- An enticing action-packed plot
- Frustrating controls
- Customize CJ with haircuts, fashion and tattoos.
Long-time fans of the Grand Theft Auto franchise are all too familiar with San Andreas and the Grove Street gang. The game was initially released in 2004 for the PlayStation 2 and, at the time, was arguably the best title in the GTA series. Now, Netflix has breathed life into this old gangsta game and upgraded some features. But does this shiny new port compare to the OG game?
Netflix San Andreas keeps the story from the game’s original version intact. You play as CJ, a young black man who, after spending a few years on the East Coast, flies home to Los Santos after his mother’s death and rejoins the Grove Street gang. However, the gang doesn’t have the street cred it once did. It’s time to make a name for yourself and bring respect to your gang. To make matters worse, you’re framed for murder by the police, sending you on a wild journey across San Andreas.
Netflix San Andreas features some solid graphics. Of course, the game looks better on a tablet than on a phone, but the game still looks true to the original on your phone screen. While the game looks and sounds good, the gameplay is held back by its shotty controls.
Unfortunately, the controls for Netflix San Andreas aren’t very intuitive. You move CJ using a virtual joystick and tap buttons to attack, run, or enter or exit a vehicle. Despite my best attempts, I found it hard to manoeuvre CJ, especially while driving or in the midst of a gunfight. More than once, CJ became stuck between objects, and I could not move until the mission failed.
The game features three vehicle control options: analogue, digital and slider. While none of the options makes driving easy, I found the digital controls to be the most intuitive. Analogue has you use a virtual joystick to manoeuvre, while slider mode utilizes a slider. Digital, however, only requires you to steer when turning right or left. Otherwise, the car moves forward or backward depending on whether you hold the gas button or break. While this setup was much easier than the analogue and slider controls, car chases, especially motorbike chases, are still extremely difficult.
One way that San Andreas has always stood out from other GTA games is the RPG-like mechanics. You can bulk CJ up by working out at the gym, making his melee attacks more effective. Want to burn some fat? Go for a run, slim down and improve your stamina. Or, if you prefer CJ a little husky, head over to one of the comedic in-game fast-food restaurants and over-indulge.
Another way that San Andreas lets you customize CJ is through various outfits, haircuts, and tattoos. The ability to customize CJ and make him your own has always been an appealing aspect of the game and this continues to be true in Netflix’s new port. You can also play a dating mini-game in which you take various women across Los Santos on dates. If your date has a good time, you may even get invited inside before a classy fade to black.
Like any Grand Theft Auto game, you’ll be able to access a variety of weapons for mowing down the competition or venting your frustration on innocent passersby. Of course, this means it won’t be long before you draw the ire of the police force. The wanted system doesn’t vary from other GTA titles. Ditch the cops, have your car repainted, or make it to a safe house to avoid being arrested or killed. Of course, it’s harder to escape than usual with the wonky controls.
What would San Andreas be without cheat codes? Luckily, you’ll never have to find out, as Netflix has graciously integrated this feature. Go to the accessibility menu and tap Enter Cheat Code to bring up a text box to enter codes. While some cheat codes make the game easier, like the code INEEDSOMEHELP, which grants you a shield, full health and $250,000, others are really just for fun. For instance, using the code FLYINGFISH makes it so that boats can fly, while PINKISTHENEWCOOL makes all the cars in the game pink. From giving pedestrians and cars a circus theme to spawning a jet pack to cars that explode when touched, San Andrea’s cheat codes make for an absurdly fun time between completing missions.
Netflix San Andreas provides the same great missions, characters and storyline as the original. Customizing CJ to your liking is very satisfying and the graphics are solid. However, the poor controls really take their toll. Yes, the game is still fun, but it can also be incredibly frustrating. If you have enough patience to look past the control issues and have a Netflix account, it’s still worth checking out. Just don’t expect it to be a perfect mobile port.