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Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (commonly abbreviated as GTA: SA) is a sandbox-style action-adventure computer and video game developed by Rockstar North. It is the third 3D game in the Grand Theft Auto video game franchise, the fifth original console release and eighth game overall. Originally released for the PlayStation 2 in October 2004, the game has since been ported to the Xbox and Microsoft Windows, and has received wide acclaim and high sales figures on all three platforms, and is the highest selling game of all time on PlayStation 2. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was succeeded by Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories and was preceded by Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

The game is set in the fictional state of San Andreas, comprising three metropolitan cities. Set in late 1992, San Andreas revolves around the gang member Carl "CJ" Johnson returning home from Liberty City to Los Santos after learning of his mother's murder. CJ finds his old friends and family in disarray. Over the course of the game, CJ gradually unravels the plot behind his mother's murder while exploring his own business ventures. Like other games in the series, San Andreas is composed of elements from driving games and third-person shooters, and features "open-world" gameplay that gives the player more control over their playing experience. The game adds several features, such as car customization, and character personalization.

Much like the previous entries in the Grand Theft Auto series, San Andreas's critical and commercial success has not been without controversy. The most notable controversy was over the explicit "Hot Coffee" sex minigame found on the Microsoft Windows game, which was disabled but left within the game's code. Its discovery led San Andreas to be re-rated in the United States briefly as an adult game and pulled from retailers' shelves there. After the Hot Coffee minigame code was removed, the game was re-rated as M again.


Following the success of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, consumers anticipated a new Grand Theft Auto game on the psp in late 2003. The first concrete evidence of a new installment came on October 29, 2003, when Take-Two Interactive announced that an untitled GTA game was set for release in the "later half of the fiscal fourth quarter 2004". Although no further information was available at that point, as to the setting or plot of the new game, there were rumors that it would be based in either the fictional city of San Andreas, California or a Las Vegas-themed Sin City, Nevada.

On March 1, 2004, Take-Two announced in a press conference that Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas would be released on October 19, 2004 in North America, October 22 in Europe, and October 29 for Australia. The first news of the game's content was revealed on March 11, when it was divulged that San Andreas would not be a city, but rather an entire state consisting of three whole cities and the surrounding territory.

On September 9, 2004, in Take-Two's third quarter financial results for 2004, it was announced that the release date would be pushed back by a week. In the same release, Take-Two announced the Microsoft Windows and Xbox versions of the game.

San Andreas was released for the PlayStation 2 on October 26, 2004 in North America and on October 29, 2004 in Europe and Australia. It was released in Japan on January 25, 2007.The Windows and Xbox ports were released on June 7, 2005 in North America and June 10, 2005 in Europe and Australia.

On October 20, 2008 it was made available to download from the Xbox Live Marketplace as an Xbox Original at the cost of 1200 microsoft points.


San Andreas is structured similarly to the previous two games in the series. The core gameplay consists of elements of a third-person shooter and a driving game, affording the player a large, open environment in which to move around. On foot, the player's character is capable of walking, running, sprinting, swimming, climbing (the first GTA game in which swimming and climbing is possible) and jumping as well as using weapons and various forms of hand to hand combat. Players can drive a variety of vehicles, including automobiles (a code allows these to fly,with another one allowing to float on water), buses, semis, boats (also code for flying), airplanes, helicopters, trains, tanks, motorcycles and bikes. Players may also import vehicles rather than steal them.

The open, non-linear environment allows players 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 players can complete them at their own leisure. When not taking on a storyline mission, players can free-roam and look around the cities, or cause havoc by attacking people and causing destruction. However, 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 people, pointing guns at people, stealing cars, killing a few people, etc.), whereas SWAT teams, the FBImarker, and the military respond to higher wanted levels.

The player can also partake in a variety of optional side missions. 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 robbery missions, pimping missions, truck and train driving missions requiring players to make deliveries on time, and driving/flying/boating/biking schools, which help players learn skills and techniques to use in their corresponding vehicles.

