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Old News - August 2004 Contents

08-28-04
08-25-04
08-20-04
08-14-04
08-10-04
08-04-04
08-02-04

Friday - August 28, 2004   <7:28 PM CST>

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Announcements
Ok, just a quick update (I'm moving into a new apartment in Chicago so I'm spending all my weekends packing).

  • Three San Andreas spin-off/spoof sites have been spotted on the web, check em out:
  • First off, thanks to everyone who submitted questions for the Q&A list thing.  My contact at Rockstar tells me that they have over 70 questions.  A lot of these will be repeats, but hopefully we'll have a pretty sizable list to read through.  Here is the post I just added to the forum about which questions were chosen and why:

    Ok, here is the final list of questions I'm submitting to Rockstar (I have rewritten most of them to try and get the most out of each question). I have rewritten this thing twice now. Once to remove the questions that I knew other sites were asking and again after running a few of these by my contact at Rockstar. I have been assured that they have lots of lots of animal related questions so I dropped that one, sports/games/mini-games has been covered, gambling has been covered, etc... I wasn't going to ask the PS2 HDD question because it seems like an under-supported peripheral and I have my doubts about them supporting it, but enough people wanted to know and my contact didn't know so I figured, what the hell...

    I can only submit ONE name for each question so I used the name of the person who mentioned the question or topic first.

    1) Will GTA:San Andreas allow for the use of alcohol, drugs, and/or tobacco products? If yes, what effect will they have on gameplay? (Lostboy)

    2) What movies were the primary influence behind GTA:SA (I.E. What movies should GTA fans be watching to prepare for GTA:SA's release?) (Chang)

    3) Will GTA:SA require or make use of the PS2 hard drive? (S3KT0R)

    4) One of the more frustrating things IMO about the two previous games (specifically when playing outside of the missions) was the short attention span the game engine had for vehicles you weren't either driving or looking right at. Walk a bit too far away from your ride, or let the car your chasing get out of your sight (like around a corner twenty yards away), and they vanish. I don't expect or want the new game engine to make me have to steer around every car I've ever abandoned throughout the course of the game but will it at least do a BETTER job of keeping track of game objects your character interacts with? (Cermo)

    5) Is Rockstar making any changes to keep every area of San Andreas populated with enough peds/cars to keep the game from feeling empty (some previews have mentioned that SA feels empty at times)? (Inky)

    6) Is the Hare Krishna Gouranga! line ever going to make a comeback? (Hivlov)

    Reasons for picking the questions I picked:
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    1) I asked #1 because it seemed popular and I wanted to know too :)

2) If we can get an answer to this one I figure it will give us something to do while we wait for SA's release.

3) This one was asked too many times to ignore :)

4) Excellent question and something that has annoyed me for some time now.

5) Ditto

6) There was no way I could possibly avoid this one. I've been hoping for awhile now that GOURANGA! would return in some form or another (I still miss the announcer :) )

I hope this is a wide enough range of questions and from what I've heard they have about 70 questions to go through, plus mine so we should have a pretty decent list when it's all over...

  

Wednesday - August 25, 2004   <11:59 PM CST>

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Ask R*
The wonderful people at Rockstar are putting together a fan site Q&A list for San Andreas and they have asked us here at gouranga.com to send them six questions to choose from (a number of other fan sites are also being allowed to submit six questions each). If you wish to submit a question, please feel free to post it in THIS THREAD. I ask that you submit ONLY TWO questions per person. If someone has already submitted the question you wanted to ask, just submit it again. I will then send R* the six questions that are asked most often along with the names of the people who submitted them first. I have to submit the list of questions by 6PM EST on Friday, August 27th so I will probably start getting the list together around 1PM EST and then I'll post a review list just so you know what is being sent and can bitch about it necessary :) (I'll be at work so I want to allow for as much time as possible to get this thing together). Rockstar is not guaranteeing an answer for every question submitted so some of the questions may come back with a "no comment" answer.

 

Friday - August 20, 2004   <7:00 PM CST>

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First Footage of SA Released
Apparently MTV is the host of the very first GTA: SA footage.  I can't find it on their site anywhere so I assume you can only see it by watching MTV.  If you don't want to be forced to endure the regular MTV lineup then you're still not out of luck because now you can see the trailer over on the newly relaunched official SA site.

