Ransom

-=Pool your resources about Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas=-

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lol i want to rob a house

just can't understand what u get - only money i think..... oh and mybe the car if the owner of the house have car :D

well they said ul get to sneak around like in splinter cell

if u download the ops2 mag and read it http://codenamesa.co.uk/media/content/previews/OPS2%20UK.pdf

u must have a adobe abrocat to read it

this has the exclusive interview with dan houser

the next mag to get more screens is the opm2 the german version will have more screens

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while discovering vice city i cum passed a building wot says san felis thats in LA

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over all conclusion

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QUOTE

And Then There Were Three

San Andreas is more than just the name given to the world's most notorious 'fault line", It's also the groundbreaking new game that's about to rock the entertainment industry.

"The game's as much about cool cars, listening to nice music and watching the sunset as it is about running around with a gun and completing a mission. It's this idea of being somewhere and really working on giving that world as much life as possible, from what you hear on the radio to what the pedestrians say and what a billboard says. To build on that is something that we've been trying to do since the first GTA days. I think we've really taken it to a whole new place with this one." says Dan Houser.

E3, the videogame industry's most important annual event, is a sight to behold.

The lights, the noise, the excitement and the sheer competition for attention are at frenzied levels. It's not surprising though, that hiding upstairs at this year's show is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas - the game that everyone at E3 2004 is pining in see. With the game are Rockstar bosses Dan Houser (Vice President of Creative) and Terry Donovan (CEO). And being the only Australian magazine invited to see the game is not only an honour, but also a pretty hefty responsibility.

The way the Rockstar guys talk about their GTA world is with the utmost respect, and they're well aware that their game is good enough to justify the hype. So in a heavy shroud of secrecy, it is LA Convention Centre meeting room 301a that houses the hottest property at this year's E3. Downstairs, the PSP is making huge waves and hot new games like Killzone have everyone salivating. But these guys know that they have - hands down - the biggest, most original and most groundbreaking game since, well, GTA3. They have every right to be cool, calm and collected.

The Sleepin’ Giant

This is not hype for hype's sake. To give you an idea of how hot this property actually is - San Andreas is the videogame industry's equivalent of The Lord of the Rings, only with all the credible coolness of Pulp Fiction. For the common man, the amount of money that GTA has generated is so staggering that it ceases to seem real. Some would even tall it insane. And an audience with the likes of Houser and Donovan is not to be scoffed at either if you're a fan of videogames, this is like a meeting with Bob and Harvey Weinstein from Miramax and Quentin Tarantino all at once.

Says Terry Donovan, "We're in quite an interesting position internally - we've now got to show the game to people. Left up to us, we probably would have chosen not to show the game, but we wanted to 'quell the rumour mill'. What you'll see should dwarf your expectations."

Of course, the sequel to the epic Vice City has been the subject of rumours for quite some time. And not only is Rockstar facing the challenge of matching the brilliance of Vice City, but the company is also well aware that even the public will expect San Andreas to be a blockbuster - quite a task considering that the Grand Theft Auto series has sold over 30 million copies to date worldwide.

Watching the team at work is like no other games company in the business. Everything that the company does is meticulous, and that is largely why the GTA games have been so successful. While they fully recognise that their game is straight from triple-A stock, they also make it a point to show the game's (slight) discrepancies. In the 90 minutes or so that OPS2 has with San Andreas, the team points out various issues where parts of the game still need tweaking. Not only are most of them merely cosmetic, but they would easily pass by unnoticed if the team didn't point them out! But San Andreas is something special - and it's already way, way better than some games that are much closer to completion. Even though there are still months of production left to go, San Andreas is unbelievably good.

Aimin’ High

With Grand Theft Auto Vice City universally regarded as one of the best games ever made, the Rockstar guys have gone about making San Andreas with a truly ambitious philosophy- The game is not about to "one-up" Wee City -it will absolutely blow it away. As gamers themselves, the development team is well aware that the demand for quality is at unprecedented levels, so it has tackled the challenge head-on.

San Andreas will have all the predictable inclusions, like more weapons and cars, plus a truckload of nifty surprises, such as rideable pushbikes. Where the game will really stand out though, is in the subtle but numerous tweaks that will add an unprecedented level of interactivity and draw even more parallels with reality.

"Obviously, sales are measured, really, based on the quality of the game and also people's responses to it," explains Dan Houser. "The way to ensure that we address that appropriately is to over-deliver on them. The kind of stuff that we're doing is above and beyond people's expectations. That's the only way we can go back and find the original people who went out and bought GTA3 in the first few months, and Vice City in the first few months. We want to say to them, 'this is worth your time again. This is not a lazy re-iteration of the original.’

"Taking things for granted is just not our style," he continues. "The biggest jump that we noticed about Grand Theft Auto in terms of public perception was between GTA2 and GTA3 with the jump into 3D. Obviously, you can't make the jump into 3D every time. Our feeling was that we would tear the game apart and put it back together, with a level of size, scope and depth. We're totally changing the relationship that we have with the player, the relationships with non-player characters and the relationship with the environment forever." The thing is, Houser's claims about San Andreas are not just theoretical pipedreams. We're happy to confirm that the game will be far beyond even our high expectations. So any rumours that you've heard about the game can now finally be put to rest - the first one being where San Andreas is actually located.

Big, Bad ‘n’ Bold

First of all, San Andreas is not just a city. It's an entire state, comprised of three major cities, each being the same size as Vice City. San Andreas will dwarf what was seen in Vice City - about five limes over. After checking out the sprawling city of Los Santos, and then seeing how it lakes up just one-fifth of the San Andreas map. It’s astounding to think about how much more lies in wail for players to discover. "The key thing of what we're trying to do is one state instead of one city - with three cities and all of the countryside in between. This was only possible because of Aaron (Garbut). Our Art Director, who believed that he and his guys could do it. The thing that I want to stress more than anything else," Houser enthuses, "is that we have the best team working on this game. They're the best in the business right now. They're the most ambitious, they're the most progressive and they've got the most focus. You can just see that unity on the screen. We've now got a game with 400 different speaking roles in it - it's ridiculous. The production is at a scale that people won't have ever seen before.

"It looks very organic and very natural, and it takes your senses in and makes you think that it's a real place. It also drives, walks, runs and rides super-well. You've got jumps in the right place and it flows very nicely, and that's just something that comes from doing this before. If there's one thing that we thought was missing from Vice City it was hills - because hills are just fun to drive. So now, we've not only got hills within the cities - it was one of the reasons we were drawn into doing one of the cities based loosely on San Francisco - but we've also got stuff happening in the countryside. "We've even got a mountain in the game... ridiculous! So there's a lot of stuff that we're capable of doing now that we can only do because we've been able to learn from our mistakes. We're pushing game design very, very far but all that means is that there's no manual on how to do it, and we're making stuff up as we go."

Three Cities, One Story

The three cities of San Andreas will be: Las Venturas (Las Vegas), San Fierro (San Francisco) and Los Santos (Los Angeles). All things considered, the playing area will resemble a mix between California and the desert areas of Nevada. While each is clearly based on a real-life counterpart, they definitely have the characteristic GTA spin and humour on them. Houser describes them as, "our deformed versions. They satirise America at large and California in particular."

The game is set in the early '90s - a time when Californian and LA gangs dominated headlines, so you can expect the pimped-out low riders, pushbikes and weapons (think AK-47s) of the era. It's a confronting thought that it's as recently as 15 years ago that the USA experienced race riots on such a massive scale as the ones seen after the famous Rodney King/LAPD incident. It's this kind of tense atmosphere that is introduced in San Andreas.

Rockstar won't reveal all, just yet. But apart from the vast expanses and geographical mix that will be Los Santos, they do tell us that San Fierro will have a lot of hills and that Las Venturas will have a lot of gameplay based around its famous casinos. There is also speculation suggesting that once you start making a lot of money in the game and have access to planes and helicopters, you'll be able to fly between the cities rather than take the road.

In a move that is sure to appease fans. San Andreas will have even more building interiors than earlier GTA games. Again, this will add a new dimension to the GTA experience but even more significantly - San Andreas will not have load times. The only exception will be when entering a building, but even then the developers claim that the time will be so slight it will be barely noticeable. While it remains to be seen how the countryside and desert areas are presented (Rockstar won't show us outside the city of Los Santos yet), you can expect a massive dose of classic GTA humour and piss-taking. Also, we do know that the more rural areas will provide an opportunity to introduce a host of new vehicles. Missions and sub-games involving quad bikes and tractors are just some of the action that's likely to make the cut.

The Orange Grove

Carl Johnson, or CJ, is the new main man. Kicking of the game in Los Santos. CJ returns home after spending five years living in Liberty City (not-so coincidentally where GTA3 is set, in case you've forgotten) after news, of his mother's sudden death. CJ originally left Los Santos after his younger brother Brian was killed (CJ also has a sister, Kendl) but upon his return. CJ is reunited with his estranged older brother Sweet and hooks up with his childhood gang. The Orange Grove families. While CJ isn't too keen to get back into gang life, it's inevitable that things start to go astray after his old Orange Grove pals Smoke, Sweet and Ryder hear he's back in town.

What's immediately evident to us as we first see the game in action is the jump in detail and density that both CJ and the Los Santos environment feature. CJ's skin textures and body and facial details can be far more clearly distinguished. Also, there are more buildings, people and action happening from the outset, adding to the game's realism. The Rockstar team estimate that San Andreas has a 35% to 50% increased polygon count over that seen in GTA: Vice City.

One of the more impressive and funny moments we set during our demonstration is when CJ and the Orange Grove members are about to get into their car when all of a sudden a totally separate carjacking takes place on the same street! These random moments were some of GTA3 and Vice City's highlights and Rockstar is promising more of the same.

Certainly, the early game focuses on the Orange Grove but Houser is quick to point out that the game is not all about the ghettos and gang life. The plot will move away from the Orange Grove, and you can expect the music to reach far beyond rap Where Los Santos will centre around the Orange Grove, expect plenty of variety from CJ's life in San Fierro and Las Venturas.

Funny Biz

The GTA series' humour is without doubt, one of its most endearing assets and, like the earlier games, the humour is packed solid in San Andreas. There'll eventually be plenty of radio stations as always, but the on-screen action and dialogue is already a highlight on its own. In particular, one of the missions in our exclusive demonstration is classic GTA. Not only is the gameplay a superb mix of driving, evasion and shooting, but there are also loads of laughs in between. For a single-player game, San Andreas is gut-bustingly entertaining just to watch. After escaping a hotel that's just been raided by a SWAT team entering through the roof, CJ escapes in a cat where he's been thrown an AK-47 assault rifle. Just like the "Phnom Penh '86" mission in Vice City where Tommy did loads of shooting from a helicopter, CJ must fend off oncoming patrol cars and motorcycle cops from the backseat. The motorcycle cops will also grab onto the car, like the T-1000 in Terminator 2, and you must shoot them off one by one. The mission ends on a hilarious note, though... When trapped in an alleyway with a police chopper headed toward you, its blades accidentally behead one of their own who's standing onboard your car trying to apprehend you and the rest of the Orange Grove!

Know The Consequences

It doesn't take long for the action to heat up for CJ but the gameplay is a different beast altogether. Even when compared to the freedom and opportunities that Tommy Vercetti had in Vice City, the entire San Andreas world really is CJ's oyster. What's even more impressive is that every action that's taken will have a consequence. After their Vice City effort, Rockstar wanted to give the player an even more seamless experience, so their new game will see you build up experience and skills as you play.

Two new elements that we're able to reveal are that CJ is able to rob houses and will also be able to increase his firearm prowess. Robbing houses is something that CJ will learn on a mission, but it's a skill that he'll be able to take with him further into the game. Also, robbing will be more than just a matter of walking into a house off the street - a proper heist will require planning! Where the shooting is concerned, it acts in a similar way to the stamina build up after a lot of running in GTA3 and Vice City. Where those games saw your ability to run long distances increase as you progressed, San Andreas will factor in how well you shoot and how many shootouts you've been involved in. Targeting is now closer to the system used in Manhunt, and CJ will also be able to use dual pistols to dispatch enemies. At the lime of going to press it remains unconfirmed but we believe that these progression elements will also apply to hand-to-hand fighting attributes. Furthermore, there are many more subtle elements that now come into play - paving way for a more realistic and interactive experience. Where it felt like you were playing around in Vice City. San Andreas will give you a feeling that you're really living there.

"At any moment you have a choice over what you do. What we've come to feel in looking back over GTA3 and Vice City is that you have two states - 'mission' and 'off mission'. You're either working on the story or you're pissing about. And in Vice City, there was a little more 'connectedness' between them 'cause you were getting around and getting mobile phone calls from people. You felt more connected but you still felt that your actions didn't have that much consequence." Houser explains.

"What we're trying to do now is bring that 'distance' much closer together. You can do whatever you want but you're going to have to live with the consequences."

