Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Livin' It Up in San Andreas

Weapon details? Check. Vehicle physics and side missions? Check. Confirmed radio stations? Yep, we've got those too. Now head inside, won't you?
Author: Kyle Sutton
Published: October 17, 2004
Over the past several weeks, we've done our damnedest to keep you updated on the must-know details of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, from home robbery to attire to eating right (or wrong) and everything in between. And while our previous updates have been somewhat category specific, we won't even try to classify this weekend's updated preview, as these details just run up and down the spectrum! We're talking vehicle physics, stealth gameplay, the how-to's of improving weapon handling and accuracy, and the very first details on the game's official soundtrack. Seatbelts intact? No? Hell, don't even bother; you're going to be blown away by this update either way.

Vehicles 101
Now, we touched briefly upon the lifelike physics vehicles will have in GTA: San Andreas some weeks ago, yet we now have a much more comprehensive understanding on the specifics of vehicle customization and where it can be done. For starters, know that in San Andreas, every ride will feel a lot more its own, with subtleties in accelerating, braking and turning to distinguish each that CJ takes the wheel of. Vehicle variation was heightened with the addition of the motorcycle in Vice City, and in the state of SA, we'll be seeing even more of that, with BMX bikes, monster trucks, lawnmowers and Go-Karts available at your every driving whim.

It's not hard to see that certain modes of transportation are there for the fun of it, but for those who take the art of vehicle customization seriously, Rockstar North has expanded such to include tons of car mods to make even the most extreme custom ride enthusiast giddy. The first of these is nitrous oxide, the lovely little chemical that can be equipped to certain cars and increase their driving capacities to breakneck speeds. Doing so is as easy as pulling into the local Mod Garage and choosing just how many nitrous charges you desire, which of course costs more as the bottle size increases. Once purchased, the N2O canister will sit snuggly in either the trunk or back seat of CJ's ride and will grow as more charge is added to it. Once you're ready, a simple tap of the Circle or L1 button will engage the nitrous and send CJ's vehicle into a state of pure speed. As the world whips by around you, objects that normally would be indestructible will shatter as you crash right through them. The thrill lasts for about 10-15 seconds, and has a recharge time of about a minute, but right after that, you can give the nitrous rush another go.

Nitrous oxide is only one of the many customizing aspects you'll be able to equip a vehicle with in San Andreas. Garages are located all throughout the state, and as with several other establishments, each city will have specific offerings in its garage(s) that others won't. The Wheels Angeles Garage in San Fierro is big on street racing modifications, while in Los Santos' low-rider garage, it's all about the flashy look. Know that a number of all-purpose garages will also be available for your use, and although many are, not all vehicles can be customized. Notwithstanding, the types of car mods that can be bought up will include paint jobs and colors, often allowing you to mix and match; selectable roofs, like hard and soft tops and open; bass boosts to give your stereo some extra "oomph"; front and rear bumpers, exhausts, rims and more. Pimp my ride indeed.

Get Yer Hotdogs!
Who didn't have a blast distributing "ice cream" to hoards of needy consumers back in Vice City? In GTA: San Andreas, you'll find an assortment of Alex's Hot Dog Stands that are the go-to stands when low on energy. Just approach one of the vendors to get in on the, err, meat eating goodness.

Getting Stealthy
For those of you who got their hands messy with Manhunt (and if you can handle it, we highly recommend it), Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas' new stealth gameplay should feel extremely familiar. Dark alleyways and corners can now be used to CJ's advantage, and when in the shadows, he'll show up as a blue dot on the in-game map. Our main man will then be able to silently crouch behind enemies, and to take them out, a good selection of methods will be at his disposal. One will be knife, which, when within range of an oblivious enemy, CJ will raise, and, when the Circle button is pressed, noiselessly jab into the neck of the goon. Also available is the silenced pistol that can be used to fire a bullet into an enemy's head either in free-aim mode or when locked-on, which comes natural when CJ's in close range. Using the silencer will dramatically muffle the ring of gun shots, but don't expect these kills to be completely hushed; nearby enemies may be startled even with a silencer equipped.

