Sunday, July 11, 2010

Top 50 Games - 22. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

I don't much care for running over pedestrians and blowing up police helicopters in San Andreas. I'm much more content to hop on a bicycle, improve my cycling skill by pedaling around for a while, and then precede to bunny hop over some taxis. Or maybe I'd like to play an early 90's arcade game in which you control a bumblebee. Or activate the flying cars cheat, spawn a garbage truck, and cruise around the smoggy orange skies of Los Santos (LA) while listening to some Hank Williams. Or ride a jetpack. Or play pool. Or eat so much pizza that I hurl it back up in a charmingly low-res green mist. Or take pictures. Or go skydiving. There's more, but I think you get the idea. What used to be a game that almost exclusively concerned itself with highly criminal activity like murdering prostitutes became so much more. San Andreas, to employ the comically abused term, is a big ol' sandbox. It engages the same part of the brain that is tickled when a child plays with his toys, but instead of imagining it yourself, Rockstar does it for you. San Andreas, with its three cities and connecting countryside, could be accused of "quantity not quality" if it weren't so damn fun nearly all the time. Sure, the story missions can be frustrating as all hell, but (although they are varied and contain some great acting and writing) who plays the story missions? No, the "point" of San Andreas is to fuck around and enjoy all the wonderful chaos that ensues from your lazy thumb-tapping inputs. In the PS2 era, no other game could claim the level of variety, immensity, and insanity that Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas possessed. It had a killer soundtrack, an interesting setting, awesome cheat codes, a hilarious and huge script, an enormous play area, and you could even turn protagonist CJ into a fat slob like yourself. Good stuff.

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