Cars will now accumulate dirt, particularly when you're driving cross-country or through the desert. As you always had to change your car's appearance with the help of Pay & Sprays, you'll also need to make sure that you maintain and clean your car to keep yourself inconspicuous. This idea also applies to CJ, who must be wary of changing his haircut from time to time. Just like in real life, CJ needs to food to survive. Eating the right amount of food will allow you to retain good levels of stamina, but eating too much or not enough can both have dire consequences. Not only will an overweight CJ run slower, but even passing pedestrians will start to mock him! Pedestrians are now smarter than ever before. Beating people up in the middle of the day and having it go unnoticed is now a thing of the past. Pedestrians of San Andreas will notice the commotion and react!

"Your game is going to look very different to my game." Houser tells us. "Even though we could be at the same point in the missions, your game's going to look different to mine because it will reflect your interests and things that you've been focusing on doing. Mine's going to feel totally different. You might be super smart and well built and stuff where my guy might be a shabby, fat bastard but we're at the same save point in the game, which gives people a lot more ownership. The whole thing is done with the same sorts of GTA sensibilities that we've always had."

Stayin’ On Top, Dawg

With so many companies now trying to clone Vice City, it won't take long for rivals and gamers everywhere to realise that San Andreas is merely the end-product of Rockstar's ability to be able to "step it up". While there have been admirable attempts, all of them have fallen short. Everyone has a theory as to why Rockstar is so successful, but the answer is simple: They understand the medium of games better than anyone else. The result is brilliantly original games, where most others are simply sequels or updated versions of things seen many times before. '"Games are becoming much better storytelling devices but we are very conscious of the fact that we're making a game here, and we use the story to not only drive you through with the narrative but also to unlock features for you in a way that makes sense," says Houser. "I guess the overall idea and goal we have for this game is that we're not trying to make something that's virtual reality, or that we're aspiring to that. What we're aspiring to is putting you in the middle of your own movie. It's not trying to put you in the middle of your own real world, but it's where you can be both the director and star. "We really care passionately about games and how they're getting into a position where they're challenging films. They're definitely doing it commercially in terms of the scale of the business, but more interestingly they're starting to do it creatively. Books tell you something, films show you something and games let you do something. So intrinsically, that's more engaging for people." he finished. GTA3 was a breath of fresh air. Rising to the challenge of meeting consumers' demands was a proposition of ending in frustrating mediocrity or being Rockstar's greatest-ever triumph. Only the most brilliant of games deserves to earn critical accolades so far prior to release, but San Andreas is clearly a phenomenon in the making.

Q&A With Dan Houser and Terry Donavan

Who’s mackin’?

OPS2 was not only the first Australian magazine to be granted the honour of seeing the game first-hand, but we were also fortunate enough to have an audience with Rockstar bosses Dan Houser and Terry Donavan. Despite their enormous successes, the pair are lovely blokes(!) and remain passionate about their games.

OFFICIAL PLAYSTATION 2 MAGAZINE: Will there be recurring characters and what are the tie-ins with the rest of the GTA universe?

DAN HOUSER: I'll put it like this, it's the third part in a loosely held together trilogy that started in 2001, that went to the mid '80s and has now come to the early '90s. So, we wrap up lots of storylines. I don't want to give away too much on the story but later on we'll reveal some characters. Really, at the moment we can only reveal the story set-up... you're Carl, you left Los Santos five years previously, you come home, your mum's been killed and you discover that your childhood friends are in quite a lot of trouble and behaving quite badly. But yes, you'll definitely see some old faces reappearing in some funny ways. It's about looking at people in a different angle.

OPS2: It seems like there's a real GTA philosophy - Is there any way that you're able to describe what you think it is that makes the games so special?

DH: It's just freedom, satire, places - these places feel like California but they also feel like GTA and the sense of humour from the team -and a real respect for good videogame design and a real desire to push it forward. To get the best of multiple genres and create a unifying package. I think the other thing that we've always tried to push hard Is that everything you see, from the posters, to the logo, to the TV commercial, to the advertising to the game's front end, to the way the manual's laid out, to the website... it all reflects the way the end game looks. This unity is something that a lot of games lack. Everything you do makes it feel like it’s a part of the same world.

OPS2: How do you feel when you see copycat games?

TERRY DONAVAN: It's kind of hard to answer that without...

OPS2: Slagging people off?

TD: Well, It doesn't really do us any favours. I think that they're probably good reminders to ourselves that we've got to move forward fast. It's Just like a pinprick saying "don't rest on your laurels". But then again, Vice City is pretty much the toughest competition out of anything that tried to follow Grand Theft Auto 3. People are still trying to chase around after doing a city when we're off doing a state...

DH: I don't think they really understand the game. It seems to me that a lot of the games pick up on one or two aspects of the games and forget about the rest. The reason we can do this is that we've got amazing people working on it. I think that everyone else will take a long time to catch up to that. We've tried our best to be original but some companies seem to thrive on copying people.

OPS2: But the whole Idea of trying to out-do yourself must be fairly daunting In Itself?

DH: Well, that's where we're lucky again because the teams in both New York and In Scotland are made up of very competitive people. For example, when someone says, "let's make It a state" rather than the art guys saying "we can't do that" and the audio guys saying "that gives us too much work", everyone says, "we'll take on that challenge and add a whole lot of new features ourselves", All the separate departments In development and production push each other to do more and more stuff going forward, so we have a healthy spirit of everyone trying to do the best city. The thing that they have control over, they’re trying to develop it and make it the most special thing that it can be.

OPS2: The satire of American life has always been of Interest to us. It seems like "there's a lot of cultural comment there, which hasn't been spoken about a lot. You guys are English and the game is made in Scotland, but obviously there are many Americans Involved In the making of the game. As a culture that's known to be so patriotic do you think the game is perceived differently In the US? And do you think that some of the jokes even go "over their heads"?

DH: The original GTA carne out from those of us who are now living In New York or based In London, and some of the guys were In Dundee [scotland] at the time... The original thing was a British perspective about living in America. It still retains that to a great extent but we love our Americans! [laughs]

TD: I think they're happy to laugh with it.

DH: The TV might be a bit stupid here but Americans aren't more or less stupid than most people. Giving them something with a different sense of humour isn’t something they'll reject a lot of fan letters and stuff we see on the Internet Is from Americans who love that stuff. I think they actually get into it.

OPS2: One of the characters [Ryder] looks a lot like Eazy-E from NWA. Was that intentional?

DH: It wasn't fully intentional but that kind of jerry curl and attitude makes him a great character. It's not meant to be him at all but he just has a strong distinct look - that's all.

OPS2: Los Santos has a lot of rap and hip-hop Influences - will there be a lot of West Coast gangsta-style vibe in the game?

DH: No, there's actually not that much rap stuff. It's more street culture than rap stuff and that's only this bit of the game anyway. When you're first in the game it seems that the game is all about street life, and then the story kicks you out into another section of the map and it changes totally what it’s all about. There is a bit of rap in there, but it’s not a rapping game. You don't rap or anything like that. That would be a little bit cheesy, I think

OPS2: How will you know when CJ is hungry?

DH: Umm... It will be signalled to you. We'll make sure that it’s something that will feel nice and natural. We're still testing it out and it’ll definitely feel nice. For the person who's playing it, it will be very natural... You've got to take care of Business, but it won’t feel like a chore.

OPS2: It seems, once again, that a lot has been added - have you taken anything out?

DH: No, I don't think so.

OPS2: And the radio stations - they've always been one of the major strengths of the games - Is that still going to be the case?

DH: I hope so [laughs] I hope we don't f*"k up! We're not really ready to start announcing what the music's going to be just yet because Terry and the guys who do that have an absolute mountain of music to sort out, so again, the volume is enormous. Vice City was eight or nine records [per radio station]. With GTA3 you went from reggae to opera and [in San Andreas] we'll try and make sure that all aspects of California are there. California is the only place In America that has good radio. We'll try and capture a good range of audio in there.

OPS2: Will the three cities have distinct feels between them?

DH: Yes! Otherwise it’s just going to feel like, real suburban. I mean, hopefully we'll be able to get a strong visual look in architecture, but also with lighting and, obviously, gameplay. There's a lot of on-foot stuff at the start of the game In Los Santos. When you go to San Fierro you'll be doing a lot of driving there, and when you go to Las Venturas there's a real playground element to It and whatnot. We'll try and give it a strong visual, character-wise - what the pedestrians look like, how they behave and also the strong differences in activity.

OPS2: What was It that you found that most people wanted in the new GTA?

DH: They all wanted us to rework the targeting and I think we've done a great job In doing that, but it will be once people start to play It that we'll find out It they like It! They didn’t know what they wanted in terms of cities but with the three cities - LA, San Francisco, and Vegas - I'm sure we've made everyone happy. A lot of people wanted swimming. That was definitely appealing to the fans. And they wanted more stuff to do that felt right In the GTA world. I haven't seen anything off the Internet that I thought was a really good Idea or even a credible Idea that would even remotely work In this game that we havent done. Equally, the guys that work on It are their own biggest critics, and they push stuff realty hard. They're always searching for Ideas.

OPS2: What are some lessons you've learned from releasing some of your other non-GTA games, like Manhunt?

DH: Definitely with Manhunt we learned two things that will definitely appear in this. It's a different team at Rockstar North but some guys worked on both games. Leslie [berates] Is a Producer on GTA and an Executive Producer on Manhunt. We learned how to make the shooting feel very visceral. Some of the techniques that we learned from the targeting system have been taken from Manhunt and now we've also got sneaking. We've done a lot of work on a sneaking game. I think Manhunt has more than that but I do think that it did sneaking very well, so we're definitely taking that over. Manhunt was an enormous undertaking audio-wise and we've taken some of that stuff too. Generally as a company, our experience from doing all our games and the previous GTA games is naturally going to come Into it.

OPS2: Are you able to talk about future plans, like what's in store for the PSP?

DH: We like to focus on one thing at a time! This is the danger with technology, people look three generations ahead and I think one of our strengths Is that we really like to handcraft everything. This is a labour of love for a lot of people. We haven't looked that far ahead -partly because I can't see that far In front of me, and party because of the vast amount of work that there is!

OPS2: If you've had a look around the show floor here at E3 - is there anything In particular that you really like yourselves?

DH: Well, we always like people who are trying to do their own thing and doing what they think is cool and what seems original. I think just from a visual perspective, the new Metal Gear looks pretty stunning. They're pushing their own style of gameplay in a really interesting direction. A lot of the other stuff seems like catalogue-filler for people who didn't think of a lot of ideas. I think E3 Is a dreadful place, really, to show stuff - Trying to play something, and with the volume of what's going on and people trying to push you out of the way. It's hard to think of a worse product to be shown in that way than a videogame.

There are two things that we've wanted to do since we started doing Rockstar, and those are games that we thought were well-styled and also games that played well. That was always the most important goal and we've never deviated from that it’s almost like, since people got 3D it seems that gameplay has become less important than it should be in some minds - graphics would hide really weak gameplay.

OPS2: Cheers, guys

DH: It was great to see you again, man.

Stuff

Everyone expected Vice City's sequel to be bigger, better and faster. So that's check, check and check. And there's going to be pushbikes, more motorbikes (including police bikes!), cars, boats and weapons than ever before, too. But you already knew that, right? These elements alone would have made for a worthy sequel, but that's just the tip of the San Andreas iceberg. Dan Houser gives us the low-down on what else the San Andreas universe will bring to the table.

Eating:

"You could go and eat something in Vice City but it didn't mean anything - it was just a funny thing to do. This time, if you don't eat food you're going to lack energy and your player's going to slowly thin. If you do eat food you're going to keep up energy but if you eat too much food your guy's going to get fat. If you get too thin you're not going to have any strength and if you're too fat you're going to be slow and have no stamina. Everything has consequences in this way. If you're fat you're going to have to lose some weight by going to the gym - get some muscle and then you'll be strong."

Haircuts:

“You can have your hair cut at any minute. You can choose your haircut – If you want a stupid haircut people are going to call you stupid so, this whole idea of leisure tine suddenly comes to life."

Swimming:

"You can now swim because we got bored of people saying, 'why can't you swim in the game?'"

The four-man drive-by:

"Drive-bys are no longer done on your own. You can now do them with four people. You can recruit a gang to go off and do some work with you, and you can start to run the territory when you're in a gang."

Bigger:

"The quickest someone got through Vice City with a guide was 36 hours that we know of. We can't do a complete play through San Andreas yet - but I can't see It being any less than three times the length. It's absolutely enormous."

Improved targeting:

"In any third-person game, targeting is always an issue. Now that we've done multiple iterations of this. I think we've got something with the kind of control you're looking for; without being too difficult for the casual player."

Dynamic difficulty levels:

"The thing with games is that you constantly have to sell the idea to someone to keep playing it. It's not like a book where most people will finish it or a movie where everyone will finish It. Games are so long, that if people get bored or find something impossible like a sticking point they'll stop. We'll subtly, without anyone noticing it... unless they've read about it in a magazine, make it [the mission] a little easier.”

