Part 47: Behind The Scenes - Reptition
As mentioned previously, there's a lot to do in San Andreas and a lot of things that need to be done in order to get a 100% playthrough of the game, or even just to gain a particular reward. Amongst the myriad of different challenges/tasks that await Carl in the game are shooting, racing and driving, and they all share one particular aspect that makes them incredibly frustrating.
Essentially, even if you are perfect at this game and get everything right on the first go, there are still numerous times when you are forced to repeat a task multiple times to get the reward for it. Case in point - the shooting challenges at Ammu-Nation.
Even though you can upgrade your weapon skills just by using them in-game, to achieve 100% Completion you must complete all four of the Ammu-Nation Shooting Challenges - Pistol, Sub Machine Gun, Shotgun and M4 respectively. Each of the four challenges is identical, divided into three rounds. In the first round, three human silhouette targets lower from the roof one at a time and you shoot sections off of them until they are completely clear.
You're competing against two other people in the booths to either side of you, and if you manage to shoot all of their targets before you the challenge is over. Luckily these longstanding members of the San Andreas Civil Defense Force are apparently blind and retarded and incapable of shooting the side of a barn, and it's pretty much impossible not to beat them. In fact, quite often while waiting for my next target to come down, I'll shoot pieces off of my opponents' targets just out of boredom.
In the second round, you once again fire at three targets, but this time they come down at the back of the room and slowly roll forward towards you.
The final round is the most problematic, because the TARGET (yes, singular) lowers down in random locations and all three of you are shooting at it at once, aiming to be the first to destroy 20 sections of it.
However, while it's the most "difficult" of the three rounds, the morons shooting alongside of you are still remarkably slow and inaccurate and miss more often than not, and it doesn't take long to shoot down 20 sections and win the round.
With the pistol challenge completed, you can then move on to the Sub Machine Gun (SMG) Challenge, and it's exactly the same as the pistol challenge, only you have a SMG. Again the people on either side of you are either shooting themselves in the foot or wildly into the air and you're pretty much guaranteed to complete it successfully, but here's the thing, if you don't..... you can't restart, you have to DO THE PISTOL CHALLENGE ALL OVER AGAIN!
You can go this far only while still in Los Santos, but once you get out further into the gameworld (after The Green Sabre mission) you gain access to your next Weapons Challenge - The Shotgun.
And this is where the problem starts.
First of all, you HAVE to do the pistol and SMG Challenges again, even though you've already cleared them. You don't get to choose the new challenge, you have to work your way back up through the challenges you've already cleared to get to the shotgun.
Finally getting to the shotgun, you now discover the advantages and disadvantages of this challenge.
Advantage: You reload immediately with each shot, so you don't end up halfway through a challenge and stopping to slowly reload.
Disadvantage: If you miss, you have to wait to reload the shotgun before taking another shot.
Your booth buddies have an advantage too, they were always shooting pretty wildly, but with the shotgun that actually works to their advantage. While Carl is trying to target in on an exact target, they're just wildly blasting and the shotgun is powerful enough that it works for them.
The problem isn't so much that one other guy is suddenly better, because he's not - it's that Carl can only target one section and if one of the other two shoots it first, Carl then has to reload before targeting the next section... and one of the other two might shoot that first with their wild blasts. If timing doesn't go Carl's way and he fails.... he has to redo the Pistol and SMG Challenge all over again before getting another shot at the Shotgun challenge. That can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you're just killing time before the time of day/night is right to do a particular mission.
Luckily for us, Carl is generally able to finish first anyway.
This is as far as you can go with the Shooting Challenges for now, but gangster level is pretty good for pistols, SMGs and shotguns. What we REALLY want though is Hitman level, which lets us dual wield or all but sprint while aiming and shooting at the same time. Once we're done in San Fierro, the last Shooting Challenge is unlocked.
You've already seen the racing at the Super 8 in Los Santos and a little bit of the Blood Bowl in San Fierro, but we'll take a little look at the Blood Bowl now because of a couple of things.
1. It's required for 100% and can be repeated ad infinitum, each time the "length" of the survival needed to win the game increasing.
