GTA San Andreas was a highly successful sequel to GTA Vice City, especially since it deviated from the latter game in several good ways.
GTA Vice City is a legendary game, but it's easy to see why some players prefer GTA San Andreas more. The differences between the two games are massive, with the latter deviating from the former in several significant ways. Storyline and character differences are obvious, but it's the gameplay differences that are far more interesting to talk about.
Features like customization are noticeably different when comparing GTA San Andreas to GTA Vice City. It's a simple facet, but its execution is light-years apart between the two games.
Five major differences between GTA San Andreas and GTA Vice City
5) Massive customization overhaul
GTA Vice City introduced some nice new outfits which made it stand out compared to GTA 3, but it pales in comparison to what GTA San Andreas did. Instead of just having a bunch of preset outfits, the player could now equip individual apparel (i.e., tops, bottoms, shoes, and accessories).
Players could also change CJ's hairstyle, and that's not to mention a more advanced form of vehicle customization. Back then, players only had Pay 'n' Spray as an option for vehicle customization, which was largely limited to just the vehicle's color (and it would give a random one for each use).
One of the most infamous flaws in GTA Vice City was Tommy Vercetti's inability to swim. In the past, it's been mocked in various GTA online communities and for good reason. Vice City is based on Miami, Florida, so lacking the ability to swim seemed like a lazy decision on Rockstar's part.
However, GTA San Andreas changed all of that. Not only did it bring back swimming, but it also reintroduced diving as a mechanic. This made water exploration much more intuitive for the players, especially since it coincided nicely with the new Lung Capacity stat.
3) Jumping & Crouching
GTA Vice City's jumping and crouching felt elementary compared to what was offered in GTA San Andreas. The latter game allowed players to climb objects and sneak around, both of which were completely absent in the former title.
If a player crouched in GTA Vice City, they wouldn't be able to move. All they could do was rotate the camera. By comparison, GTA San Andreas allowed players to sneak around and perform stealth attacks with a knife.
Likewise, GTA Vice City players could never climb. If there was a small fence in the way, they would be forced to go around or grab a vehicle to try and jump on it, and then try to hop over the fence.
In GTA San Andreas, the player could jump-climb over it (provided it didn't have barbed wire).
2) Number of planes
Planes were largely inanimate objects that served as background scenery in GTA Vice City. They couldn't be destroyed, and the player couldn't fly them in any capacity. The only plane that acted like a normal vehicle in GTA Vice City was the dodo, which was a terrible vehicle of choice at an airport.
GTA San Andreas had 11 planes that CJ could fly. Not only that, but the player could also own a hangar in GTA San Andreas, which made owning planes far more convenient than in GTA Vice City.
Players could also buy a plane ticket and fly from one island to the other in GTA San Andreas.
1) Number of side activities
GTA Vice City was a terrific game, but it didn't have much of an endgame thanks to the lack of side activities. GTA San Andreas had far more features to entertain the player, which in turn meant there was more to do after beating the game.
GTA San Andreas players had various arcade games, basketball, gym routines, dating features, eating mechanics, and more vehicle side missions to entertain themselves with.
Even some of the later games lacked the depth and features GTA San Andreas had on this front.
Note: This article reflects the writer's personal views.