Improved environment mapping:

"Everything looks a lot better and you get much better draw distances. There's far more detail and you can see further and clearer. When you're in the desert you can get tumbleweed and effects like that drawing procedurally so that we can get very beautiful looking stuff.

"What this gives, is a map that looks really alive, a city that looks lived-in and feels like it exists. Some of the problems I see in games are that levels end up looking 'Toy Townish'. We've worked really hard to avoid that. "We've got reflections on cars and there's been a dual pass on the light map. There are real-time reflections in mirrors and in the sides of cars. It's subtle stuff but it gives interactivity. You can get a haircut, and then you can go and have a look at it in the mirror. The way the game's looking is miles ahead of Vice City. Now we've got a really, really beautiful game on our hands."

Streaming:

"We are now streaming everything [for the game] straight off the disc - there is no other way: The other constraint Is the DVD. We almost filled it with Vice City, and even though there is better compression on most things we've now completely crammed the disc so we've had to go dual-layer on the DVD disk, and some of it will have to come off the second layer. The player will never know this but that just shows you the kind of scale that we're talking - the DVD Is no longer big enough. The biggest thing that we're scared of for the PlayStation 3 Is that the storage medium wont be big enough. We have to have a better storage medium."

Car physics:

"We've massively improved the car physics. The game has always been a car chase game - not a race game. We've tried to build on that so that the chases are more fun and the cameras are more cinematic"

Technical rendering:

"The render pipeline has been completely rewritten. We're still using Renderware for the lowest level stuff but the Technical Directors at Rockstar North - Adam [Fowler] and Obbe [Vermel] really know what they need the code to do now so they are able to write a large portion of that themselves."

Animation and gameplay:

"There's a huge variety of fighting stances and attacks now. Hand-to-hand combat's been massively reworked and there are new styles of carjacking - It looks more varied and gives a much better sense of life to everything. Every pedestrian in the game's now got a 'brain' and has unique activities that they can do. The AI [artificial Intelligence] is so much more lifelike than it has ever been in the past and we've got much better facial stuff in there than we’ve ever had in the past."

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they said that this is going to be the most anticipated game of 2004 for the ps2

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the UK ops2 preview

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In my capacity as editor-in-chief of Official UK PlayStation 2 Magazine I have witnessed many game presentations. Dull ones, good ones, lazy ones, long, tedious incomprehensible ones, ones that are forgotten before they’ve begun. When I finally emerged from the uber-secret Rockstar meeting room at around 3.00pm US time on Thursday 13 May 2004, I had witnessed the game presentation to end them all. And all I could do was race outside, sit, smoke a fag and try to chasten my racing mind. Momentarily attempt to harness darting thoughts, twisted perceptions and explosive excitement. I had just seen Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. I was the first journalist in the world to do so, and it was beyond anything I could have imagined.

So the rumours so astutely collated by the OPS2 team (OPS2#46) were right. And wrong. When we surmised that Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas might comprise of a skewed-up GTA-mentalised interpretation of both San Francisco and Los Angeles, we were correct. However, what we could never have guessed was the pure ambition, the almost insanely obsessive nature of the Rockstar teams in both New York and Edinburgh to push, thrust and charge ever forward in the desire to make this instalment of the GTA franchise even bigger, bolder and badder. We’re not just talking one city; we’re not even talking two. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas comprises of three cities, contained within an entire American state. The state of San Andreas. And that doesn’t just mean cities, but miles and miles of interstates, valleys, freeways, deserts, coastline and badlands, all of which you’ll be able to explore. Each of the three cities is around the size of Vice Cit. and with all of the connecting countryside, this brings the game to around five times the size of the previous GTA game. Just think about that for a second. Five times the size of Vice City. More populated than Vice City. More detailed than Vice City. More options, more cars, more weapons, more challenges, more characters, more secrets, more music, more storyline. Now remember how long it took you to finish Vice City. Excited yet? And believe us, this is just the beginning. Read on and feel your mind scream as the implausible, the unlikely and the downright impossible become irrefutable fact.

San Andreas’ three cities stack up like this: Los Santos (Los Angeles) San Fierro (San Francisco) and Las Venturas (Las Vegas). As in reality, each is riddled with individual stylistic nuance, from architectural personality to vehicular population, from mission types through to character’s accents, to what the pedestrians get up to on the street. The detail is laser targeted. And, as you’d expect, this phenomenal detail extends to you.

You’re Carl Johnson; CJ to his friends. Five years ago, CJ left Los Santos for Liberty City after the death of his brother Brian in a disastrous accident. It’s the early ‘90s and now he’s back. The passing of his mother demands his attendance at the funeral and a reunion with his older brother Sweet. Sweet had previously blamed CJ for Brian’s death, yet with both their family and their old gang – the Orange Grove Families – in disharmony, the feud must take a back seat. Sweet and his sister Kendl are rowing, the gang (Sweet, Smoke and Ryder) have lost respect on the streets and are rendered vulnerable by internal squabbling and the ever-present threat of rival gang’s uncompromising hatred. Added to this are a pair of supremely bent cops, Frank Tenpenny and Eddie Pulaski, who make it their business to come down on the OGF whenever possible. And come down heavy. So it’s against this discordant background of fear, desperation and foreboding that young CJ is dragged back into a gut-puncturing gang life he’d hoped he’d left behind.

“SWIMMING WE NEVER HAD BEFORE, WE JUST GOT PISSED OFF WITH PEOPLE SAYING ‘WE CAN’T DO SWIMMING’.”

So says Dan Houser, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas’ vice-president of creative and one of the figures most centrally involved with the creation of this colossal game.

“IT WORKS WELL IN THE GAME. SO IF YOU DRIVE OFF A BRIDGE YOU’RE NOT GOING TO DROWN. BUT THAT SAID, IT’S NOT A SWIMMING GAME.”

So presumably you can now climb out of the window of the car?

“YEAH.”

And does that happen every time you drive into water? You automatically just climb out of the car?

”WELL, IF YOU DON’T CHOOSE TO EXIT THE CAR YOU WILL SINK WITH THE CAR, THEN YOU’LL HAVE A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF STAMINA UNDER WATER WHICH YOU CAN BUILD UP. THERE’LL BE A FEW MISSIONS THAT WILL HAVE SWIMMING IN THEM, BUT IT’S NOT GONNA BE LIKE A PSONE ERA ACTION ADVENTURE GAME WHERE EVERYONE WAS OBSESSED WITH SWIMMING PERIODICALLY. DEFINITELY NOT. IT JUST GIVES IT PLAYABILITY.”

So, proving Rockstar listens to it’s fans, it’s in with swimming. But what about that reference to ‘stamina which you can build up’? It turns out that among the myriad additions to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, your characters stamina – as well as other attributes – can be personalised, altered and generally messed about with. For example, now, when you eat, it leaves a marked impression on CJ. If all you eat is burgers he’s going to get fat. So you’ve got to mix it up a bit. Get too fat and you’ll have to get down to the gym and work it off. Yep, you read that right, there’s not a gym in GTA. Indeed, if you get too fat, you literally won’t be able to complete some missions, so keeping trim is pretty important. If you’re fat your stamina and strength will decrease, and not only that, passers by will laugh and insult your porcine physique. And for a gangbanger on the make, that just ain’t cool. As well as control over your weight, you can alternate your haircut. As we’ll explain in more detail later, you can go and get a haircut from your local barber then look in the mirror and check out your style. But will this image change have any relationship with how you’re perceived by pedestrians on the streets?

”YEAH, IF YOU’VE GOT A STUPID HAIRCUT PEOPLE WILL SAY, ‘YOU LOOK STUPID’.”

So if you’ve been to the gym and you’ve got a cool haircut then passing ladies might…?

“THEY MIGHT BE IMPRESSED, YEAH.”

The general idea is that during every mission you embark on, you’ll learn something new. There will be hundreds of different skills to master throughout the game and it’ll take an almighty gaming Trojan to become au fait with them all. House breaking is one such new addition. Details of how this will manifest itself in the game are still to be finally locked down.

“YOU’LL BE ABLE TO DO IT THROUGH A MISSION, AND THEN DO IT WITH MORE FREEDOM.”

There will be many dwellings of differing stature that will be robbable for piles of loot. But don’t assume that it’ll be as easy to raid a home as it is to car-jack a ride. The suburban heists will take a great deal of planning and require a bunch of skills to pull off correctly. A successful burglary will result in a pile of lucci. A botched amateurish effort will result in you getting your afro parted by a shotgun. But what of bigger opportunities, more rewarding ventures, something perhaps for the career gangster?

”YOU CAN NOW RECRUIT A GANG AND TAKE OVER TERRITORIES WITH THEM AND THEN LOSE TERRITORIES IF YOU DON’T LOOK AFTER THEM. SO YOU’VE GOT THE IDEA THAT BITS OF THE MAP BECOME PERSONALISED TO YOU AS MUCH AS YOUR OWN CHARACTER GETS PERSONALISED TO YOU.”

So with the Orange Grove Families you can take over and dominate certain areas of the map?

”YES, YOU’LL MAKE MONEY FROM THEM IF YOU LOOK AFTER THEM. THERE ARE BITS IN THE GAME THAT ARE MORE GANG FOCUSED AND BITS WHERE YOU’RE MORE OF A LONE OPERATIVE. WE’VE GOT THIS CHALLENGE IN THE GAME WHERE WE WANT TO KEEP IT OPEN AND WE WANT TO PUT A GOOD STORY IN – THE STORIES ARE REALLY GOOD FOR DRAGGING YOU THROUGH EVERYTHING.”

It’s an astonishing thought. If you think about how the Bloods and Crips divide up South Central LA with their dominance over certain areas, and then think about being able to take a fairly dishevelled gang (The OGF) and build them up to a dominant force in the gang community, it’s a stupidly appealing gaming concept and certainly one never seen before. And yet still, this is not all. While the game retains the violent pot pourri of story, mission and extra tasks inherent to the Grand Theft Auto franchise, supreme effort has been made to individualise each player’s experience.

“IF WE’D BOTH BEEN PLAYING FOR A WHILE YOUR GAME WOULD BEGIN TO FEEL VERY DIFFERENT FROM MY GAME. WE MIGHT BE AT THE SAME POINT IN THE MISSION STRUCTURE, BUT YOUR CHARACTER MIGHT LOOK GREAT, YOU KNOW, HAVE ALL THESE GREAT ATTRIBUTES, HAVE A LOT OF MONEY COMING IN BUT IF I’M JUST FOCUSED ON THE MISSIONS, I MIGHT LOOK LIKE A PIECE OF SHIT. IT’S ABOUT GIVING PEOPLE THAT FREEDOM OF CHOICE. IT’S STILL VERY MUCH AN ACTION GAME, BUT THERE’S ALSO A WHOLE WORLD OUT THERE TO EXPLORE IF YOU WANT TO. AT POINTS IN THE GTA EXISTENCE WE’VE GONE VERY NON-LINEAR, LIKE GTA2 WAS VERY, VERY NON-LINEAR. AND WE’VE TRIED TO GET THE BEST OF THAT [iN GTA: SA], WHICH COMES DOWN TO GIVING PEOPLE THE FREEDOM OF CHOICE AT ANY MOMENT. YOU ALSO GET THE ADVANTAGE OF A STORY WHICH RELIES ON EMOTION AND CHARACTERS. SO THE STORY OPENS UP, IT FEELS VERY NON-LINEAR, THEN IT CLOSES FOR A BIT, THEN IT OPENS UP AGAIN – IT WORKS QUITE WELL I THINK.”

The whole idea of countryside to explore in-between the cities is yet another colossally appealing prospect. Initially, when the notion is suggested, one might even assume that these areas are simplistic, small and perhaps even merely designed to disguise loading times between grander levels. One could not be more wrong.

