There is a familiar pattern to media coverage whenever Rockstar publishes a game. There is talk about how the developer has used its newest game to iterate upon and redefine the open world genre. There are almost always articles on how various Hollywood films influenced Rockstar's development process. And there are at least one or two polemics that attack the developer for transgressing established norms about what can and cannot be done in video games. This last type of essay inevitably concludes that video games are bad, and lead to an increase in interpersonal violence as well as the downfall of civilisation.
UPDATED: Analysis revised - US PS4 emulation is smoother than UK code.
8th December 2015
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One of the things I love most about old school games are their cheat codes. I have fond memories of spamming "motherlode" into the Sims to make it rain simoleons - while codes in other games gave you invincibility, new characters and even (somewhat infamously) unlockable blood and gore.
Rockstar has announced a trio of classic Xbox 360 games getting backward compatibility next week; as of June 7th, GTA San Andreas, Midnight Club LA, and Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis will be playable on Xbox One.
Do you ever play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and just think, "I hate you Link. Why can't you be more street?" Well one modder has heard your cries of disdain and is granting you your wish - by letting you play as CJ from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
From 'felatio is implied' to removing 'future blouses', the majority of headlines you'll read about the ESRB on Eurogamer are in reference to the incredible synopses it has published to justify video game age ratings over the years.
UPDATE 8/12/15 4:52pm: We've been looking at more PlayStation 2 titles running under emulation on PlayStation 4, and it now seems clear that all the UK code we've tested is running at 50Hz with a crude frame-blending 'upscale' to the 60Hz output. We made an error in the original analysis below - GTA San Andreas under emulation does have some frame-pacing issues, but much of the judder we encountered is actually a result of the frame-blending, registering to our eyes (and our analysis tools) as unique frames when in fact they are simply the interpolated results of two images - we did think that it may be an artefact of the emulator working with PS2's original motion blur effect, but this is definitely not the case. Credit goes to commenter Malek86 for noting that his copy of Twisted Metal Black is definitely European code, albeit outputting at 60Hz - a situation we have also confirmed with Dark Cloud. This was originally a 60fps game in NTSC territories, running at 50fps on the PS4 emulator, then frame-blended back up to 60fps. As you may imagine, this is not ideal.
We decided to produce a GTA San Andreas analysis highlighting the difference between our 'NTSC' and 'PAL' releases. We also cleaned up a short section of footage to confirm that the base frame-rate of San Andreas on our UK PSN code is indeed 25fps. And to conclude, we re-ran the original frame-rate test between PS2, PS3 and PS4 versions of the game, all using 60Hz code.
Obviously, for those of us in Europe, this is a somewhat disappointing state of affairs. The PAL territories were blighted with poorly adapted code that often featured letterboxing, slowdown or other artefacts in the transition from 60Hz to 50Hz. In terms of the PS2 titles emulated on PlayStation 4, performance is the only applicable issue here, but it does make a tangible difference. We've tested all three GTA titles now and it's clear that the situation isn't exactly optimal. In fact, we do recommend buying from the US store to get the best possible experience with the emulated PS2 titles. Now, there are perfectly good reasons why Sony has made this decision - foreign language translation for European countries for example - plus as Malek86 points out, there are some censorship issues to contend with. But it seems that Sony has had to get these titles re-certified by PEGI anyway, and we would hope that the firm does consider bringing native 60Hz titles to its current-gen 60Hz console in the future.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is now available on PS3 for £10.99 / $14.99.
UPDATE 22/4/15 10.55am: BBC Two has now officially announced Game Changer, the newly-titled drama that will detail development of Grand Theft Auto.
Rockstar's greatest hits are heavily discounted this weekend on the Humble Store.
Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe is in negotiations to star in the BBC's upcoming drama Grand Theft Auto, a feature-length programme about the popular game series' creation.
A new update for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has removed 17 music tracks and left some old save files unusable.
Not all players are experiencing save file problems, but those who are report that saves made before the update simply start a new game (thanks, Rockstar Nexus).
The missing songs, meanwhile, are the same ones that Rockstar removed from its recent mobile and Xbox 360 ports - presumably due to licensing issues.
