-laden, action-packed Grand Theft Auto title to-date. I've had my qualms with the franchise in the past but this is the first time that I was able to sit back, shut off my brain and enjoy the experience.
  71. 90
    Between its towering mountains and vast waters there are surprises, in-jokes and events in San Andreas to fill at least a hundred hours. Should "GTA4" be any more involving, there’ll be no one left to see how GTA5 turns out. Half of us will no longer have the jobs to afford it; the other half will be motoring back and forth in the neighbours’ stolen car, endlessly prowling for prostitutes.
  72. It's no exaggeration to say that you could be still be playing this when the next GTA game comes out, even if it takes Rockstar another two years to finish. It's not perfect then, but so much of it is so good that you won't care.
  73. games(TM)
    Your legacy will be as twisted, as exciting or as brutal as your imagination will allow... San Andreas is an experience as unique as you are. Sometimes, it’s okay to believe the hype. [Christmas 2004, p.98]
  74. The amount of things to do in the cities of Los Santos, San Fierro, and Las Venturas is absolutely staggering... In my opinion there’s no excuse to not have a “save anywhere” feature included.
  75. Play Magazine
    Bigger and richer in every way - a near bottomless game painted end-to-end with stuff to do, or not. As far as free-form gaming goes, it remains the pinnacle. [Jan 2005, p.57]
  76. A thrilling, albeit frustrating, gaming experience that will have you yelling for joy one minute then screaming in anger the next.
  77. Visually, San Andreas is pretty lackluster. The game doesn't display a single "wow" element in its visuals. The framerate is still too jerky and the pop-up is absolutely disastrous.
  78. How can a rehash of the same basic formula prove so successful? As GTA:SA has taught me, one does so by taking the best parts of a given game, improving them, and then adding a ridiculous amount of new features and content.
  79. It would feel truer to the game's open environmental design if you could have more general goals: kill an enemy when and how you like; raise money for an objective through any method available; challenge random people to races.

Awards & Rankings

#1 Most Discussed PS2 Game of 2004
#1 Most Shared PS2 Game of 2004

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