Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas  
From the eating system to clothing, the many ways to customize your character in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

HarryIn this second part of our preview of Rockstar's new Grand Theft Auto game, we will give a look at the new systems that will let players customize their character. How deeply these systems will affect the gameplay, it's impossible to say at this point; we will just have to wait until October.

Creating your Carl Johnson
If you have read the first part of our preview, you should know that Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas offers players the chance to entirely customize the look of their character; according to CJ's constitution, hairstyle, clothing, tattoos, people in San Andreas will react differently. A muscular bare-chested CJ with gold chains and tattoos could be scary for the average citizen of San Andreas, but a nice evening suit could be more attractive if you want to date a classy lady.

What makes things more interesting is the fact that your style can also influence the outcome of your missions; for example, entering a Ballas' territory dressed in the colors of the Orange Grove Families will immediately alert gang members of your presence - but maybe that's exactly what you want: attacking a rival gang in its territory, with a couple of good friends, showing clearly who you are and from where you come from.

Eating System
This is the feature that caught everyone by surprise, also because instead of just a way to replenish your character health, San Andreas' eating system, coupled with the training system, will let players have a unique character. CJ can get thin, amazingly fat, strong, or weak all depending on his eating behaviors and on his focus on training. A too thin CJ without muscles will be weaker in hand to hand combat; a fat CJ will be much slower than a well fit character, and even the most simple tasks will be more difficult to perform - when running, for example, CJ will have to stop more often to catch his breath. The reaction of the people in San Andreas will also change according to your physical aspect. A fat CJ will become an easy target for the jokes and the laugh of the people in San Andreas; anyhow, this doesn't mean that as a fat gangster you can't teach those idiots a lesson.

The Burger Shot Fatty Carl wants desperately more pizza
The Burger Shot.
Fatty Carl wants desperately more pizza.

All the three cities of San Andreas have many restaurants and fast foods to stuff CJ with. So you will find places to eat all-things-chicken (the Chicken Bell), pizzas (the Well Stacked-Pizza Place), classic hamburgers (the Burger Shot), cakes, and even more sophisticated stuff if you have a delicate palate. Each food has a precise calorie value that alters the amount of energy and fat assumed by CJ: with a well balanced diet and some focused training in the gym, Carl can become a strong boy.

If CJ eats too much he will vomit, thus throwing away all the energy gained during the meal. We still don't know the importance of the Eating System within the overall game balance; the system has been created mainly to let players customize their character, but it's also true that if you forget to eat, CJ will get weaker and will not be able to grow stronger by training, thus affecting the overall difficulty of game.

Physical Training System
In previous Grand Theft Auto games, the only training your character could do was running; the more you walked on foot, the longer Tommy or the nameless thug of GTA 3 were able to sprint, a terribly useful move when you had to run away from a place as fast as possible. You can still run to build up your stamina, but Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas features a more complex training system that works in synergy with the eating system. All the three cities have several gyms, and each gym has different equipment to let you follow your own customized training plan. You need to burn all that fat and build up stamina? Then a stationary bike is what you need. Need more strength and power? No problem, regular exercise on bench presses will do it. For a well fit character, all actions will be easier to perform, and more effective. Fat and muscle levels are two separate stats in the game; for example, you could be a fast, thin muscular guy, or a gigantic, fat and at the same time amazingly strong gangster. Your CJ will reflect the way you play the game; if you play just the game missions, without eating or training, your character will soon become very weak. In other words, the new systems built into the game should encourage players to play more than just the game's storyline missions.

Each gym in the game will offer different types of exercise to build up the different character stats. But gyms are also the place to learn new fighting techniques to be used during the game. In the gym of Las Venturas, for example, you can learn dirty moves useful for street fighting; in San Fierro you can learn some bits of martial arts; in Los Santos you can learn a bit of boxing. Once you have properly trained, CJ will learn new combos that should make the fighting experience in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas more interesting than in past games, where you just had to repeatedly press the same button. Two buttons of the Dual Shock are used to pull out the different combos, and it's possible to lock-on an enemy even in hand-to-hand combat.

The gym in Los Santos Carl building up his stamina
Hone your boxing skills in the gym of Los Santos.
Carl building up his stamina.

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