Jackin' The PC
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Having played through the entire game of Grand Theft Auto San Andreas on the PS2, it is only natural that I wanted to see how the PC version fared.
In general, I enjoy the PC version of the GTA series more than I do the PS2 ones. Not that the PS2 games are bad or anything, but having grown up as it were playing PC games, the controls are generally easier for me to pick up. But Rockstar knows that GTA 3 was a little bit difficult to play on the PS2, and smarty changed the difficulty levels for Vice City and San Andreas. So almost anyone can get through the game on the PS2 now. Not that the missions aren't a challenge, but you won't run into any impossible ones.
The PC version of the game follows the same storyline with hero (anti-hero) CJ flying back into a virtual LA (San Andreas) to burry his mother after leaving the hood and living, apparently within the law, for the past five years. If anyone has seen the movie Boyz in the Hood, you will quickly notice a lot of plot similarities.
Of course a lot has changed in five years and you quickly realize that your Grove Street family is no longer in control of very much of anything anymore. Besieged on all sides by rival gangs and blackmailed into working for crooked police, CJ pretty much has no choice but to become a bad guy. I think that is what really drew me to the game in the first place. Sure, you are running around doing very bad things, but in a way you are doing them for noble reasons: protecting your family and setting things right.
Of course the PC version of the game features all the car jacking and murder of the PS2 version. The only real difference here is that even on a fairly basic system, our test machine has a 2.5GHz processor and a 256M video card, the performance is a lot better than what you will find on the PS2. And the there is almost no load time, something the PS2 has trouble with.
That said, the game is pretty much a straight port. Unlike games that are designed for the PC, the graphics are not going to be the greatest. They seem a bit sharper and you can read signs better than on the PS2, but in general, compared to a straight PC title, the graphics are nothing to write home about. They are good, but not the greatest thing you will ever find.
The audio is awesome, just like the PS2 title. And you can add your own tunes to the mix, which is a wonderful feature that was also included in the PC version of GTA: Vice City. There is nothing quite like cruising through the ghetto in your pimped out ride blasting Mozart out the window, or Dancing Queen by Abba. I know they can't, but I would swear the computer AI people do double takes when I zoom by them now.
But for me, the best feature of the computer game is the precision control. When you hold down the right mouse button, you aim your gun and can see a little targeting reticule. Since I am very good at PC shooters and mouse control, I pretty much own the streets. If a bunch of gang bangers are chasing me, I spin around and let loose with several headshots, which stops them in their tracks. This is a move I could have never performed on the PS2 and opens up a host of sniper-like attacks, even with standard weapons.
All in all, the PC version of the game is a quality title, right down to the amazing packaging that includes a book about the different cities you will visit and even a guide as to the fat content in the different foods you eat, so know if your character is going to get to fat if he eats too many chicken buckets or large pizzas.
Also, it's extremely easy to add the much touted "hot coffee" mod into the game on the PC. So if you want to add sex into the mix with all the violence, you can do so quite easily. Just make sure you get one of the older PC versions of the game before they started restricting the ability to add in the coffee mod. And really, who does not like a little - ahem - coffee once in a while?
The PC version of GTA steals a respectable 4 + GiN Gems.
John Breeden II is the Chief Editor of GiN. While a forward thinking man he admits to a fondness for older video games. You should have seen him at Videotopia. John can be contacted at : firstname.lastname@example.org.