It can be tough staying alive in GTA: San Andreas. Cops, rival gangs, and even angry drivers pose a huge threat, probably more than in any other GTA title. But with a few tips, avoiding death can be a lot easier.
Stay in the Car
This is an obvious one: Grab a car when in tough spots and don’t leave your vehicle if you don’t have to. Doing so will give you an extra minute or two to make an escape, or at least shield you from incoming bullets briefly. Once black smoke starts coming from the engine, get out and let it take another few bullets, or shoot the car yourself, and the explosion can either kill or at least delay pursuers. This tactic works especially well in vehicle-heavy areas, and the explosive chain reaction can be just plain fun to watch.
Stealth is equally useful and even more fun. Pressing the right thumbstick button and moving in the shadows lets you easily slip past police and gang members, but sneaking up on loners or pairs of the latter and attacking them quietly with a knife can save you a lot of damage that might be taken in an overt attack.
There’s no mystery behind this tip either. Once enough missions have been passed to open up the Ammu-Nation gun shops, always, always stop at the nearest store and buy armor. At the price of a 9mm pistol, you essentially double your lifespan, easily making it the best bargain in Ammu-Nation.
Spending a lot of time at the gym, especially on the exercise bike or treadmill, will help boost your maximum health. Fully increasing your maximum health results in a massive life meter, and standing against huge numbers of rivals or police becomes a much easier task.
While a fat character may be interesting and more unique than a thin one, CJ’s heavier incarnations will always have difficulty escaping tough spots in anything but a motor vehicle; it pays to stay light.
Ride a Bike
Though a cherry red sports car might make for a cooler-looking chase, the old-fashioned bicycles are extremely useful for getaways. Besides being good for the environment (every GTA player’s top concern), if your character is in good shape, he can pedal very quickly and excape down narrow alleys not even police motorcycles can navigate. A high Cycling skill can also mean traveling on steep, hilly terrain can be done with ease; good luck trying that with even the most nimble car.
Of course, the lack of bullet protection is a major downside to the bike, but in skilled hands, the only real threat is the police motorcycle, which is easy enough to evade. Besides, no car can be flipped, crashed, or generally abused as much as the bicycle can; automobiles must be regularly “replaced” in the more brutal pursuits.
A nice bonus to using bicycles is the improvement in Muscle, Stamina and Maximum Health stats.
Go in Circles
It’s cheap, but effective: While pursued by another vehicle, just drive around in a circle. The following car will go in a circle as well, but a much wider one that usually leaves it stuck in either trees and lampposts or oncoming traffic.
Learn a Specialty
Sure, playing with all the available guns is fun, but to keep yourself alive, specializing in one particular gun will make you a far more effective player. As the skill level of that weapon increases from practice, the shots will be much deadlier; this is especially useful in the “turf war” part of the game.