Apr 15, 2022

GTA San Andreas: Los Santos section mini-review.

 I said during the first look that I would divode the review between each city. The reason for it is because it FEELS like a different game in each city. Once we reach the point when we return to Los Santos from Las Venturas, then I can make the full review with the ratings score.

Now that I've been ejected from Los Santos due to the plot, I am free to discuss the Los Santos chapter from GTA San Andreas. You return to Los Santos from Liberty City after your Mom's death. Once you arrive, you're picked up by the cops, more specifically the Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums unit. This corrupt police unit is meant to reduce gang crime, but they have their fingers deep in every pie. They arrested Carl Johnson and threatened to frame him for the murder of an IA member investigating CRASH. Now trapped in Los Santos, Carl needs to get back with his estranged family, deal with the gang wars that caused his mother's death, and find a way to get CRASH off his back.

Right out of the bat we get into the gang wars theme and cleaning up the hood from drugs. The gang war dynamic CAN BE Annoying, but it's a great idea... on paper. It just needed to be polished in future games. As it is right now on GTA SA, it needs a lot of polish. If you've been under a rock or never played GTA SA, Here's a quick explanation. Once you unlock the Doberman mission, you have to take over gang territories. Some will argue that it's better to do these near the end of the game or after the story mode, because your progress will be lost while you're away from Los Santos. I believe, that it's better to do them early on, as they will help you gain gang respect, which can make the gang wars easier if you can recruit Homies instead of going solo. Also, you will level up weapon skills unless you do the climb and forebomb everything with molotovs. 

How do you take over territories?
Go to a place in the map dyed either yellow or purple. The colors of enemy gangs.  Kill 3-4 gang members in a row quickly to trigger a gang war. Now all you need to do is survive 3 waves of enemies. They will come from multiple sides and try to overwhelm you. If you did the 100 tags, a tec9, a sawn off shotgun, an AK and some Molotovs will spawn at your house.  You can stock up for free at your house and there's an armor spawn point in the storm drains behind Sweet's house. If you do firefighter all the way to level 12, you become fireproof. MOLOTOV FIREBOMBING WHOLE FIREPROOF MAKES IT EASY TO STOCK UP ON WEAPONS AND MONEY.
I did it without the fireproofing to have a challenge.

Warning, sometimes the enemy AI acts up and it runs away pretty far. If you get too far from the combat zone, the mission is canceled and you fail.

As I said, the Gang war element is not polished. At the same time if you want to do Vigilante, firefighter, Paramedic, Burglary, and Pimping missions. That way there are no pesky enemy gangs shooting your vehicle. The perks of Max Armor, Fireproofing, Max health, infinite sprint, and Hookers paying you for sex... ok maybe not that last one, but the perks for doing the missions are good. Sadly, the vigilante glitch is no more.

The dance and lowrider minigames changed because this is a cellphone game upgraded to actual console. But I'm being sidetracked again. The Los Santos chapter is all about the Hood. It feels more urban and no, I don't mean "black" by that. I mean the story, it's not tied to the Mafia like 3 or Vice City. The conflict is strictly tied to (street) gang violence. You have the Grove Street Families, a gang in decline, due to politics, and the emerging new gangs. They're in a fierce rivalry with the Ballas similar to our world's Crips and Bloods. Then you have Los Vagos, a Mexican Gang who is into dealing Crack and moving in territories held formerly by Grove Street. The last main gang is Varrio Los Aztecas. They don't have a any love for GSF, but since one of the jefes is dating CJ and Sweet's sister, Los Aztecas don't attack you straight up. While not friendly, they are not as relentless as the Ballas or Vagos and I don't think you can take over their (VLA) territory without glitches. Then we have the puppeteers form CRASH, who basically manipulate the gang warfare from behind the scenes to keep their jobs. It's not a revenge story like 3, or the rise of a new drug kingpin like VC. 

Of the 3D era, CJ is theoretically, the best character. He's more charismatic, human, and less of a caricature than Tommy Vercetti. He at least has a personality unlike that vocally challenged snake in the grass,  Claude. Even CJ's idle animations give him more personality than Tommy and Claude. 

Now before other Vercetti fans try to kick my ass,  hear me out:
Christopher Bellard's performance as CJ is obviously inferior to Ray Liotta's Tommy Vercetti, due to their backgrounds and experience. Young Maylay is a Rapper who dabbled into acting, while Ray Liotta is an actor who dabbled in beekeeping... whole Young Maylay may not be "the best actor" his performance was much more authentic than Ray Liotta's... again, due to their backgrounds. 

The Los Santos chapter from GTA San Andreas is the heart and soul of the game. Shame that once kicked out of Los Santos, the game loses its focus.

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