Kicking Back
When CJ's not out on the streets causing all kinds of havoc and getting revenge on those who murdered his mother, he'll have many a safe house to retire to. Quite appropriately, the first of these will be his mom's old house. Once inside a safe house, CJ will be able to roam around as his pleases or save by walking up to the save marker, cleverly represented by a 3.5 floppy disk. Ma's old place will come free of charge, of course, but more accommodating safe houses in San Andreas will cost CJ some dough if he wishes to reside there. As in previous GTAs, garages will be there for you store your vehicles, and in San Fierro, for example, it's not a bad idea to have a sports car on-hand to cruise the windy streets at any time.

Sharp Shooter
Having a weapon in-hand will always be crucial while walking the mean streets of San Andreas, and though CJ may struggle with using some at first, improving weapon proficiency is always a possibility. Each of the game's weapons will have a skill gauge to it, which can be easily viewed by pressing the L1 button while holding that specific weapon. The skill bar fills with white as CJ improves his proficiency, and as he'll start with a "Poor" status with all weapons, that grade will improve to "Gangster" or "Hitman" with frequent use.

Sure, you could always allow CJ's weapon to naturally progress though street-use over the course of the game, but a much more reasonable option is taking a trip down to Ammu-Nation. There, CJ can hit up the shooting range and take on two other competitors across three rounds. The first involves three targets, each at varying distances and with seven spots to hit on each, where he who shoots them up first will win. In the next round, the targets are now moving, and once again, shooting them all out first will crown the victor. The third round involves just one moving target that everyone shoots at. Make the most hits and you're a winner.

All of the hard work, thankfully, pays off through weapon upgrades. Some will involve a faster rate of firing or better accuracy, while others will enable CJ to fire while in motion, or even better, strafing. A prime example is with the badass double barrelled shotgun. With it, CJ is naturally able to fire two shots in almost immediate succession, and due to its lightness, he'll be able to run while firing. Upgrading his skill, though, will give CJ the pleasure of carrying two of these suckers at once, which leads to, if you do the math, a combined four rapid shotgun blasts while in motion.

Hands at 10 and 2, Son!
So you now know you can improve upon your weapon skills; why not give the same treatment to your driving technique? In GTA: San Andreas, you can do just that by -- wait for it -- going to driving school. As distastefully nerdy as it may sound, the rewards are definitely worth it. Skills CJ will pick up from driving school include 360s, controlled stops, sharp(er) turns, how to control the car when a tire blows out, and the perfect barrel roll. With neat new vehicle abilities like mid-air control, the practice at school will give CJ improved pitch and roll adjustment. PIT techniques can also be learned for other vehicles when enrolled in driving school.

In addition to learning the skills to become a master behind the wheel of a car, CJ's proficiency handling a boat can also be improved at boat school. By entering the red marker inside the boat school facility, CJ will have the opportunity to take part in numerous challenges that reward solid performances with points. The less time it takes to complete a challenge, the better, but watch out: bumping into boat or buoy damage will result in deductions. Hey, it beats taking a written test.

All Aboard!
Hopping aboard a train in previous GTA games has never been the most enjoyable of experiences (nor the fastest method of transportation), but leave it to Rockstar North to put a fun little twist on the concept in San Andreas. While a scenic ride on the Brown Streak Express (uh, that's the name of the train) is still always an option at the Cranberry Station in San Fierro, the experience can be, shall we say, "heightened" by taking matters into your own hands. What are we hinting at, you ask? Why, a brand new R3 mission, of course! By approaching an idle train and yanking out the conductor, CJ can begin a Freight Train challenge with a tap, on your part, of the R3 button. It's all a matter of stop 'n' go, but in a piece of machinery that speeds up to 100 mph, this is no easy task. As the mission kicks off, a yellow blip will appear at the next closest station, indicating a cargo delivery location. As the red marker at the upcoming station becomes visible, CJ will have to properly time stopping the train so that it comes to a halt on the marker. In typical R3 mission fashion, a time limit will be displayed on the right side of the screen, along with the distance to the next station and the train's current speed. If you're willing to accept failure (which occurs through derailing the train - whee! - or allowing the timer to reach zero) and work at it until you get it right, some serious wads of cash can come out of, err, manning the Brown Streak Express.

