GTA 1991 could be the San Andreas Stories prequel we always wanted and more

“The only thing Big Bear give a fuck about is smoking and keeping my house clean.” Drug dealer B Dup’s sobering words offer GTA San Andreas protagonist CJ dark insight into life in Los Santos since he’s been gone. Crack cocaine has swept the city, and you’re either slinging it or smoking it. Big Bear, a one-time soldier of the Grove Street Families gang, is proof of that, cutting a diminished figure behind his so-called ‘master’, scratching at his skin, twitching his head from side-to-side. He’s in deep. “If crack can do that to Big Bear,” CJ reflects later, “the average motherfucker ain’t got a chance.”

Set the calendar back 12 months, and GTA 1991 (opens in new tab), an ambitious total conversation prequel mod being developed by a dedicated group of hobbyist San Andreas players, explores the birth of the base game’s crack epidemic, as well as the imagined lesser-told stories that helped shape Rockstar’s 2004 crime simulator. “We’re going all out, you know,” says project co-creator deltaCJ. “We want it to be everything. We want it to be Rockstar quality. We can’t do subpar.”

Ambitionz az a ridah

GTA 1991

(Image credit: Rockstar; deltaCJ)


Grand Theft Auto 3

(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

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Off the bat, deltaCJ admits that making a San Andreas prequel story will always spark discussion around San Andreas Stories, but says he and his team want to deliver more than that. Following the success of GTA 3 and GTA Vice City, and coinciding with the launch of the PSP handheld in the mid-2000s, Rockstar released Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories a year apart – both of which were prequel off-shoots to their main series counterparts. Despite speculation at the time, a San Andreas variation on the theme never materialised, and hobbyist modders have threatened to realise the idea on an unofficial basis since. 

GTA 1991 (opens in new tab), in fact, began life as such a venture, but after some discussion behind the scenes, the mod team decided it had bigger ambitions – that it wanted to craft something that was both new and nostalgic, that explored the stories of characters away from the San Andreas limelight. As such, the team landed on Little Devil as the mod’s protagonist, a character mentioned by Sweet in the base game who’s thought to have died at some point between 1987 and 1992 (when San Andreas is set), but whose story is untold and open to interpretation.  

This, of course, sets the stage for Little Devil in GTA 1991 as he and his brother Big Devil (also name-dropped by Sweet in San Andreas; also dead by then), plot revenge against rival gang member Top Dawg who’s thought to have murdered their cousin, Dopey. Between times, Little Devil’s involvement with drug dealing pal Sebastian sees him introduced to a different side of the streets, causing the wider Grove Street Family to question his loyalty and commitment to their green flag-flying cause. “After finding out some crucial details about Dopey’s death, Lil’ Devil accidentally sets off the crack epidemic,” says deltaCJ. “You’ll see why.”

GTA 1991

(Image credit: Rockstar; deltaCJ)

With the promise of new characters, weapons and vehicle models, voice acting, cutscenes, bespoke animations, never before seen interiors, new purchasable properties, over a dozen missions, and an estimated run time of nine to 10 hours, GTA 1991 one is as ambitious on paper as deltaCJ sounds over Discord. But, to be fair, a quick glance at the mod’s work-in-progress GTAForums threads show enough concept imagery, artwork, missions scripts, and snippets of in-game footage to suggest the team is well on their way towards something good. Better still, a demo containing GTA 1991’s first chapter is scheduled to launch later this month, February 26, with the mod’s full release pencilled in for some point next year. To get involved, all you’ll need is the GTA: San Andreas base game on PC. 

Perhaps the most intriguing feature of GTA 1991, at least compared to its source material, is its ‘realistic’ drug dealing system. On that, deltaCJ says: “I want players to be able to buy and sell drugs, I want them to be able to buy locations to sell from, be that crack houses or less run-down properties. That might be a case of clearing out crack houses and taking out rival gangs, taking over the property and then having people come in to buy from you. I want players to be able to grow contacts on the street and be able to sell on corners.” 

“The thing is, as we saw in San Andreas, the Grove Street Family is by and large against crack and the grip it has on the neighbourhood. I’ve written a narrative to make sense of Little Devil’s involvement in that, though, which means the system is 100% going in the game. One of the more important aspects of the drug dealing system is that I don’t want I don’t want it to get exploited. You’ll be able to make some good money from it, but it’s a side business. With that, we also want there to be risk, you know, where you could get robbed, or people come in to buy from you but it’s a setup, it’s a drug bust. And then the next thing you know, you lose a property. I think there’s real potential there.”

GTA 1991

(Image credit: Rockstar; deltaCJ)

“We want people to feel like, ‘damn, I haven’t played this game for so long’. And we want to do that with Rockstar quality.”

deltaCJ, GTA 1991 co-creator

The potential that deltaCJ speaks of surely stretches across the entire GTA 1991 project. Naturally, hobbyist ventures like this one can sometimes promise the world and deliver not quite as much come release, but deltaCJ himself, at least, is determined to make a decent crack at everything he’s proposing nevertheless. His effort and commitment, alongside the mod’s small team of contributors cannot be knocked – a process which might see deltaCJ spending hours on end animating the most seemingly innocuous details of head movement and hand placement, grinding through the less glamorous side of the process in order to reap the rewards on the other side. 

To this end, all of these minute details matter and make for a more credible, immersive game. Goodness knows how many first-class professionals worked on Rockstar’s San Andreas way back when, but it certainly feels like deltaCJ and the rest of the GTA 1991 team are sitting on something special at this stage, with, obviously, a fraction of the time and resources.

“Let me say one thing: animating these cutscenes can be a pain in the ass,” says deltaCJ while laughing. “I’m there for two to three hours just animating hands or the head, you know. It’s crazy, it’s wild, the fact that I have so much love for this game that I’m willing to do that, it’s amazing. Another challenge has been seeking out voice actors. I don’t want in-game characters simply moving their hands and their lips, I don’t want text subtitles and no voice overs. I want there to be life to these characters. I want it when people turn the volume down on their game, they can hear those characters’ voices in their heads by reading their words on the screen alone.”

And, with that, I’m already replaying the time-honoured CJ meme in my head as I plan for another return to Los Santos. 

“Again, we want to capture that feeling of nostalgia while giving players something new,” deltaCJ adds. “We want people to feel like, ‘damn, I haven’t played this game for so long’. And we want to do that with Rockstar quality.”

Need more Grand Theft Auto in your life? Here’s everything we know about GTA 6 including all the rumours and news. 

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