2004-11-11 08:32 UTC Some notes from Los Santos
First, in the mission "Reuniting the families", if you run ahead of Sweet after the helicopter is destroyed, you get to roam around the whole of San Andreas with no other cars on the roads and no cops coming after you. You can go all around Las Venturas, fly around without getting fired out by military "escorts", and so forth. The worst that can happen is dying.
Actually no, the worst that can happen is that you find the casinos in Las Venturas, gamble so much you reach the Professional Gambler level, and then make a few bad judgements and end up using the line of credit they offer you to reach around -$100,000. At this point, you're pretty much screwed.
Except that when you're in debt, hospitals give you $100 instead of charging you, missions tell you to go to pay and sprays that don't work (since you have no cash) and you are perpetually hungry since you can't buy the smallest piece of food anywhere.
The way out of this mess: Do a unique stunt! It'll claim to give you $500 but will actually simply reset your debt and return you to $0. I get the feeling "debt" was introduced late in the game's production cycle and was never really tested. Ahem.
A few other comments: The way to get past hard missions where you keep dying is don't reload! Your skills will keep going up over each mission attempt until they are high enough to make the mission easy.
Also, Catalina is one hell of a crazy bitch. Blimey.