The trailer shows off some of SA's feature like gang members interacting, cars with hydraulics, spray painting, basketball, dancing, an ATV (in the background on the beach), a nice shot of a plane flying over the VineWood sign, bike riding, playing pool, hair cuts, fast food, police helicopters with search lights, fence climbing, and gangs in cars. Check out the SA Media Index for some shots from the trailer. Special thanks go out to Recoil and Jonathan for sending this news in.

Rockstar Updates Official SA Site
Rockstar has finally updated the official SA site adding the newly released trailer in large and small sizes, an interactive Los Santos map (Flash version only - this thing is a work of art) with some sounds from the game, news, information, and more.  Take a look!  Make sure you explore the interactive map to find all of the bonus movies, sounds, and screenshots. Don't forgot to click on the descriptions after loading an area for more information. Here are some random notes from the map:

  • Grove Family gang color is green
  • Los Santos Vagos members wear yellow
  • The Ballas members wear purple
  • Varrios Los Aztecas wear turquoise
  • New SA clothing stores include Didier Saches (very high end) and Victim (upscale retail).

  
August Fansite Exclusive Shots

A few of the GTA fansites, including G!, were sent a collection of five new GTA:SA screenshots directly from R*.  Check em out:

 

Payback
S3KT0R sent word that Zoo will publishing the GTA1 clone Payback for the GBA.  Currently they only have a European release date set (Oct 22nd).  Check the Zoo site or apex-designs for more details.

  

Saturday - August 14, 2004   <2:30 AM CST>

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Latest SA Updates
First off, I just got this screenshot from the Rockstar webmaster of CJ playing Basketball. Apparently it was released yesterday on IGN and more information on CJs NBA aspirations are yet to be disclosed :). Anyway, on to IGN and Gamespot's updates. IGN's two page update centers on CJs appearance from clothes to hair. Gamespot's update is far more interesting with the first details on armed robbery. Gamespot also reports on SA's swimming system but most of it is a rehash of IGN's earlier article. Obviously both IGN and Gamespot's updates worth the read. Here are a few details with the new screenshots being added later this weekend:
  • Your haircut (as with the rest of your appearance) will effect the amount of respect the peds give you. If your fat, dressed like a bum, and have a bad hair cut you can expect to be constantly verbally harassed by the just about everyone. If you look good they'll respond better to you and you'll command more authority which should make your gang more effective in battle.
  • At the beginning of the game you'll be able to go to old Reece's barbershop where you'll be able to check your reflection and try on different hair cuts and facial hair. Then if you have the cash you can change your look.
  • After you earn enough respect in the game you'll be able to wear gang colors, bumping up your gangs respect for you but also putting you in more danger when around police or rival gang members.
  • You can buy clothes from a number of locations. If the store sells higher end clothes you'll pay more but also command more respect (with the possible exception of your old neighborhood where you'll be more respected if you dress like them.
  • In order to use your new robbery skill you'll actually need to prepare for it. First you'll need a moving van to initiate the mission (CJ doesn't fu*k around, apparently he not only goes for money, but everything in the damn house!). Next you'll need an outfit to conceal your identity, along with a weapon, and last you'll need a target. As expected, if you go after a very wealthy person you can expect to be taking a lot of risk on for a big payoff. Similarly if you take down a small house that is out of the way you'll take on a lot less risk but also a smaller payoff.
  • After your all set up you can enter through doors or windows but only under the cover of night. Additionally you'll run into peds that will give up right off the bat along with their braver counterparts who are armed to the teeth and are very effective at defending their property. Just make sure they don't make it to the phone or you'll be running from the cops before you can swipe their TV and DVD player.
  • While dressed for a robbery you'll automatically enter stealth mode and you'll have a noise meter to let you know how noisy you're being, adding an entirely new stealth component to the game.
  • After you've made it out alive with a truckload of stolen goods you have to meet up with your fence who will then buy the stuff.
  • The faster method of swimming will actually control somewhat like riding the bike where you have to mash the X button to move faster and faster.