“WE LOVE, FROM A TECHNICAL POINT OF VIEW, THE DRIVING IN THE OPEN SPACES ON SMUGGLER’S RUN. IT’S AWESOME. NOW YOU’LL BE ABLE TO DO THAT IN GTA WITH ALL OF THE GTA GAMEPLAY. WE’VE GOT A SICK NUMBER OF VEHICLES AND SOME THAT YOU CAN’T REALLY PUT IN A TOWN BUT YOU CAN PUT IN THE COUNTRYSIDE, LIKE A QUAD BIKE. YOU CAN REALLY RACE ACROSS THIS COUNTRYSIDE – IT FEELS REALLY QUICK OUT THERE. WE’VE DONE A LOT OF WORK ON THE DRIVING PHYSICS. IT’S STILL VERY MUCH A CHASING NOT A CAR RACING GAME, BUT ONCE YOU GET IN THE COUNTRYSIDE IT FEELS SUPER QUICK NOW. IT’S ALSO PUT THROUGH THE GRAND THEFT AUTO FILTER, SO IT’S NOT THE FRIENDLIEST ENVIRONMENT. LIKE WHEN TOWNY GOES TO THE COUNTRY, IT’S SCARY AND FULL OF INBREDS AND WHATNOT. YOUR MISSIONS REFLECT IT – YOU’RE MEETING DEGENERATES AND GOING OFF TO DO LOCAL BANK HEISTS. IT WORKS REALLY WELL FROM A STORY PERSPECTIVE. WE’VE GONE TO A LOT OF TROUBLE TO MAKE SURE THAT THE MORE OUTLANDISH MISSIONS STILL MAKE SENSE WITHIN THE WORLD AND WHERE YOU ARE IN THE STORY. THE COUNTRYSIDE IS CHUNKS AND CHUNKS AND CHUNKS AND THEY’RE BITS TO DO EVERYWHERE. THE MAP LOOKS SUPER ORGANIC, SO IT LOOKS REAL. WE’VE DONE A LOT OF WORK ROUNDING UP CORNERS SO IT DOESN’T LOOK SQUARE. ALSO, WHICHEVER WAY YOU WANT TO CROSS IT – BE IT IN A CAR; BE IT ON A BIKE – WHICH IS ONE OF OUR REALLY COOL VEHICLES – BE IT ON FOOT AND SHOOTING – THERE’S REALLY GOOD GAMEPLAY BUILD NATURALLY INTO THE ENVIRONMENT. WE’VE THOUGHT ABOUT THE WORLD FROM LOTS OF DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES TO MAKE SURE THAT THE MISSIONS SHOW OFF ALL THE BEST ASSETS OF THE MAP. THE MAP IS SO BIG NOW WE GET LOST IN IT FREQUENTLY.”

When you first see Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, actually witness it, it's bastard impressive. By all means siphon in all the static goodness contained in the screenshots displayed throughout this brutally huge feature. Drink it up and imagine it moving (worry not, we'll bring you DVD footage of this gaming phenomi-beast just as soon as we can). For seeing it moving, experiencing this colossus alive, living and breathing is like nothing you have seen on your PlayStation 2 before. Some magazines use statements like that casually, 0PS2 does not. This is greatness incarnate. Best believe. It's almost frightening - the detail, the population, more dense than ever going about their business. Like 2001's Hal. You actually suspect it might be sentient.

"WE'RE REALLY TRYING TO GIVE THE CITIES MORE LIFE. EVERY PEDESTRIAN NOW HAS A BRAIN. THEY'VE GOT MUCH MORE REFINED ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE. THEY'VE GOT A LOT MORE UNIQUE ANIMATIONS DEPENDING ON WHAT THE PEDESTRIAN TYPE IS AND WHAT ACTIVITIES THEY DO. SO NOT ONLY WILL YOU SEE A LOT MORE PEDESTRIANS, BUT THEY DO A LOT MORE SHIT. SO THE GUYS YOU SEE IN THE GHETTO AND THE GUYS YOU SEE IN THE COUNTRYSIDE ARE GOING TO BOTH ACT AND LOOK DIFFERENT. IT GIVES IT MORE LIFE THAN IT EVER USED TO HAVE. WE'VE DONE MUCH MORE RESEARCH ON THE CHARACTERS, LIKE WE NOW GO AND DO FASHION SHOOTS TO MAKE SURE ALL THE PERIOD COSTUMES ARE RIGHT. THE CHARACTERS NOW HAVE MORE BONES SO WE 6ET PROPER FACIAL ANIMATIONS AND STUFF."

"WE'VE DONE A LOAD OF WORK TO THE GRAPHICS FROM A TECHNICAL STANDPOINT. WE'VE COMPLETELY RE-WRITTEN THE RENDER PIPELINE. THE DETAIL AND THE SCOPE YOU NOW SEE WE COULDN'T GET BEFORE. LIKE IN THE DESERT THERE'S TUMBLE WEEDS AND SO FORTH, REALLY ORGANIC STUFF. THERE'RE TONS OF UNIQUE INTERIORS, A MUCH MORE DENSELY POPULATED MAP. THERE WERE BITS IN THE VICE CITY MAP THAT WE FELT WERE A LITTLE UNDER POPULATED. AND EVEN IN THE COUNTRYSIDE IT STILL FEELS LIKE THERE'S MORE POSSIBILITY FOR ACTION. WE'VE GOT REAL TIME REFLECTIONS IN MIRRORS, WE'VE DONE A HUGE AMOUNT OF WORK WITH THE LIGHTING SYSTEM. WE WERE PIONEERS IN THE DAY-TO-NIGHT CLOCK SYSTEM. BUT NOW IT'S A LOT BETTER -THERE'S A TOTALLY SEPARATE MODEL FOR ANYTHING IN THE DAYTIME AND AT NIGHT-TIME. SO YOU GET A MUCH BETTER FEELING OF NIGHT AND DAY, MUCH BETTER CONTRAST. THERE ARE SHADOWS, WHICH GIVES US A GAMEPLAY THING WE NEVER HAD PREVIOUSLY, BECAUSE YOU CAN HIDE IN THEM. NOW YOU CAN SNEAK IN A GTA GAME FOR THE FIRST TIME. YOU CAN HAVE A MISSION WHERE YOU COULD PLAY IT BALLS OUT WITH A MACHINE GUN, RUNNING AND TRYING TO BLAST EVERYONE, OR YOU COULD SNEAK AROUND AND PICK THEM OFF ONE BY ONE. IT GIVES A LOT OF CHOICE."

Sneaking in a Grand Theft Auto game? What a brilliant concept. The variety of gameplay will be magnified a thousand fold. If you recall the numerous ways missions were conquerable in GTA: Vice City (assassinating with cars, trucks, handguns, bazookas, by hand - to name but five) the idea of also being able to take it easy and creep about like an urban ninja is mind-savaging. One can't help wondering how this might affect a reckless player, whose catalogue of unchecked violence had managed to deliver a four-star police enquiry all over his ass? We suspect that the cops would still get their man, after all they never seem to bloody give up. That said, for lesser felons, with say just one star's worth of heat, we expect the shadows to provide a welcome respite from the pugnacious attentions of the Five-Oh.

Contemplating Rockstar's recent oeuvre for a second, it might seem like we're talking about incorporating something of the Manhunt experience into Grand Theft Auto!

"WELL, IT'S JUST KIND OF PICKING OUT GOOD THINGS FROM EVERYWHERE. THERE IS A CERTAIN MAGPIE ELEMENT ON EVERYTHING. JUST TRYING TO HONE THIS ENORMOUS BEAST. WE'VE HONED THE PHYSICS ON BOTH THE PLAYER AND THE VEHICLE DRIVING, SO AGAIN IT FEELS A LOT MORE LIKE AN ACTION MOVIE. WE'VE DONE A LOT OF WORK WITH THE CARS AND THE CAMERA SO IT FEELS A LOT MORE ACTION ORIENTATED, WHILE STILL GIVING YOU GOOD CONTROL."

Control. One of the few slightly niggly elements of the vice City experience. Of course the driving was sublime - a trait which is carried over to San Andreas and even further improved on - but when 0PS2 invited you lot, our most demanding of readers, to email over suggested inclusions for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas a few months back, better third-person control was something requested time and time again. Rockstar has been listening to its fans.

"THERE ARE TONS MORE ANIMATIONS, SO YOU'VE GOT A VARIETY OF FIGHTING STANCES AND A VARIETY OF ATTACKS. YOU CAN NOW TARGET WHILE YOU'RE FIST-FIGHTING, AS WELL AS WHILE YOU'RE GUN FIGHTING. WE'VE TOTALLY OVERHAULED THE GUN-FIGHTING TARGETING SYSTEM. TARGETING IS ALWAYS A CHALLENGE IN ANY THIRD-PERSON GAME, EVEN A BUILT-FROM-THE-GROUND-UP THIRD-PERSON SHOOTER, BECAUSE YOU'RE LOOKING AT THIS GUY AND HE'S GOT TO LOOK OVER THERE - THE PHYSICS OF IT MAKE IT DIFFICULT. BUT I THINK WE'VE NOW GOT A REALLY ELEGANT SOLUTION THAT GIVES YOU A LOT OF CONTROL."

The current colours that the player's targeting icon revolves through are green, yellow and red. If the target is very healthy it'll be green, if they're of medium health they'll be yellow and if you can kill them with the shot you're attempting it'll be red. Rockstar has evidently done a great deal of work on the hierarchy of who you're aiming at.

"IF YOU'RE IN A SITUATION WHERE THERE ARE INNOCENT PEOPLE AND ENEMIES, IT WILL NATURALLY FOCUS ON THE ENEMIES. YOU'LL HAVE MORE CONTROL THIS TIME, BUT IT WILL ALSO DO A VERY GOOD AUTO-TARGET. YOU CAN STILL FLICK AROUND THROUGH TARGETS, BUT IT'LL MAKE MUCH BETTER FIRST CHOICES THAN IT HAS EVER DONE IN THE PAST. IT'S SOMETHING THAT'S [CURRENTLY] BEING REFINED."

Not content with just providing the broadest, most involving, hectically aggressive action possible, through gameplay that's in turn both simple and supremely complex, the Grand Theft Auto games are also uproariously funny. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas upholds this legacy. Pop culture, habitual behaviour, corporate idiocy - all have been torn asunder via astute use of the scythe of satire and the pomp of parody.

"WE'VE DEVELOPED OUR CHARACTERS A BIT MORE AND TO THAT EXTENT IT'S MORE SERIOUS. BUT IT'S STILL VERY MUCH TRYING TO BE FUNNY AT ALL POINTS. THE SATIRE... I SUPPOSE IT'S LEVELLED AT THE BROADER WEIRDNESS OF AMERICA AND AMERICAN CONSUMERISM AND AMERICAN ACTION MOVIES AS WELL."

Yet we've all seen other games attempt humour. The usual result being an awkward silence, a slight reddening of the cheeks and, if you're in the process of trying to ingratiate a non-gamer into the joys of PS2, you've just lost your student- they'll invariably puff at the futility of the dying digital japery, point out that clearly, contrary to your protestations, games are for kids and sod off to make the tea. Other games just aren't as funny as Grand Theft Auto.

"WELL, IT'S BECAUSE WE'VE GOT SIX PEOPLE WORKING ON IT. ME AND ANOTHER FRIEND OF MINE DO A LOT OF THE RADIO STUFF AND WE HAVE TO COMPETE WITH THE STUFF THE OTHER GUYS ARE DOING ON THE SIGNAGE (SHOP LOGOS, COMPANY NAMES). THEY'RE COMING OUT WITH ALL THESE RIDICULOUS SICK JOKES ALL THE TIME - IT'S ABOUT HAVING FUNNY GUYS WITH A VERY DRY BRITISH SENSE OF HUMOUR WORKING ON STUFF AND THE FACT THAT EVERYONE WANTS TO PUSH STUFF. SO THAT'S JUST COMPLETELY GROWN ORGANICALLY... IT WAS EVEN THERE IN GTA1, TO SOME EXTENT, THAT STUFF. [LIKE] SOME OF THE PAGER MESSAGES. GTA2 DIDN'T HAVE IT SO MUCH - WE WERE TRYING TO DO THAT SLIGHTLY FUTURISTIC THING. AND THEN, FROM GTA3 ONWARDS, IT REALLY MANAGED TO COME ALIVE."

But surely during the making of the game even the mighty Rockstar must come up with stuff that's just a bit too risque or maybe just isn't that funny now and again?

"THE GUYS THAT DO THE SIGNAGE CAN PUSH IT REALLY FAR. THEY LOVE THE SCATOLOGICAL STUFF, BUT THEY'RE ALWAYS SO ON THE MONEY. THE PUNS THEY COME UP WITH ARE SO AWESOME. IT'S LIKE 'OOW! IT'S A BIT MUCH BUT IT'S REALLY FUNNY', SO THEY SLIP IT IN THERE. AND A LOT OF THE STUFF PEOPLE DON'T EVEN NOTICE. SOME PEOPLE MIGHT NOT EVEN LIKE THE GTA HUMOUR AT ALL, BUT IT BECOMES AN ACTION GAME AT THAT POINT."

The game is so filled with wildly different play styles. All things to all men in many ways. And yet it remains seamless, it doesn't jar?

Ever bought a game and halfway in, the gameplay changes completely for a section? One minute you're stealthing about, the next you're driving a rally car? Implausible jumps like that can recklessly jolt a player's psyche from within the gaming vacuum, the suspension of disbelief is eroded at its foundations and it all comes crashing down. It just doesn't feel right. So how on Earth do the GTA games avoid this problem? Enjoying a peerless variation in play style, the gamer is at liberty to get involved in a preposterously varied selection of tasks - and yet it never jars?

