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Countryside Extras in GTA: San Andreas

Alternative weapons in San Andreas

Hand held weapons have always been a firm fan favorite in the Grand Theft Auto games. Vice City took this side of combat to a whole new level with the introduction of the traditional Katana, classic tools like the Chainsaw and the infamous Golf Club, each with their own wielding animation.

A new range of destructive implements are at CJs disposal. Some classics will make an appearance as well as some fresh new additions to hand-to-hand arsenal.

It is now possible for CJ to lock on to opponent while wielding a weapon. This enables the player to circle their enemy, choosing the right time to make their attack. Pressing square will also make CJ block. This blocking move will vary dependant on the weapon currently held.

Each of the weapons features a number of different attacks that are available to CJ and a massive amount of effort has gone into making sure every strike with every weapon has its own set of animations complete with some greatly satisfying finishing moves! This makes each tool feel and play very differently.

Countryside Weapon - The Shovel

One of the many new weapons featured in San Andreas is one that no aspiring mobster travels without - the classic garden shovel. This universally utilized tool, often found in people's back yards, is famous for providing the ability to perform important soil related tasks such as digging shallow graves, threatening people in a farmer like fashion and making a very satisfying 'klunk' when the head of the spade meets someone's head.

The Crop Duster

Since San Andreas is so large, planes play a much larger role in the game. Once you've started spending time out in the countryside and traveling between cities, using a plane to get around starts to make a lot of sense! Because of this, Rockstar North have designed a whole range of new airborne vehicles for CJ to fly. The new dodo has full wings now and so it obviously handles much better. It's not meant to be fast, but is solid and has responsive handling. As you can see in the screenshots attached, you can really fly high above ground. There's actually an altimeter in the bottom left hand corner that appears when you're in aircraft to show you how high you are off the ground.

Plane physics have been reworked to allow for faster and more maneuverable planes like the Crop Duster which is a biplane with two wing surfaces to carve through the air, giving it much better handling. Since you'll be doing things like barrel rolls, hammerheads and loops often, Rockstar North have added an attitude meter that appears over the in-game map in the lower-left hand corner. It shows your plane's relation to the horizon so you have a sense of where the ground is after your third barrel roll!

Mountain Biking Downhill

If you manage to hike all the way up to the top of Mount Chiliad (of if you were smart, and have enough biking skill, ride up on a bike) then you'll find a race starting at the top for you to participate in. Hopefully you will have honed CJ's cycling skill by the time you attempt this race, because you'll need every bit of skill you can muster. Covering a torturous, winding track down the side of Mount Chiliad at extremely high speeds, this downhill race is the ultimate in cycling tests.

Since the mountain bike has a number of gears (chosen automatically), it has a much higher top speed than the BMX CJ grew up riding in East Los Santos. Bunnyhopping is still possible on the mountain bike, but you'd be much better off just riding around obstacles, as going airborne at this altitude can be suicide! Just a word of warning: the other racers in this championship aren't very courteous, sportsman-like opponents and they will take full advantage of any errors you make, having no qualms about barreling into you or knocking you off the side of the mountain. But, finish first at the bottom and you'll be on your way to the mountain biking championship. You aren't king of the mountain til you've conquered these races!

Working Bull Dozer

A vehicle designed to literally plow right though anything, the Dozer has massive amounts of torque to drive it forward. The plow works just like you'd expect it to in real life; it can be raised up and down (with the right analog) to flip cars, terrorize sidewalks, and cause general chaos and destruction.

There are all sorts of objects in San Andreas that you can now destroy; discarded milk crates, white picket fences, small to medium sized plants, outdoor furniture, anything that looks like you should be able to run it down with a big vehicle can probably be smashed. This is very gratifying and adds a new layer of interactivity to the Grand Theft Auto world. Keep in mind that you're not the only one who can and will be smashing up the map as you drive around. Anyone else foolish enough to run into things at high speeds will be wreaking havoc as well. Watch out, because San Andreas is an unpredictable place!

The Dozer also features new steering physics - rear-wheel steering. The bulldozer has all of it's steering in the back and the front wheels are locked in place, just like the real machine. It's a bit unusual at first to those who aren't use to driving a Bulldozer!

Fires in San Andreas

Fires are a serious and perennial problem in the real California. In San Andreas also, since the state can be so dry, fires can quickly spread out of control. Any bit of flame can easily flare up and cover a large area in almost no time. CJ can, and will, intentionally or incidentally, start fires from time to time, throwing Molotov cocktails or detonating a car. As your damaged car explodes, the fire can quickly spread to other nearby cars and objects. Buildings can go up just as rapidly as dry kindling out in the forests. When the fire is raging right in your line of escape you'll be thankful that the San Andreas Fire Department are usually on the scene pretty quickly, but there are times when they fail to show up. Luckily CJ himself can now use fire extinguishers to fight fires, and clear his path, or maybe he just wants to save that innocent old woman trapped on her porch by a wall of flame? When disaster strikes, CJ can be ready with a fire extinguisher.

He can pick these up fire extinguishers all over the place, but a great place to find one is any Burger Shot or Cluckin Bell restaurant, where grease fires are an almost daily hazard. Pick one up, aim for the bottom of the flame (just like real life) and pull the trigger to smother the flames. It never hurts to be prepared, if you know things are going to get hot, it's a good idea to have one just in case.

