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Grand Theft Auto - The PS2 Series

General Guidelines in Playing

Parental Warning: The Grand Theft Auto Series® is not a game for children. The rating is MA which is meant for adults over the age of 18. The review for this game is loaded with language and suggestive words and also not meant for those under age 18. Grand Theft Auto® is a game that glorifies killing and general bad behavior including drugs and illicit sex. All of the Grand Theft Auto (GTA)® game series are the intellectual property of Rockstar® & Take Two Games® and are rated MA. [Grand Theft Auto © 1997 - Present]


The ESRB [Entertainment Software Rating Board] is one of those dubious groups which set out to dictate to you what is and is not acceptable. What may be horrific violence to one might be mildly humorous to another. In days gone by, puritanical thought was The Three Stooges had no merit and was nothing but violence. To those who like it, this so-called violence is nothing more than slapstick which is funny and no one in their right mind could possibly try.

The movie world had their own censor board as did television shows and music. To all of this I say, "fuck you" [hey, if you are offended at this, GTA is NOT for you]. I don't know these people nor did I hire them to do my thinking for me. Guidelines are one thing, but it is only when those guidelines become used against my freedom of expression do I take offense.

Grand Theft Auto games have: blood and gore, intense violence, strong language, strong sexual content, use of drugs. Even the ones who are supposed to be the good guys of the game are bad guys. The ones who are supposed to be good guys in real life [cops] are the bad guys [although some might argue the real cops have become or have always been the bad guys].

No one is suggesting you do the things on the game in real life. It is an insult to everyone who plays the game for fun. Stop penalizing those who know the difference between what one should and should not do. This series is rated M for mature. For conservative estimates, this means 18 plus or minus 2 years; 16-20 age minimum. On a practical estimate, if one is old enough to know how to play a video game, many kids do play this at a lot younger age than 18.

Emotionally one must be able to not be upset at violence. There is a lot of it just in the missions, but you can add even more to that when you are not on a mission. If this type of thing bothers you, don't play it.

Intellectually, if you can tell the difference between fantasy and reality, you won't have an issue in playing it.

Some of the greatest works of literature are full of violence and we don't ban them from our children. There are even more than a few classic works involving heavy drug use. So by that standard, use common sense. If you would ban books for the same reasons, you shouldn't play the games.

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The Controls

PS2 Dual Shock Control Front PS2 Dual Shock Control backside view PS2 Dual Shock Control back view

The controls are pretty much the same for all the GTA PS2 Rockstar Games, but here is a general run down. Start button will always pause the game and bring up your menu where you can do various things like check the map, check your stats, set your controls to your liking, load or start a new game, and change stations. The Select button is your camera mode where you can change your view perspective both on foot and in a vehicle.

You also have four buttons on the backside of the control - R1, R2, L1 and L2. You have an analog stick referred to as R3 and L3. Then you have the Directional Pad (D-Pad) with four directions - up, down, left and right. And then the trademark Play Station buttons, X, Circle, Triangle and Square. Becoming familiar with the location of these buttons so they are second nature makes these games easier to play.

Anatomy of a PS2 Dual Shock Control

Specific tasks can be seen in some games that are not in others. For example, with the exception of CJ in San Andreas and Vic Vance in Vice City Stories, none of the others can swim so no matter how much you press on the buttons in the water, they will drown. In Liberty City Stories and III, they cannot fly a helicopter while in the others they can fly a helicopter and in San Andreas can fly a plane.

On Foot

One feature I really liked about GTA: San Andreas was the fact that he could actually climb. In the other games, you are lucky if they can jump high enough.

By pressing X, all characters can run, but tapping on X will make them run faster. In San Andreas, CJ can build up stamina to run and swim faster by going to the gym and using the bike or treadmill. CJ can also gain more stamina just by running and swimming, but that takes longer. In the other games, you have to pass a side mission to have infinite run.