"WE ARE VERY CONSCIOUS OF THAT BEING THE POTENTIAL PROBLEM. AND SO, STYLING-WISE, EVERYTHING HAS TO FEEL LIKE IT MATCHES PERFECTLY. THE CONTROLS HAVE TO FEEL LIKE THEY'RE FROM THE SAME GAME, THE ANIMATIONS HAVE TO FEEL LIKE THEY'RE FROM THE SAME GAME, THE ART DIRECTION HAS TO FEEL LIKE IT'S FROM THE SAME GAME. BUT ALSO THE STORY - WHICH MIGHT BE OUTLANDISH, EVEN WHEN YOU JUST THOUGHT YOU WERE IN A GAME ABOUT BEING IN A GANG RUNNING DRUGS OR WHATEVER - NEEDS TO MAKE SENSE AT THAT POINT. WE DO WANT TO STRETCH STUFF, BECAUSE WE DO WANT TO GIVE PEOPLE A BROAD EXPERIENCE. HERE IT ALWAYS FEELS LIKE YOU'RE IN THE SAME GAME. NOW I'M HAVING MY HAIR CUT, NOW I'M OFF RUNNING ROUND IN A CAR... IT ALL FEELS LIKE THE SAME WORLD. PLUS, OF COURSE, YOU HAVE THE FREEDOM TO IT OR NOT TO DO IT. WE DO SOME SECTIONS WHERE WE GO FIRST-PERSON, BUT THEY MAKE SENSE AS WELL BECAUSE OF WHERE YOU ARE IN THE MISSION. IT'S THE THIRD PART OF A LOOSELY BOUND TRILOGY, THE FIRST OF WHICH WAS SET IN 2001, THE SECOND IN THE MID-'80S AND THIS IN THE EARLY '90S. AND THERE ARE SOME LOOSE CONNECTIONS IN THERE FOR THE HARDCORE FAN. WE FELT THAT THE EAST COAST WAS A GOOD STARTING POINT, MIAMI IN THE '80S WAS GREAT, LA WAS THE COOLEST BIT OF THE WORLD IN THAT TIME (EARLY '90S). WE'VE DONE A HUGE AMOUNT OF RESEARCH ON THE VOICES MAKING SURE THEY SOUND LA NOT NEW YORK. IT NEEDS TO FEEL CALIFORNIAN, BUT STILL PRESENTED IN THAT GTA WAY."

With so much on offer, such a ludicrously vast play area, the range of vehicles, guns, tasks, characters and storylines, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is starting to sound like the only game you'll ever need. Experiencing everything that has been proposed in this feature could take years. Not months. Years. Could it be that in creating the most humungous PS2 videogame ever, Rockstar might actually do itself out of a job?

"ONE AREA THAT I'M HEAVILY INVOLVED IN IS CREATING THE AUDIO ASSETS - I THINK WE'LL HAVE WELL OVER 400 SPEAKING PARTS, WHICH IS INSANITY. THE AMOUNT OF STUDIO TIME WE'RE HAVING TO GET THROUGH AND THE AMOUNT OF WRITING THAT'S INVOLVED, WE'RE MORE WORRIED ABOUT GETTING IT ON THE DISK. THAT'S OUR INITIAL CHALLENGE. WE'RE HAVING TO GO TO DUAL LAYER DVD BECAUSE WE'VE ALREADY FILLED UP A FULL DVD." "THIS IS THE THING ABOUT HAVING A VERY AMBITIOUS TEAM. EVERYONE, EVERY SECTION PUSHES THE OTHER SECTION. NOBODY WANTS TO BE THE BUY THAT ISN'T PUSHING AS HARD AS POSSIBLE. EVERYONE WANTS THEIR BIT TO BE THE BIT THAT PEOPLE REMEMBER FROM THE GAME. THERE'S A LOT OF INTERNAL COMPETITION AND PRESSURE TO DO THE BEST THAT THEY CAN DO. YOU KNOW, 'HOW CAN WE TIE THAT IN TOGETHER? AND SUDDENLY YOU'RE LIKE 'OH SHIT, THAT NEEDS ANOTHER 10,000 EXTRA AUDIO SAMPLES OR ANOTHER 50 PEDESTRIAN MODELS -OH WELL, IT'S WORTH IT, DON'T LET THE SIDE DOWN...' THERE'S A REALLY GOOD ENERGY LIKE THAT. THE DANGER IS CURRENTLY THE STORAGE MEDIUM (DVD) AND ONE THING WE'RE ALL PRAYING FOR WITH THE NEXT ROUND OF HARDWARE IS THAT THEY DON'T JUST GO, 'IT'S A DVD AGAIN'. WE'VE DONE SOME CLEVER STUFF WITH COMPRESSING IT, BUT WE WERE VIRTUALLY FULL ON THE DISK ON VICE CITY- THIS TIME WE'RE OVER-FILLING THE DISK TO THE MAX."

You'll notice in reading this feature that there's been no mention of one of Grand Theft Auto's signature features - music. This is for good reason. Rockstar ain't talking, in GTA3 the sonic wallpaper ranged from opera to reggae, and in Vice City it crossed all aspects of '80s pop and hip-hop hits.

"CALIFORNIA HAS GOT THE BEST RADIO OF ANYWHERE IN AMERICA. THERE'S GOING TO BE A BIG, BIG RANGE OF MUSIC IN THIS ONE."

There's a similar deficit in information pertaining to the voicing of the game's characters. You'll recall such Hollywood luminaries as Michael Madsen, Ray Liotta, Burt Reynolds, Dennis Hopper and Lee Majors spitting their verbal darts all over Vice City. And while we can surely expect some big names taking the mic for San Andreas, Rockstar is reticent to elucidate.

"FROM A PRODUCTION POINT OF VIEW WE'RE DOING ALL THAT STUFF NOW, SO IT'S NOT ALL PUT TO BED. AND WE PROBABLY WON'T EVEN MENTION IT UNTIL AFTER THE GAME COMES OUT. BUT TIME SPENT IN A VOICE BOOTH DOESN'T HELP WITH THE QUALITY OF THE INTERACTION. WE USE VOICES BECAUSE THEY'VE GOT A STRONG VOICE FOR A CUT-SCENE - NO OTHER REASON. WE LIKE TO DO IT 'COS IT ADDS TO THE EXPERIENCE, BUT WE'D HATE TO THINK PEOPLE BUY THE GAME BECAUSE SO-AND-SO IS VOICING IT."

So how to conclude? What to say? Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is simply the most important game ever made. Period. It's undoubtedly set to be the most successful of the series. The most played. The most loved, discussed, debated, argued over and analysed. Can you do this? Have you tried that? Have you found this? The letters page of this very magazine are sure to be aflame with scrutiny for the majority of 2005. Prepare yourselves people. The date is set. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas drops on the 22nd of October, 2004.

Now go back to the start, read this again, and believe.

Q&A With Aaron Garbut

You've clearly gone to a great deal of trouble to encapsulate the smoggy, LA (Los Santos) look. What can we expect from the look of San Fierro (San Francisco) and Las Venturas (Las Vegas)?

We have aimed to make every area feel very different while still belonging to the same cohesive whole. These cities really do sit well together, bringing very diverse elements into the mix. I think it's very important to make sure every area feels unique, not just the cities, but the districts within them. There's nothing more boring than a game that's simply big for the sake of it. We could have made Grand Theft Auto 3 or Vice City much bigger and simply repeated the same stuff for miles on end, padding out what we had, but nobody wants to drive through miles of identical buildings. We might as well just make the cars drive much slower, it'd have the same effect. I want to feel like I can stop at any point and discover new things, I want to feel I can climb onto any roof, I want to get to know the map and recognise where I am, not check an A-Z on the Internet. There's so much depth to the experience of simply sightseeing in this game - there's so much to see, and all of it is interactive. It's not a set to race through; it's a fully realised, compelling world.

How did you go about getting accuracy in the dress styles and mannerisms of the gang members?

We have a full team of researchers in New York, which is a constant help. There's the usual Rockstar attention to detail, which, well, borders on madness. We have various people involved in the project externally who are very clued up in this area. The guys in New York also supplied us with literally thousands of character photographs and also sent across loads of footage from all sorts of sources for us to study. And of course, as always, we obsess over any relevant films.

The architectural study of LA is astonishing. How much and what kind of research went into getting it right?

The entire team flew out to each of the cities, armed with cameras. We had a huge road trip, driving across the states in a massive convoy of Lincoln Town Cars... stopping off in each city and staying there till we had pretty much photographed every inch. It really was epic. The bravest of us were taken in smaller groups into the scarier areas, right into the heart of LA's gang territory. Some of it really was quite terrifying. But it's not possible to really capture the feel of somewhere unless you've experienced it - the areas around bars, clubs and pools are also very well observed. Each building in the game is checked over by researchers to make sure there are no architectural or timeline-based errors, then it's constant refinement until it's time to stop.

How much freedom do you allow yourselves to exaggerate on what actually exists, with particular reference to the more humorous architectural inclusions?

There are no constraints, as long as something fits into the game world without looking out of place or out of time and it looks great and plays well it's in. We have a lot of fun making the game, and I think it would be pretty odd if some of our twisted personalities don't come across in the humour. I think it might say a lot about us, that we tend to obsess on cramming the game with as much innuendo as we can. I think our innuendo per square foot has actually gone up steadily since Grand Theft Auto 3 - possibly our biggest achievement.

How have you managed to improve the graphical treatment of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas over Grand Theft Auto: Vice City?

Making Vice City was a very intense process. We went directly from finishing Grand Theft Auto 3 into Vice City, a very short project in a single year. We didn't have the luxury of a lot of time to take stock. It was very much a case of knowing what we had to do and simply doing it to the best of our abilities. This time around the extra year gave us that opportunity. We were able to take a step back from Grand Theft Auto 3 and Vice City and really look at what was working and what wasn't - across the board - not just visually.

Lighting has always played an important role in the look of our games, and this is one of the main areas we focused on. We now have a completely different set of lighting for day and night. The entire map slowly shifts from one to the other, neon bleeds onto the streets, streetlights light buildings, the shadows from the sun fade to moonlight. There's a great deal more richness to the lighting. We've used various compression techniques to up the detail of all our models, from the map to the cars and pedestrians. We've also made the game a lot sharper, added to the weather effects and crammed the game with as many special little touches as we could manage, and then added some more that we couldn't...

What can we expect from the visuals of the countryside, and in particular the (now legendary) mountain?

I love the countryside. It feels so refreshing to drive out of the city into rolling fields, past farms and rivers, into the forests, deserts and hills. The mountain is fantastic - it's nearly half a mile tall and it takes just under a minute to fly from its base to the top in a helicopter... and a good deal longer to cycle down. We're using a lot of procedural techniques for grass and plants, which bring both the mountain and the countryside to life. There's so much to see. I really don't think any game has achieved this level of scale before while keeping anything like this level of detail. There's a sense of scale in this game that dwarfs the previous two while actually adding to the variety and detail.

We understand that shadows now feature more heavily as both a visual technique and a workable play device. Can you explain in more detail how they work?

With the new lighting system it has been possible for us to get a much more coherent-looking light into the game. There are now obvious areas of shadow - behind buildings, beneath bridges, wherever the radiosity solution places them as it simulates real sunlight. When we had this in place it became very apparent that the lighting for the cars and pedestrians would have to reflect this. This has added loads to the atmosphere - there's nothing like catching a glimpse of gang members hanging about in a dark alley. There are elements of gameplay that use this - we borrowed from Manhunt, where the player can now hide in the shadows, escaping his enemies and then pouncing on them as they run past.

What We Saw

WELCOME TO GRAND THEFT AUTO: SAN ANDREAS

Our first glimpse of GTA: SA is of CJ. He's standing, swaying slightly, and his jaw is moving in a slow circular motion. He's chewing gum. The character models look much more detailed than in previous incarnations. CJ's just hanging out, sporting the trad vest and baggy slacks combo, so beloved of the Compton massive. The corrupt cop pairing of Tenpenny and Pulaski have picked CJ up at the airport, but rather than escort him to the safety ofhis family home, they've dumped him in a rival gang territory. He's got to get out, and quick. So, and for the first time in a GTA title, he swipes a BMX. Rapidly tapping X to peddle he's off, and as he picks up pace he starts swaying from side to side to pick up momentum - it's a startlingly realistic animation that while surprisingly new, immediately seems just so GTA.

All the familiar screen furniture is there. The yellow arrow above objectives, the blue type on screen outlining your mission, even the electronic aural stab that coincides with a successful achievement returns. Perfect. It feels like home. The draw distance (basically how far you can see into the distance on screen) is now double that of Vice City in urban environments and four times as far in the countryside. It looks spectacular. The Los Angeles vibe is all there on the screen - hazy smog at odds with a crystalline light unlike any to be found on Earth. This is the LA you've seen in the movies. This is the LA from movies like Colors, Menace II Society and from TV shows like COPS. The sporadic thud of the b-ball on a distant court, the sportswear clad menace of groups of surly young men, the air thick with strident hip-hop loops, the beading of sweat as your reddening forehead does battle with the blazing sun and loses, the blinding light refracting from low riders' gleaming bonnets. Be in no doubt, this is LA. You can almost smell the Turtle Wax. CJ reaches the cul-de-sac where he grew up, where his family lives and his gang are based. Objective achieved. Mission over. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is about to begin...

"SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND, SIR?"

After getting home we are treated to a cut-scene showing CJ hooking up with old mate Ryder, a loose cannon who's passionate about the gang. (Their chat takes place in front of a poster for a fictional movie called Badfellas - sharp-eyed players familiar with previous GTAs might remember seeing this Goodfellas homage before.) It turns out that the owner of the local pizza emporium has disrespected the Orange Grove Families by erasing their gang graffiti tag from his walls. Ryder wants CJ to join him on a trip over to the pizzeria to teach the owner a lesson, so they hop into a pick-up truck and off they go. On arrival, but before the pair enter the pizzeria, players will be given the chance to get CJ a new haircut. This is an early example of how the game will enable players to occasionally perform side tasks while on a mission. Rockstar is keen to blur the line between being on a mission and off as much as possible, so expect more of this kind of stuff further into the game. So CJ pops into the barbers, greets the man with the scissors and hops into the chair. Now the barber will go to work - he tinkers with his clippers in front of CJ's face so you can't see what's going on, then he steps back. A '70s-style afro and 'tache accessory are revealed. You can now choose to accept this look or reject it. If you reject, the cycle continues until you find a style you want. In this instance, a modish flat top is selected and you can view it in the shop's big mirror. Suave!

So now it's out of the barbers and, after a quick bout of verbal ridicule from Ryder about your hair, it's into the pizzeria. Walking in, the detail of the place is astounding - particularly of note is the super shiny flooring which reflects back your image. It's now down to CJ to distract the clerk by ordering some food. Here, unlike previous games, you have choices too. Three different meals are proffered by the counter lad, each bigger than the last - as the price gets larger so does the nosebag. Here CJ selects the biggest pile of grub, 'The Full Rack' before trying to calm down an increasingly irate Ryder. But it's too late, the pair have underestimated the pizza boy's balls and he is soon brandishing a 12-gauge shotgun, and he shoots, forcing our heroes to leg it. So it's back in the truck for the drive back to the neighbourhood. Mission ends.

OG... THE ORIGINAL GANGSTERS

CJ is hanging with the members of the Orange Grove Families. They're planning to hit local gang The Ballas in a drive-by raid. CJ, being young and only just back in the gang-banging game, is given the task of driving. All four members of the gang pile in the motor and off they go. When The Ballas are sighted hanging out by the side of the road, Sweet, Smoke and Ryder all automatically lean out the car brandishing firearms. As the car is driven alongside the rival gang, all the OGF guys adjust their posture to keep a good lock on their targets. They open fire and a ferocious gun battle ensues. Winston Churchill said, "Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result." Such is the feeling here. As the player, it is important to keep weaving the car back and forth up and down the road to prevent incoming Balla bullets from riddling your drive. The animation of the OGF is sublime. As the car passes The Ballas, Sweet and the boys lean backwards, two out the window and one out the roof - it all just looks so damned real. With that group of Ballas offed, it's on to finding the next group, but... the firefight has caught the attention of the local cops and a chase ensues. Not wanting to end up in the slammer, a detour via the old GTA classic, the Pay 'n' Spray, is in order. Notable here is the cleaning off of the mudded car into a pristine example of automotive excellence. The change of appearance, as before, befuddles the cops, they lose interest, you head home. The Orange Grove Families have proved they are back with a vengeance, but every time an Orange Grove guy goes into Balla territory from now on, there is sure to be trouble. Mission ends.

DECREASE THE PEACE

The final section of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas demonstrated to OPS2 was the most action oriented of the lot. The mission is called 'Reuniting The Families' and it tells of an arranged sit-down with all the heads of the local gangs in an effort to patch up their differences and avoid a war. When the gang rolls up at the hotel which is to serve as the meeting place, Sweet enters as the OGF representative. All of a sudden a police chopper appears over the car park and cops begin to abseil down to the tarmac below, guns blazing. The remaining members of the OGF pussy out and leg it, leaving CJ to enter the hotel in a valiant attempt to save Sweet. Here we see some strident shotgun work, as within the building police continue to abseil down from balconies, trigger fingers blurring, hot lead fluming from their semi-automatic nozzlery. A good blast from a shotgun will put down a cop, and we see a new, more robust targeting mechanic at work (for more on this, head back to page k5). The more cops G downs, the better his accuracy gets - as is indicated sporadically via a percentage in the top left of the screen. Also, you'll now be able to strafe in a GTA game, making combat much more intuitive and eliminating the drastic fumbling that sometimes occurred while being drilled from all sides in Vice City. A dying gangster points CJ in the right direction and after hooking up with Sweet, the pair leg it out to a car driven by Smoke, pausing only to shotgun the helicopter into a gnarled smashed mass of twisted metal.

What ensues next is a riotous war chase, with Smoke taking the wheel and you (as CJ) shooting at the pursuing cop cars in first-person mode. Aligning the crosshair on the speeding cars, you shatter them with gunfire and, as always, a good tactic is to target the tyres. Then, startlingly, a cop jumps on the back of your ride, so CJ is forced to gatt him at point blank range. But another cop leaps onto the bonnet. Smoke takes a turn down a tight alley and another police helicopter is blocking the way, its rotor blades pointed to the ground creating an impassable barrier of deadly spinning metal. A split-second decision is needed. Smoke fires the car at the copter, the pair leap out at the last minute and the last image we see of San Andreas is of the bonneted cop getting bloodily shredded by the whirring rotor. Christ! Mission over.

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US PSM preview

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E3 2004: Hundreds of dazzling new games were on display, but to the disappointment of thousands of attendees, the biggest one, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, was nowhere to be seen. Well, that's because the only copy was with us in a secret room upstairs — sorry, guys!

A world away from the noisy, overcrowded convention hall, we sat surrounded by Rockstar's top brass in a cool, quiet room on a comfy couch. The lights turned low, we anxiously awaited our first glimpse at new Grand Theft gaming goodness. We would be the first in the world to see more than just screens, to experience the actual game running on a PS2. Long seconds ticked by... and then...

Y'know, I think we've gotten ahead of ourselves. Before we give you guys a detailed play-by-play of everything we saw, you need a general rundown of what GTA.SA is all about.

A Different State of Mind

Get this: San Andreas is five times the size of Vice City, five times! San Andreas is actually a whole freakin' state comprised of three main cities: the game starts in Los Santos (Los Angeles), San Fierro (San Francisco) offers steep hills for the craziest GTA jumps yet, and Las Venturra (Las Vegas) offers casinos and gambling. Plus, there's the vast countryside in between (mountains, freeways, rivers, etc.). The game world is so ridiculously massive, Rockstar has been forced to switch to a rare dual-layer PS2 DVD to fit it all on. We saw the full state map in-game, and Los Santos, roughly the size of Vice City, was only a tiny bit in the lower-right corner. Better clear your calendar when this game hits.

Not only is Rockstar pumping up the quantity of locations, but they're increasing the quality, too. There will be virtually no "filler" areas in the game — every alleyway and intersection will somehow be interesting, with a much greater level of detail. Furthermore, despite the game's amazing size and scope, there will no longer be any annoying load limes while travelling from one area to the next, no long pauses while driving across bridges. In fact, the game only pauses while entering an indoor location, and even then the wait is only a quick couple of seconds. For this reason alone, we'd like to go ahead and give Rockstar our $49.

Missions, Story & Structure

The game takes place in the early 1990s, when gang warfare was at its peak in California. The player takes control of CJ, a member of a gang called the Orange Grove Families in East Los Santos. The tone of the game is, at times, more serious than in previous GTA titles, but you can still expect plenty of the series' unique brand of humor and satire.

Rockstar has focused on seamlessly blending missions and off-duty events to give the game more of a real-world feel. For example, you can stop in the middle of most missions to do other things, on the side, such as recruit your own small gang to go on four-person drive-bys. Furthermore, you can

improve CJ's skills, such as driving and shooting. Everything in the game now ties together, giving the game world a more even, unified feel. There are tons more interior locations this time, and the developers at Rockstar have gotten serious about making each one worth a visit You'll be able to eat at restaurants, rob houses, gamble in casinos and loads more. You'll also be able to buy and build property to a much greater degree than in Vice City.

To create more realistic character animations for the cinema scenes, Rockstar built the biggest motion capture studio on the east cost. Also, the developer teases that we'll see familiar characters and locations return from past GTA games, and even more references will be mentioned. All of the characters in the game, from prime contacts to street filler, now have "brains" as Rockstar puts it. This means that everyone will react more realistically to whatever is going on, and you can expect to get a lot more out of people watching. An average pedestrian will have roughly six times as much dialogue as in vice City.

As fat as the game's basic structure goes, here's one last bit of intriguing info: for the first time in the series, the game will automatically adjust its difficulty if the player gets stuck. We were a little concerned about this at first, worrying that failing a mission a few times will result in the game letting us breeze right through. Rockstar assures us, however, that the adjustments will be minimal and almost entirely invisible to players. Their goal here is to make it possible for more people to reach the end of the game rather than get hung up on frustratingly impossible missions.

Other Cool Bits

San Andreas struts along with a sleek new graphics engine boasting real-time reflections in mirrors, cars, and windows, new lighting effects, and realistic shadows. Even better, the draw distance is twice as far as before in the city and four times that in the country, so you can see way into the distance without as much annoying "pop-in." Here's a gameplay revolution for you at least once every couple of days, your character has to eat. If you skip meals he'll become thin and weak, and if you feed him too much he'll get slow and fat. There's a wide selection of different foods and restaurants, so what you eat will count, too. Your weight will affect your physical abilities and how people view you (expect some nasty insults if you put on too many pounds). If weight becomes an issue, you can take CJ to the gym to get buff, and the extra strength will power up his punches. Bulk up too much, though, and he'll lose some speed.

What's New

WHAT & WHEN

Shipping in October, the game is set in 90's San Andreas, a state containing versions of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and miles of countryside in between (deserts, mountains, rivers, and miles of interstate freeway).

YOU ARE...

Carl Johnson ("CJ"), who returns to his old east Los Santos gang, the Orange Grove Families, after spending the last several years in Liberty City.

Now You Can...

Eat at restaurants (and get fat)

Work out at the gym to get buff

Improve your character's skills

Get haircuts

Ride a bike (tap X to pedal)

Wear lots of new outfits

Buy and build Buildings (much more to this than in Vice City)

Gamble at a casino

Break into houses to steal cash

Swim (crashing into water is no longer instant death)

Dual-wield multiple gun types

Recruit your own gang to help

Do four-person drive-bys

Lots more still a secret

Improvements

Five to six times the size of Vice City

Crammed onto a rare dual-layer PS2 DVD

No more loading between areas

New graphics engine

35-50% more polygons on-screen

Longer view distance

Real-time reflections

New lighting effects & realistic shadows

More detailed textures

More realistic animations

Each character has a "brain" (better AI)

More (and better) indoor locations

More mini-games

Improved gun targeting (Manhunt-style)

Better hand-to-hand combat; more fighting stances and attacks

Each weapon now offers a vastly different play experience

New "Impact Animation System" (rag-doll physics)

Much wider range of vehicles

Improved vehicle physics

Vehicles get rusty and dirty as time goes by

Back To The Life

CJ returns home to pay respects to his late mother, but gets pulled back into the gang life he left behind

five years ago. Up against cops, rival gangs and internal strife within his own crew, will CJ be able to beat the odds and stay alive long enough to make his mark in San Andreas?

How Would You Like Your CJ?

For the first time in a GTA game, players will be able to customize their character to their liking. Here's

just a sampling of the many different aspects you'll be able to change:

Hairstyle

Physique

Weight

Driving Skills

Clothes

Possessions

Weapon Skills

Character

Relationships

Start a small gang

Characters

Here's a quick look at the first few members of what's sure to be an enormous cast of characters...

CARL JOHNSON (CJ):

After five years in Liberty City. CJ returns to Los Santo when his mother is murdered. He reunites with is family, friends, and his old life. Carl's old gang, the Orange Grove Families, is a mess, under attack from both outside and from within. Carl doesn't really want to go back to his old life, but he's dragged back in.

SWEET JOHNSON:

Sweet, CJ's older brother takes a leadership role in trying to return the Orange Grove Families' former glory. Sweet blamed CJ for their younger brother Brian's death five years ago, causing a rift between them that's just starting to heal.

BRIAN JOHNSON:

CJ's ten-year old brother Brian died in a tragic accident, sending CJ to Liberty City for five years.

KENDL JOHNSON:

Kendl has been at odds with her brother Sweet in recent years, adding to the family's disarray.

RYDER:

An old friend of CJ's, Ryder has a very short fuse and a serious mean streak.

SMOKE:

This big boy is a part of Carl's old crew and a long time friend of the Johnson family.

FRANK TENPENNY & EDDIE POLASKI:

These flirty cops know CJ back from his stay in juvenile hall, and start causing trouble for him the moment he returns to Los Santos.

