Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is the only Grand Theft Auto game I have ever played to completion. When this game came up on the FGC, my initial thought was to fire up the game and figure out exactly why. Then I, ya know, played the game, and, for all the reasons that I may have stayed glued to GTA:SA back in the day (conquering neighborhoods, “powerup progression”, or even just a tolerable plot), I realized the real reason I played GTA:SA so intensely was… cheats.
So, let’s look at the cheats of GTA:SA.
Incidentally, if you want the full cheat codes, go ahead and head over to Gamefaqs. I figure copy/pasting that one link is faster than blatantly copying all the inputs.
Instant $250,000, full health and armor
Ah, here’s the reason I finished this game. I’ve never liked the combat in GTA games, whether it involve fist-fighting, gun shooting, or katana slicing. The aiming system improved for San Andreas, but, seriously, I have never seen a franchise that was so successful with a series of protagonists that controlled so poorly. Yes, driving is the meat and potatoes of this series, but anytime you have to truck through a building and avoid gunfire… ugh… I’d rather take a nap in a lava bed.
However, with the cheat that effectively guaranteed infinite health, I was able to bulldoze those aggravating sections with the grace of a rhino (but with twice the armor). C.J.’s enemies never knew what hit them… or maybe they knew, but were less than willing to admit they were fighting some kind of immortal gangbanger. … Blacula would make an excellent videogame hero, come to think of it.
The rest of the cheats in this game make the experience more enjoyable, but this is the cheat that kept me (and C.J.) alive.
Spawn a Jetpack
And now for everything else. GTA:SA is kind of a terrible game in a lot of ways. For one, super obvious thing, checkpoints are practically nonexistent, and if a mission takes twenty minutes to “get there”, and your car mysteriously implodes ten seconds into the actual gameplay, well, tough noogies, it’s time to drive all over the countryside again. This has never been fun.
However, flying back to the mission marker via jetpack? That’s something I can endorse.
If memory serves, there are either no real jetpacks over the course of the game proper, or there’s approximately one, and it’s hidden in a secret spot in an air force base or something. This is absurd, because, obviously, there’s no finer way to zoom around San Andreas, or, barring that, pretend you’re the Rocketeer, and search for errant zeppelins. This jetpack isn’t perfect, as sometimes you want something a little bigger…
All Boats Fly
Oh, wait. Yes, that’ll do.
All Traffic Lights Stay Green
I was just recounting how videogames run by their own rules, and nobody gets a bonus for heeding traffic signals in GTA, but apparently AIs that live in GTA universes pay attention to the rules of the road, even when a capricious player destroys those rules. GTA:SA feels like the last GTA game where causing mayhem was the be all and end all, and it even includes these “little things” like watching every NPC slam into every other NPC. Oh, speaking of mayhem…
Max Fat or Max Muscle or Max Sex Appeal or Max Skinny or Max Wanted Level
Grand Theft Auto 3 and its silent protagonist made a concentrated effort to make the player identify with the psychopath asked to kill thirty random pedestrians by the strange man on the other side of the pay phone. C.J. of GTA:SA is much more his own character: a man betrayed by the normal rules of society and, eventually, even the love of his companions. C.J. has hopes, dreams, and maybe a solid green suit, and his existence is very different from the tabula rosa of GTA3.
I’m not completely certain how I feel about this change, as it creates a weird disconnect from the insanity of the game itself. You’re not causing the chaos, its C.J. You’re not stomping a hooker to death, it’s C.J. You’re not seducing some random nurse for hot coffee/powerups, it’s C.J. It feels vaguely dishonest for a game that revels in its havoc to so totally detach the player from the avatar, and this trend only grows in scope as the series progresses (GTA5 arguably being the peak where the “crazy guy” is presented as an option and not the inevitable norm).
That said, I feel it’s this disconnect between player and protagonist that occasionally turns me into a vengeful god.
