Saints Row 2 is a sandbox game in the vain of the Grand Theft Auto series and is the sequel to the acclaimed Saints Row. It was originally know for it's blatant rip on the GTA series and didn't really get the same response to it due to being a pretty basic clone. I do have to say though, out of all the GTA clones I have played by now (It is a lot too mind you!), saints row really nailed it pretty well. So what sets Saints Row 2 apart from GTA4? Is it even worth your time? Read on to find out.
So in this game you start the game off in a prison where your character has been in a coma ever since the explosion AND has been in prison. Pretty fucked up huh? Yes...well...You wake up from your coma and with the help of another gang member ecsape. You may find that funny. That your character just wakes up from a year or so coma and can walk,run,talk,fight,hell...even drive a boat just fine. However this is the perfect introduction into Saints Row 2.
One thing I can tell you in full honesty about this game is, if you go into it expecting a serious,realalistic,epic story experience, you are going to be sorley dissapointed. This game doesn't take it's self serious at all! Everything from the cut scenes,the dialog,missions,to the customization is just so wacky and out there that you just can't help but have fun with what is going.
The basic story of Saints Row 2 is...well...THE FUCKING SAME AS THE FIRST ONE! You ecsape prison and are now on a mission to try to revive your gang (The Third Street Saints). Only way you can do that is to eliminate all the new gangs that have popped up and stole your territory. So you go off and recruit so people to help you get The Row back. You recruit some pretty odd cookies too. You have a some hippie chick whore, who has seemingly fucked everyone in Stillwaters brains out. You have your standard loyal on hands type of guy who just can't seem to get the boss (YOU) to like him. And the little informant guy, who really doesn't have the courage to go out and fight with you, but damn he is good at planning stuff. Really the latter two are just boring characters. Shandi (the whore) is kind of cool only because you get some good jokes cracked on her for being such a slut. The main guy you will remember from the first Saints Row was the Uber pychotic Jonny Gatt. This guy is pretty much the best personality in the game. He loves destruction and mayhem, he gets his jollies off on killing cops and other rival gangs and is as tough a ox! He also has about the coolest wise ass remarks in the game. Too bad you only get him for one of the 4 gang stories.
That is Shandi, The hippie whore who is one of the leaders of the gang, weird huh?
That's not to say that your character doesn't have any personality. He/She isn't the silent anti-hero that they were in the Saints Row. This character is pretty damn bad ass. Best thing I could do to describe your character is a mix between Tommy Vircetti from GTA:Vice City Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction (Only you character won't go out like a bitch on the toilet, I can promise you that.) You character has wise ass remarks out the ass and is more of a on hands type of leader. You don't send anyone to go kill anyone in the game, you do it personally and do it with style.
Pretty much you do your main story missions to lead to eventually end up killing this corporation that took over Stillwater. It is basic, but it is just a hell of a ride getting there. That's all I am going to say about the story because honestly...it is really just there to give you a reason to go kill more people.
Saints Row 2 is not up to the technical level that GTA4 and that is pretty apparent. However, that is not to say that the graphics are bad. They are actually pretty damn good considering the budget. The character models are all pretty well detailed and all animate very good. Lips are always synchronized with the voice acting (english).
The buildings and rest of the settings in the game are not terrible looking, however you won't sit there and stare at them because, look to hard and it will really start to look ugly. It all looks really good when you are at a distance from them though, such as flying over head in a plane. looking down below is quite a vista to behold. So why not just jump out and look for yourself!
Good example to show what I mean about the buildings looking good from a distance
The car models look shiny and are modeled pretty well. Nothing amazing but is still a big leap up from the original Saints Row. I really like the paint jobs on the Yakusa cars. All very bright and shiny.
The standard NPC's do look pretty bad though, I must admit. Some of them have blocky textures on them and sometimes don't animate the way they probably should. It is a small complaint though, if anything it is all the more reason to kill them!
The game run's on the upgraded version of the HAVOK 2.0 physics engine. It really does compliment the games silly over the top tone too. Grabbing random people and just throwing them into random objects and watching it break down really is pretty fun, but not nearly as much as going to a high cliff and grabbing someone and throwing them off that and watching their body rag doll down the cliff. I crack up every time (I know, pretty sadistic). It works really well for how the cars control too, it is rare to see many strange things happen with the physics (Unlike GTA4).
The draw distance on the game is decent at best. However, this is on the 360 version of the game, so I can only assume it is much better on a really good PC rig. It doesn't really take away from the game because it is always up to par with what you NEED to be looking at. The water looks pretty well, but don't be expecting no BioShock here people.
Water looks pretty good, especially when it is storming out!
Overall, the graphics fit the game really well and help it so you don't ever get slow down when things get a little hectic. It is very bright and vibrant colors that is actually a good change from GTA4 which was mostly a pretty brown and gray game.
