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Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas


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June 30, 2004 - Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is getting ready to hit the PS2 like a ton of bricks this fall. Easily one of the most, if not the most, anticipated games to come out this year, San Andreas could very well have sales in the same unbelievable range as the previous two entries in the series. Moving the action from the east coast to the west coast and expanding the action to three cities instead of one, this game is going to be frickin' massive.

To help you make sense of it all, we've decided to compile tons of information about this game into one place. All the big questions about the game are answered with info about several different aspects of the gameplay. Sure, this isn't all of the info available about the game so far, but it covers the bases enough that extra searching will be only for the hardest of the hardcore out there who are going to be on the constant lookout anyway.

So for all you fans of the game who want to know just what the hell is going on with the latest in this insanely popular series, just sit back, relax, and take a deep breath before diving into the information. Special thanks to PSM, Game Informer, and Rockstar.

Q: What is San Andreas' Storyline?

A: The official San Andreas website description is as follows:

"Five years ago Carl Johnson escaped from the pressures of life in Los Santos, San Andreas... a city tearing itself apart with gang trouble, drugs and corruption. Where film stars and millionaires do their best to avoid the dealers and gangbangers.

Now, it's the early 90s. Carl's got to go home. His mother has been murdered, his family has fallen apart and his childhood friends are all heading towards disaster.

On his return to the neighborhood, a couple of corrupt cops frame him for homicide. CJ is forced on a journey that takes him across the entire state of San Andreas, to save his family and to take control of the streets."


Since that initial blurb debuted on the site during the events of E3 2004, Rockstar has remained rather tight-lipped about all other aspects pertaining to the storyline with the exception of the identities of a few characters.

Q: What characters are confirmed so far?

As of right now, there are a good number of characters that have been confirmed for San Andreas. We've listed them below.

Carl "CJ" Johnson

The game's main character, CJ is a gangster with a vengeance. His mom and younger brother were both killed thanks to gangland violence and he ended up in Liberty City for five years before coming back to Los Santos to find out who killed his moms. He's obviously destined to become an important figure in the Orange Grove Families (OGF).

Sweet Johnson

A key leader of the Orange Grove Families and CJ's older brother, Sweet Johnson blamed Carl for the death of their youngest brother five years ago. Though he's pissed at CJ for his own personal reasons, he still obviously has plenty of loyalty too -- as he's one of Carl's main supporters when he returns to the OGF.

Brian Johnson

CJ's ten-year old brother who was killed in a tragic accident five years ago. Poor kid.

Kendl Johnson

Another one of CJ's siblings, Kendl is Carl and Sweet's sister who has been at odds with the elder brother for quite some time.


An old friend of CJs from back in the day, Ryder has a temper shorter than Tony Montana and a mean streak like few have ever seen.


The most physically imposing member of the Orange Grove Families, Smoke is a key figure in the reunification of the gang and has been a friend to the Johnson family for years.

Frank Tenpenny & Eddie Polaski

A pair of dirty cops that knew CJ from his stay in Juvenile Hall, these two start trouble for Carl the moment he sets foot in Los Santos.

Old Reece

Carl's barber from when he was a kid, Old Reece is where players can go to get their haircuts.


A mystery character whose purpose is remaining a mystery, Cesar looks like a total hardcore killer; complete with tattoos and his very own .45.

The Flats and The Ballas

These two gangs are the main rivals for the Orange Grove Families and have since taken over the streets since CJ left five years ago.

Q: What vehicles are in it this time?

Although the vehicle list isn't enormous quite yet, we do know a couple of details about them. Most of them, for example, will get begin to rust and get dirty the longer it is in your possession and bicycles must be driven by tapping the buttons rhythmically to simulate the use of pedals. As of right now, the vehicles listed below are all those that have been confirmed through text or screenshots for San Andreas so far. Though it should be noted that the vehicles here aren't officially licensed, but we've still used real car names to describe what they look like more accurately.



-Custom Streetrod

-Cutlass Sierra

-Generic Hatchback

-Generic Sedan



-Impala (convertible)

-Old-School Muscle Car

-Old-School Pickup Truck

-Police Motorcycle

-Semi Truck


Q: How big is the city in comparison to the other games?

There are actually three cities in San Andreas and all of them are interconnected with miles and miles of interconnected freeways, deserts, mountains, rivers, and more. The three cities themselves are based on real life locations like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. In terms of total geography, the land size is somewhere between five and six times bigger than Vice City.