Tommy Vercetti could not swim; neither could Claude in III or Toni Cipriani in LC Stories. The moment you get them in a deep body of water, they are goners.

CJ can swim and dive, but needs to build up a tolerance and experience to dive and swim faster. CJ can drown if under water too long.

Vic Vance can swim, but unlike CJ in San Andreas, can't swim as well. He has limitations. He cannot dive and swim under water, unlike CJ who just needs practice to hold his breath under water and can increase his stamina to swim farther. Vic can lose stamina while swimming and drown. To make sure he has enough stamina to stand the water, he would have to complete the Beach Patrol missions.Vic cannot swim to the other side of the island before it opens up because he does not have enough stamina to make it and there is a wave generator that will knock him back.

Combat Mode

In Vice City Stories, Vic can not only go into fight mode, but he can break necks. In San Andreas, Carl has the ability to sneak behind people and cut their necks with a knife. Once taking instructions at the gym, Carl learns different moves to attack others. Target control can be yours with an L1 button held down with your move of your choice to guarantee you are hitting the person properly and to see the health meter.

With Weapons

Granted you can create a lot of havoc just with your fists, weapons are really always fun. All weapons have some good and some bad qualities, but it helps if you take the time to work with a gun before a mission. In many of these games you have to find a number of packages in order to have a set of weapons appear at a safe house. In San Andreas you have to increase your experience with a weapon to get the best improved quality of working with it.

By Bike

This is something new to Vice City Stories and San Andreas. They can ride a bike. There is even a checkpoint mission using a bike called Mashin' Up the Mall. You can bunny hop your bike in SA.

By Vehicle

In GTA:SA, vehicle skills make driving better and improve your chances of not rolling. In most, even in a bulletproof car, you can still get shot and the car can catch on fire if you crash it too much and tires can be popped. One unique vehicle is in GTA:VC you can get after the mission Guardian Angels, you can get Diaz' car with is also destruction proof [just go out the alley and look to the left you will find his car].

By Helicopter

Little Willie and Sea Sparrow have weapons, all the other helicopters do not. As the Hunter is a vehicle of special status, it will have its own section below. New to this game is the air rescue missions where you fight fires and do an ambulance mission via helicopter.

By Plane

You won't have plane access in GTA: III, and only a biplane in GTA: Liberty City. In GTA: Vice City and Stories you can fly two types of helicopters. In GTA: San Andreas, you can fly both planes and helicopters.

The Rhino

I really love the havoc this one creates. Run over people, cars, scare the cops, shoot at everything coming at you...or just do a vigilante mission. If you can manage to survive a 6 star wanted level long enough to steal one and save it in a garage big enough, you can have some fun. In Vice City and VC Stories and San Andreas the Rhino is not very sturdy and will easily be destroyed when the bullets start flying at you. In III, the tank is virtually impossible to destroy. You can get access to the Rhino in Vice City when you collect 90 packages. In San Andreas you need 100%. In VC Stories the easiest way is to get a 6-star wanted level and trap one to put into a garage so you can use it later.

The Hunter

A helicopter that kicks the butt of every other flight machine. In Vice City, you can get access to it at the army base after getting 100 packages. In Vice City Stories there is a special mission Skywolf involves going through checkpoints with the hunter.

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Crossing Early

At times, you just might want to have access to different areas of the map which won't open up until you finish a mission. In those cases, you need to find a secret layer which allows you to exploit a way in.

In San Andreas, you don't need an exploit to get to the other islands, but you will get big time wanted levels and will be shot on sight. If you have built up stamina, extra health and armor, you can survive for awhile.

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The Strategy

This is the part of the PS2 version of the GTA games I love. The freedom to roam and the prizes to earn. If you look at these games as a battleground, you need to lay a foundation for your attacks.

The best strategy is to be acquainted with the world you will be living in before the serious stuff goes down. After all, if you were a criminal, you aren't born with a hot wiring kit, awesome driving skills, and loads of weapons stashed in secret locations. Why should it be different in the game?