So what's the score with the new HD version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas on Xbox 360? In a move seemingly timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the game's release, the emulated Xbox version available through Games on Demand has been replaced by a new version that promises "720p resolution, enhanced draw distance and Achievement support".
UPDATE 23/10/2014 9.50pm: Rockstar has confirmed that GTA: San Andreas is coming to Games on Demand and it will be replacing the Xbox Originals version.
Grand Theft Auto's 3, Vice City, and San Andreas have arrived on Amazon's Android-based video game console Fire TV, as well as Kindle Fire.
Last year it was Gabe Newell, and before him Peter Molyneux, Will Wright and Shigeru Miyamoto. The BAFTA Fellowship is, according to BAFTA, "the highest accolade bestowed".
Rockstar's '90s, rap-themed gang-banger Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas can now be played on Android and Kindle devices.
Grand Theft Auto's PS2/Xbox era swan song, San Andreas, is making its way to iOS tonight.
PlayStation 2 classic Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is headed to mobile devices next month, Rockstar has announced.
iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Amazon Kindle versions are on the way.
San Andreas was our first visit to Grand Theft Auto 5's setting of Los Santos, and was Rockstar's largest open world to date at the time of its release.
Not for the first time that month, Patrick Wildenborg was disoriented. With a one year-old baby in the house he was familiar with the fug of a deep sleep cut short by noise. But this awakening was different. It was prompted not by an infant's wail but the hysteria of a telephone ringing in the night. Eyes still closed, Wildenborg lifted the receiver.
A former backing singer for hip hop group Cypress Hill has lost a $250 million lawsuit against Grand Theft Auto developer Rockstar and parent company Take-Two.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is being readied for release on PlayStation 3, a new ESRB listing suggests.
It starts with that high-pitched G-funk siren wail. Even before you've set foot on the streets of Los Santos, Rockstar's obsessive attention to cultural detail has already got you in a West Coast frame of mind, a world of sneaker-clad feet squeaking on tarmac as they run from the five-oh; of helicopters in the night and the snap, crackle and pop of distant gunshots; of sipping a forty with friends, waiting for the noon heat haze to lift.
Who needs Grand Theft Auto 5? Well, not the industrious folk that are porting the whole of PlayStation 2 classic Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas into Grand Theft Auto 4.
Close your eyes and guess what the top 10 video game brands in the UK are, as measured from 1996 to 2012.
GTA5 trailer painstakingly recreated.
A private Take-Two casting call is advertising for an actor to portray James Pedeaston - a character from Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
Grand Theft Auto was once known by the provisional title Race'n'Chase and was planned for release on SEGA Saturn and "Ultra 64" (Nintendo 64).
The 10 years and 11-month-old PlayStation 2 has shot through the 150 million units shipped mark, Sony has announced.
A former backup singer for American Latino hip hop group Cypress Hill wants a whopping $250 million in damages from Rockstar and parent company Take-Two for allegedly using his likeness in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas without permission.
As promised earlier this week, Microsoft has announced a number of one day only Xbox Live deals to celebrate the annual Black Friday shopping blow-out in the US.
Games industry analyst Mike Hickey has said a Grand Theft Auto V announcement may be on the way - and that it could be made before E3 kicks off in June.
"There is building suspension for a pre-E3 GTA V announcement," he said, as reported by Industrygamers. "Although we expect nothing from Rockstar at this year’s official E3 event."
Rockstar is more likely to hold a separate press event and make the announcement independent of any publisher conferences, apparently. That's because GTA V really is kind of a big deal.
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith has claimed videogames are messing up the kids with their crazy violent ways.
Take-Two and its insurance carriers have agreed to fork over more than $20 million to settle a class action suit covering historical stock option issues and, of course, the legendary Hot Coffee timebomb originally stamped into GTA: San Andreas discs.
Olden days blockbuster Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas will soon be available to download as an Xbox Original.