Q: How long is the game and how many missions are there?

In terms of game length, an actual time frame has not been disclosed. But given the size of San Andreas in comparison to previous titles, players can expect it to be just as lengthy (and likely more so) as GTA III and Vice City. The number of story-based and sidequest missions have not been revealed.

Q: How many weapons are there?

There is no set number of weapons confirmed so far, but at least we know that some of them can be wielded in each hand at the same time. Additionally, players will be able to participate in drive-by shootings and utilize improved hand-to-hand mechanics when fighting without a weapon. Anyhow, these are the following guns that will definitely be in the game:

-.45 Cal




Q: What kind of environmental conditions can we expect and what types of missions are there?

From all the sources we've read, it appears that there will not only be more indoor missions, but several additional mini-games as well. By the time the game comes out later this year, players will be able to gamble at casinos, break into houses to rob them, and recruit their own gang to back them up. Other more traditional GTA missions will be included too; which include the typical fetch quest types and assassination missions. Most interesting of all is that fact that the game will even include some first-person shooting segments; quite a change from Vice City.

In terms of the environments, San Andreas features the same dynamic day and night cycles that were seen in both GTA III and Vice City. It also features dynamic weather, but exactly what kind of weather, we do not know. There is smog in Los Santos (Los Angeles). We also expect to witness falling rain, but snow seems a little inappropriate given the three areas that are said to represent Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco, especially considering that individual models are being created for day and night and snow would require even more individual models be created (the "mountains" between them still give us hope).

We unfortunately don't know if weather is bound to locale or if there is any kind of seasonal implementation. For instance, will it ever rain in Los Santos during August? Is there an August?

Q: What new abilities does CJ Have?

Yes ladies and gentleman, a Grand Theft Auto character will finally be able to swim. But CJ can still drown too, so don't go hopping in the ocean thinking that you can turn into Aquaman at the drop of a hat.

Additionally, CJ has improved hand-to-hand combat skills, has the ability to recruit NPCs to follow him in his gang, can wear various new outfits, and can work out at a gym to become stronger. CJ can even improve specific player attributes and skills!

Q: Is there Online or HDD Support?

There is no online multiplayer support. This is official. Hard drive support is officially unannounced, but San Andreas revolves around a clever piece of DVD streaming technology that helps the experience remain load-free, except during transitions between interior and exterior environments. This load-free streaming doesn't require the hard drive, so what would be the point of having one? Still, it would be nice to see support included so that our MP3 tracks might be added to the game.

Q: Is it true that Carl has to eat to survive?

Yup! Every so often Carl must grub to keep himself kicking. Eating too much -- or too much crap -- will make Carl fat. This not only causes NPC characters to react differently to him, but may also cause adverse performance effects, including slower speed, a weaker character, and altered physics (apparently measured by a stamina meter of sorts). To work off the weight, Carl can hit up the gym. Working out too much, however, may actually add too much mass and cause Carl to slow a bit. So, if you ever find yourself crashing into water and panicking, you'd better hope you're in the right shape to escape before your stamina meter runs dry and you drown.

Q: Will characters from other GTA games make appearances?

Apparently so. Few specifics are currently known, but we do know that recognizable and obscure names and faces from Liberty and Vice City could make return appearances in San Andreas. Interestingly, Frank Vincent, the voice actor who portrayed Don Salvatore Leone in GTA III, stated not too long ago on his personal website that he had been commissioned to reprise his role for "the sequel to GTA 3". That statement has since disappeared without a formal retraction.

For the diehard, there will also be plenty of Easter eggs hidden throughout the game that reference those previous GTA titles.

Q: How has the targeting system improved?

Reportedly, it's now more like Man Hunt, which is to say the camera takes a much closer over-the-shoulder view of the action, and by using the right analog stick to aim, should allow for more precise shooting, including vicious headshots. The game apparently also boasts a much more in-depth melee combat system when compared to Vice City or GTA III. This means that there are different attack "stances" and even some rudimentary combinations to be toyed around with. This all leads to more fighting and even carjacking variation.

Q: What are the radio stations and what licensed music is in here?

This hasn't been revealed at all yet, but we do know that San Andreas is intended to be a representation of California as a whole, which we know from experience to be a mixture of various styles, including alternative, hip-hop, rap, metal, and everything in-between. Since the game takes place during the turbulent early 90s, it wouldn't be surprising to hear Guns 'n Roses, Vanilla Ice, NWA, and the Beach Boys. It's definitely not rap specific, anyway.

