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Platform: Playstation 2
Genre: Action / Adventure
Publisher: Rockstar
Developer: Rockstar North
ETA: Q4 2004

 

Related Links:

Review: Grand Theft Auto III (PS2)

Review: Grand Theft Auto - Vice City (PS2)

Review: Max Payne 2 - The Fall of Max Payne (PS2)

 

 

 

 

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Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

 

gta san adreas preview          gta san adreas preview

 

The Grand Theft Auto franchise will soon make its third and final appearance on this generation of consoles.  With the first two titles ranking among the most acclaimed and best selling games of all time, all eyes are focused on Rockstar Games as it slowly rolls out information about this final work in the new trilogy.

               

Exit Coppola and Scorsese, enter the Hughes Brothers

The Biggest change in San Andreas is the change in setting.  Gone are the gangster film inspired looks of the first two games replaced by “gangsta” stylings straight out of early 90's hip-hop.  Los Santos, San Andreas, is modeled after Los Angeles in the same, playfully loose 

way Vice City was based on Miami—with broad strokes and borderline offensive stereotypes.  But, San Andreas is a big state and the game features a half-dozen other areas to explore, each based on California communities like Beverly Hills and Compton.  These areas are as detailed as anything we saw in GTA3 or Vice City and the game actually features the areas between the neighborhoods, so there will be less bustling, more laid back moments to reflect on life in the cruel world of GTA.  Well, maybe not, but at least you can guarantee there will be lots of new things to do in the boonies.

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It's all about the Benjamins

Obviously, one of GTA's major attractions has always been the vehicles.  Screenshots and movies released by Rockstar give lots of clues about potential rides.  Low-riders and ATV's, and monster trucks are clearly available and the trailer hints at the possibility of flying a decent-sized plane directly over the main city, which just goes to show how far we've come since GTA3 went under the scissors after September 11.

 

gta san andreas preview          gta san andreas preview

 

On top of the vehicles, GTA:San Andreas apparently expands the options a person has to control his own looks.  Vice City had its change of clothing; San Andreas has that, plus a local barber shop.  How are you going to get the money for new rags or do's? Home invasion, baby.  That's right, San Andreas continues the natural evolution of player/environment interaction to its logical conclusion.  Players can now rob buildings to finance their life on the mean streets.

 

You already know you want it

Let's face it.  San Andreas is a must own title the moment it is released.  Just a new Vice City clone with all new settings and cars would be must own because the basic concept is just that much fun to play.  But, Rockstar is definitely not playing it safe with GTA:San Andreas.  The radically new environments and overall change of tone might be initially jarring, but, in the end, the chance to spend a couple of months wandering around another of Rockstar's amazingly interactive worlds is too much of a good thing to think about passing up.

 

And here are some official snippets of information from Rockstar:

 

“We wanted people to be in complete control of their characters.  If they didn’t like the way he dressed, they could earn enough money to buy new clothes.  The tattoo feature works the same way, only the motivation is different.  If you were in a gang, you’d get a gang tattoo showing that.”  - Leslie Benzies

 

New Camera Controls

Rockstar North worked very hard to implement a new intelligent camera and at the same time gave the player complete freedom over camera control if they choose to use it.

 

The left analog stick controls the direction a character walks in.  The right analog stick allows for complete camera control, both in-vehicle and on foot.

 

In weapons mode, the right analog stick allows you to freely target all ranged weapons, if you choose to, and no longer have to stay in a fixed position. Now players can choose to aim with the R-stick while running/STRAFING with the L-stick.  This also means that you can look in a different direction while running or driving.  So you can look wherever you need to, to get that perfect look at something that will improve your gameplay or performance on a mission.

 

gta san andreas preview          gta san andreas preview

 

Dirt on Cars

As you drive around in your favorite ride you’ll find that the cars get dirty— generally people in San Andreas don’t seem to wash their cars too often and there are actually a lot of filthy cars around the streets.   If you manage to acquire a nice, spotless car, be warned—constant use will dirty it up a bit.  Dirt will appear in the obvious spaces—around the wheel wells, around impact areas after a traffic accident, and on the windshield if you’ve been going through alleys or parks.  Look out for car washes if you want to keep your car clean and shiny.

 

Dirty cars are one thing, but San Andreas residents also seem pretty slack when it comes to fixing bumps and scrapes. You’ll notice quite a few cars around San Andreas with varying degrees of damage - broken windows, loose bumpers, and bullet-riddled doors, presumably from previous battles!

 

Getting the Details

Leslie Benzies commented: “We spent a lot of time getting that level of interaction right, and making it unique.  We wanted to convey very clearly that the gangs had a certain way of communicating, very definite mannerisms, and yet had to create signs and language all our own that was faithful to the world we’re trying to depict.  It was challenging, but it adds a startling level of detail to the game.”

 

Don’t forget to eat your greens

If CJ forgets to eat he will lose energy and start to get skinny, and will eventually become rather emaciated and weak. His clothes will fit him differently as he gets thinner.

 

But its not all about looks, as CJ gets thinner from under-eating he becomes weaker, he wont have the strength he needs to lift boxes, his speed and stamina will be greatly reduced as he swims, cycles and runs. As he gets weaker the force of his punch will dwindle and he won’t last long in a fight!

 

So, to stay in shape and keep his strength up CJ will need to eat regularly. Eating a good solid meal will also restore CJ’s health. Each type of food has a calorific value which is used to determine how much the energy/fat will increase.

 

So, after a fight you may want to head over to the nearest hotdog stand to help you feel better.  But anyone who thinks that just hanging out eating pizza all day will make you indestructible – you should know better.

 

Police AI

The police in San Andreas are pretty smart and responsive. They will try a variety of tactics to take down anyone they’ve got it in for.  During high-speed pursuits, police will open fire with their weapons and will follow, not only from behind but also from all possible angles—coming at CJ head-on, down side streets, cutting him off or ramming his car in order to end the pursuit. 

 

They are also very skilled at following a suspect with the spotlights on their helicopters. When they point one of these lights at you, the light is too bright to see anything, making it much harder to take out the helicopter or aim at the cops on the ground in the direction the light is shining from. Shining bright lights in the eyes of the criminal to paralyze him is a well-known tactic that is frequently used by LSPD. They also will look out for their own safety and will seek out and use cover during gunfights.

 

- Tolen Dante

(September 6, 2004)

 

 

 

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