It's been revealed that only a few thousand people have claimed compensation over the Hot Coffee mini-game that appeared in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is the best-selling game of all time in the USA, according to NPD Group data dug up by Forbes - GamesIndustry.biz's mag of the day, judging by this and the Apple vs. DS story.
Bonkers convict Jonathan Lee Riches has filed for a temporary restraining order against Take-Two, Rockstar, and the "newest Grand Theft Auto games", claiming inmates who played the titles will knock him out and steal his "gold Jesus cross".
Rockstar has denied reports it almost gave the go-ahead to a Grand Theft Auto film last year, saying the company is "not interested" in bringing the series to the big screen.
Remember Hot Coffee, the filthy naked mini-game found hidden in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas? In November, you may recall, Take-Two reached a settlement in the matter. The publisher promised to spend at least USD 1 million on compensating those who were "offended and upset" by the whole thing.
Rockstar has added its not inconsiderable PC games catalogue to Valve's digital distribution service Steam, offering a ten percent discount on all its available products until 11th January to celebrate the launch.
Take-Two has announced a proposed settlement to class action litigation related to the "Hot Coffee" controversy, GamesIndustry.biz reports.
A US district judge has dismissed claims by a Los Angeles strip club that Rockstar Games breached copyright by designing a similar looking virtual strip club for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
Poor old Take-Two. They probably thought all that Hot Coffee nonsense was behind them, what with the FTC deciding not to fine them any money earlier this month.
Following a slap on the wrist from the Federal Trade Commission over the hidden Hot Coffee content in GTA: San Andreas, Take-Two and Rockstar have said they're very sorry and promised never to do it again.
With Chart-Track's Annual Report now published and available for sale to publishers, Kristan prepares his own annual Statto impression and wades through the facts and figures to offer an interesting picture of UK retail. In part one, we look at the state of the market and the fate of the current generation of console platforms. (Data from Chart-Track's annual report. Used with permission.)
The backdrop of 2005 was one of doom and gloom, with independent retailers in particular feeling the squeeze as all the major high street firms went to war with each other. After years of tolerating online retailers undercutting them by over £10 on a full price title, the high street was seeing their market share steadily eroded and decided to strike back with full force.
Suddenly, with all the mainstream types forced to price-match, UK retailers were making next to nothing on the games they were selling, and putting pressure on publishers to reduce their selling price - something that many under-pressure publishers were extremely reluctant to do.
Confirming the troubled publisher's heavy reliance on its controversial Grand Theft Auto series, Take-Two's latest 10-Q filing includes mention of a three-year, USD 25 million deal to secure and safeguard the creative team behind its flagship franchise.
US organisation the Sex Workers Outreach Project has issued a statement condemning the way sex workers are represented in Rockstar's GTA: San Andreas - asking parents and gamers to boycott the title.
Further lawsuits which were hinted at in Take-Two's recent SEC filing have begun to materialise, adding to the multiple legal wrangles stemming from the now infamous Hot Coffee scandal.
Top craggy-jawed Hollywood star James Woods has made it known that he's not too happy about the Hot Coffee mod in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
The city attorney's office of Los Angeles has filed a lawsuit against Rockstar Games and parent company Take-Two Interactive over the controversial Hot Coffee mod in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
An Alabama judge has denied a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed against Take-Two by the families of two police officers and a dispatcher killed by a Grand Theft Auto-playing teenager.
Anti-videogames campaigner Jack Thompson has withdrawn from the Grand Theft Auto lawsuit filed against retailers and publishers following accusations that he violated legal ethics.
Warren Spector, the former studio head of Ion Storm Austin and the brains behind Deus Ex, has slammed game developers for relying on tried and tested formulas instead of coming up with new ideas.
Rockstar plans to release a Grand Theft Auto Trilogy pack for Xbox and a Special Edition of San Andreas for PS2 featuring a video DVD in the run-up to Christmas. So that's the GTA Threesome and the GTA Big Disc Edition for those living in a parallel universe where Jack Thompson hasn't been invented.
Publisher Rockstar Games has released a new patch for Grand Theft Auto San Andreas which disables and removes [oh come on, Rob. How about 'cleans', 'mops', 'soaks' or something like that? - Ed] the controversial Hot Coffee mini-game - preventing the hack that enabled it in the first place from functioning.