Weapons in San Andreas

The gunplay mechanic has been completely reworked in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. True to the series' heritage, R1 will remain the button that engages the targeting system and you can still fire your weapon randomly by pressing Circle at any point, however a brand new targeting control scheme has been implemented.

Once you've held down R1, a number of options open up for targeting enemies. CJ will first attempt to target the closest hostile enemy, circumventing any non-hostiles. Failing that, he'll target the closest target in front of him within a range just over 90 degrees. If there isn't a target within this field, he'll go into free aim mode with the weapon. The camera settles down behind him and a reticle appears in the center of the screen. The analog sticks now behave very differently than in normal on-foot action. The left analog moves CJ forward and backward, and strafes him left and right. The right analog moves the camera angle up, down, left and right.

The effect is that the game feels more like a classic third person shooter and, using both sticks, the player can quickly get a bead on any target they like without using the auto-lock targeting system. A perceptive reader by now may have noticed a problem. If you're using the right analog to target enemies, how are you going to shoot using Circle? L1 is now your trigger button, but only in target mode!

It's still possible, and in some cases preferable, to use R2 and L2 to rapidly cycle through locked-on targets, and if you're in free target mode and want to snap to a target, just tap R2 or L2 (whichever is in the direction of the target) and CJ will lock right on. The system has been designed to give players the option to target however they like.

Like many other aspects of the game, weapons will have a skill level associated with them, and CJ's proficiency with a particular gun can be developed over time. As you use a weapon more and more frequently, you'll upgrade:

Reload Time - A huge factor, as CJ gets better with a weapon he will need to spend fewer critical seconds reloading.

Fire Rate - The firing rate of guns in San Andreas is affected by CJ's skill with it. More bullets in less time means your targets go down more quickly!

Accuracy - As CJ gets better with a weapon, his accuracy with it will improve. You'll notice as you're firing weapons that the circle outside the reticle will now expand and contract to visualize your current accuracy. As in previous Grand Theft Autos, crouching will bump up your accuracy too!

Weapon Stance & Movement - Weapons have different associated abilities that they unlock. For example with certain weapons you unlock the ability to move while firing, others you get an improved weapon stance as CJ learns how to handle the gun, or faster strafe speed, even the ability to move backwards while firing!

Dual Weapons - The ultimate of upgrades. As CJ gets better with weapons, some allow him to hold two weapons at a time, doubling his firing rate and length of time that he can go without a reload.

Countryside Firearm - The Desert Eagle

Affectionately known as the DEAGLE the world over, this massive handgun packs more stopping power per round than any weapon except for the sniper rifles. When CJ first starts using it, he can barely hold onto it when squeezing the trigger. As he gets more used to the weapon, he'll become more and more proficient with it. Without a doubt, one of the most lethal new guns in CJ's arsenal.

Riding Lawnmower

Keep an eye out for this last ditch ride! If there isn't anything else around and CJ is scrambling through backyards and fences to get away from some heat, this may just provide the escape you're looking for. While not as fast as a proper car, it's better than hoofing it!

Haulin' Gas

RU Haul is a friendly little shipping company in the rolling hills west of Los Santos. The owner there is always happy to get an extra driver ... and pay them cash for towing some cargo. Any time CJ wants to swing by, there will be work for him here.

To pull the goods, CJ will be driving a classic 18-wheeler. The largest road vehicle in the game, the semi features full articulated physics. This means that the trailer behaves and acts like a trailer actually should; it'll whip around a corner and lose grip if you take a turn too fast, jackknifing just like you'd expect from a real-world 18-wheeler. Like all the vehicles in Grand Theft Auto, the semi-truck feels exactly like it should. If the trailer does disconnect, you have the option to connect to it again, getting back on the road and underway to your destination.

Deliveries pay cash, but you have to be on time or watch your fee get cut in half. There's serious money to be made hauling goods too, thousands for lower-level projects and up into the tens of thousands for "hot" goods that the police might be interested in. If you're short, try a little work for RU Haul!

Also, keep in mind that gas-filled tankers make stellar rolling bombs. Any time you want to take out a group of guys in an area, speed the tanker towards the group, and dive out of the cab. Pop up with a rocket launcher and light it up!

Countryside Races

There a number of races that take place out in the country. Whether its rock climbing in 4x4 or big air motorcross races on the Sanchez, there's plenty to satisfy your off-road cravings.

New Foliage with Different Kinds of Plants

The countryside in San Andreas is a huge place, connecting the three cities with an incredibly varied landscape. Rockstar North have developed a sophisticated technology that draws in foliage around you, a technique known as procedural rendering. The level designers tag areas as different kinds of terrain. These terrain types then have designated kinds of plants etc attached to them - for example different kinds of underbrush and grass and even rocks and fallen logs -and the game automatically draws them in. This technique allows for a vast, fleshed out world full of unique areas to explore.

There are dozens of different kinds of plants in San Andreas.

Moon Phases

The moon now goes through phases in San Andreas. The game keeps track of the days you've spent in the world, it even knows what day of the week it is! As time goes by, the moon will slowly cycle through a 30 day change. For those of you who don't venture out of the city into the countryside much, take a look up as night falls in the San Andreas countryside, the sky is clearer out there and the moon is brighter.

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