GTA San Andreas vs GTA 4: 5 major differences fans noticed right away

Image credits: deviantart
Image credits: deviantart
Rahul Bhushan

GTA 4 was a controversial moment in the history of the franchise for Rockstar Games, as it was clear that this game was a departure from series favourite GTA San Andreas.

Fans who went into GTA 4 expecting more of the same were severely disappointed to learn that this was an entirely different Grand Theft Auto experience. However, that is also why this title is so dearly beloved by a massive portion of the audience.

GTA 4 showcased that Rockstar was still looking to experiment with the creative choices in the game, and was always looking to evolve rather than just simply settle on what works.

Five changes from GTA San Andreas that fans noticed in GTA IV early on

1) Tone

Grand Theft Auto 4's intro was perhaps unlike anything players had witnessed up until that point in the GTA franchise. Instead of a bombastic, albeit light-hearted, tune bursting through the speakers, there was a dark and sinister mix of orchestral and hip-hop music.

The opening to GTA 4 was far from the high-octane openings of games like Vice City and Grand Theft Auto 3. This time around, it showcased the tough immigrant life and presented Liberty City as not a playground, but a place wrought with deceit and danger at every turn.

GTA San Andreas was more light-hearted with its approach and eased players into the game, while Grand Theft Auto 4 was quick to impress upon players that this would be a completely different game than anything that had come before.

2) Colour Palette

This was perhaps in line with most of entertainment products that came out in the mid to late 2000s, where the makers were obsessed with a "gritty" and "grounded" tone, and not just in terms of narrative. Gone were the sunny neighborhoods of GTA San Andreas and beautiful sunsets at the beach.

Replacing it was oppressive skylines and a certain feeling of grey covering everything in the game. The game's colour palette reflected the darker tone of the game perfectly, but was perhaps a huge turn-off for some players.

Movies and even games were obsessed with a more de-saturated colour palette, much in the same vein as the Christopher Nolan Batman movies that were the talk of the town during those years.

GTA 4 was going to be a much different game, and it made sure fans knew that as soon as they booted up.

3) Driving

|Driving has always been a massive part of the GTA experience, as inferred from the title itself. Players spend an awful lot of time in their cars, and thus, Rockstar attempts to give players as marvellous an experience as they possibly can.

GTA San Andreas had solid driving mechanics, teetering on the line between arcade and simulation. These mechanics were well done and left no room for complaints. However, Rockstar was looking to make a statement with GTA 4 and wanted the game's more gritty tone to be reflected in the gameplay as well.

As a result, the cars in GTA 4 felt vastly different, feeling a lot heavier than players were accustomed to. No longer could they turn on a whim and drift around corners quite so easily, and players had to use their skills to keep the car under control at high speeds.

To some, it was an absolute deal-breaker, while to others, it had been the best creative decision from Rockstar in a long time.

4) Cover mechanics and shooting

GTA, for the first time in the franchise, decided to include a cover system made famous by games during this era, such as Gears of War. This feature allowed players to avoid gunfire in the middle of a gunfight.

Also, enemies would now have a health bar of sorts appearing on the player's reticle while aiming. These changes were appreciated, but they perhaps didn't have the polish that the rest of the gameplay received in GTA 4.

GTA San Andreas' combat and shooting were nothing to write home about, yet they experimented a bit with melee combat in a way no other game in the series had done before or since.

The cover mechanics in GTA 4 felt a bit clunky at best, and downright frustrating at worst, but was a necessity that Rockstar had to deal with eventually.

5) Phone

In GTA 4, players would receive a personal phone that could be used outside of just phone calls. In previous titles, players would periodically receive calls in games like GTA San Andreas, and the only interaction with the phone was to receive these calls.

In GTA 4, players could fully interact with the phone, browse messages, call their contacts, and a whole lot more. This was quite a neat, fun little addition to the franchise, and GTA 5 would take that to the next level eventually.

The phone also became a way through which players would enter cheat codes by dialling specific numbers on the keypad. While its functionality still wouldn't be fully realized, it did mark the first few steps towards including more modern-day elements in these games.

Edited by Ravi Iyer
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