  

Tuesday - August 10, 2004   <8:50 PM CST>

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Weekend Update Roundup
Gamespot and IGN both featured GTA:SA updates this weekend. Gamespot's update was a collection of random bits of information including descriptions of some of Los Santos' locations, information on tatooing, details on street navigation, etc. IGN uses all of their update space to cover the new swimming system and control scheme.  Here are my notes from both articles:

  • Sand will slow you down
  • Some of the new travel options include The Brown Streak rail line (Los Santos' city-wide rail service) and the freeway.
  • All of the cities in San Andreas feature handy street signs that will point you to specific points of interest and will help you navigate the city. Every street in San Andreas will also have a name and buildings will finally feature addresses so it's possible that you'll be sent to a specific address on a specific street making navigation a little easier.
  • While in the the water CJ will tread water by default without any input from you. As you might guess, pushing forward on the analog stick will make CJ move forward using a breast stroke. This is similar to walking on land and does not use any stamina. If you want to move a little faster you can use the X button to pick up the pace but at the cost of stamina (similar to sprinting on land). You also have the option of using the O button to dive underwater using the same controls mentioned above for navigation. After you go underwater your enemies will find it harder to track you, but obviously you can't stay underwater forever so you'll also have to keep an eye on your breath-o-meter.
  • Just as in real life your vision will be slightly distorted underwater and the lighting will be different.
  • If you drive a car into the water you'll have a limited amount of time to get out before your air runs out.
  • CJ can exit the water almost anywhere, just as long has he has something to grab onto he'll be able pull himself out.
  • It is possible to swim up to a moving boat and jack it, but you have to get the timing down so you can pull yourself up onto the boat and then scare the owner into jumping out.
  • The water physics has been totally reworked and should more accurately reflect the weather conditions. Boats will also create a more believable wake in San Andreas.
  • It sounds as if Rockstar has some special things in store for swimming so I'd expect some hidden underwater locations and possibly some items that will help you breath longer underwater.

GTA:SA On The Spot
Gamespot's August 5th edition of their "On The Spot" show featured a brief overview of GTA: San Andreas. It's all repeated information but it's still worth watching. If you want skip right to the bit about SA, just fast forward to 24:30:

  • Lots of new side elements
  • BMX trick system
  • Own visual style / different look from Vice City and Liberty City.
  • Real world landmarks
  • Blur effect in screenshots is probably the "trails" effect which will hopefully have a disable function.

 