By not forcing one into a mission on starting a new game, you have the freedom to test the waters before you go into the real missions. You might have to deal with an early non-mission to be able to roam early, but in those games you don't miss much in the way of the story to forget why you are there. With this in mind, here is a general strategy guide.

In the days of early computer games, the mantra [very liberally stated in Leisure Suit Larry] is, "Save early and often." If you need more of a challenge, don't save and see if you can make it to the end with one life. The reason should be obvious that if you save at an early enough point of the game, if you die you can start back at that point. It beats having to do some of the more tedious missions all over again [but that is what game saves are for; pull some off at or look for those on this site].

Get out the map. Study it. Take a car and drive up and down the roads so you will know where you are without looking at the in-game map too often. This is one of the biggies. It helps if you are in a position to buy extra save places before the game starts, but that choice isn't available in III and Liberty City and Vice City Stories as you are given the safe place. In III you cannot access the map as it was built on a design for PSP and structured in a different manner, so you need to find the paper map.

If you're in San Andreas, it behooves you to learn how to shoot your weapon. Your accuracy and power with that weapon depends on how much you use it. In San Andreas, that also goes for strength, stamina, charisma, luck, weight, driving abilities, etc. Learn as much as you can for a better game.

As a mission starts, don't exit out of the cut screen. Listen to the setup. It will clue you in on what is needed. If you don't have what is needed, you can restart it prepared with it. If the game allows you to recruit gang members [San Andreas and Vice City Stories], you will have to line them up ahead of time in most cases. If the mission is weapon intense, make sure to either visit an AmmuNation to buy your guns or scope them out in hidden locations. If you earned them, sometimes a safe house will have these weapons ready for the taking.

If, by any chance, you die, you will be so very glad you saved early and often. Just learn from your mistake and try not to do that again. If you have died many times, learn to walk away and try later.

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There is no one way to play the game. You might want to only to main missions and be done with it. You might want to go for 100%. You might want to play it only for the side missions or just to blow off steam by beating up and running over innocent pedestrians. The goal of the game is whatever you want.

Sometimes extra save locations will have a garage which can store cars for certain purposes, like if you want to earmark a car which is fast or more rugged. Try to figure out where these vehicles frequently spawn if you don't have a garage available.

In San Andreas, you have even more choices for a challenge such as trying missions with different weight and strength.

After the intro cut scene, find a car and take a ride up and down all the streets so you will know where you are going without having to look at the map during a mission. Scope out vehicle missions: police = extra armor, ambulance = extra life or unlimited sprint, firefighter = fireproof.

Learn the makeup of the characters. Some are loose cannons to work with [Lance for instance] and can get you (or them) killed.

Another luxury in the PS2 versions is earning skills to help you play better such as missions to become fireproof or gain an ability to run without getting tired. Earn any and all advantages before starting the major missions.

Earn money. You might need to buy some expensive stuff.

Personally, I like to create save cards to have challenges at different points of the game. For instance, in San Andreas I like to use the save I have with CJ and no muscle tone and play starting from Catalina's first mission. I have another save where I start out at the return to Mad Dogg's mansion and do all mission from that point with night vision goggles.

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The Cars

Driving in the game is as fun as the game itself. Sometimes I might just get into the game to pick out a car and ride it around listening to the radio. All cars handle differently and have their own speed, pluses and minuses. I like that the cars are not one size fits all.

