There is a detailed, though not excessively complicated, set of buttons that need to be pressed to be an effective fighter. Since they vary from platform to platform, the particular buttons are not listed here; instead the actions themselves are listed. See the Controls page to find the buttons associated to the actions for your platform.
Melee is hand-to-hand combat.
You can approach a character and initiate a fistfight by pressing the primary attack buttons. Targeting the person makes this more reliable. Keep pressing the primary and secondary attack buttons to make the fight lethal.
Rather than your fists you can select a melee weapon and beat or slash your opponent with that.
Fighting with weapons is obviously safer and more effective than close combat. You can just whip out the weapon and fire away but some maneuvers make weapons fighting easier.
To aim or target a weapon at a person, hit the target button on your controller (varies by platform). You will see a circle of green arrows around your target. The firing button is now guaranteed (up to the level of accuracy of the weapon) to hit this target.
As you continue to shoot, punch, slash, or beat your opponent, the arrows change from green to yellow to red. Gray arrows mean the target is dead.
All aimed weapons aim better when CJ is crouching.
While crouched, you can do a combat roll, a kind of somersault which can be used to duck into and out of cover. You have to move while hitting a button; see the controls page for more information.
Strafing is shooting while moving. You are not able to lock on to a target, but you gain mobility and speed of attack. To strafe, shoot without hitting the aim button; instead, use the aiming controller (perhaps the right thumbstick or mouse) to locate a set of crosshairs on your target.
Note that when you reach higher proficency levels with weapons, it is possible to strafe while locked on to a target.
Each weapon has a magazine but you can carry lots and lots of ammunition. The display in the upper right-hand corner of the screen indicates your weapon, and below it two numbers. One is the amount of ammunition you have on hand, and the other is the amount in your current magazine.
There is no reload button per se but choosing a new weapon always results in a full magazine (assuming you have enough ammunition). So a quick cycle back and forth results in reloading.
Learning fighting moves
At each of the gyms in San Andreas (one in each major city) you have the opportunity to learn a set of fighting moves. To do so, enter the marker in the gym and respond affirmatively when asked if you want to learn new moves.
You earn the knowledge by beating the coach in the ring. Use your current fistfighting moves to do so. Then he will teach you the moves.
All of the fighting moves are equally effective, though each has its own style.
- Default: Amateur, punch-kick combo
- Los Santos: Boxing, multiple-punch combo
- San Fierro: Karate, Martial arts kicks combo
- Las Venturas: "Dirty fighting", Groin kick, Double knee, punch combo
You have to learn all three sets of moves to earn 100% completion.
Weapons skill levels
The more you use a weapon (or sometimes a class of weapons), the better you become at it. After a certain level your skill class increases and you gain extra weapon abilities.
At Gangsta level (usually 20% skill rating) you gain the ability to aim and move at the same time. At Hitman level (100% rating) you get increased range and, in some cases, the ability to dual wield the weapon. You hold one in each hand, doubling power and increasing rate of fire.
There are a few ways to increase your skill at weapons:
- Go out and kill lots of gangstas/cops/civilians. In other words, normal game play increases your weapons skills.
- Go to an Ammu-Nation location that has a firing range and take the challenge. Completing those challenges increases your weapons levels on the weapons used.
- Find a car and shoot its tire repeatedly. The car will not explode but each shot counts as a successful hit and thus increases your stats.
- Find a car, park it in a garage you own, and with the garage door open, shoot at the car until it starts to smoke. Then back up and let the door close. Approach the garage again and the garage door opens. The car is as good as new and you can shoot it some more.
A stealth kill is a quick and undetected kill. You will need to use this tactic in certain missions. You can execute a stealth kill with a knife or with a silenced pistol. See those sections for more information.