The one thing that really stood out to me was the music in this game. It has a huge variety! It pretty much has a station that caters to everyone's personal taste in music. It also has some pretty well know licensed musicians on here. One thing that really made me happy was that there was a radio station that played almost pure death metal (my favorite genre). Also you can go to a music shop in the game and buy more songs, add them to your in-game IPOD and play all the songs from the game THAT YOU WANT TO LISTEN TOO! It is pretty handy. Now I don't have to suffer through all the dumb emo music when all I wanted to hear was Lying the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off by Panic! At the Disco, and then it can go right back into Avenge Sevenfold! Brilliant!
Most of the other in-game sounds are all pretty standard. This isn't the best game to use on your 5.1 surround sound, but it doesn't do anything bad. It is just standard. I do however like the little Kwack! sound it makes when you throw somebody at something!
Really great voice acting really give a lot to this game. I will go more into that in the presentation though.
It has some standard gun shot sounds you would expect the guns to make, some sound much better than others. My personal favorite was the GAL. 45. Which are sub machine guns. They just sound crazy as you fire both of them off. Also the pimp shotgun sounds like it could blow a hole through the fucking earth!
This is the bread and butter of Saints Row 2. It now feels like a really refined version of the first Saints Row and Grand Theft Auto:San Andreas. Which is a plus in my eyes in all shapes! One of the biggest complaints I had about GTA4 was that it substituted the wacky over-the-top gameplay such as customizing your characters looks and jumping out of planes and just crazy weapons for a more realistic approach. Which that is fine, I am glad they tried to do something different and give the game a change of pace. The problem I have with it is...I just like crazy,chaotic,fucked-up mayhem in my sandbox games! This is where Saints Row 2 really delivers.
From the second you start the game you get to adjust the Sex,Skin Color,Body structure,Face structure,hair color....shit...EVERYTHING about your character is customizable! Even all the clothes you can change the color! It really give you more of a personal connection with your character, really putting the player in the shoes of this gangster. Hell...if you don't want clothes...run around naked! Just don't expect people to be very happy. Most will try to kick your ass,others will run away in terror, and some...will dance with joy!
Of course all of that would be jack shit if the core gameplay such as shooting,driving,and overall navigation wasn't so good.
The shooting uses the same as the first game. There is no pussy ass lock on mechanic. This is all shooting from the hip. Mind you, you can go into precise aiming with some guns, but never really feel the NEED to. All the guns shoot pretty good, and your pistols and sub machine guns can be duel wielded. There are about 4 different versions of all the guns you can get in the game (with the exception of special weapons such a the rocket launcher and sniper rifle.). Also there are about 3 different types of grenades to use. So it does add some variety to your arsenal! Also there are about 7 or 8 special weapons to unlock including a CHAINSAW!,Minigun,Flamethrower and my personal favorite....THE PIMP CAIN! (It is actually a really powerful shot gun that just looks like a pimp cain! You even do a pimp walk when you have it equipped.) It can be a bit of a pain in the ass to select your weapons at first. You have to hold down the B button (Circle on PS3) and use the left joystick to select through your weapons that a displayed in a circle in the bottom right corner of the screen. It takes awhile to get used to but when you got it down it comes to you like second nature. There is also a human shield mechanic to the game, just press the right bumper in from of a person and grab them/disarms them too of course and use them as a human meat bag! When you are done with them give them the always so fun throw to their death. (that is assuming they are not dead already!). Adding to the greatness in the fighting is the melee aspect of the game. You have the ability to do full combo's and mix them up to also add finishing moves. Every melee weapon in the game has a couple different finishing move. (Includes hand to hand) I personally like the katana finishing move. Your character jabs the sword right through the bottom of their chin up and out the top of their skull! It looks pretty damn brutal too!
I love games that have chainsaws!
Also I should note that about all the friendly AI in this game obviously rode the special bus, it wreaked and made them even MORE DUMB! The friendly AI is about useless, other than being another target for your foes to shoot at. It will seem like you are reviving their asses every two seconds!
The driving is pretty standard for the genre but works really well! It isn't like GTA4 where you kind of had to learn how to drift with the car when you hit the E-Brake. In this game...you can drift with just about any car. It really gives it more of a arcade feel yes, but I think it fits better into game. There is a lot of driving in this game and there are about 20 optional racing missions to partake in, so...it may as well be good! I personally enjoyed the driving a lot more than GTA4.
There are also helicopters and planes you can get to get around the city faster, or just to cause random destruction. It controls really well too! It may take awhile to get the hang of the planes but after a little practice you will be flying them like a pro. Then you can jump out and parachute to the ground at any given time. I personally like to jump out butt naked and try to land on some poor unsuspecting civilian! Pretty humorous!
Planes are a great addition to the game and giving the option of it alone, I give kudos
The navigation in the game is really simple. It has a full map system. You can set your map marker and show you in a line where you need to go. If you cut corners, it will actually at it to your GPS, so next time you go over to that similar area, it will have a faster route for you to get there. If driving/flying from point A to point B isn't your thing. You can always call the Taxi company and have them drive you there instantly. (That is what I did at least).
