The Badlands were bad, forcing me to drive all over creation in a decidedly non-gangster and non-gansta' setting performing tedious missions so that I could finally "legally" enter the next city. The beginning of San Fierro wasn't much better, with CJ, his sister (Kendra?), her boyfriend, a gang leader named Cesar (sic, iirc), and a pot-headed fellow called The Truth (voiced by Peter Fonda, no less) getting toegether a bunch of extremely nerdy WASPs to renovate a long-abandoned garage into a wonderful business.
Sounds to me more like the pilot of a horrible sitcom than GTA.
Many of the missions here aren't too interesting either, especially that Zip's RC shop crap. I hated the GTA:VC (iirc) mission with the exploding helicopters, and something similar is back. Quelle horror, indeed.
But the game remains interesting for one reason. Make that two. They're Catalina in the Badlands and Wuzy/Woozie in San Fierro. Both are well developed, relatively speaking, characters with character. Wuzy's the blind guy who runs into walls walking in places he's surely visited scores of times, yet can beat CJ in video games and shoot with dead-eye accuracy. Though some of the lines are forced, tired, and none too funny ("Wuzy, you know I'm black, right?"), Wuzy himself is a well-voiced, if not riot, at least enjoyable fellow.
Too bad my Wuzy missions are toast. Strange how a couple of decent cut scenes can make what's otherwise a pretty tired set of gameplay conventions still worth playing.
Now if someone will just donate an old 7800GT to my box, I'll be in business...