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Rockstar's Opus comes to Xbox with a few little tweaks
Itâ??s here, itâ??s finally here... Xbox owners can at long last sample the fitting delights of the final chapter to the GTA3 trilogy, as the format-defining experience that is GTA: San Andreas hits European shop shelves.
The dark yet equally comical story of CJ, the Orange Grove families and the many exaggerated stereotypes that populate the state of San Andreas sucks the player in, in true GTA tradition, however despite the fact that the game may be eight months old it can still easily hold its own as an essential purchase for Xbox owners. Many games have experimented with open-ended designs, living breathing worlds, however the truth is that nobody can quite master the balance between this and game structure/narrative with the same style and panache as RockStar North.
As a port there could be a few disappointments as the game does look close to a PS2 title and doesnâ??t appear to feature the same standard of enhancements featured in the GTA: Double Pack collection, however the truth is that San Andreas is a game all about â??scaleâ? â?“ how many games feature a fully realised state comprising three cities, let alone the chance to walk, drive, fly or even parachute across it! The issue of choice is naturally prevalent throughout the entire game, striking a near perfect balance that results in a game where itâ??s as much fun to go off and do your own thing as it is to play through the carefully designed and action-packed missions â?“ the result is one of the most addictive experiences youâ??ll ever have with a videogame, a â??quickâ? blast will often keep you up until the wee hours of the morning and beyond. Those whoâ??ve played the PS2 version or read the review will no doubt know that not only has RockStar North eased many of the criticisms of the series in terms of camera, and control, but also exponentially added to the game with RPG-esque aspects, vehicle mods, swimming, gang wars and so much more...
Of course there are improvements, the draw distance and lighting models have received subtle enhancements, more importantly the frame-rate maintains a smoother pace throughout. Those who have HD-TV can make use of a 480p option, while the game also incorporates the â??Replayâ? system from the PC versions â?“ ideal for capturing those classic â??GTA momentsâ? in all their glory. Although weâ??re big fans of the Xbox controller largely thanks to the shoulder triggers, the re-mapped control setup does throw up one issue in regards to drive-byâ??s utilising the black and white buttons in conjunction with B and Y, the result is a little cumbersome and not quite up to the eloquent setup of the PS2 pad.
Perhaps the best possible tribute to San Andreas is the fact that having finished the game over six months ago, we jumped at the chance to reacquaint ourselves with CJ and the Grove, bringing work to a grinding halt as everybody clamoured around the TV screen. Naturally a port may not be the format-defining experience that it was the first time around, however the bottom line is that thereâ??s nothing to touch San Andreas in this genre regardless of what machine itâ??s on â?“ pick this up immediately...