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August 8, 2004
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price
28/10/2004Take TwoRockstar North1$99.95

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Drive by shootings with the gang.
Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto really is a series that needs no introduction. It has easily become the game world equivalent to Spider-man in the cinemas. That is, a monster hit that nothing can seemingly stop. Indeed when Grand Theft Auto III was release on PS2 in 2001 it received superb reviews. What happened next was nothing short of a miracle - the game remained near the top of the charts for well over a year - almost two. The second game, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City received, not only similar rave reviews, but set new records for sales and pre-orders. If you had a Playstation 2, but not Rockstarís latest game, there was certainly something wrong with you. It came as little surprise that there would be a sequel, or that it would become one of the most anticipated games in the history of Playstation 2. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas be thy name.

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You don't want to meet these guys!
Information for this game has been released in dribs and drabs. Rockstar don't want too much hype too early, but two months after E3, and three months before release, information is starting to appear. One of the closely guarded secrets is the storyline, with only minimal information released to date.

Five years ago Carl Johnson escaped from the pressures of life in Los Santos, San Andreas... a city tearing itself apart with gang trouble, drugs and corruption. Where film stars and millionaires do their best to avoid the dealers and gangbangers. Now, it's the early 90s. Carl's got to go home. His mother has been murdered, his family has fallen apart and his childhood friends are all heading towards disaster. On his return to the neighborhood, a couple of corrupt cops frame him for homicide. CJ is forced on a journey that takes him across the entire state of San Andreas to save his family and to take control of the streets.

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CJ near the car.
As expected there won't be any dramatic changes to the style of gameplay. This is a third person action/adventure title which allows you to go anywhere you wish and do almost anything you want. The first thing you will notice about this game however, is the size. The game world is approximately five times bigger then Grand Theft Auto: Vice City which was already pretty damn big. What's more the game includes three cities to explore - San Andreas is actually the name of the state in which the game is set.

The first city is Los Santos which is based on Los Angeles, the second is San Fierro which is based on San Francisco and the last city is Las Venturra which is based on Las Vegas. As in real life each of these areas will include unique characters and visuals. San Fierro, for instance will be quite hilly while Las Venturra will be littered with casinos. Traveling between all three will require a trip through the country side on a variety of vehicles. The countrside won't be barren with many small towns such as Shady Creeks, Flint County, Whetstone, Fern Ridge, and Red County.

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One of the gangs.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas includes (according to the developers) hundreds of new vehicles. At the low end of the scale the game will include BMX pushbikes, which could be good for a chuckle. While the cars include cadillacís, sports vehicles, quad bikes (in the countryside), helicopters, and, well, pretty much anything else that existed in the 1980's. It is even believed that there will be airports to fly between each of the three main cities - although this is to be confirmed. Weapons are also based on the 1980's so you can expect plenty of assault rifles, shotguns, pistols and the like - all of which is yet to be revealed.

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Avoiding the chopper.
The AI has also been improved greatly. Pedestrians will react to the events around them. If you start attacking someone nearby pedestrians will react accordingly - that being they may run away, or try to assist the person you're attacking. Pedestrians may also hold hands at times, run through them to break their hold and they will rejoin hands a short time later. The game allows you to recruit gangs, each member will have his own personality. It will even be possible to conduct drive by shootings (as seen in the first screenshot).

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Nice, very nice.
Carl will also require regular maintenance. He must eat and go to the gym to maintain his weight and physique. Letting him get unfit will be detrimental to his performance and stamina in the game. The targeting system in the game has been improved and is now modeled on that in Rockstar North's uber-violent but very cool game, Manhunt. Stealth will also play a part in the game now. It will be possible to hide from police in the shadows, or behind buildings and objects.

Some other new things you will be able to do during the game includes robbing houses (which will require some planning - you can't just walk in and take anything), buy properties and build up businesses, meeting characters from other games, gambling in the casinos to earn money (or lose it), swim in water (rather then instantly drown), get a haircut or tattoo to your liking, change clothes (much more variety) and recruit gang members to control parts of the cities or your properties.

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C'mon, Supersize me...
The radio stations will make a welcome return - in fact there will be three times more stations. As the game is set in the early 1990's most of the music will be from the 1980's. Death Row (the record label) announced that Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre would have some music in the game in the form of the tracks 'Gin N' Juice' and 'Let Me Ride' respectively, as well as 'Nuthin' But a G Thang' which they sang together. Other music tracks are still to be announced, as is the inclusion of DTS sound which was so spectacular in the previous game. Rockstar have confirmed that there is over 400 talking parts in the game - so much that the game will be spread over a dual layered DVD (allowing 9.4GB of data, rather then 4.7GB on a single layered DVD which was the case for previous titles).

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The LA convention centre.
One of the first things that really hits you about this game is that the graphics have been improved so dramatically. The draw distance is nearly double and the game pushes spproximatley 40% more polygons then the previous title. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas includes real-time reflections on the cars, windows and mirrors while the shadows are crucial to gameplay. Day to night tranistions have also been improved with seperate models for each time of day to ensure optimal visuals. A rag doll physics engine will ensure that the animation on the characters remains realistic.

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Hanging in the hood.
Most importantly the game will have almost no load times, the only slight pause will occur when you move from outdoor to indoor locations - who knows, this may even be eliminated by the games release.

With a game size around five times that of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, this game will keep you playing for months - and that's before playing it through a second, third or even fourth time. Without a doubt Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas will be awesome. Keep your cash ready for late October 2004 - you'll need it.