Unlike Vice City and GTA III, which needed loading screens when traveling between different districts of the city, San Andreas has no load times when the player is in transit (which is notable, given how much larger the in-game map is than in the previous games). 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, as well as improved target crosshairs and a target health indicator which changes colors 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.

The player has a gunfight with members of an enemy gang, the Ballas.
In addition, players can swim and climb walls for the first time in the series. The ability to swim 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 firepower, players can also wield dual firearms or perform a drive-by shooting with multiple gang members. Also, due to the immense size of San Andreas, a waypoint reticule on the HUD map can be set, aiding the player in reaching a destination.

RPG features in character development

Rockstar has emphasized the personalization of the main protagonist by adding many RPG features. Clothing, accessories, haircuts, jewelry, and tattoos are now available for purchase by CJ, 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. Players must also ensure CJ eats to stay healthy and also exercises properly. The balance of food and physical activity has an effect on his appearance and physical attributes.

San Andreas also tracks acquired skills in areas such as driving, firearms handling (when skills are high enough, double-wielding of certain weapons is possible), stamina, and lung capacity, which improve through use in the game. CJ may also learn three different styles of hand-to-hand combat (boxing, kung fu and kickboxing) at the gyms in each of the game's three cities. CJ can also 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.


In total, there are nearly 200 types of vehicles in the game, compared to the approximately 85 in GTA III. New additions include bicycles, dune buggies, a combine harvester, a street sweeper, a hovercraft, etc. 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, but are slower. While previous Grand Theft Auto games had only a few aircraft that were difficult to access and fly, San Andreas has 11 airplanes and 9 helicopters and makes them more integral in the game's missions. 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 (either alone or accompanied by fellow Grove Street Families members) ventures into enemy territory and kills 3-4 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 for the Grove Street Families, they no longer come under attack.

  • Car modification: Most automobiles in the game can be modified and upgraded at various garages. All car mods are strictly visual apart from a nitrous oxide system which gives the car a speed boost when activated; 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 stereo system upgrades.
  • Burglary: Continuing the series' tradition of controversy, home invasion is included as a potential money-making activity. 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 also 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.

  • Money: The money system has been expanded upon, compared to previous titles. Players can spend their cash on gambling, 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 were removed from the PC version of the game. However, for the PC version, there are also online multiplayer mods called Multi Theft Auto: San Andreas and San Andreas Multiplayer which allow players to connect with hundreds of people online through various servers and fan-made game modes.



Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas takes place within the state San Andreas, which is based on sections of Californiamarker and Nevadamarker. It comprises three major fictional cities: Los Santos corresponds to real-life Los Angelesmarker; San Fierro corresponds to real-life San Franciscomarker; and Las Venturas and the surrounding desert correspond to real-life Las Vegasmarker and the Nevada and Arizona desert. Players can climb the half-mile (800 m) tall Mount Chiliad (based on Mount Diablomarker), parachute from various peaks and skyscrapers, and visit 12 rural towns and villages located in three counties: Red County, Flint County, and Bone County. Other notable destinations include Sherman Dam (based on the Hoover Dammarker), a large secret military base called Area 69 (based on Area 51marker), a large satellite dish (based on a dish from the Very Large Arraymarker), and many other geographical features. San Andreas is 13.9 square miles (36 square kilometers), almost four times as large as Vice City, and five times as large as the GTA III rendition of Liberty City. 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.