C.J. is just out for a stroll, taking his favorite uzis for a walk. And, whoops, for no apparent reason, he’s the most wanted man on the continent. His first impulse is to book it to the nearest vehicle, but, uh-oh, now he inexplicably weighs 300 lbs. And, a few steps later, all of his muscle mass has evaporated. As he desperately pushes his overtaxed heart to the breaking point and wedges himself into a nearby cab, he suddenly shrinks down to anorexic proportions… and that’s about when the tank shows up.
It’s going to be a long day for C.J.…
Spawn a Stretch Limo or Jump 10 times higher
And sometimes I am a caring god, and give C.J. everything he ever wanted.
All Pedestrian are Elvis, Clowns, Beach Goers, or Hookers
Who doesn’t like a change of pace? “Pedestrians” in GTA games are a strange lot, as they pretty much have to be there to make all this carnage “mean” something, but, conversely, they’re… nothing. Cops and gang members are one thing, but pedestrians pretty much exist only to run away screaming and occasionally provide “witty” (Rockstar level witty) dialogue. Other than that, they’re mobile speed bumps. I’m having a hard time thinking of something in another videogame that is so simultaneously essential and useless.
Pedestrians get an upgrade when you can at least laugh at the fact that you forgot to turn a random code off. Oh, cool, it’s Elvis. There’s another Elvis. Oh and… right, yes, Elvis code. Never before has my lack of memory been such a boon! And the codes that randomly transform the populace (and C.J.!) into beach bums, sex addicts, or clown sex addicts (assumed) are ideal for when you feel like crusin’ San Andreas and getting your pie on. Okay, fine, there isn’t a crème pie weapon, but a Bozo tossing a Molotov is pretty much the same thing, right?
All Vehicles Explode on Contact
Aside from the already mentioned Health Code, this would be the cheat I enter every single time. There’s something damn satisfying about absolutely everything exploding in your wake, whether you’re driving a hot dog truck or a hovercraft. I realize it’s a cliché to invoke the good name of Michael Bay, but it is damn fulfilling to be responsible for more explosions than Alfred Nobel. Some people just want to watch the GTA world burn…
As an added bonus, you may enter this code, and then attempt to drive the streets of San Andreas “for real”. Carefully drive at thirty miles an hour, stop at every traffic light, and… every time you mess up, something explodes. It’s just like real life, if everything in real life was made of nitroglycerin.
Bonus points if you’re driving an ambulance.
Well, not every cheat can be interesting.
FGC #160 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
- System: Playstation 2 is what I played for this review and what I’ll always remember, but the game also wound up on Xbox, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, and wasn’t there a cell phone version or something? That had to be terrible.
- Number of players: There’s only room for one king of San Andreas.
- Hot Coffee: Does anyone even recall the “hot coffee” debacle? Remember how it was found that you could hack sex scenes into GTA:SA because the designers had wisely decided to drop that asinine feature before release? And because of some random hackers, GTA:SA had to be sold with an “Adults Only” sticker and be completely recalled? Shouldn’t such a thing have had more of an impact on gaming history?
- Favorite Vehicle: Why don’t tanks have radios? This seems like a major design flaw.
- The Air up There: It’s kind of sad that I played GTA5 and then replayed GTA:SA to confirm one thing: Rockstar has no idea how to make plane controls “work”. Maybe it’s just me, but I can never steer a plan effectively in a GTA game, and nothing has improved across sequels. Granted, I’ve never flown an actual plane, so maybe it’s just too real for me. Either that or I am a living tree magnet…
- Did you know? Hot Coffee gets all the attention, but a skateboard was also cut from the final game. Apparently, the skateboard would have worked like a combination vehicle/weapon, allowing C.J. to scoot along or wallop an officer with the board itself. This eventually got recycled into Bully, where it feels slightly more appropriate.
- Would I play again: I had a lot of fun with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, but everything I liked about it got magnified by 100% and transformed into later Saint’s Row games, so that’s where my current allegiances lie. They made cheats an integral part of the experience!
What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Athena for the NES! Speaking of vengeful gods, let’s take a look at a mostly-naked one! Please look forward to it!
I’m an excellent driver