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GTA music better suited for game

Maria Smith | Thursday, January 13, 2005

Fans of “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” have eagerly awaited the release of its official soundtrack and the more inclusive box set. The soundtracks from “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” were received enthusiastically, and it was hoped that the new soundtrack would reach the same heights. The smaller official soundtrack condenses highlights from the hit video game into a two-disc set with an eclectic mix of hip-hop, funk, country and other genres. The collection of older hits from Rage Against the Machine, 2Pac, Public Enemy and others is obviously designed to take fans back to the rough streets of Los Angeles in the early 1990s when the artists were in their heyday. The expanded box set, with eight CDs with songs from the radio stations of the fictional Los Santos, is aimed at the real fans of the game that want as much of the music as they can get.Many of the songs on the official soundtrack are excellent in their own right. This is inevitable with a soundtrack that has picked its material from the artists who have already stood the test of the past decade or longer and remained popular. The problem is that the collection isn’t really good enough to justify buying the soundtrack instead of investing in entire CDs by the acclaimed artists it features, nor does it carry the bragging rights of owning the box set. Fans of the game could certainly make a worse purchase, but it isn’t a classic.The box set offers a wider selection of less common music, which might be good for people who want to delve into more obscure music, but many of the tracks are not of the same quality as the hits on the condensed soundtrack. The discs also include imitation radio commercials and station identifications, which probably entertain some people but will be extremely irritating to others. Fans will be disappointed to learn that many of the songs featured in the game are not included in the box set. Some of the harder hip-hop has been removed, along with several others songs probably removed to save space, and other songs included are not actually the same versions featured in the game. Anyone who buys the set will probably not like at least some of the featured genres, and will end up paying for music they will never really want to hear. Most fans have one or two favorite stations, and will not be likely to listen to the others much. Radio Los Santos modern hip-hop is a common favorite but has been cut to a mere five songs for the box set, while K-Rose country is likely to irritate anyone who is not a determined country fan. Annoying radio stations of various genres are readily available in most places for free, and people who spend the $50 to buy the box set will probably have to admit they only bought it for the sake of owning it and not for the quality of the music.The songs chosen for “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” work well within the context of the game. However, as with many soundtracks, they do not stand as well on their own, especially considering the substandard quality of several discs in the box set. Leave the box set on the shelf and save your money for the next big game.