Los Santos

Los Santos, as seen from the ghetto district of Idlewood.
Like its real-life counterpart of Los Angelesmarker, Los Santos comprises several diverse areas. This includes the gang-ridden neighborhoods of Ganton, Willowfield, Jefferson, Idlewood and East Los Santos, based on their actual counterparts of Comptonmarker, Willowbrookmarker, Wattsmarker, Inglewoodmarker, and East Los Angeles, respectively. Also located in the city is a busy downtown section based on Downtown Los Angelesmarker; the wealthy Rodeo and Mulholland districts (Rodeo based on Beverly Hillsmarker and named after Rodeo Drivemarker); the beach-side districts of Santa Maria Beach and Verona Beach, Virgin Islands Santa Monicamarker and Venice Beachmarker; and the glitzy Vinewood and the giant Vinewood Sign are based on Hollywoodmarker and its Hollywood Signmarker. Los Santos features landmarks reminiscent of Los Angeles, which include the Watts Towersmarker, the Los Angeles Convention Centermarker, the Capitol Towermarker, the Los Angeles City Hallmarker, the U.S.marker Bank Towermarker, the Griffith Observatorymarker, the Forummarker, the Santa Monica Piermarker, the Vincent Thomas Bridgemarker, Rodeo Drivemarker, the Hollywood Walk Of Famemarker, the Westin Bonaventure Hotelmarker, and Grauman's Chinese Theatermarker.

San Fierro

Like its real-life counterpart of San Franciscomarker, San Fierro is characterized by a prominent cable car systemmarker and hilly terrain. San Fierro features several interpretations of many of San Francisco's districts and landmarks, including the Haight-Ashbury districtmarker (Hashbury), the Castromarker district (Queens), Chinatownmarker, and the Golden Gate Bridgemarker (Gant Bridge). Several other familiar landmarks have been recreated, from the Embarcaderomarker clock tower and the Transamerica Pyramidmarker (Big Pointy Building) to Lombard Streetmarker (Windy Windy Windy Windy Street), and the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridgemarker (Garver Bridge). San Fierro's City Hall closely resembles San Francisco's ornate city hallmarker. San Fierro also contains remains of the Cypress Street Viaductmarker which collapsed in 1989 during the Loma Prieta earthquakemarker. A naval base near the city's airport also has an aircraft carrier and submarine docked in the bay.

Las Venturas

A casino on the Old Las Venturas strip.
Like its real-life counterpart of Las Vegas, Las Venturas is home to legalized gambling and several casinos. In these casinos, the player can partake in blackjack, video poker, wheel of fortune, roulette, or play slot machines. In addition to gambling, strip clubs are also prevalent in Las Venturas. Many real Las Vegas Stripmarker casinos are faithfully interpreted on Las Venturas' Strip, including the Excalibur Hotel and Casinomarker (Come-a-Lot), the Sphinx and pyramid of the Luxor Hotelmarker (The Camel's Toe), Treasure Islandmarker (Pirates In Men's Pants), The Miragemarker (The Visage), Circus Circusmarker (The Clown's Pocket), Hard Rock Hotel and Casino marker (V-Rock Hotel, which is named after the Vice City radio station), Flamingo Las Vegasmarker (The Pink Swan), Imperial Palacemarker (The Four Dragons Casino), Caesars Palacemarker (Caligula's Casino), Bally's Las Vegasmarker (The High Roller), Barbary Coast Hotel and Casinomarker (Starfish Casino), and Casino Royale & Hotelmarker (Royal Casino). Other landmarks include a replica of the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas signmarker and interpretations of Vegas Vicmarker and Vicki as Vice City characters Avery Carrington and Candy Suxxx. Suites in several of the hotels are available for purchase. In addition, Las Venturas features a large surrounding desert region, residential areas, and strip malls, as well as a seedy area (Old Venturas Strip ) with several strip clubs and gambling parlors based In Las Vegas Downtown.


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 storylines and settings than in Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City. The player controls Carl "CJ" Johnson, 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) and an additional Vietnamese gang 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 GTA games, the voice actors of San Andreas include notable celebrities, such as David Cross, Andy Dick, Samuel L. Jackson, James Woods, Peter Fonda, Charlie Murphy, Frank Vincent, Chris Penn, Danny Dyer, Sara Tanaka, William Fichtner, rappers Ice T, Chuck D, Frost, MC Eiht and The Game and musicians George Clinton, Axl Rose, Sly and Robbie, and Shaun Ryder. Young Maylay makes his debut as the protagonist, Carl.

