My personal feeling on San Andreas is that as a sandbox it was fantastic it gave you so many tools and you could have a shit load of fun so as a sandbox game it is fantastic and still is to this day.|
However as a game from the story point of view it was terrible, it was filled with padding but not just the missions the entire landscape. There are vast swathes of the map that are rather interesting to go such as the big ear or even area 51 and are hardly visited or visited once and then discarded.
As a sandbox to play in it's great and the animations are a vast improvement on vice city. However everything else such as plot, the art style, memorable missions, interesting characters, basically the entire of vice city for the time was perfect there was no padding. Everything existed for a reason in the city and you went pretty much everywhere in 1 mission or another at the time you literally couldn't of done vice city any better.
"If we hit that bullseye the rest of the dominoes will fall like a a house of cards, checkmate." Zapp Brannigan