Vehicular Combat

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Drive-by shooting is an ability introduced in Grand Theft Auto III that allows the player to operate a firearm from within a vehicle. The feature has been recurring in the series since.


GTA III — GTA Vice City Stories

Prior to Grand Theft Auto IV, players must have any sub-machine gun in hand in order to perform drive by shooting. While in a vehicle, the player may look left or right to view the target and take aim, then fire their weapon, discharging bullets to the target.

The aforementioned concept has remained the same between GTA III and GTA: Vice City Stories, but underwent several changes. From Grand Theft Auto: Vice City onwards, players are also allowed to shoot forward while on a motorbike or bicycle, and "drive-by" shooting on boats are made possible. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas allows for non-player passengers of a car to perform drive-by shooting, shooting with pistols or sub-machine guns.

The ability for the player to shoot as a passenger was first explored in GTA Vice City, during "Phnom Penh '86" (positioned on the side of a Maverick) and "Supply & Demand" (positioned on the back of a Squalo), when the player is able to free-aim, but use only weapons with first-person aiming (the M-60 and Ruger); for GTA San Andreas, free-aiming third person view is additionally utillized while the player is seated as a passenger in a motorbike and a car, during "Just Business" and "End of the Line", but only allows for sub-machine guns to be used.


As Grand Theft Auto IV was developed, drive-by shooting mechanics were retooled to allow for more flexible aiming and improved accuracy. While the choices of weapons to use for drive-by shooting is still limited, the player can now either use a sub-machine gun or pistol, and grenades can actually be dropped from vehicles, useful for blowing up pursuers. In addition, the player may aim their weapon freely while driving; the "look left" and "look right" commands were removed in favor of an analog stick-based/mouse-based camera.