There’s a large contingent of people out there who’ll still staunchly hold up Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as the best GTA game, and it’s not hard to see why. Of course, those who haven’t played the game (or those who have and want to jump back in) will soon have the chance to do so when the remastered GTA trilogy launches, and so, as we get closer to its release, here, we’re going to go over a few interesting tidbits about GTA: San Andreas.
Grand Theft Auto 5 was a big step forward for the series in many, many ways (to say the least), but one of the biggest leaps it made was with its protagonists, becoming the first game in the series to have multiple (three, to be specific) playable protagonists that you could switch between at any time. Interestingly enough, Rockstar flirted with that idea long before that. They originally planned on having multiple protagonists in GTA: San Andreas, though as you’d expect, due to the technical limitations of the time, they ended up having to drop the idea.
GTA 5 is sort of the pinnacle of how much Rockstar’s open worlds encourage players to dive deep into their worlds and obsess over the tiniest and most out-of-the-way details. A lot of these boil down to stuff that’s a little out-there, and appropriately enough, GTA: San Andreas, which shares GTA 5’s setting, also had a lot of that going on. From Bigfoot to aliens to the ghost of protagonist Carl Johnson’s (or CJ’s) dead mother, players spent countless hours running around in that open world to chase down all kinds of virtual urban legends.
Speaking of spooky stuff, there’s quite a bit more of that to look for in San Andreas if you go looking for it. The Los Santos graveyard in Vinewood, for instance, has a crypt that you can enter that has pretty intriguing stuff going on inside. You’ll spot a TV and a couch and some old pizza boxes- all of which is a pretty neat nod to Buffy the Vampire Slayer character Spike.
GTA: San Andreas has an impressive roster of more than 200 vehicles, and the design for a lot of these was tied in a very interesting way to narrative elements of the game. Set in the year 1992, chronologically, San Andreas is sandwiched between Vice City, which is set in 1986, and GTA 3, which takes place in 2001. A lot of vehicles that had different variations and models in both GTA 3 and Vice City can also be found in San Andreas, and Rockstar leveraged the game’s chronology by using elements of both games’ designs for certain vehicles. The Landstalker has the body of Vice City’s 1986 model, but the headlights of GTA 3’s 2001 model.
Returning characters in San Andreas aren’t limited to just references. There are several characters from GTA 3 and Vice City that make appearances in San Andreas, including, of course, GTA 3 protagonist Claude. In fact, it wasn’t until his appearance in San Andreas (which happens several years before the events of GTA 3) that Claude was even given an official name. Once he was given a name, of course, most people assumed that he and GTA 2 protagonist Claude are the same person, though that’s not something Rockstar has officially confirmed yet.
Claude isn’t the only connection GTA: San Andreas has with Liberty City. Of course, other characters from GTA 3 (such as Don Salvatore Leon, Catalina, and others) also make appearances, but as many players will remember, CJ also briefly heads to Liberty City as well. It’s a pretty small section and most of the city isn’t accessible, but Rockstar did recreate at least some parts of it that players can access with a little mid of modding (and the use of jetpacks). Obviously it’s not a fully constructed environment, but Liberty City is still technically included in the game.
GTA: San Andreas really liked to play around with its Wanted system (perhaps more so than most other games in the series), and it often did so in some interesting ways. For instance, if you equip a firearm while you’re in any of the police stations scattered throughout the entire map, CJ will instantly pick up a 2 star Wanted rating. Funnily enough, if you only equip a melee weapon, your Wanted level won’t be affected. Of course, players can always use cheat codes to get around that.
GTA 3’s Claude wasn’t originally going to be the only protagonist from a past GTA game to show up in San Andreas. Rockstar had plans to bring Vice City’s Tommy Vercetti as well. Unfortunately, thanks to a dispute between Rockstar and actor Ray Liotta, those plans had to be shelved. We do still get a brief mention of Tommy at one point in the game, which serves as a nice little callback for fans of Vice City, but if things had gone to plan, the man himself would have had at least some role to play in the game.
Players don’t get to go back to Vice City in GTA: San Andreas the way they do Liberty City, but there’s still plenty of references and callbacks hidden in the game. On top of returning characters, you can find action figures from Vice City in the backs of shops, you can find maps of the city in dumpsters, you can find a statue in the game resembling one of the collectible hidden packages from GTA: Vice City, and much more.
It wasn’t just older GTA games that got some love with references in San Andreas. One particular mission, for instance, is called Body Harvest, which, of course, is a pretty direct callback to Body Harvest, a science fiction action adventure game back when they were still called DMA Design. In typical Rockstar fashion, that game was quite violent (minus the green blood).
SAN FIERRO EARTHQUAKE
This might not be a detail that many people might have even come across in the game, but it’s an interesting one. Apparently, parts of the map in San Fierro were hit with an earthquake not long before the events of the game, and you can hear people talking about it on the radio. In fact, if you head to San Fierro, you can even spot several leftovers from the quake, like half-standing buildings.
SAN FIERRO BRIDGE
There’s other interesting stuff to look out for in San Fierro as well. There’s the Gant Bridge, for instance, which rewards you if you climb all the way up to its stop with a message carved on top of a suspension tower that reads, “There are no easter eggs up here. Go away.” Meanwhile, close to the bridge, you’ll also find a sign that contains some interesting information about it, like the file size for the bridge or the model’s polygon count.