OLD REECE:

Carl's old barber. CJ can stop by Reece's any time he wants to fash a new fade or fro.

CESAR:

This Latino character remains a mystery, but we've seen him decked out in an undershirt and baggy slacks with arm tats, a buzz cut, a lowrider and a .45.

THE FLATS & THE BALLAS:

CJ and his gang, the Orange Grove Families, mean to take back the turf these rival gangs have taken over.

Missions

So there we were in the dark, quiet room above the E3 convention center, about to get our first look at the year's biggest game. The PS2 powered on, and there was CJ staring straight at us outside his home in east Los Santos. CJ has just arrived at his old neighborhood after being picked up at the airport by his "old friends" Frank Tenpenny and Eddie Polaski. These crooked cops dropped CJ off in a rival gang's turf and CJ had to steal a bike and pedals his ass out of there. Now safely back in his own neighborhood, CJ visits Ryder, a former member of his crew. Here we get our first look at one of the new mission-intro cinemas.

Ryder is already furious about something when CJ walks in. Ryder spots his old friend...

RYDER: "Man, what're you doin' here?

CJ: "Yo, I'm seein' my homie!"

RYDER: "Hey homie - hey, it's good to see you back, man."

CJ: "Oh, no homie love, no hug?"

[they hug: CJ notices Ryder has a gun]

CJ: "Yo, why you armin' yourself, man?"

RYDER: "Man, some liquor store keeps paintin' over my graffiti, man! My writin' is beautiful! Teach the owner a lesson! This is the Families' hood! You down?"

CJ: "I'm always down."

RYDER: "Yeah? Hmm... let's go, homie."

CJ and Ryder get into a pickup truck and head for the Well-Stacked pizza parlor, but, on the way, CJ decides he needs a haircut. This is an example of how players can now stop and do side things during a mission. CJ parks on the curb and enters a barbershop where he's greeted by Reece, his old barber. CJ sits in the chair and Reece gets to work, showing him how he would look with various different hairstyles. CJ settles on a flattop.

When CJ walks back outside, Ryder makes fun of his new haircut. Ryder, who had been leaning back on the truck, waiting with arms folded, now motions for CJ to follow him across the street to Well-Stacked Pizza. He tells CJ to walk up to the counter and order a pizza to distract the clerk. CJ checks out the menu - the "Buster" isn't enough food. The "Double Deluxe" is getting there, but not quite. CJ settles on "The Full Rack", a meal that can satisfy any appetite. He puts down his cash and starts to eat. As he does, Ryder pulls his gun and walks towards the counter to scare the clerk for some cash. CJ decides he doesn't want any trouble and tries to talk his man down when the clerk, realizing what's about to go down, pulls a shotgun out from behind the counter and opens fire on them. CJ and Ryder race out the front door, hop into the truck and take off for home - mission over.

Skipping ahead in the game a little, this mission takes place after CJ has met up with his old gang, the Orange Grove Families. Four of CJ's old friends are planning to take back some of their street cred from the Ballas. a rival gang, when CJ enters the room...

RYDER: "I can drive as well as CJ man, I'm telling y— oh, hey, what's up, homie?"

[CJ enters the room]

CJ: "Yo, what're you sayin' about me, homie?"

RYDER: "I'm sayin' that east coast make you drive like an idiot, homie! Man, you always crashin' cars and s— and now somehow you back. All it is, is 'CJ drive there, Carl drive there."

SMOKE: "Man, why don't you take it easy, dude?"

RYDER: [To CJ] "Look, no offense man, but you can't drive for s—!"

CJ: "Well thanks, man! No, no, no — say what you really mean!"

SMOKE: [To Ryder] "You're such a good gun there homeboy, you gotta ride shotgun. So CJ, what's what?"

RYDER: "Hey, you're right — yeah, CJ, you can drive homie, c'mon"

So, CJ gets behind the wheel of a four-door and his crew get in. His car is rusty and dirty (which can happen to any car in the game after a while). CJ, Ryder, Sweet and Smoke ride around east Los Santos until they come across a group of Ballas hanging out by a park. At this point, things go nuts as we get our first glimpse of San Andreas' new four-person drive-by. The animation system here is really impressive, as your craw will automatically aim, re-aim and duck in and out of different windows as you change your car's position. While his crew is shooting, CJ has to keep the car moving so the Ballas can't get a clear shot. CJ and the hoys continue to cruise around the neighborhood, mowing down groups of Ballas as they come across them, until they cause enough chaos to attract the cops. To shake 'em off, CJ drives across town and ducks into a Pay & Spray shop. Mission accomplished. From now on, whenever a member of the Orange Grove Families goes into Balla territory, there's sure to be trouble.

We skip ahead a few more missions to find CJ, Ryder and Smoke laughing and watching TV. CJ's older brother Sweet walks in.

SMOKE: [To Sweet] "Hey, what's up, yo? What's up, man?"

SWEET: "Hey, turn that TV off right quick. Listen up fellas — like we were saying no more base in the streets."

SMOKE: "Finally!"

SWEET: "Yeah. We gon' unite the families once more. The Flats been pumpin' our guys fulla base for too long while we argued amongst ourselves. Now, all the family sets are gon' meet at the St. Brutus Motel. I say it's time we went down there and made it official: keep that s— off our streets. I'll go. I'm our representative on this, one."

SMOKE: "Hey, it's all good. Sweet, think you can handle this? I'm down with you”

SWEET: "Alright - let's roll, homies."

When the Orange Grave Families fell off, a new gang called the Flats moved in and flooded the streets with drugs. Sweet decides it's time to take back the turf, so he's going to a nearby motel where the heads of each of the families are meeting. CJ drives the crew over there.

Sweet goes into the motel, leaving the other guys to wait in the parking lot. A few moments later, however, the place is overrun by cops — a rival gang must have ratted them out. Patrol cars and motorcycles pack the parking lot, and a helicopter keeps an eye on things overhead. Smoke and Ryder can't handle the heat and take off in the car, but CJ won't leave his brother Sweet — he runs straight into the chaotic motel. As CJ enters, a wounded gang member tells him he's seen Sweet in the back. CJ equips his shotgun and we get our first glimpse at the game's improved targeting system. The camera now zooms up closer behind your character, giving more of an over-the-shoulder look at what CJ is firing at (it's similar to targeting in Manhunt). CJ shows off his strafing ability on a few cops, as well as his new ability to target headshots with standard guns. As CJ continues to run down a long hall, girls occasionally run past him from room to room, hunched over and panicking. Cops bust in through windows and crash through a skylight, rappelling down to the floor. CJ blasts them off their ropes one by one before finally reaching the room his brother is in. The way back is too dangerous — their only chance is to escape to the roof.

Up on the roof, though, CJ has to deal with a SWAT chopper. CJ blasts it over and over with his shotgun until the whirlybird explodes and comes thundering down. CJ and Sweet make it back down to the street, where they're lucky to find that Smoke and Ryder have circled back around for them. CJ hops in the backseat and trades diving for shooting — it's his job to keep the cops at bay

This next part of the mission is first-person shooting, where CJ keeps the cops at bay while someone else steers the car. As your crew makes its getaway, CJ shoots up countless police cars, helicopters and motorcycles. Eventually the guys run into a roadblock and have to take a detour through a long alleyway.

At this point an eager cop leaps onto the hood, while at the far opposite end of the alley, a police chopper dips its nose and flies towards the car, it's blades angled down. It turns out that the blades are only low enough to reach the cop who's kneeling on the hood though, and he's chopped into several nasty chunks. Once past the chopper, CJ and his crew are home free. The mission ends, and unfortunately, so does our demo.

Seeing the game in action left us absolutely stunned. Rockstar has gone above and beyond expectations. This is the result of a developer with nearly endless ambition and resources giving it their absolute all. October suddenly seems a lifetime away.

Q&A With Aaron Garbut

PSM: In your mind, what is the Grand Theft Auto "look?"

It's an intensified, distilled, vision of reality. Our world is America seen through TV and film with the color; brightness and sound turned up. It's a kind of visual sound byte. Everything is a caricature, an exaggeration of the world. For me, the main constant is the color, the way the weather and time of day tie the world together with light, but they're also continually changing. Each game builds on the one before, and evolves, but I think it's always obvious what's gone before.

PSM: What new challenges did you face due to Son Andreas' enormous scope?

This time we have something like 16,000 unique objects and buildings that are used to build the world - that's a lot to keep track of. The scale of the landscape means that actually learning the world is a job in itself. I knew every square inch of Liberty City in Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City, and could see it with my eyes shut. San Andreas is different; it's taken me a year just to get to know the world to the same level. There's an amazing amount to see and do and it's all so very diverse. This diversity has also been a huge challenge. Any game I've played in the past that attempts anything like this sense of scale does so either by making the world very sparse or with endless repetition. This just isn't the case here, there's almost as much diversity in San Andreas as in reality.

PSM: The GTA series keeps an interesting balance between realism and satire, drama and comedy. Design-wise, how do you decide where to draw the line?

I think the series is a reflection of all the personalities who work on it. It's easy to see little bits of every single person in the games. There's never really any need for something as black and white as drawing a line. Every decision is really a happy medium between the opinions or idiosyncrasies of the people involved. Almost every aspect of the game is based on reaching a point where everyone involved thinks that the very best decision has been made. We work within a very flat hierarchy here, where everyone's opinions are equally valid and I think that pays off for us.

PSM: Can you talk about your approach to making the GTA titles feel like worlds within themselves?

They are worlds within themselves. It's that simple. We always think of them as real places and we have taken this to a new level this time. There are hundreds of companies and hundreds of products within the game, and all exist with their own advertising, product placement, and particular stores that carry particular lines. There's so much that this time we had to have somebody in charge of keeping track of all this information. Basing a game on a fantasy version of the real world gives so much scope to this side of things. With the GTA games, we basically get the opportunity to reinvent the world, only a little brasher and hopefully a lot funnier.

PSM: How did you approach this game differently than past titles?

The main difference was that we pushed ourselves even more than we ever have in the past. We've never taken the easy way out, and we've always tried to put as many of the ideas that we liked into our games as possible, but inevitably some never made it. This time I honestly struggle to think of something I'd like to see in the game that isn't already there. The depth of the research has increased significantly. We started the project by flying the entire team across to LA, armed with cameras to capture and experience as much as possible, then it was road trip time. We travelled to the other cities in a huge convoy of Lincoln Town Cars; it was very intense. The guys in New York hired a team of full-time researchers who help us with every detail. Making sure clothing, characters, vehicles, buildings and even the smallest of objects are correct. This level of obsessiveness, while probably not healthy, makes a huge difference. It helps make sure everything fits in properly, and together all the small details add up to a big part of the experience.

PSM: Has the San Andreas art team snuck in any special pictures or messages for fans to find?

Of course! The game is packed full of them — I'm not giving anything away, though.

PSM: Finally, what aspect of San Andreas are you most proud of?

I think it has to be the sheer amount of content. It's one hundred games in one. There's so much there. We work with the concept that we create a playfield and toys and let the players enjoy themselves. This time around we've given away an entire toyshop.

===============================================

thats all the previews from mags so far right now its quiet for gta:sa news

i think that there is news still to come out like a trailer

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power unlimited translated some of it

===============================================

OK, things from the Dutch article. Keep in mind this is direct translation and -as usual- I don't claim anything. We all know how excited stories are written.

There are some new things I think:

- Los Santos is placed on the map lower-right (page 1)

- Details: corrosion on cars, extremely detailed walls

- 'slang' in dialogs, LA dialects, other dialects if it affects the gameplay

- Maybe there is country music in the game

In game:

- the barbershop is not only for haircuts but also for business

- haircuts have price tags

- Pizza restaurant: you can order anything between a pizza slice with cola and 'the full rack' which means a whole pizza with everything on it

- Drive by shooting: Carl is driving, the co-characters are acting, all differently according to their role they pick targets

- Scripted events: a meeting with gang members turns out wrong and then the police is informed. Then the hotel is raided (seems to me like a mission)

- This mission shows the 'manhunt' aiming system

- You escape via the roof where choppers are hovering around dropping police on ropes

- You enter a car, but not as a driver, you have to shoot the police chasing you, using an AK47

- example of in-between scripted events: a policeman gets hit by your car and remains unconscious on the 'motor trunk' (don't know the proper word)

- the cop awakes when arriving in an alley, 'we' try to shoot him but the gun malfunctions

- a police chopper is hovering and the rotor blades are destroying fences in the suburb. Then the cop is hit by the blades and we can't see anything but blood

- then the (abandoned) car hits the freeway -through a billboard- where it collides with a fuel car, which explodes. The camera then moves back to the four gang members including Carl who are standing near the destroyed billboard

- There are more ways to steal a car

About the game, interview with Houser:

- Moral choices: the game isn't about 'doing evil' or 'doing good'. it's up to the player

- GTA San Andreas will NOT be multiplayer. 'We would have to give up too many things' and 'Online games are great but not suitable for GTA because of its vast gameplay'

- "We are not working on a next GTA. Finishing GTA-SA and then take a well earned holiday is 'our' prime objective" For now SA is like the last thing ever to be published"

That's it, other things are the same as in articles we've already seen.

