Games: Part 2

Gift guide

Games: Part 2

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

PlayStation2

Rockstar, $49.99

In this latest fantastically twisted and addictive installment of GTA, you are Carl Johnson, a man forced to return to his old neighborhood of Los Santos to keep his family from falling apart. Framed for murder by corrupt cops from the larger metropolis of San Andreas, you set out on a series of missions to save yourself, your family, and revive your street cred. The noble premise helps to numb the guilt you feel about slaughtering innocent video-game caricatures in the crossfire. Not to say that GTA: San Andreas – which, if you haven't guessed, really alludes to early Nineties Los Angeles – is Tipper Gore wholesome. In fact, it is the nastiest (and I mean that in every way possible) version of GTA yet. Besides phenomenal graphics, meaner violence, and cooler planes, trains, boats, and automobiles to hijack, you can bulk up in the weight room and pick up hookers for reasonable prices. When you've completed all the missions (or realize you have a life that needs tending to), I recommend learning the weapon cheat codes off the Internet, starting a new game, and heading up to the hills in the Mulholland zone to relax amidst the tall pines above the freeway while you obliterate approaching motorists and police cruisers with your grenade launcher. Better yet, pass the control to a relative after dinner this holiday season: Imagine the psycho that will come out of Great Aunt Jenny as she wanders downtown San Andreas with a chainsaw. What better way to bring the family closer together?

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