I've been playing at GTA: San Andreas over the weekend. Damn, it's good. Really good. And huge. 150 hours huge.
The backstory and world is amazing. The crazy radio stations. The funny characters. The beautifully drawn environment. The voice acting. The diversity of vehicles. The over-the-top writing. The setting.
Despite lots of flaws the gameplay is great. Amazing how quickly I take the open endedness for granted. GTA: SA also brings in something new, a diversity of gameplay modes and minigames. Lots of borrowing from other games: so far I've seen PaRappa/DDR, Sims: Hot Date, Hitman, rail shooters, Gyruss, Max Payne, Track and Field, and of course the usual GTA style drivin'. It's like they said "let's make this game diverse" and went to the well of 25 years of gameplay ideas.
The game is quite firmly adult. Your friends all smoke pot, which is apparently OK, but you're out to kill the crack dealers. Lots of killing and pimping, of course. And I've never heard the word "fuck" so much in a game. It's all part of painting the 90s ghetto hood scene. Combined with the excellent voice acting, good story, and great gameplay, it makes for a landmark game.
What's next? Grand Theft Auto: Tokyo 2010?