Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Definitive Edition released in November 2021, or so you may have heard. But actually, that was just a decoy, a rouse, a doppelganger, created as part of a sinister government experiment to test how tolerant human eyeballs are to bad rain and water effects, and the real definitive edition has actually only just launched, as a free mod, available to download now.
I’m joking of course, but GTA San Andreas HD Optimised Textures – as it’s formally known – by modder flyaway888 does a much better job of upscaling and beautifying Rockstar’s 2004 sandbox classic than the official version by Grove Street Games. The gameplay remains untouched – this is a mod for the original San Andreas, not the definitive version, so it plays like it always did back in the PS2 and Xbox days – but everything else has been cleaned, sharpened, and polished until it shines with detail.
The decals on CJ’s shirts and shoes, and the signage on shops, are actually readable now, and brickwork and paving comes with dents, scratches, and cracks. Cars are crisp and clean, the baked-in reflection effects on windows look more plausible, and pedestrians have more discernible faces and expressions. The sky is clearer and the draw distance seems to have been increased, too, so if you’re out wandering in Red County, you can look to the horizon and spot Mount Chiliad.
It’s a far cry from the chunkier, murkier aesthetic of the official Definitive Edition, and of course, it retains weather effects and cloud cover, so the rain still looks good, and there isn’t that bug where you can see infinitely across the entire world. Essentially, this is a solid way of making the game look modern, without sacrificing any of its original content or charm, a perfect addition if you want to enhance San Andreas without outright changing it.
You can download San Andreas Optimised Textures at Mod DB. Its distant cousin Red Dead Redemption 2 has also been getting some mod love, in the form of dynamic seasons and weather.