Speaking of video games, it is easy to notice how many, many titles are able to enter the collective imagination in one way or another. Some of these manage to reach an even higher level, overcoming the tests of time and becoming in all respects an integral part of pop culture: it is at this moment that a work can be said, without a shadow of a doubt, an experience capable of to go beyond the concept of video game.
The Grand Theft Auto saga, among others, is one of those that most of all has left an indelible mark in the history of this medium but not only: we are in fact talking about one of the most discussed and talked about products in the history of entertainment, that often and willingly had to face a public opinion even too inquisitive towards him. Each chapter of the series has marked, with different times and modes, a huge slice of players: in a certain way, GTA: San Andreas it is perhaps one of the most important in this sense. Before we get to the heart of history, however, let’s take a step back of almost sixteen years – yes, so many have passed – until that October 2004 that will forever mark the gaming industry.
San Andreas, home…
With the first chapter in three dimensions – that much talked about GTA III that so much had been enjoyed by the public all over the world – and with the unforgettable Vice City, Rockstar Games had produced two titles of great depth, essentially going to carve out the status of infallible software house. The enormous quality of the two games, which were going to offer an experience never seen before, led them right into the Olympus of those fundamental titles for every gamer worthy of the name.
It was the early 2000s: a period full of titles of the highest quality and still capable of bringing back memories and emotions of all kinds. Giving two such masterpieces a sequel capable of further raising the bar was, of course, quite a feat: a feat that only one of the best development studios ever could successfully tackle.
So we come to 2004, the year that saw the arrival on the market of some securities of almost invaluable value. Halo 2, World of Warcraft, Half-Life 2 e Snake Eater they are only some of these, emblematic to better understand the historical period we are talking about. In October, almost at the end of an understandably unforgettable vintage, here is finally a new chapter in the Grand Theft Auto series.
GTA: San Andreas, needless to say, was a success capable of selling more than 30 million copies worldwide, entering the ranking of the best-selling titles in the history of video games. The plot takes us back to the nineties where we will take on the role of Carl Johnson, returned to his hometown – Grove Street – as soon as he received the news of his mother’s death. The return home is not all roses and flowers: immediately our protagonist will face problems with some corrupt police officers, who do not seem to accept that he may have found the right way, and with his own family . The Grove Street gang, in fact, is no longer what it once was: the continuous clashes with the other gangs in the neighborhoods of Los Santos has weakened the whole family, which is now one step away from ending up completely in the abyss.
CJ will therefore have to rebuild step by step what he had abandoned, returning to that life he had left behind many years before. In doing so, he will find himself making a journey that will take him to the three cities that make up the city the vast state of San Andreas – Los Santos, where the adventure will begin, San Fierro and Las Venturas – where he will meet a large number of characters, each in his own way unforgettable.
There are really many factors that make GTA: San Andreas an experience of the highest level, perhaps even more than what we might be able to remember. The game map for example is immense, and still capable of impressing today for the vastness and details that in a 2004 game undoubtedly left you speechless. The three cities, inspired by three mammoth American metropolises, are flanked by areas of various kinds: from endless countryside to desert areas, passing monuments and places of interest that are extremely unique. We will return to the latter later, since this is in fact a very interesting point.
Another element that enriches the experience offered is the sound compartment, both in terms of dubbing and musical accompaniment. In fact, there are many famous voices that we can hear in the Rockstar masterpiece, among which the names of Samuel L. Jackson, Axl Rose, James Woods, Peter Fonda and Will Wheaton stand out. In short, a stellar cast, to which we find a soundtrack that touches many different genres with an equally important offer of important artists and bands: there is the old school hip-hop of NWA and Snoop Dogg, the Guns N ‘Roses and Pearl Jam nineties rock, Willie Nelson and Statler Brothers’ country music. In short words, there really is something for everyone.
A further piece of that wonderful puzzle that is GTA: San Andreas is then represented by the plot itself, a story that is not particularly complex – and to be honest also a little “aged” in some places – but always and in any case exciting and capable to give a rich and long-lived experience ranging from dramatic moments to highly ironic situations, with the usual satirical nuances that have always characterized Rockstar Games works.
San Andreas: from video game to cult object.
The title of this paragraph wants to highlight an apparently banal but at the same time very important concept. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, in fact, is an example of how a title can be at the expense of everything pass the test of time, definitively entering the popular culture also of subsequent generations. This is dictated by a whole series of elements, which range from the quality of the product to what it has managed to make people talk about themselves for the most varied reasons.
On these pages, we have repeatedly addressed the issue of the alleged link between video games and violence: San Andreas in this sense is no exception, and in fact the months following his arrival on the market were characterized by a large number of controversies regarding the contents of the game. A particular sensation was a particular minigame, present in the source code of the title, which allowed access to interactive sex scenes starring our CJ. The explicit nature of the scenes brought the content in question – the so-called mod Hot Coffee – to the attention of an incredibly large number of users, with reactions that ranged from interest in fun to strong indignation.
It even followed a class action, led by a fierce eighty-five year old grandmother named Florence Cohen, who led Rockstar Games to be accused of scam, fraud and false advertising. San Andreas was also attacked by a large group of members of the American political class, from Hillary Clinton a Jack Thompson, with a series of declarations that are still used today to accuse the products of the gaming industry.
In short, it cannot be said that GTA: San Andreas was not able to be talked about. Not only for reasons like the one just mentioned, it is clear. In addition to the “offending” mod, we find thousands and thousands of them, the daughters of a community that still shows affection and a great attachment to one of the most important titles in the history of the video game. There really is something for everyone: mods that add new vehicles or characters from other works, new missions, particular locations and more. The already rich gaming experience thus becomes something even greater: it is in this way, in short, that a title manages to achieve immortality.
Over the years there have also been a number of easter egg present in the game, some of which have become real moments of worship for the most passionate players. We find continuous references to other chapters of the series or to American popular culture, in an amount that would be impossible to summarize in the lines of this article. There is even a message within the game that blatantly derides those who embark on the search for these particular contents. One of the best known urban legends is that which would see the presence, in some areas of the map, of the Bigfoot: legendary creature with features similar to those of a giant monkey man. In GTA: San Andreas, although countless videos on YouTube have supported this theory for years, there is no trace of the Bigfoot. However, Rockstar has not been indifferent to everything, and in fact in GTA V it is possible to perform a series of secondary missions with the mythical creature as its protagonist: completing them will also unlock a trophy, which ironically recalls the period in which everyone went crazy looking for clues, signs or anything else in the endless San Andreas.
Finally, there is a truly impressive amount of social networks meme e video edit that shoot scenes and characters of the game: a further testimony of how, even after sixteen years, we are facing a work that has really left an indelible mark in the hearts of gamers all over the world, always continuing to make people talk of himself, evoking beautiful memories.
Why Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is more than just a video game. We are talking about an entertainment product capable of transcending its role, managing to communicate something even after many years of its release. There are few titles that really succeed in this aim, and this makes Rockstar Games’ work something even more admirable: the legacy to subsequent generations is something very tangible, also and above all in light of the great flow of information that the world of today it offers us daily. Seeing a 2004 title being part of this flow is truly exciting, as is being able to understand how much San Andreas has influenced both the players and its own industry: since then, in fact, something in the world of video games has changed. Forever.
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