Having never indulged the series before, I came in with no game plan in mind. After a few days I've worked out some solid strategies.
- Fights in this game are about volume. Before attacking someone do a lap around and fill up on missiles, shotgun blasts, whatever you like. The roof and yards of the schools are excellent places for this. Find what you prefer and memorize the spawn locations.
- You can change the minimap size in the options. It is VERY helpful to see more of the area.
- Each landmark building holds a health pick-up. That's the theater, hospital, supermarket, both schools, church, courthouse, and mansion. You'll never build killstreaks without knowing where to heal up.
- When defending, stock up on missiles and SAVE THEM. Between the homing and fire missiles you can hold enough to destroy a nuke by yourself. This is especially effective in the helicopter.
- When playing the Reaper (motorcycle), always be charging your flame saw with a wheelie. To ensure a hit, freeze your target with the freeze missile (D-PAD UP) then take a moment to line things up right. At full charge this can one-shot the weaker vehicles. Works especially well while being chased, quick turn a 180 and freeze the attacker, immediately flame-saw them. Follow up with a shotgun blast or some missiles. In the same vein, don't underestimate motorcycles. They can turn a chase into your death in an instant with this strategy.
- Don't forget you can SHIELD WHILE CONTROLLING THE MISSILE. You can use the minimap to see incoming projectiles and time it right. Speaking of the missile...
- FLY LOW. It puts you closer to ground vehicles, but it makes it impossible to hit you from across the map. If your feeling balls-y you can even fly through the school to lose helicopters on your final approach
That's all I got so far. What works for you?