Grand Theft Auto's in-car radio sounds came of age in Grand Theft Auto 3 and Rockstar have raised the ante again in GTA: San Andreas. Eleven radio stations will feature 20 different DJs and carry a track listing three times greater than the one that graced GTA 3. But the real juice is in the enhancements...
Variety is key in GTA radio world, allowing players to choose music that stirs their aural imagination, and the system has received a major overhaul by Rockstar's audio team. Whereas previous iterations used a loop, the new system is dynamic, so DJs can actually interact and react to game events - such as commenting on main man CJ's progress in San Andreas.
Features to give that feeling of realism include weather reports, news updates, radio call-ins from the people of San Andreas, DJ banter, custom song lead-ins and outros, a stack of commercials and, of course, tons of tunes hitting the airwaves.
Also new is that the radio will sound different depending on what vehicle you're currently driving. Whereas normal cars will reproduce a standard in-car radio sound, attitude rides decked out with huge bass bins, such as lowriders, will bang out the massive low-end thump-thump that you tend to hear parked outside your house at two in the morning...
The soundtrack will be available to buy on a double CD, featuring key tracks from the game, or you could shell out for the massive eight CD boxset that carries the majority of the game's music. Both soundtrack sets should be available to buy from 22 November.
The actual tracklisting is yet to be revealed but we now know the radio stations that'll be bangin' out tunes as you cruise through the urban sprawls of San Andreas. Below are San Andreas' radio stations and a synopsis of each, so you should have a good idea of what to expect.
Master Sounds (Soul, groove and funk)
DJ: Johnny 'The Love Giant' Parkinson
Currently bangin' out: The Payback by James Brown
Station description: The world's smallest giant, Johnny Parkinson, takes you on a musical, spiritual and sexual journey with a soundtrack of non-stop classics. The giants of soul, rare groove and just a little classic funk, hosted by the giant himself. Remember, height is not a number.
DJ: Forth Right MC
Currently bangin' out: Children's Story by Slick Rick
Station description: The mouthiest man in hip-hop, Forth Right MC, brings real hip-hop to the left coast. East Coast sensibilities and Forth Right's unique brand of conspiracy theory lead you in a history lesson.
Bounce FM (Funk)
DJ: The Funktipus
Currently bangin' out: Funky Worm by Ohio Players
Station description: The indescribable Funktipus plays the indefinable funk. The sound that has had Los Santos partying for 20 years is now on 'the party', on Bounce FM. The Funktipus will open your eyes to what is really happening out there.
K-DST (Classic rock 'n' roll)
DJ: Tommy 'The Nightmare' Smith
Currently bangin' out: Two Tickets to Paradise by Eddie Money
Station description: Tommy Smith, formerly of 1970s progressive rock act Crystal Ship, has now taken up residence on the home of driving rock radio. K-DST 'the dust' plays non-stop classic rock 'n' roll.
K-Jah West (Dancehall, ragga, reggae and dub)
DJs: Marshall Peters and Johnny Lawton
Currently bangin' out: Chase The Devil by Max Romeo and The Upsetters
Station description: The legendary Marshall Law sound system has moved from Kingston to San Andreas, bringing with them the best in dancehall, ragga, reggae and dub. It's one love as Peters and Lawton argue about everything.
CSR (Jack Swing and Modern Soul)
DJ: Philip 'PM' Michaels
Currently bangin' out: Poison by Bell Biv Devoe
Station description: Chart-topping and club friendly hits, brought to you by Philip 'PM' Michaels. New Jack Swing and modern soul from today's hottest acts. Where soul meets preppy. Philip is also available for weddings, funerals and Bar Mitzvahs.
Radio X: The Alternative (Uhm, alternative rock)
Currently bangin' out: Killing in the Name by Rage Against The Machine
Station description: Finally, there is an alternative. The home of modern rock. This is a revolution. Guitars, nihilistic hedonism and telling the elder generation to go screw themselves. Nobody has done this before. We are original thinkers. We are free. Sage leads the navel gazing; she is a remarkable talent.
K-Rose (Country and Western)
DJ: Mary-Beth Maybell
Currently bangin' out: Crazy by Willie Nelson
Station description: A broken heart never sounded so good. Country and Western music broadcast from Bone County across the whole state of San Andreas. All of the biggest artists, all of the best music, with the Widow Queen of the Prairie, Mary-Beth Maybell.
Radio Los Santos (West Coast hip-hop)
DJ: Julio G
Currently bangin' out: I Don't Give A 'Flying Fortress' by 2 Pac
Station description: Julio G breaks the sound of the streets. This is the West Coast taking over.
DJ: Hans Oberlander
Currently bangin' out: Break 4 Love by Raze
Station description: Quality house music, from deep in the underground, brought to you by an excitable German. This is music for people in the know.
WCTR Talk Radio (Chat)
DJ: It's a secret
Station description: Ooh, it's all very secretive at this moment in time.
Phew. In other San Andreas news, reports are circulating that the game has suffered a similar fate to Half-Life 2 and Halo 2, with the code being leaked on to the internet. The game's name has appeared on file sharing sites and, after getting in touch with Rockstar this morning, it appears there is substance to the story.
When we spoke to them today, Rockstar declined to comment on the matter although we're currently waiting for an official statement from them. As soon as the official word comes down to gamesradar.com, we'll put you in the know.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is released for PS2 on 29 October, with a PC version to follow in mid-2005