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- the barbershop is not only for haircuts but also for business

Is this a gimmick, or can you change your image Hitman-style to disguise yourself?

It seems a lot more scripted - I'm not sure how this will affect gameplay.

- GTA San Andreas will NOT be multiplayer. 'We would have to give up too many things' and 'Online games are great but not

suitable for GTA because of its vast gameplay'

That's good. Looking through their back catalogue, they don't seem to have developed many titles with multiplayer, and from what I remember of GTA2's multiplayer, there's probably a reason for that. I'm presuming that MTA will do a version for SA.

- "We are not working on a next GTA. Finishing GTA-SA and then take a well earned holiday is 'our' prime objective" For now SA is like the last thing ever to be published"

I heard about 2 years ago that GTA 4 was in development, just like I heard that Half-Life 2 was in development in 2000.

Oh, and I didn't read the first one because there was WAY too much text, sorry.

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lol to much text

i cant believe this is the last gta game

cos i heard that the next gta game is gona b on the ps3

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w00t bikes. Time to do some hardcore stunts. On bikes. :shock:

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That's good. Looking through their back catalogue, they don't seem to have developed many titles with multiplayer, and from what I remember of GTA2's multiplayer, there's probably a reason for that. I'm presuming that MTA will do a version for SA.

I don't know what exactly you remember about GTA2 multiplayer but I honestly think it's quite good. Although it's limited to 6 players it offers good multiplayer gameplay. I still play it now and then and it always ends up with lots of fun :).

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That's good. Looking through their back catalogue, they don't seem to have developed many titles with multiplayer, and from what I remember of GTA2's multiplayer, there's probably a reason for that. I'm presuming that MTA will do a version for SA.

I don't know what exactly you remember about GTA2 multiplayer but I honestly think it's quite good. Although it's limited to 6 players it offers good multiplayer gameplay. I still play it now and then and it always ends up with lots of fun :).

Well, it had all of the peds and cars which was great, but it made it lag like anything, even over a LAN.

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Well, it had all of the peds and cars which was great, but it made it lag like anything, even over a LAN.

Hmm, never experienced lag with it over LAN... :?

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Well, it had all of the peds and cars which was great, but it made it lag like anything, even over a LAN.

Hmm, never experienced lag with it over LAN... :?

I might give it another go tonight if I have time, given the fact that it's a significant amount of time since I last played it, and both PCs have since received upgrades.

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i never played gta 2 online ive never even played gta 2 only gta1, london and 3

wots it like online???

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I have all of them, but I only play gta3 and vice city online, I've never had the chance to play any of the other online, because the lack of servers/players.

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I have all of them, but I only play gta3 and vice city online, I've never had the chance to play any of the other online, because the lack of servers/players.

I'm not sure that GTA 1 and 2 support multiplayer in the same way as MTA. I think (from what I remember) they use a lobby-based approach (common in strategy games) as opposed to what I call a "drop-in" approach in FPS games. So therefore, you'd have to arrange a game with someone over a LAN or using a matchmaking service or something, rather than just joining a random server. Strategy gamers will know what I mean :)

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Heres the post I have on the KFC forums:

GAMESPY SAIS:

'One particular website spoke of a quote from the UK's Official PlayStation 2 Magazine, where it was stated that SA would ship on a dual-layered DVD to accommodate the huge size of the three cities. Nothing official from Rockstar has been mentioned at this stage, however'

^This is crap, don't listen to em'. It IS coming on a dual layer DVD and that WAS confirmed by Rockstar... they are filling that Disk to thee MAX!

.::ADDED JULY 27th 2004::.

SA CONTENT LIST

:: The state of San Andreas consists of 3 major cities; Los Angeles (Los Santos), San Francisco (San Fierro), Las Vegas (Las Venturra); each the size of Vice City

:: Overhauled graphics engine means crisper quality, realistic shadowing and reflections, and independent day- and night-time models

:: Tons of fully-rendered interiors

:: Restaraunts

:: Fully operational casino

:: The city directly affects your characters progression, abilities, and even appearance

:: Appearances and mentioning of past GTA characters

:: Well known voice acting talents

:: Increased AI and NPC recording sessions

:: Missions will be made to suit your skill level

:: Ability to recruit gang members for missions

:: Four-person drive-by

:: Your actions while not on missions reflect your position in the storyline

:: Ability to rob houses

:: You must eat to stay healty and maintain stamina

:: The city reacts to your characters health and appearance

:: You can go to the gym to work out

:: Improved Manhunt-like targeting system

:: New melee combat animations

:: Ability to swim

:: New weapons, more variety, revamped old weapons

:: Improved car handling

:: More modes of transportation

:: More populated, more detailed, has more cars, weapons, challenges, characters, secrets, music, and more storyline than Vice City. The three cities have their own individual style; architectural style, vehicle population, mission types, character’s accents, and the actions of pedestrians.

:: There are new vehicles that can’t even be used in a town, such as a quad bike, that you can race in the country. San Fierro is very hilly and there is a big emphasis on driving in this part of the game.

:: Swimming was added because Rockstar knew about the constant request and was tired of being told it couldn’t be done. Not a huge emphasis was made on swimming, as the feature is there for playability.

:: In addition to eating, getting fat, and working out at the gym, another stat feature is cutting your hair. You can go to the barber and get your haircut how you want. If you have a bad haircut, pedestrians make fun of you and call you stupid. If you have a good one they are impressed.

:: The LA vibe is there with the smog, crystalline light, the thud of a basketball off in a court, the air filled with hip hop, the blazing sun, the light reflecting off low ridersbouncing with hydraulics.

:: Individualized each player’s experience to make the game as non-linear as possible.

:: The draw distance is now twice as much as Vice City in the urban environments and four times as much in the countryside.

:: The character models are much more detailed than previously.

:: The only loading times in San Andreas are slight pauses when entering buildings.

:: Game will be on a Dual-Layer DVD.

:: First-person has returned!

:: When you target someone with a weapon, green will be displayed if they have full health, yellow at half, and red if they can be killed in another shot. The auto targeting will also make much better choices based on threat level.

:: Control territories and make money off your property. Some parts of the game you can take it over yourself, and for other parts you will need your gang.

:: Car jacking has an even more threatening and sinister vibe than before, because now your gang is involved.

:: On the game map Los Santos is only a tiny bit in the lower right corner.

:: You can wear a lot of new clothes.

:: Dual wield multiple gun types.

:: More mini games.

:: Vehicles get rusty and dirty as time goes by.

:: Carl's customizations include: Hairstyle, Physique, Weight, Driveing Skills, Clothes, Possessions, Weapon Skills, Chracter, Relationships, Gang.

:: The art team has snuck in plenty of special pictures and messages for fans.

:: For the first time in a series the game will adjust its diffculty if the player becomes stuck. Rockstar assures that that the adjustments will be minimal and almost invisible to the players, so the missions won't become a breeze.

:: At least once every couple of days your characer has to eat. If you skip meals he will be come weak, and if you feed him too much he gets slow and then gets fat. There is a wide selection of places to eat... so what you eat counts as well. Strength will effect his punches, but bulk up at the gym too much and he will loose speed...

:: San Andreas has its own version of Hollywood called Vinewood.

:: When the OGF fell from power, the new rival gangs The Flats and The Ballas moved in.

:: Brian Johnson is CJ's 10 year old brother that died in an accident and the reason he went to Liberty City prison for five years.

:: The Johnson family is in disarray as Carl and Kendl can't get along with Sweet.

:: Frank Tenpenny and Eddie Polaski know CJ from when he was in juvenile hall, and now they harass him in SA.

:: Cesar, a new Latino character wearing baggy slacks, an undershirt, tattoos, and a buzzcut has been confirmed.

:: Old Reece is CJ's old barber that still gives him haircuts anytime he comes in.

:: A combine harvester with razor-sharp blades working on a field.

:: A dirtbike (similar to Sanchez from Vice City) riding through the forest.

:: Articulated trucks, including ones with huge detachable gas canisters.

:: A monster truck riding through a valley and a shallow river bed.

:: A jeep overlooking the sunset on a cliff.

:: An SUV driving through the meadows.

:: An ATV racing on a dirt track.

:: Carl can attack enemies from behind, after hiding and sneaking through the shadows.

:: Carl's ability to swim and the length of time he can stay underwater for depends on his fitness and how often he practices swimming.

:: Members of The Orange Grove Families wear green clothes.

:: The Ballas gang members wear purple clothes.

:: Models will include up to 50% more polygons than Vice City.

:: Bicycles will move forward when the X button is held down, but tapping it will make the player travel faster.

:: Carl can roll to the side during combat on the press of a button.

:: Players can now pivot the camera around the car, in order to gain a better view.

:: A choice of haircuts are available, from shaven/bald heads to 'Afro' style cuts.

:: Not only can players choose new hairstyles, but choices of beards and other facial hair will be at their disposal

:: San Andreas is to be somewhat shaped like the USA with Los Santos being in the lower right hand corner.

:: At Reece's Barber shop, you can scroll through a series of haircuts and styles. some are about $500 to the maximum.

:: Due to harsh sunrays, some of the streets will be tinted with a yellowish-orange hue.

:: During a 4 person driveby, the players will have independent targets to shoot at. There is also a health indicator for the gang's car.

:: Achivements met during some missions will afftect the lesiures CJ has as the game progresses.

(I never listen to Gamespy)

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:: Carjacking will be much more difficult.

:: New melee combat including pistol whips and banging heads off the dashboard of a car. Carl learns more as his abilities increase.

:: Stunts and tricks can be performed while on bicycles.

:: Different gyms offer different styles of combat.

:: Cops on motorbikes will fire their weapons while chasing.

:: Players can drive their vehicles through billboards, breaking them.

GYM INFO:

You'll be able to visit one of several gyms spread throughout San Andreas so that you work out to stay in peak physical health. The gyms are all different in terms of equipment and patronage, but each has a variety of workout options to help you burn off unwanted pounds, build stamina and muscle, and learn to fight. Beefing up your fighting skills will probably get very interesting, because doing so will let you learn new fighting moves that complement the basic ones CJ starts out with. By taking on an opponent in the boxing ring, CJ can learn a variety of pugilistic methods, which include punch combos, punching on the ground, and punching while running.

Getting Tattoos

Gamers can alter the their clothes and body type so that they can become exactly the kind of gangsta they want to be. CJ must first find himself a tattoo parlor, the first of which just so happens to be next to his barber. Once inside, he'll be able to select his tattoo from a long list of available styles for the body part he wants to ink. The majority of these tattoos are made up of gang affiliations, gang-related lingo, and other similar things that are drawn in styles that were popular for 1990s-era Los Angeles. Each city's tattoo parlors will offer different varieties of tattoos with symbols to fit the culture of each city.

Improved Camera Controls

When using the camera in weapons mode, the right analog stick allows you to target your opposition with any and all ranged weapons, and you no longer have to stay in a fixed position while doing so. Furthermore, gamers can choose to aim with the R-Stick while running and strafing with the Left analog stick. This new additions means that you can always look in a different direction while running or driving, allowing you to turn your attention where ever you need to without adjusting the momentum of your forward movement. The difference in gameplay should be huge.

Cars Getting Dirty

Driving around the dusty state of San Andreas can really put the hurt on your vehicle in terms of its cleanliness. Should players get their hands on a brand new spotless car, they might want to take note that it won't stay that way for long; as consistent use of that vehicle will begin to accumulate a whole lot of muck for it. Dirt, for instance, will begin to appear on and around the wheel wells and impact areas brought on by traffic accidents. Driving through parks and other sections with overhead filth sources can move grime and dust to the surface areas of your windshield. And unless you can find a car wash to keep your car clean and shiny, it may even rust over time if used too much.

As an added bonus, the NPC characters of San Andreas seem to play by the same rules you do. As not only will their cars remain dirty if left uncleaned as we mentioned earlier, but they'll sport broken windows, loose bumpers, and bullet-riddled doors too. If you're looking for any more proof that Rockstar is trying to move its game into as persistent a world as possible - this is it.

Gang Tactics

Gangs in Grand Theft Auto play an important roll. Rockstar plans on making gangs act just as they would in real life. During their downtime, for instance, gang members aren't simply just standing there doing nothing; they're chilling out with each other and drinking, smoking, greeting each other, and throwing signs. They'll even engage in idle discussions with one another to add that much more to the relationship. But if one gang (maybe yours) should cross into another gang's turf, the hoodlums will come after each other with guns a-blazin'

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As an added bonus, the NPC characters of San Andreas seem to play by the same rules you do.

Does that mean that they get chased by the police too? It's really annoying that gangs can get away with shooting at your car, yet you can't shoot at them without getting the police after you.

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