2) Isn't "mature and gritty" exactly the wrong direction to take that franchise? If they have to make another one, wouldn't it be more interesting to take it in the opposite direction and make the Saints Row 3 of military-inspired shooters?
I sort of agree with this thought. I walked into this series hoping for something a bit more strange and stylished than the average serious military shooter, what with the masked protagonist designs. The first game gave me something like that with those weird powered up modes (the super speed and super armor) but that was sadly removed in the sequel.
Personally I wouldn't like something quite as silly as Saints Row The Third, but definitely crazy.
I'll go on the record and say I may be one of the few who actually likes these games (along with the Kane and Lynch games), but I can certainly understand the majority's disinterest in it. I had actually enjoyed the story of the first one, but while the sequel played a little better everything else about it was just ho-hum, especially the story. Eh, I dunno.