Ever since the release of the wildly popular GTA San Andreas, Rockstar Games continues to reference it in later games.
From GTA 4 and its DLC episodes to GTA Online, San Andreas has left behind a memorable legacy and every game since has mentioned it in some capacity. Unlike GTA Advance, which faded into obscurity, Rockstar Games still pays tribute to the critical and commercial success of San Andreas.
Most of these callbacks refer to specific characters, introduced game mechanics, and unforgettable story moments. GTA San Andreas is one of the major cornerstones of the entire series, so it's only fair that Rockstar Games would reward its fans with hidden messages and outright references.
Five times GTA San Andreas was referenced by Rockstar Games
#5 - San Andreas musicians in GTA 4 and 5
From the well-respected Madd Dogg to the widely-ridiculed OG Loc, gangster rappers have dominated the rap scene in GTA San Andreas.
GTA 4 players can find CDs around Liberty City stores. These CDs include cover art featuring Madd Dogg and OG Loc. Their albums are entitled Still Madd and Str8 from tha Street, respectively.
Both Madd Dogg and OG Loc have stars on the Walk of Fame in GTA 5. Their gold records can also be found in Franklin's mansion. On a related note, Madd Dogg's ex-girlfriend Rochell'le (the cover girl of GTA San Andreas) appears in dollar bills at the Yellow Jack Inn.
#4 - Hot Coffee in various games
Rockstar Games takes pride in causing controversy. GTA San Andreas was particularly infamous for the Hot Coffee modification, which was a removed sex mini-game. Once hackers discovered the mode within PC files, Rockstar Games lost millions in damages.
Nonetheless, the developers were able to look past it and laugh. Hot Coffee has seen multiple references in the following games, especially in GTA 4. Rockstar Games also took frequent shots at critics Hillary Clinton and Jack Thompson who were harsh critics of the game and its influence on children.
One of Niko's girlfriends, Michelle, mentions Hot Coffee when he tries to score with her. Rockstar Games practically wears it like a badge of honor. It's a defining aspect of GTA San Andreas, and the company doesn't shy away from it.
#3 - A picture of CJ can be found in Lester's house
Lester Crest is a man who likes to know everything about everything. He does not take kindly to being kept in the dark, especially when the information may prove to be useful. At the very least, he keeps tabs on everyone around him.
Somewhere in his house is a book entitled Surveillance by Emily Cross. If GTA 5 players take a closer look at the cover, they will find protagonist Carl Johnson. The image is slightly blurry, but that is CJ's model.
Given CJ's legendary criminal status, it makes sense why he would be under scrutiny from law enforcement. It's a testament to his skills as a gangster when he is the main subject of a crime book.
#2 - Old GTA gives way to the new
It's not just GTA San Andreas that receives tribute with this Easter egg, but also every other 3D era game in the series. In some of the run-down apartment blocks, players can find graffiti that directly references all protagonists.
Since GTA 4 is the first game in the new HD continuity, Rockstar Games decided to make a nice little callback to previous games. These protagonists are what made it possible, and that discussion certainly includes CJ.
The graffiti seems to indicate everyone has long since passed away. Whether their deaths are literal or figurative remains uncertain.
#1 - The Ballad of Gay Tony
Not every GTA fan liked the darker and more realistic tone of GTA 4. In many ways, The Ballad of Gay Tony brings back the over-the-top nature originally found in GTA San Andreas. For starters, they bring back parachutes.
Once exclusive to GTA San Andreas, parachutes allow players to fall from incredible heights and Luis Lopez had plenty of opportunities to free fall from buildings and exploding airplanes.
The Ballad of Gay Tony also reintroduces action-packed missions with comedic elements to them, just like GTA San Andreas. One example is the Practice Swing mission, where players have to hit a union official with golf balls. It's as absurd as it sounds, and perfectly captures that over-the-top magic.
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Note: This article reflects the writer's personal views.