GTA San Andreas: Second city exposed

After CJ finishes tinkering with his car, he then drives over to Juniper Hill to meet up with local triad boss Woozy Mu, who sets him the task of freeing a gaggle of refugees who have been imprisoned in a container on a tanker in the San Fierro Bay. CJ is taken up in a helicopter (which is controlled for you - although more on this later) and has a machine gun at his disposal with which to pick off the mercenaries who litter the deck of the oil tanker. When the chopper subsequently crashes into the sea, it doesn't spell the disaster you'd expect, though.

Instead, whenever CJ hits water while still inside a vehicle, he has a set period of time with which to escape - if he does so successfully, he'll be able to swim away injury-free. Which is precisely what happens here, allowing CJ to breaststroke his way over the nearby tanker.

Once aboard, he shows off his new stealthy skills and goes about picking off guards one-by-one with a dirty great Bowie knife, Manhunt style (a silenced pistol is also available for stealth kills). It's also on the container-laden ship that we get to see CJ's ability to climb over any object that he can reach - so he really can go almost anywhere. However, this did expose one of the few glitches we've seen in San Andreas in that, while standing at the edge of a container, it's possible to stand too far forward, with the end result of CJ standing in mid-air.

Back to the missions at hand and, after dispensing with yet more grunts courtesy of some nice twin Uzi gunplay, CJ eventually reaches the refugees and shoots out the padlock on the front of their container to set them free. The mission then ends after our afro-touting hero retraces his steps to the ship's bridge, where he faces katana sword-wielding boss the Snakehead ("Check out my drunken pumpkin style"). One quick piece of samurai-style action later and it's mission accomplished, to the tune of a $1500 reward.

During our visit to Rockstar's London office, we also had the chance to ask them directly about the - and, intriguingly, they failed to deny that the game would include some sort of two-player function. While one source gave us a simple "no comment" another told us that they "don't know" whether there would be multiplayer modes in the game, which seemed like a good way to evade having to answer the question.

Indeed, the latest internet rumours paint a convincing picture of certain missions within the game offering a two-player cooperative option. Most of the missions in question are reported to be vehicle based, with one player driving and another shooting (which would tie in perfectly with missions such as the one involving the helicopter, mentioned earlier).

Icons on the map apparently show which missions support two players while there's also talk of a slew of two-player mini-games, with pool being one of the selection of parlour games that we've heard will be on offer.

So, is there any truth to this latest online gossip? Rockstar certainly aren't confirming that there's a two-player aspect to San Andreas - but neither have they wholeheartedly refuted it. Either way, we'll know for sure when the game's released in just two weeks time...

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is released for PS2 on 29 October, with a PC version to follow in mid-2005