Can You Feel the Music?
Ah, but what's a Grand Theft Auto game without the music? Continuing the pattern of its predecessors, GTA: San Andreas will once again have a host of varying radio stations compose the soundtrack that can be heard in the seat of any vehicle. So what can you expect to hear as you cruise along the highways? Forget the speculation - we've got the official radio stations listed below!

98.3 Master Sounds
DJ: Johnny "The Love Giant" Parkinson
Description: "The world's smallest giant, Johnny Parkinson, takes you on a musical, spiritual and sexual journey with a sound track of non-stop classics. The giants of soul, rare groove and just a little classic funk, hosted by the giant himself. Remember, height is not a number."
Confirmed Track: James Brown - "The Payback"

DJ: Forth Right MC
Description: "The mouthiest man in hip-hop, Forth Right MC, brings real
hip-hop to the left coast. East Coast sensibilities and Forth Right's unique brand of conspiracy theory lead you in a history lesson."
Confirmed Track: Slick Rick - "Children's Story"

Bounce FM
DJ: The Funktipus
Description: "The indescribable Funktipus plays the indefinable funk. The sound that has had Los Santos partying for twenty years is now on 'The Party', on Bounce FM. The Funktipus will open your eyes to what is really happening out there."
Confirmed Track: Ohio Players - "Funky Worm"

DJ: Tommy "The Nightmare" Smith
Description: "Tommy Smith, formerly with 1970s progressive rock act, Crystal Ship, has now taken up residence on the home of driving rock radio. K-DST 'The Dust' plays non-stop classic rock and roll."
Confirmed Track: Eddie Money - "Two Tickets to Paradise"

K-Jah West
DJ: Marshall Peters & Johnny Lawton
Description: "From JA to SA. The legendary Marshall Law sound system has moved from Kingston to San Andreas, bringing with them the best in dancehall, raga, reggae and dub. It's one love as Peters and Lawton argue about everything."
Confirmed Track: Max Romeo & The Upsetters - "Chase the Devil"

103.9 CST
DJ: Philip "PM" Michaels
Description: "Chart topping and club friendly hits, brought to you by Philip "PM" Michaels, entertainer. New Jack Swing and modern soul from today's hottest acts. Where soul meets preppy. Philip is also available for weddings, funerals and Bar Mitzvahs."
Confirmed Track: Bell Biv Devoe - "Poison"

Radio X: The Alternative
DJ: Sage
Description: "Finally, there IS an alternative. The home of Modern Rock. This is a revolution. Guitars, nihilistic hedonism, and telling the elder generation to go screw themselves. Nobody has done this before. We are original thinkers. We are free. Sage leads the navel gazing; she is a remarkable talent."
Confirmed Track: Rage Against The Machine - "Killing in the Name"

DJ: Mary-Beth Maybell
Description: "A broken heart never sounded so good. Country and western music broadcast from Bone County across the whole state of San Andreas. All of the biggest artists, all of the best music. With the Widow Queen of the Prairie, Mary-Beth Maybell."
Confirmed Track: Willie Nelson - "Crazy"

Radio Los Santos
DJ: Julio G
Description: "Julio G breaks the sound of the streets. This is the West Coast taking over."
Confirmed Track: 2Pac - "I Don't Give a F***"

DJ: Hans Oberlander
Description: "Quality house music, from deep in the underground, brought to you by an excitable German. This is music for people in the know."
Confirmed Track: Raze - "Break 4 Love"

If you find yourself falling in love with the game's music, as early as now or once the game hits shelves, the soundtrack will be released separately on November 23, thanks to a deal between Rockstar Games and Interscope Records.

We're just over a week away from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas' October 26 (or for some, the 25th) release now, folks! The full track listing will be confirmed on the official San Andreas site (track snippets are currently available) come tomorrow, and you'd better believe we'll hit you with the story A.S.A.P. Keep it here!