The Guinness World Records 2009 Gamer's Edition lists it as the videogame 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.


After living in Liberty City for five years, Carl "CJ" Johnson returns to Los Santos in 1992 for his mother's funeral. Upon returning, his cab is pulled over by police officers Tenpenny and Pulaski, who had several run-ins with Carl before he left. The officers put Carl in the squad car, frame him for a fellow officer's murder, and drop him off in a rival gang's area of town. Once Carl rides a bike back to his house, he finds his family and friends in disarray.Carl's brother, Sean "Sweet" Johnson accuses him of Brian's and Beverly's deaths and berates him for abandoning the gang. On the other hand, Sweet's best friend - Melvin "Big Smoke" Harris is very glad that CJ returned to Los Santos and reunited with his family. Carl's neighbor, Lance "Ryder" Wilson treats him like a coward and criticizes his every act.Carl is trying to prove that he is still with the Groves and helps OGs to fight enemy gang members, dealing with drug pushers and restoring relationships with his family and friends. CJ encounters family problems: Sweet disapproves his sister Kendl meeting a Mexican boyfriend and he still can't get through the pain of his mother's death. CJ also hears the mystery of The Green Sabre - a car which was used in a drive-by on his mother.

Carl as well helps his friend Jeffrey Martin who came out of jail and decided to become a rapper. His plan was to provide him with everything he needed to make his debut album showdown for his homies. But to gain recognition, OG LOC has to destroy the reputation of a well-known rapper Madd Dogg and that includes stealing his rhyme book and killing his manager. With the help of Carl, OG LOC succeeds in becoming a rapper.

Meanwhile, Carl learns that Big Smoke was involved in some of Tenpenny's affairs and helps him complete them. Big Smoke tells CJ that he's been missing him these five years.

After some time Sweet forgives CJ and apologizes for his accusations. Still, he is in need of help, as his sister, tired of arguing about whom she can date, left to live with her boyfriend. Sweet sends Carl to prevent 'The Grand Disaster'. CJ meets Kendl and gains respect from her boyfriend - Cesar Vialpando who is head of a small Mexican gang called Varrio Los Aztecas roaming the streets of Little Mexico and El Corona in Los Santos. After arguing a lot, the two decide that if Kendl feels good with Cesar, there's nothing to worry about. Cesar later invites Carl to take part in street races. At the same time Carl helps his neighbor Ryder steal the weapons from Colonel Fuhrerberg, freight train and The National Guard to supply Grove Street OGs with arms.

Meanwhile, Tenpenny discovers how CJ helped Big Smoke and decided that it was the right time Carl began to "earn his freedom" (essentially blackmailing him) to complete tasks for Tenpenny himself. He sets a building on fire and rescues a girl named Denise Robinson who becomes his girlfriend and sabotages a deal between the Ballas and Russians.

Sweet calls CJ and tells him that it's time to announce the return of Grove Street Families and start a gang war. Then he and CJ kill Kane - leader of the Ballas gang. Carl and Sweet decide to finish the Ballas threat once and for all. While Sweet is preparing for a gang war, CJ gets a call from Cesar who shows him The Green Sabre and reveals to him that Big Smoke and Ryder as well as Frank Tenpenny were involved in CJ's mother's death and they were going to destroy Grove Street families. Carl tries to warn Sweet but he can't and, in desperation he tries to rescue him. He withstands the Ballas long enough before SWAT and C.R.A.S.H. arrive on the scene arresting Sweet and Tenpenny taking Carl away with him to 'the middle of nowhere' - a small village, Angel Pine, isolated between Los Santos and San Fierro. Carl, realizing Tenpenny is his only hope of staying out of jail or getting Sweet released, continues to run the cop's crooked errands, in the process killing or discrediting people involved in building a criminal case against Tenpenny.

