It is quite strange to think that GTA San Andreas will be turning 17-years-old in 2021, and the game is far from being resigned to the pages of history. The game has managed to stand the test of time and come out at the other end of one of the most popular modern-era games.
The game occupies an extremely rare mantle in the video game industry as a truly evergreen title that still manages to attract new fans to the franchise. For many, San Andreas is their introduction to the GTA franchise.
Despite newer games like GTA 5, they still choose to go back to the 2004 title often. Such a situation is only possible when a game includes features that help it stand the test of time and be a viable option to go back to.
5 features from GTA San Andreas that make it one of the most beloved titles in the series
1) Combat Styles
One of the best additions to the GTA franchise in combat diversity was the introduction of different martial arts and combat styles that players could pick up.
By visiting the gym, players could train in different combat styles that would change how CJ would approach melee combat.
From MMA to Kung-Fu, CJ can learn all sorts of combat styles that add a lot of depth to GTA San Andreas' combat.
2) Turf Wars
The Turf Wars are essentially large-scale gang wars that break out in different parts of the city. As the sort of de-facto leader of the Grove Street Families, CJ grew in power throughout GTA San Andreas and Turf Wars' events, where he proved his mettle.
Players must take on wave-after-wave of Ballas that are out to take over going into war alone or with his gang buddies. This can occasionally get annoying as a Turf War might break out while the player is on the other end of the map occupied with something else.
3) Gang Recruitment
GTA San Andreas made the conscious decision to make CJ a former gang member at the start of the game, but one who is slowly making his way back into the gang.
This is why CJ doesn't exactly command a lot of respect within the gang at the start of the game, but through the events of the game and side missions, he starts to gain more respect.
To the point where he can eventually recruit a lot of members and help him carry out jobs and help out during Turf Wars. This adds a layer of complexity to the game world and design, thus ensuring higher player agency.
4) Gym/Character customization
One of the biggest additions to the GTA franchise that San Andreas brought was the inclusion of clothing, hairstyles, and even tattoos. Players could fully customize CJ, right down to how much muscle mass he had, by going to the gym and working out.
This level of customization was wholly unprecedented and one that fans appreciated a ton. This customization level was not seen even in later games, which limited the customization to only clothing, hair, and tattoos.
5) Mini-games and activities
One of the many reasons players flock to the GTA franchise is how authentic and immersive the game world can be. One of the things that grounds the world in reality and makes it thoroughly joyful are the various activities and opportunities to interact.
Activities such as playing games in the arcade or basketball at the nearby court make Los Santos feel alive. While not completely consequential, these were great additions to the GTA franchise.