GTA San Andreas' release two years after Vice City still blows the minds of many fans to this day, considering just how significant a step up it was. Rockstar Games doubled down on their previous success by delivering the most seminal title of the 2000s.
GTA San Andreas quickly became, and remains to this day, the best-selling game on the PS2. It is easy to see why. The game wasn't just charming in its signature satirical GTA way but was revolutionary in terms of open-world design and unique features.
From Vice City to San Andreas, the GTA formula seems to have evolved hugely. To the point where some of the features seen in San Andreas weren't present in 2013's Grand Theft Auto 5. This article dives into the five gameplay differences between Vice City and San Andreas that fans immediately noticed.
GTA San Andreas vs GTA Vice City: 5 gameplay differences that fans quickly spotted
1) CJ could be customized
In GTA Vice City, the most customization afforded to the player was in the form of different outfits and clothing that Tommy could obtain. The level of customization was kept to a minimum, and there wasn't much tailoring players could do in terms of Tommy's looks.
All of that changed with San Andreas, as Rockstar chose to give players complete control over CJ and appearance. From his clothes to his hair and tattoos, players had free reign over exactly what they wanted CJ to look like.
This helped players blur the line between CJ and themselves, allowing themselves to be completely invested in GTA San Andreas.
2) Body transformation
The level of customization wasn't just cosmetic in GTA San Andreas, as activities such as eating too much or gymming would change CJ's body as well. If players so chose, they could have a far chunkier CJ, but the trade-off would be less stamina, impeding the player's progress.
Conversely, players could spend time in the gym working up a sweat and carving CJ to look like a CK model. Players can also learn different martial arts and add some spice to their melee combat in GTA San Andreas.
3) RPG-like stats
Players have a brand new menu where they can access detailed stats such as "Lung Capacity," "Stamina," and many more. It was a brand new addition to GTA and added aspects to roleplaying in the game previously missing.
This helped add a level of complexity to the series and was carried over to future titles, including GTA Online, where it is most used.
4) Multiple cities
Vice City was a decently-sized map considering it came out in 2002 and was sufficiently large to keep players interested for hours on end. GTA San Andreas absolutely blew Vice City out of the water by including the entire state of San Andreas, with multiple cities.
Players can now travel to and from San Fierro, Las Venturas, Los Santos, and the county surrounding Los Santos. This was absolutely unprecedented, and it remains one of the biggest maps in GTA history, which is astounding since the game came out nearly 17 years ago.
This might not sound like much in 2021, but it was absolutely game-changing in 2004. Players had countless memories of going off-road, hitting the water, and dying due to drowning in GTA Vice City.
But thankfully, in San Andreas, CJ had the ability to swim, which was a game-changer. This meant that the player could avoid the thousands of accidental deaths, which made for a far smoother gameplay experience in GTA San Andreas.