GTA San Andreas Remains A Timeless Classic Two Decades Later

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It Was Perfect!

Story Highlight
  • GTA San Andreas was released nearly two decades ago, but it is still a masterpiece. 
  • The story, open world, characters, and everything surrounding these elements were borderline perfect. 
  • It also marked a new era for this franchise due to the significant leaps that were made compared to past entries.

The Grand Theft Auto series has a rich history dating back several decades and multiple generations. For me, Pokemon and GTA Vice City were among the first games that really caught my interest beyond the surface-level fun presented by this hobby.

However, it wasn’t until GTA San Andreas that I became a die-hard Rockstar fan. This entry exceeded my expectations by a mile, and I still love to revisit the sun-soaked streets of Los Santos, the bustling nightlife of Las Venturas, and the gloomy backdrop of San Fierro.

Why it matters: It has been nearly two decades since GTA San Andreas was released, and it remains a timeless classic.

GTA San Andreas Environment
Grand Theft Auto San Andreas Has One of Rockstar’s Best Open Worlds

The Best GTA Game To Date

Hands down, GTA San Andreas is the best entry this series has ever produced. While this is my opinion at the end of the day, many fans agree. There is always a debate about which GTA game is better, GTA 4 or San Andreas.

I honestly love both, but San Andreas takes the win. Both titles had great stories and open worlds with distinct identities, and I agree that GTA 4’s plot was better. However, there was just so much to do in San Andreas.

The game was a step up from its predecessors in nearly every way. It offered more vehicles to play around with, side activities were greatly expanded upon, and Rockstar even added RPG mechanics for CJ.

Going to the gym and getting CJ in shape was genuinely fun, and improving stats through these activities felt meaningful and rewarding. Moreover, this title had a unique vibe that is hard to describe.

From the orange hues to its energetic soundtrack, it oozes with atmosphere every step of the way. As someone who has put over 2,000 hours in the Grand Theft Auto franchise, I have no shame in admitting that over 500 of those came from this entry.

GTA-San-Andreas-Jetpack
There Was So Much Freedom in This Open World

GTA San Andreas Was Ahead of Its Time 

GTA San Andreas was a technical achievement for Rockstar. It pushed the studio’s Renderware Engine to new heights, achieving never-before-seen fidelity in an open world of unparalleled scope.

For reference, the state of San Andreas is more than twice the size of Vice City or Liberty City. Moreover, other elements like the weather effects and enemy AI also received a major upgrade.

Sure, GTA 4 and 5 may look better today, but this title pushed the PS2 hardware to its absolute limits in 2004. As a much younger fan of the series, this was a mind-blowing experience for me.

What GTA San Andreas had that modern GTAs don’t……and how it led to it being a better ‘game’.
byu/Zephyr_v1 inpatientgamers

Beautiful Story Backed With Great Gameplay

All of these elements were neatly wrapped up by a great and memorable story. There’s a reason CJ, Big Smoke, and Ryder are considered iconic characters from this series. Every single mission in the main story was memorable for me, and I never felt bored.

The main story was full of emotions, and the ending was unlike anything I could have expected. I played this game a long time ago, but Big Smoke’s betrayal remains a scarring memory.

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I still wish things could have been different, as CJ treated Smoke like his brother. Their relationship and how it ended deeply moved me when I completed my first playthrough, leaving a huge impression on me.

I have had a similar experience with GTA 4 and Red Dead Redemption 2 since these games also excel in the story aspect. That said, I wish Rockstar would make more games like San Andreas.

The studio is going all out with GTA 6, as the title has been in development for almost a decade. I believe it should have more freedom like San Andreas and a lot more side quests and activities.

Rockstar is currently aiming for a Fall 2025 launch, so I’m keen on returning to the franchise once again. Whether this entry will live up to the excellence that was GTA San Andreas, however, remains to be seen.

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