Carl steadily befriends new allies, among them blind Chinese Triad leader and businessman Wu Zi Mu, an old hippie named The Truth. Carl and his friends open a garage in San Fierro while they wait for an opportunity to return to Los Santos. After finding and killing Ryder, Carl becomes immersed in the affairs of a shady government agent, Mike Toreno, who implies that he will release Sweet if Carl helps him with his covert operations. Then, Carl works alongside Wu Zi Mu to promote the growth of a new casino in the mafia-run Las Venturas. Consequently, Carl enjoys newfound wealth and eventually returns to Los Santos. Toreno makes good on his earlier promise to release Sweet, but much to Carl's surprise, his brother wants no part of Carl's new lifestyle. Sweet insists on returning to Grove Street and working to reestablish the GSF rather than rest on the laurels of Carl's success.

Tenpenny goes to trial for several felonies, but the charges are dropped for lack of evidence, as all the prosecution's witnesses are either missing or dead. Tenpenny's release sends the citizens of Los Santos into a citywide riot, similar to the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. Fueled by Sweet's resolve to topple Big Smoke, who has become the city's biggest drug kingpin, Carl reacquires lost gang territory and hunts down the traitors responsible for pushing drugs that destroyed the Families. He kills Big Smoke in a shootout, escapes from the burning crack palace and pursues Tenpenny, who has fled with Smoke's drug fortune. Sweet and Carl chase Tenpenny through the streets of Los Santos until Tenpenny loses control of his firetruck and drives it off a bridge. Carl is about to shoot him, "just to make sure it's finally over," but is stopped by Sweet. Sweet simply tells him, "It's just a cop that died in a car accident." Tenpenny then dies from his injuries. The final scene shows the Johnson family reunited. As his friends and allies celebrate their success, Carl turns to leave. When asked where he's going, he replies, "Fittin' to hit the block, see what's happening."

Continuity with other Grand Theft Auto games

Many characters, locations and fictional elements from previous Grand Theft Auto games reappear in San Andreas. Catalina, the main antagonist in GTA III, accompanies CJ on a number of missions. Claude, GTA III's protagonist, also makes a brief appearance as Catalina's new boyfriend after she dumps Carl. They proceed to compete in a street race, which Claude and Catalina ultimately lose. Catalina hands Carl a deed to a garage in San Fierro instead of the car's pink slip, stating that, "He needs his car to get to Liberty City". In a bit of an inside joke, numerous remarks are made about Claude's apparent muteness, due to the fact that he had no spoken lines in GTA III or San Andreas. Catalina also continues to call Carl through the rest of the game in an attempt to make him jealous of her new relationship.

Ken Rosenberg and Kent Paul, from GTA: Vice City, feature prominently in several Las Venturas missions in connection with Salvatore Leone, the Liberty City mob boss featured in GTA: III and Liberty City Stories. Maria, who later becomes Salvatore's girlfriend, also appears as a waitress in Caligula's Palace.

During a shootout at a meat packing industry run by the Sindacco crime family in Las Venturas, in which Ken Rosenberg, subsequently under the influence of cocaine, tries to solidify his relationship with the recently hospitalized Johnny Sindacco, Ken shouts "It's just like old times, Tommy!" (making an indirect reference to the GTA: Vice City protagonist Tommy Vercetti). CJ then replies, "Who the fuck is Tommy?!".

During the events of the game, Carl briefly returns to Liberty City to assassinate a high ranking Forelli Mafia member at Marco's Bistro, under orders from Salvatore Leone. The mission takes place in a section of southeast Saint Mark's, where Carl must fight through attacking Mafia members in Marco's Bistro and kill his target in the back lot of the restaurant.