Wednesday - August 4, 2004   <2:30 AM CST>

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San Andreas Barrage   <2:30 PM CST - schu> 
I finally got a chance to read through both the IGN and the Gamespot previews. You should read both of these previews if you want to know just about everything that has been released on SA to date. Obviously the Gamespot preview is bigger and has more information, but most of the stuff in the IGN preview is specific to IGN and is not in the Gamespot preview.  Here is some of the information I pulled out of both previews.
  • Other previews have mentioned it before, but just in case you missed it. San Andreas will feature a monster truck. I'm not 100% sure, but I think San Andreas in the original GTA was the only city that had a monster truck in it. It will be interesting to see if any other San Andreas specific vehicles from the original make it into the new SA.
  • The tried and true GTA game mechanics remain mostly unchanged.
  • The BMX bike has a great deal of control, even more so than the motorcycles. It sounds as if certain parts of the map will be tailor made for the bike. You can also perform numerous stunts on the bike, including bunnyhops, wheelies, endos, as well as 360s and 180s.
  • The San Andreas drivers are not like the sheep you encountered in the previous games. These people do not want to part with their car so you'll have to rely on CJ's set of new moves (kicks, punches, pistol-whips, and the fan favorite... slamming the driver's head into the dashboard) to take the cars by force.
  • Parts of San Andreas MAY be locked at the beginning of the game.  Rockstar hasn't said for sure if this is the case.
  • Cops and certain peds will be able to grab onto your car and will try to pull you out if don't shake them loose.
  • The cars in San Andreas can and will get dirty so car washes have been provided to clean them. No mention was made as to what effect that has in the game. I'm guessing a clean car might elicit more respect then driving around in a dirty POS. The dirt also seems to be location specific so your wheels might get dirty first followed by the rest of your car. As you abuse your car you can also end up with broken windows, rust, bullet holes, loose bumpers and body panels, among other things. This time around you won't be walking around a city full of cars right off the showroom floor since most peds treat their cars like sh*t too.
  • You hair style also has an effect on how you are perceived in the game. If you pick a goofy hair style it's unlikely that you'll be taken very seriously.  Then again, if you're armed to the teeth I'm sure you can overcome that problem pretty fast.
  • Tattoos will be introduced to GTA for the first time and you will be able to add tattoos to just about any part of your body. You will be able to select from a wide variety of tattoos that change from city to city. While working on the tattoo system for SA, Rockstar consulted with the well known Los Angeles tattoo artist, Mister Cartoon.
  • San Andreas utilizes a skill/use based system where your skills in different areas will improve the more you use them. Riding your bike will both increase your stamina and will improve your bike riding skill. The same goes for weapons (I'm guessing the more you use a particular weapon group the better you'll become at using all weapons in the group - rather than a different skill rating for each and every weapon in the game).
  • You have a few different options when exercising in San Andreas. Using an exercise bike or a treadmill will improve your stamina, lifting weights will improve your strength, and sparring will improve your fighting skills. As you work out you can tailor your appearance to suit your fighting style. You can build yourself into a big muscle-bound thug, a quick maneuverable fighter, or anywhere in between.
  • Stamina directly effects how far and fast you can run, swim, and cycle.
  • Gyms in different cities provided different options when it comes to sparring. The gyms in Los Santos will improve your standard set of hand to hand boxing skills, San Fierro's gyms will open up new skills in the martial arts, and Las Venturas offers all the best in street fighting. The more you spar the more fighting skills you will unlock and the better you'll become at fighting.
  • SA's fighting system is a true system and not just something you use when you don't have a gun. You'll be able to perform basic moves, combos, specials, and blocks. The new system will use multiple buttons and will allow you to lock onto enemies.
  • Targeting has been improved and utilizes some of the techniques used in Manhunt, allowing you to actually aim the gun so you can go for headshots with just about any weapon. If you want to get ahead of the game and get a little practice in you might want to check out Manhunt.
  • The police AI has been completely revamped to allow for more realistic / more deadly behavior. The police will come at you from all angles and if you out run them on the ground they'll send the helicopters after you. The spotlights on the helicopters do more than just illuminate your position, they will also blind you at certain angles and make it harder to target. The cops will also utilize cover to their advantage making them harder to take down.  The main new addition to the police lineup are the new motorcycle cops.  Motorcycle cops can drive and gun at the same time, much like Tommy in Vice City.
  • The wanted system is in full effect so as you dish out more damage you'll take on more and more heat for your actions.
  • SA will feature 35-50% more polygons, a skeletal animation system for more lifelike movements, reduced pop-up, double the view distance in cities and quadruple the distance in outerlying areas, more detailed areas, destructible items/props (billboards you can smash through, etc.), rag-doll physics, more detailed textures, and better animations.
  • The completely overhauled lighting system will offer lighting specific to each area/city along with weather to match. Los Santos will be smoggy, San Fierro will go from sunny to foggy to rainy, and Las Venturas' blistering heat will produce heat effects that rise off the hot pavement.
  • Rockstar has not released any official information on casting details or sound track information; However, they do mention that the soundtrack will not be limited to hip-hop and rap, but will feature very wide range of musical genres, much like what was done in Vice City.
  • The over-all control scheme has been revamped for SA allowing for more control than any of the previous incarnations of GTA. While walking or driving the right analog stick will be used to move the camera while the left stick will be used for movement. During combat the right stick will allow you to target your opponents, but unlike previous games you can now run and gun more easily. The new level of control will allow you to keep moving forward while looking around and choosing your targets. This new control scheme will also allow for all sorts of strafing maneuvers to help you get out of gun fights mostly intact :)
  • Gangs have their own idle animations and routines including throwing signs, smoking, drinking, gambling, talking to each other, and last but definitely not least, knitting.
  • Moving in and out of different gang territory will elicit the response you'd expect and as you'd also expect your gang members will automatically defend you and help you out should you need it. Gang AI is comparable to the overhaul in the police AI, where gang members will employ a variety of tactics to take you down. They may send people ahead to cut you off, they may lay back and take you by surprise, or they might just come at you with everything they've got. Regardless it won't always be the same standard chase procedure every time you're running from them.


Monday - August 2, 2004   <7:30 PM CST>

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San Andreas Barrage   <7:30 PM CST - schu>
Both Gamespot and IGN have full San Andreas previews up for your viewing pleasure.  IGN clocks in at three pages while Gamespot delivers a full SIX pages of San Andreas goodness.  So far I've added about 25 new shots to the tally.  I'll do a write-up on both previews later today or tomorrow.  I'd do it now but unfortunatly I have to drive to St Louis to attend a funeral.

   

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