Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Review
- Visual upgrades make this the best-looking version of the game to date.
- Tweaked control options and new auto-lock system are welcome.
- New checkpoints reduce restart frustration.
- It's GTA: San Andreas on your iPhone.
- Controls are still inferior to those of the console version.
- Some of the missions feel a little dated and poorly paced.
Though the controls are never going to match those of the console versions, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is as reverent and respectful an iOS port as you could realistically hope for.
- Full Review
- App Store Info
With both Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City already available on the App Store, it was only a matter of time before Rockstar's first journey to San Andreas got the touchscreen treatment.
Completing the PS2-era trilogy, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was the biggest and most ambitious sandbox Rockstar had ever created. This '90s flavoured tale of street gangs and turf warfare was an enormous game, both in terms of geography and scope. It offered players the chance to explore three separate cities over one epic world map, and featured missions which took protagonist CJ from land to air to sea.
Fans will be pleased to hear that everything the original game offered has been faithfully recreated for the iOS version. If your device can handle it, you'll also notice visual improvements like dynamic lighting and real time reflections. Importantly, a checkpointing system has been introduced, making it possible to complete some of the longer missions without having to repeat a 10 minute commute every time you die.
The touchscreen control model used for the previous GTA ports has also been tweaked, with San Andreas' menu offering three preset button configurations, and the option to move and resize each button individually. In truth, none of these touchscreen overlays is a satisfying replacement for a physical controller, but the freedom to mix and match between virtual sticks, gestures, and arrow buttons is welcome.
Shooting is also much easier than in previous iOS GTA games. The dev has created an enthusiastic auto-lock system which make gunplay a bit less fiddly. You can tap to aim, but it's often more efficient just to open fire and cycle between targets automatically, especially on the smaller iPhone screen.
Though it's been nearly ten years since it was designed, most of the missions are still fun after all these years. Some feel a little undercooked and padded, and keeping your character fit is as enjoyable as the love interest mini game in Grand Theft Auto IV.
Still, though the controls are never going to match those of the console versions, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is as reverent and respectful an iOS port as you could realistically hope for. The ride isn't as smooth, but the classic bodywork is shinier than ever.