GTA San Andreas is beloved by the GTA community at large, so it should be no surprise that many of its features were instant hits with fans.
GTA San Andreas is an iconic GTA game. It introduced so many neat features that later GTA games would continue to use and evolve. However, not all of these features returned to the franchise. That's not to say that these features are bad. In fact, these particular features proved to be quite popular with fans as soon as GTA San Andreas was released.
Naturally, there are more than five features from GTA San Andreas that proved to be an instant hit with fans. However, this list mentions only five of them.
5 features in GTA San Andreas that were an instant hit with fans
#5 - Dating
While some fans reminisce about trying to download Hot Coffee for the first time as a young teenager, a lot of it was largely thanks to the dating mechanic in GTA San Andreas.
Past GTA titles allowed the player to pick up prostitutes, but that was as far as romance went in those games. GTA San Andreas still allows them to pick up hookers, but it also allows the player to start relationships with a small batch of women.
Even in its limited form, it can still serve as a nice diversion to the usual grind of the single-player campaign. This isn't a worthless diversion either, as players can unlock some really powerful perks from this feature.
#4 - Gyms
Gyms were surprisingly absent from previous GTA titles, making them an instant hit with fans in GTA San Andreas. Not only can gyms help make CJ more muscular, but players can also learn new martial arts there. There are four martial arts styles in total (including the default one), so gyms are great for players who want to learn new hand-to-hand combat moves.
Gyms in GTA San Andreas have different tools that a player could use. There is a punching bag (although it wasn't very effective), a treadmill, a stationary bike, two dumbells and a bench press.
#3 - Dual-wielding weapons
CJ's base stats aren't particularly impressive at the start of GTA San Andreas. However, if the player practices their aim with particular weapons, that weapon's skill will increase. Some weapons can even be dual-wielded. The easiest way to tell which weapon could be dual-wielded was by observing CJ and seeing if he only used one arm to shoot it.
Some of these dual-wielded weapons were quite good. The regular pistol was actually a very good weapon in GTA San Andreas because of this feature, which was a far cry from its previous incarnations of being solely relegated to being a starter weapon.
#2 - Burglar side-mission
Strangely, GTA San Andreas' Burglar side mission never returned in a later GTA game. Home invasion was a unique concept that GTA San Andreas executed quite well, as there would be different layouts to explore, different items to rob and occasional items to pick up.
Players could sneak around in a house to steal valuable items or they could use a silenced pistol and dispose of any residents (which would allow them to run around as loudly as they'd like). To do the Burglar side mission, the player has to find a black Boxville vehicle, which always spawns in specific locations throughout the GTA San Andreas map.
#1 - The immense amount of customization
Prior to GTA San Andreas, players didn't get much in the way of customization. GTA 1 and 2 (Game Boy Port) had several protagonists to choose from, but that's where the customization ended (no difference in gameplay either). GTA 3 had two costumes, but one would become unavailable early on. GTA Vice City is the best out of the bunch, as there are 12 costumes for players to choose from.
However, GTA San Andreas smashes GTA Vice City's customization by a large margin. Not only can players customize their vehicles with several options to choose from (a feature lacking in prior GTA titles), but they can also change individual aspects of their protagonist's looks.
CJ can change his hairstyle, facial hair, fat to muscle ratio and individual clothing (shirt, pants, hat, etc.) seamlessly in GTA San Andreas. Fans absolutely loved it, as it was so radically different from other games at the time.
Note: This article reflects the writer's personal views.