2. It is the only time I have ever played a mini-game in which the AI has PERFECTLY emulated human players.
Here's an example:
You'll notice the big red beam of light is in the OPPOSITE direction to where the cars crashing into Carl are coming from? The whole point of "Blood Bowl" is to drive through the red light to increase your time to above the preset goal (starting at 1 minute and going up by a minute with each successful survival), that is the entire point of the game, there is NOTHING to be gained from turning AWAY from the goal and driving straight at another player and trying to kill him.
And THAT is why the AI perfectly emulates human players.
I imagine that the conversation at Rockstar went something like this:
Big Boss: I want AI written up for the Blood Bowl minigame, and I want it.... within a reasonable timeframe!
Employee A: Yes sir, I've got something here - it involves the NPC Cars working to bypass the player to get to the goal first, using blocking techniques to slow the player AND other competing NPC Cars down, and extensive use of rubber banding to bypass players whose skill level is too high for the game to easily beat.
Employee B: I have a program where the NPC Cars fuck around, do what they want, randomly attack other cars for absolutely no reason and all focus on one poor sap - probably the human player - just for the hell of it.
Employee B was given the job, while Employee A was brutally murdered, his wife turned out on the street. Every night she sucks cock for money for her children, and thinks,"I deserve this, my husband wanted to put rubber banding into a racing game, I deserve this."
At first I railed against the AI in Blood Bowl, because it was so terrible, it made no sense, I couldn't think of any reason for many of the cars to be acting the way they did, the only reason there could possibly be that they were jerks... and then I realized, of course, they ARE jerks, because that is what humans would do if they could all play this game together, they'd be jerks to each other just for the hell of it! This game is genius!
Because of the random nature of Blood Bowl, you can either defeat it on your first go or end up doing it over and over again, racing for 5 minutes+ but never actually getting above 45 seconds on your "clock" because of all the crap you're forced to endure. The plus side of this, however, is that you also increase your driving skill while playing, both "in-game" and as a player as well. Not quite as well as you do in the next section though.
Jethro called Carl up to tell him about the Driving School after learning how many cars Carl has totaled in the past. It's a bit of a risk telling a guy who regularly kills people for crossing him that he sucks as a driver, but he's doing Carl a big favor, because the driving school is a godsend... you just hate it while you have to do it.
Essentially you're given a series of tasks to do involving cars and awarded medals for successful completion of the task. A bronze medal means you completed the task to a satisfactory level, silver means to a more than satisfactory level and gold means you fucking rule. The tasks start simple (burn a donut into the ground) and get more difficult (do a barrel roll and land perfectly without taking damage) as you go. You'll fail ALOT doing this, or rather you'll succeed a lot but not enough to achieve the gold you desperately need. But never be disheartened, because the driving school does more than just allocate Carl as an "excellent drive", it actually DOES make you a better driver. The driving school teaches the player how to do things with the cars in the game they may not otherwise have known were possible, and improves both Carl's driving skill and your own. Much like Mister Miyagi had Daniel paint the fence and wax the car and it turned out making him into a karate kid, doing barrel rolls and 360s and driving on two wheels all end up teaching you how to control your car at high speeds, make sudden turns, weave in and out of traffic and all and all feel like a badass.
Those 12 gifs represent several hours of gameplay and several in-game days of Carl's life. Take a look at Carl BEFORE he went into the driving school:
And now what he looked like AFTER:
It's the crash diet sweeping the nation - obsessed repetition of overly ambitious driving challenges!
In any case, that was a little look at all the repetitive stuff that Carl has to do to work his way up into the badass he eventually becomes and gain access to all the things he eventually gains access to. It would have been nice if Rockstar had thrown some kind of deviation into repeats of challenges, but then again if it was ALL fun ALL the time, then everyone would have 100% complete games!
Next update, CJ meets a chubby chaser and goes on a road trip with Cesar..... plus, we finally snap right back into the Los Santos/San Fierro Drug Trade storyline that's been left mostly hanging since Carl was exiled from Santos.