"The Hot Coffee scenes were not intended to be part of the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas experience," according to a statement from the firm, which recommends using the patch "if your copy of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for the PC has been altered by the unauthorised Hot Coffee download circulating on the Internet, or you wish to prevent your version from being so altered."
It's something of an exercise in closing the stable door after the horse has bolted - Rockstar has already been forced to withdraw stock of the game in North America after the ESRB re-rated it as AO (Adults Only).
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is no longer available to buy or rent in Australia after the country's Office of Film and Literature Classification got wind of the increasingly notorious hidden sex-mini-game known as "Hot Coffee".
Games journalists are running out of witless punnery to help frame stories about the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas "Hot Coffee" scandal, it emerged today.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has been re-rated in the USA as the result of an investigation by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) into a sexual explicit mini-game that could be unlocked through modification.
New evidence has emerged which suggests that the controversial 'Hot Coffee' mod was built into the GTA: San Andreas code and is not simply the work of hackers as Rockstar has claimed.
Jack Thompson, Miami-based lawyer and long time critic of violence in videogames, has launched a scathing attack on Entertainment Software Association president Doug Lowenstein.
We were in a hotel room with Rockstar yesterday. "Hot Coffee" was neither served nor offered.
British censors have stated that the controversial Hot Coffee mod for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas won't change their rating for the title - but Australian censors may be on the verge of banning the title from sale.
Rockstar has denied that the "Hot Coffee" pornographic mini-game, which is enabled by a mod for Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, is actually a part of the game, after it became the subject of an investigation by the ESRB in North America.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, then. A game in which you live a huge section of the life of an uzi-hugging street-talking gangster, who buds, sprouts, flowers and would even have pollinated were it not for a last-minute sex-game excision, working your way through an entire state's worth of locations carrying out shooting and driving missions and all manner of other mini-missions in a seamlessly linked game world that's brimming with things to do, people to talk to, ways to kill and areas to explore. All done with more big-name actors and diversity than the average Hollywood nightclub - which you can probably visit while you're playing it.
Yet, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is a game that I wish to crush. No, this is nothing to do with my much-shouted stance on the game's hip-hop style (a stance which involves standing over it stamping on its face bellowing, "Stop that! Don't you bloody dare get up!"). When I say "crush" I mean it in the literal sense.
I think that, were it compressed into roughly the same space as Grand Theft Auto III, San Andreas would offer so much fun per square mile that you'd shave your chest, throw on a tank top and adopt a much more reserved attitude to the idea of driving along a street shooting at people wearing the wrong coloured hats. As it stands, there's more fun to be had here than you'd find if you put ten rival games back to back - the problem is that you'll spend as much time as you would playing ten rival games back to back in order to eke it all out.
With just a couple of days to go until Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is released on PC and Xbox, Rockstar has unveiled two new trailers for the game.
We have a feeling that PC-owning Grand Theft Auto fans would be happy enough to play any port of San Andreas at this point, having watched the PS2-owning world lap it up since last October, but according to details released by Rockstar this week there will be a few changes beyond the obvious technical enhancements.
Everything in the PS2 version, which moved GTA into the ghetto with a tale of hero CJ's rise from low level thuggery to top-level gangsta, will be making the transition intact. But although there will be no new content per se, San Andreas PC will apparently feature a new replay mode for recording and playing back brief snippets of gameplay, which sounds like a good idea.
The PC version will also include an additional radio station (making for a total of 12), which you can populate with your own MP3s (ordering or randomising them), and will be optimised to a greater extent than previous PC ports in the series, with only a fraction of the load times by comparison.
PS2 (exclusive, for now)
Sometimes the last thing you want to do is have a sneak preview of a game - mostly you're just spoiling things for yourself, ruining the surprise, but, when you're talking about gaming royalty, things are a little different. When the name of that game is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, suddenly your busy schedule opens up like Moses parting the Red Sea. 5 O' Clock Thursday you say? Right, we're there. Running late you say? Not a problem.