As you progress through the game, there will be tons of side missions that open up for you to gain respect. Respect is needed to progress through the normal story. It may seem like a nuisence, however it actually really fun and can get addiciting. There are such a varity to them as well. From Racing,Insurence fraud,Mayhem (kill and blow up as much as possible), Septic avenger (cover the city in SHIT! I am serious that is what you do!) You can help a drug dealer make his deliveries, go steal hoes from their pimps, join a fight club. Even have a destruction derby. That isn't even touching all the stuff you can do. You can also activate a streaking quest if you have no clothes on and run around naked trying to piss off as many people as possible. The more of the side missions you complete, you can unlock new skills,passive abilities,discounts at stores,new weapons, and even cheats! All of them are just a blast to play. It is a good change of pace from GTA4's serious,more moral based mission structure.
In turn, the more missions you play, the more cash you get. You can spend this cash on a lot of stuff! Real Estate,weapons,clothes,music,tattoo's,a SEX CHANGE! It is really pretty nice to have the varity. Also, the more area's controlled and the more property (including shops) you own, you will recieve a certain amount of money from each place everyday. Once the day is up, you can go back to your pad and pick up all your cash. Money really isn't a issue at all in Saints Row 2. Also, if you buy new pads, you can customize them in some pretty cool ways by adding some new furniture and just giving it a complete HOME MAKEOVER....only in the pimp sort of way.
It is pretty cool with all the great ways you can customize your crib.
Also, when you are at your crib, you can play a little video game called zombie uprising which is sort of a fun little distraction. You pretty much need to help save survivors from waves of zombies. You get limited ammo on all guns you find and need to really be aware of your surrounding to look for more stuff to beat the zombies off the survivors. By no-means is it better than Nazi zombie mode on CoD:WaW, but it is still a lot of fun to play.
You better move your ass!That zombie will eat your fuckin brains!!!!
In terms of the story missions, they are all what you would come to expect. Do something to piss this gang off, kill a lot of their men and steal their property. Some of the missions are pretty creative and really keep the game fresh and drive you to keep going with the main story. I think in total, it will take you about 20 hours to kill off the four gangs. It would probably take about 40 to complete ALL the side missions included in the game. Also the game can be played in full co-op with a friend via online. I must say that it is a absolute blast too! It is fun enough raising so much hell by yourself. Add your buddy to the equation and you are in for one crazy time. It is some of the best co-op available at the moment in my eyes.
The game also has some unique competitive multiplayer options that may or may not keep you interested.The main mode here is Strong Arm, a team-based affair that pits people in a variety of events. You'll randomly be assigned to many of the activities found in the campaign mode and you have a few minutes to best the other team before you move on to another event. Also there is a standard racing and capture the flag type of game modes that are REALLY forgettable.Insurance Fraud is quite chaotic. Here, each team tries to get into the most horrific car accident.
The game has a decent enough presentation. It really is kind of un-even in some portions though.
The voice acting is REALLY WELL DONE! It has a full cast of actors and all deliver great performances. My personal favorite is Daniel Dae Kim who voices Jonny Gatt. You may know him from his character on Lost. Voice acting was probably the strongest point of the presentation.
The cut-scenes have some really good fight scenes to them. It really feels like it should be in a Steven Segal movie at times. At times it actual feels like you are a bad ass killing machine.
Almost all the story cut-scenes have some crazy action happening!
Every other aspect from the immersion to the pacing I think was overall done a little better by GTA4. But anytime you are feeling bored, cause some chaos! The cops are not that big of a deal in this game and it is pretty easy to shake them when you have had enough fun fucking with them.
Saints Row 2 knows it's audience. It knows that it needed to be the game for all you players who wanted more of a spiritual successor to GTA:San Andreas and it delivered all that and much much more. It plays more like a action game than most sandbox games and in turn sacrifices it's immersion factor. But hey...least you don't have to go eat burgers with your fat fucking cousin everyday! (Lame)
Closing Statement:I will not say this game is better than GTA4, because GTA4 is overall a more technically strong and more immersive game. However, I will say that I think Saints Row 2 is just more fun to play. This game isn't for everyone, but if you are able to turn your brain off and just enjoy raising a little hell in a virtual world. Look no further than Saints Row 2.
-Core gameplay is fun as hell!
-Tons of fun side missions to do.
-Game doesn't take it's self very serious.
-Zombie uprising mode!
-You can go streaking.
-Lots of character customization options.
-Voice acting is really great.
-Driving feels easy to control
-Co-Op is a blast!
-I don't need to go eat burgers with Roman's fat fuckin ass!
-No sandbox game lets you cause this much damn chaos!
-Friendly AI sucks ass!
-Competitive multiplayer is nothing amazing.
-It may be a little too over-the-top for some people.
-Lack of any sort of cover system
-Visuals are not quite up to par with other games in the genre
-Some side missions can be very frustratingly hard at time
Sorry it was so long of a review, I tried to cover everything and still feel I missed out on a lot. Also, I decided to compare a lot of it to GTA4 because it almost feels more like the Yin to it's Yang.
Hope you enjoyed my review of Saints Row 2