Tells about most of the improvements and differences between this and the other previous GTA games.
When your flagship franchise has the distinction of being the number one-selling videogame series for the current generation on the entire planet, expectations for your follow-up are enormous. Throw in the fact that Rockstar Game's Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City are two of the most open and accessible worlds the industry has ever seen, and those expectations get even bigger. But when you factor in the final element, a claim that your latest game is so big that it spans an entire state, the pressure to create something truly groundbreaking can be crippling. Or so you would think...
In the case of Rockstar's October-bound Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, however, the pressure and expectations of its fans don't seem to compare to the strain that the developers are putting on themselves. Determined to create a product so far beyond what people are anticipating, they're working tirelessly day and night to ensure that it's not only the best Grand Theft Auto we ever seen, but also the single best videogame we've ever played.
That's a pretty tall order to fill too; and one that only a certain few can claim to attempt. But when you're butting heads with a lineup of titles that includes Halo 2, Metal Gear Solid 3, Fable, Resident Evil 4, Ratchet 3, Jak 3, and countless others in the same holiday period, you're pretty much forced to come out swinging with everything you've got. And that's exactly what Rockstar has done.
In the months following E3 2004 when San Andreas was first announced, we've already learned an enormous amount of information. We already know, for instance, that the state of San Andreas is five times the size of Vice City: with three enormous metropolises spread out across multiple highways, byways, and other rural separators. We also know that the main character, Carl Johnson, needs to eat in order to survive. And unless he keeps a balanced diet, can become incredibly skinny or grossly overweight. If he does things correctly, on the other hand, he can go to the gym to work out to get buff, which makes him a more formidable character to deal with.
And let's not forget about the huge list of improvements that Rockstar has already made in terms of technology. In one example, there's anywhere from 30-50% more polygons on the screen at one time in addition to a longer draw distance and the inclusion of real-time reflections. Targeting enemies with your weapons is a lot smarter too, with a Manhunt-like presentation and rag-doll physics for fallen opponents. Other such advancements, like more detailed textures, better animations, and the most important fix -- enhanced AI, are already strong enough to get us excited about what's to come. Not to mention the laundry list of other cool things that we've already mentioned ten-fold in articles previous.
While we can always read about what the team has planned and hear about the game's numerous features recycled through various sources, nothing beats the experience of seeing it live. Luckily for us, we had just that opportunity when we visited Rockstar's brand new offices in New York City this past June. And though we've seen and played through the previous Grand Theft Auto games time and time again, we can't recall an instance when we left Rockstar's lair so excited about one of its upcoming games. As not only is everything we mentioned above is indeed being implemented to an impressive degree, but so are an armada of other goodies too. Be they the bike riding, casino gambling, four-person drive-bys, and so on.
But what about the stuff we don't already know? Or the more specific details regarding elements that were only touched on previously? We're glad that you asked. Because in the text following this, we're proud to present to you a host of new information regarding everything from the game's interesting tattoo system and its new camera controls, to getting dirt on your cars. Sound like something you want to learn about? The turn the page and check it out!
Everyone is already familiar with the fact that CJ can visit his barber Reece to change hairstyles and what not, but that's not the only level of customization available. Gamers can also alter the their clothes and body type so that they can become exactly the kind of gangsta they want to be (Should I be buff CJ with cornrows or fat CG with an Afro? Decisions, decisions). But perhaps none of the available customization options are as unique as the ability to add tattoos.
To do so, CJ must first find himself a tattoo parlor, the first of which just so happens to be next to Reece's Hair and Facial Studio. 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.
"We wanted people to be in complete control of their characters," remarked Leslie Benzies, President of Rockstar North. "If they didn't like the way he dressed, they could earn enough money to buy new clothes. The tattoo feature works the same way, only the motivation is different. If you were in a gang, you'd get a gang tattoo showing that."
To make sure they got it right, the Rockstar team worked very closely with the famous Los Angeles tattoo artist Mister Cartoon -- who's probably known best for his involvement with the small indie film, Ink the Movie. Once Mister Cartoon was on board, it was time to flesh out some of the more important aspects of the tattoos and the philosophies behind them. The inks for Los Santos peeps, for instance, are usually gang names, guns, and women; featuring a strong emphasis on the color black with patterns and styles reminiscent of those found from the area in the 90s (think Boyz N the Hood and you'll get the right idea).
San Fierro's tattoo culture, on the other hand, features a prominence towards things such as Aztec symbols, drug iconography, and other laid back images reflective of that city's more relaxed society. In the Las Vegas-inspired Las Venturra, however, you can expect to see things like cards, dice, and other emblems representative of the high rolling Lady Luck-inspired atmosphere of the area.
The reason Rockstar placed such an important emphasis on tattoos in San Andreas is because of the importance the LAPD lends them in real life. In fact, the LAPD has such a huge database dedicated to gang members and their tattoos, that they're often used as a more accurate identifier of felons more traditional means of identification. They also use the pictures of their tattoos as a way of looking into the mindset and psyche of the gang member in question -- something fingerprints and driver's licenses can't do.
Improved Camera Controls
One of Rockstar North's more recent priorities has been to formulate a new and more intelligent camera system that provides players with the freedom of total control that they need. Much like other three-dimensional action/adventure games, San Andreas implements the right analog stick as the means to move the camera -- both when in vehicles and on foot.
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. In fact, as you drive around the various cities, you may notice that people around here don't seem to like to wash their cars -- the friggin' things are filthy!
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 Member Tactics
By now, everyone is aware that gangs in Grand Theft Auto are an important part of the gameplay. And here in San Andreas, they've never been more so. But rather than just make each gangs unstoppable killing machines, Rockstar has worked towards making each member of the world react 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.
Should players do well enough in the gang's social circle, being chased by a rival gang poses no problem -- as your boys will have your back should the enemy cross their path. You don't even have to ask for them to do so, simply lure your aggressors into your friendly gang territory and any fellow brother who sees what's happening will join in to help get the enemy off your ass.
Of course, rules for the other gangs work the same way. So if CJ and his boys pull into a rival gang's turf, they'll attack him and try to destroy his car. If CJ is on foot, the rival gangs will come after him then too, and will change their tactics for any given situation. So if you think you know how to outsmart a group of thugs by doing the same thing you did last time, think again -- it won't be that easy. Sure they may just come after you with guns a-blazin', but they may also send a couple of guys ahead of you to intercept should you tire out from the chase of the guys behind. Or they could even hang back silently and not do anything before surprising your character with an instance chase. The possibilities here are definitely interesting.
"We spent a lot of time getting that level of interaction right and making it unique," remarked Benzies. "We wanted to convey very clearly that the gangs had a certain way of communicating, very definite mannerisms, and yet had to create signs and language all our own that was faithful to the world we're trying to depict. It was challenging, but it adds a startling level of detail to the game."
But those are the only levels of detail yet to be explored in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. As our friends at Rockstar Games have continued to maintain that there's still so much more to be shown of this game, that it will literally blow people away. But what are these shocking goodies that they're referring to? And how much longer before we find out what they are? Stay tuned to IGN in the coming months for the answers!
(Oh and don't forget to check our media page below for almost 20 new screenshots taken from the latest build! We'll see you again, next time).
An Obese CJ.
This game will rock. I just hope they will say "niggah" instead of a bunch of "homie"s and "man"s.
Rumors are that Ice Cube is doing the voice work for CJ (main character).
GTA: SA is gonna be fucking great. I hope they release a trailer soon. Game of the year candidate imo.
I agree. But it should watch out for KotORII. And Halo2. And Fable...
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