According to interviews with the developers, Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Liberty City Stories, Vice City Stories, Grand Theft Auto: Advance, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas are considered part of the Grand Theft Auto III canon, while Grand Theft Auto IV marks the beginning of a new series canon where different gameplay rules are observed. For example, motorcycles were supposedly banned from Liberty City in GTA III; however, in GTA IV this restriction does not seem to exist.


Just like the previous two entries in the Grand Theft Auto series, San Andreas has an extensive amount and variety of tracks taken from the time period the game is based in. Notable inclusions to the game's soundtrack include The Who, Toto, Faith No More, Depeche Mode, James Brown, Soundgarden, KISS, Rage Against the Machine, Danzig, Alice in Chains, Marshall Jefferson, Frankie Knuckles, Guns N' Roses, Snoop Dogg, N.W.A., Cypress Hill, 2Pac, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Stone Temple Pilots, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Ozzy Osbourne.

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), 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.

The Xbox and Windows versions of the game include an additional radio station that supports custom soundtracks by playing user imported MP3s.


IGN's Best of 2004 PlayStation 2 Game of the Year, Best PlayStation 2 Action Game, Best Story for PlayStation 2
GameSpot's Best and Worst of 2004 Best PlayStation 2 Game, Best Action Adventure Game, Readers' Choice - Best PlayStation 2 Action Adventure Game, Readers' Choice - PlayStation 2 Game of the Year, Best Voice Acting, Funniest Game
2004 Spike TV Video Game Awards Game of the Year, Best Performance by a Human (Male), Best Action Game, Best Soundtrack
Prior to its release for the PlayStation 2, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was one of the most highly anticipated video games of 2004, along with Halo 2. San Andreas met most of these expectations, as it was praised as one of the PlayStation 2's best games, with an average review score of 95%, according to Metacritic, tying for the fifth highest ranked game in PlayStation 2 history. 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. GameSpot rated the game 9.6/10, giving it an Editor's Choice award. San Andreas also received an A rating from the network and a 10/10 score from Official U.S. 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.


By March 3, 2005, the game had sold over 12 million units for the PlayStation 2 alone making it the highest selling game for Playstation 2. As of September 26, 2007, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has sold 20 million units according to Take-Two Interactive. As of March 26, 2008, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has sold 21.5 million units according to Take-Two Interactive. The Guinness World Records 2009 Gamer's Edition list it as the most successful game in the Playstation 2, with 17.33 million copies sold for that console alone, from a total of 21.5 million in all formats.

Hot Coffee controversy

A screenshot of the hidden sex minigame unlocked by the "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 sexual intercourse mini-game. Later in June 2005, a console 'hacker' known as Jay "FNG" released an "Action Replay Power Save" for the Xbox console, enabling the "Hot Coffee" mini-game. On July 12, 2005, Jay "FNG" released codes for the Action Replay game enhancer that allowed the scenes to be accessed in the PlayStation 2 console version. The fallout from the controversy resulted in a public response from high-ranking politicians in the United States and resulted in the game's recall and re-release.

On July 20, 2005, production of the game was suspended and the game received a revised ESRB Rating of Adults Only, making San Andreas the only mass-released AO console game in the US. 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. Rockstar North released a "Cold Coffee" patch for the PC version and re-released San Andreas with an M rating. The PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions have also been re-released in a "GTA Trilogy Pack" for Xbox and PlayStation 2, as well as a Special Edition for PlayStation 2 that includes the documentary film Sunday Driver.

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.

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.

The Introduction

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 movie chronicles the events leading up to the events in 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 Sweet and returns to Los Santos to find his life is ruined.


  1. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Weekend Update: Street Talking, GameSpot, October 23, 2004
  3. Greg Kasavin, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Weekend Update: Robbery and Home Invasion, GameSpot, August 13, 2004
  4. GTA: San Andreas (PS2) at Metacritic
  5. No More Hot Coffee, Rockstar Games, 2005
  6. Tim Surette, GTA gets trilogized, San Andreas special edition, GameSpot, September 23, 2005
  7. NY Times Advertisement

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