Interestingly enough, we've received reports that several radio stations in Los Angeles have reported that Nine Inch Nails "Head Like A Hole" will make an appearance in the game, but that report has never been substantiated by a Rockstar spokesperson.

Q: What actors can we expect contributing talent to the game?

Current rumors suggest that Dave Chappelle or Ice Cube may be voicing Carl Johnson, but then we could start a rumor that says it's going to be Mary Kate and Ashley Olson. There's just no way of telling for sure right now. Rockstar is adamant about not selling a game based on recognizable celebrity. Their goal is to find actors who fit the roles, not big names that happen to have an open schedule. Basically, it could be anyone. The only known actor is Frank Vincent, returning as Don Salvatore Leone from GTA III who, as we mentioned earlier, stated on his personal website that he had been commissioned to reprise his role for San Andreas. That statement has since disappeared without formal retraction, but he remains credited on IMDB.com.

Q: When will the game be released?

October 19th, 2004.

Q: Will San Andreas be released on any other platforms?

Though no official word has been given and the game is currently dubbed a "PS2 title," early rumblings (prior to the official announcement of San Andreas, even), mentioned the development of a PC version. Of course, an Xbox port is not completely out of the question. Timeframes on these iterations are entirely unknown. They could come out months or years later. Or, they could never, ever, ever come out. Either way, as it stands right now -- it's PS2 only.

Q: What kind of mini-games can we expect?

There will be on-rails shooting segments where we have to gun people down while literally riding shotgun in a car that someone else is driving. There are also gambling mini-games of unknown type that apparently makeup a fully operational casino.

More cab-missions (pizza deliveries, ambulance driving stuff, vigilante stuff, et cetera) will also be included. Side-missions also now help develop "skills" for use in later plot-critical missions. How playing around in a fully operational casino boosts Carl's skills, we still do not know.

Q: What kind of buildings can we own / buy? What purpose do they serve?

Interiors and the ownership of buildings will play a far more important role in San Andreas than they ever managed to in Vice City. You can even run a casino that you have built and now own. How building works, we can't say. But, running an operation isn't supposed to be a tedious checklist and inventory management debacle. According to the printed word, Rockstar is aiming for a managerial system that revolves around the completion of missions and sub quests.

Since it's gang-based, can we actually have a gang?

During the 90s there were some 15,000 active gang members. Because ganging it up, or whatever the proper term is, was so popular, the game naturally allows players to recruit non-controllable comrades for select missions. The specifics behind this functionality are still unknown, but it is possible to enlist the aid of fellow Orange Grove Family "soldiers" (up to three, we believe) and then undertake entire missions with them at your side.


That about wraps it up for now, but as you can imagine, there's still plenty of info left to talk about over the coming months. You can bet your bottom dollar that we'll be the number one place to visit for new San Andreas info too, so be sure and check back with us often to find out exactly what's coming next!

IGNPS2 would like to thank Game Informer Magazine, PSM Magazine, GTA Gaming, and GameSpy for their silent contributions in the creation of this article. Industry Love folks. Industry love.

-- Jeremy Dunham, Ivan Sulic, Ed Lewis

Credit IGN

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damn, this game looks great...i hope it comes out on Xbox soon, i dont think i can wait that long....i might have to buy a shitty PS2 again just to play it

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  • 5 weeks later...

holy crap that looks incredible....i might have to buy a PS2 again, just to play this, cause i will most likely get sick of waiting for it to come to the Xbox.

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How can we be sure that is authentic?

have you ever used your brain while posting annywere on this board ?

First of all I was only talking about the map. Secondly, what the hell do you mean?

*looks at side of map*

Fanatics Unofficial Map. Interesting.

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Guest kijlhumt

I like the sound of most of it, especially more mini-games and not dying instantly upon hitting water.

I don't like the fact that now we have to feed and exercise the character. Too "The Sims" for me.

I hope they aren't adding too much and making it too complicated with being able to rob houses and own casinos now.

Steering and handling had better be improved, they are a major nuisance in GTA III and GTA:VC. I can barely drive oversized vehicles.

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*imagines an overweight gangsta getting mowed down by the cops*

Lol, I can't wait to jack a couple of tvs.

Bwahahaha yeah! I'm gonna start a TV collection!

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