Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Preview
publisher: Rockstar Games
developer: Rockstar North
PIII 1000, 256MB RAM, 3.6GB HDD, 64MB video card
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Jun 07, 05 (released)
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While the gaming community is getting jittery over titles that are long overdue (i.e Half-Life 2 and Doom 3), other publishers are moving in to snatch, or in this case further strengthen their position on the market. Now that the HL2 and Doom 3 commotion died down a bit even hard-core PC gamers are turning their eyes towards Rockstar Games' recently announced addition to the Grand Theft Auto series - developed by Rockstar North. GTA made an impact after Grand Theft Auto 3 and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City both of which were created for the Playstation 2 and ported to the PC later on. After Vice City's Godfather-inspired plot and Scarface-style setting, Rockstar North opted to move on to a slightly different ambiance.
Nothing says 'I'm a teenage dealer' quite like a BMX bike.
He's getting ready to kill a small kitten.
In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas you start out as a guy looking to clean up his act, named Carl Johnson. CJ returns to his hometown, the city of Los Santos, to pursue a new destiny as he investigates the brutal murder of his mother, at the same time seeking an answer as to why his family members are on bad terms. The situation gets even worse when two corrupted law enforcers Eddie Polaski and Frank Tenpenny frame him for murder. To top it all off, CJ's former homeboys are also in trouble, leaving him to fight against cops and rivaling gangs on his own. Naturally, your goal is to help CJ clear his name with the authorities, reassemble his former local gang (The Orange Grove Families) and take control of the streets. So much for Carl looking to clean up his act... By the way, Rockstar unveiled that certain characters from earlier GTA games will be making a comeback, such as Don Salvatore Leone from Grand Theft Auto 3 (voiced once again by actor Frank Vincent).
While San Andreas carries on with the same game play basics as its predecessor, there are several new elements incorporated in the game to elevate the GTA franchise to new heights. This time around, Rockstar's idea was to expand upon the open-ended nature of the game even further. The notable first improvements were taken in character design. As players progress through the game, their actions seriously influence the main character's appearance. Unlike the first game, where we saw Tommy Vercetti with a normal figure, in San Andreas your body may change from slim to chubby in a matter of days. This may happen if you eat too much burgers and donuts - after that your weight increases and you'll be a sitting duck for rivaling gangs the moment you hit the streets. Luckily, a few visits to the gym should help fix this problem.
Certain features are already widely known, such as riding BMX pedal bikes, cops latching on to cars, the possibility of changing hair styles, different appearances that alter the way NPC react to your character and so on. The developers also plan to accommodate the game on a dual-layered DVD. Most likely we're looking at an even lengthier experience than before, so this move is quite understandable. The next step towards an even more involving experience is the incorporation of three different cities, all of which are going to make for a significantly wider environment for players to explore in. Before you become a big-shot, you'll need to travel across the entire state of San Andreas which encompasses Los Santos, San Fierro and Las Venturas. Los Santos is actually Rockstar's depiction of modern-day LA, San Fierro is an interpretation of San Francisco, and as you'd normally assume, Las Venturas is the GTA equivalent to the actual city of Las Vegas (America's playground, baby!). In terms of level design and architecture, each city was created to fit the styles and trends of the early 90's. Next to vast cities the game also stretches beyond urban zones, including fields, farms, forests, rivers, deserts and a huge mountain.
To move around the area players will get to utilize a variety of vehicles along the way. As before, you have the freedom to nab virtually any car, truck, jeep or anything else you come across. We also expect helicopters and boats to be in the game as a tribute to Vice City. The only new molds of transportation the developers were willing to disclose at this time were push-bikes (as shown on the screenshots provided). When it comes to motorized vehicles, the programmers have promised to tweak the vehicle physics to improve the slightly arcadish vehicle control mechanics from Vice City. According to Rockstar, it's going to be a lot more realistic this time around.
Concerning physics, it appears that Rockstar aims to adjust every possible flaw players complained about after playing Vice City. The fact that Tommy Vercetti couldn't swim was probably one of the most annoying bits in the game. Watching your character ride a motorbike, fly a helicopter, drive a tank and God knows what else was extremely cool. But seeing him drown instantaneously after falling off a boat was a bit silly. Although Rockstar hasn't confirmed it officially, many anticipate that your character in San Andreas will be able to swim and even participate in some underwater-based missions.
There will be a great variety of different assignments and jobs to pull off throughout the game. Territory disputes in the neighborhood are only a small portion of the whole shebang. Once you hit the streets, you and your homeboys must fight a huge gang war, extorting money and finding different ways to let others know you're the boss.
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