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The Weapons

Vice City Stories Slot 1: Hand Fist Brass Knuckles Slot 2: Melee Nightstick Baseball Bat Butterfly Knife Knife Axe Golf Club Machete Katana Chainsaw Gaff Hook Slot 3: Explosives Molotovs Grenades Remote Grenade Slot 4: Handguns M9 Colt Python Slot 5: Shotguns Shotgun Mossberg 500 SPAS-12 Slot 6: Submachine guns Skorpion vz. 61 Mac-10 Micro Uzi MP5 Slot 7: Assault Rifles AK-47 M16 Slot 8: Heavy Weapons Flamethrower M72 LAW Minigun M249 Slot 9: Sniper Rifles M21 Dragunov Slot 10: Other Camera Binoculars Detonator Vice City Slot 1: Unarmed Fist Brass Knuckles Knuckles Slot 2: Melee Weapons Screwdriver Driver Hammer Knife Meat Cleaver Golf Club Nightstick Baseball Bat Machete Katana Chainsaw Slot 3: Projectiles Tear Gas Molotov Cocktail MolotovCocktail-GTAVC-icon Grenades Grenade-GTAVC-icon Remote Grenade Grenade-GTAVC-icon Slot 4: Handguns Colt .45/Pistol Colt45-GTAVC-icon Colt Python/.357 Python-GTAVC-icon Slot 5: Shotguns Pump-Action Shotgun Shotgun-GTAVC-icon Stubby Shotgun StubbyShotgun-GTAVC-icon Combat Shotgun SPAS12-GTAVC-icon Slot 6: Submachine Guns Tec-9 TEC9-GTAVC-icon Ingram Mac 10/Mac MAC-10-GTAVC-icon Uzi 9mm/Uz-I MicroSMG-GTAVC-icon MP5/MP MP5-GTAVC-icon Slot 7: Assault Rifles Ruger/Kruger Ruger-GTAVC-icon M4 M4-GTAVC-icon Slot 8: Heavy Weapons M-60 M-60-GTAVC-icon Flamethrower Flamethrower-GTAVC-icon Rocket Launcher RocketLauncher-GTAVC-icon Minigun Minigun-GTAVC-icon Slot 9: Sniper Rifles Sniper Rifle SniperRifle-GTAVC-icon PSG-1/.308 Sniper PSG-1-GTAVC-icon Slot 10: Others Camera Camera-GTAVC-icon Detonator Detonator-GTAVC-icon San Andreas Slot 1: Hand Fist Brass Knuckles Slot 2: Melee Weapons Knife Golf Club Shovel Pool Cue Nightstick Baseball Bat Katana Chainsaw Slot 3: Handguns Pistol Silenced Pistol Desert Eagle Slot 4: Shotguns Pump-Action Shotgun Sawn-off Shotgun Combat Shotgun Slot 5: Submachine Guns Tec-9 Micro-SMG SMG Slot 6: Assault Rifles AK-47 M4 Slot 7: Rifles Sniper Rifle Rifle Slot 8: Heavy Weapons Flamethrower Rocket Launcher Heat-Seeking Rocket Launcher Minigun Slot 9: Explosives Tear Gas Molotov Cocktail Frag Grenade Satchel Charges Slot 10: Handheld Items Fire Extinguisher Spray Can Camera Slot 11: Gifts Flowers Cane Dildo Vibrator Slot 12: Gear Night Vision Goggles Thermal Vision Goggles Parachute Slot 13: Others Detonator Liberty City Stories Slot 1: Hand Fist Brass Knuckles Slot 2: Melee Baseball Bat Nightstick Machete Meat Cleaver Chisel Knife Hockey Stick Axe Katana Chainsaw Slot 3: Pistols Pistol .357 Slot 4: Shotguns Shotgun Stubby Shotgun SPAS 12 Slot 5: Submachine guns Mac 10 Tec-9 Micro SMG MP5 Slot 6: Assault Rifles AK-47 M4 Slot 7: Heavy Weaponry M60 Flamethrower Minigun Rocket Launcher Slot 7: Sniper Rifles Sniper Rifle Laser Sighted Sniper Rifle Slot 8: Explosives Grenades Molotovs Remote Grenades Tear Gas Slot 10: Other Camera Detonator III Baseball Bat Pistol Uzi Pump Shotgun Assault Rifle Carbine Rifle Sniper Rifle Rocket Launcher Flamethrower Molotov Cocktail Grenades Detonator