Why Saints Row 2 Poops On Saints Row IV (It's A Better Game)

I see a lot of people getting excited about the upcoming release of Saints Row IV. But did you know that you are actually wrong?

Yes, it's true! The Saints Row series peaked at 2 and has been circling the drain since. I don't know if it's out of laziness or just plain contempt for their audience, but the developers made The Third a worse game and will probably ruin IV as well.

I know some of you were introduced to the series with Saints Row The Third, so let me explain why Saints Row 2 is the high point of the series that they will never reach again, ever. Prepare to get sad.

Stilwater is a more interesting city than Steelport

Stilwater in Saints Row 2 is one of the best open worlds in a video game, and I'm just talking aesthetically here! We'll get to the other good stuff later!

There are so many distinct districts and areas of Stilwater that it's crazy. You have a college campus with skateboarding students, a huge student center, and the "Frat Row". You've got a nuclear power plant island, Chinatown, the airport, factories, some high-class downtown areas that have totally different street textures, a trailer park...pretty much every traditional “open world city” setting is here. The cool thing is that they're all visually distinct and have different NPCs walking around depending on the area. You won't see gang members strolling around in baggy jeans in the downtown area.

In comparison, Steelport is a mostly flat, all industrial city that gets more boring to explore as they close off bridges. There's no variable weather or day/night cycle. You're looking at mostly the same scenery throughout Saints Row The Third and it gets boring. As opposed to Saints Row 2, where every location is visually distinct. It feels like a real town. Steelport feels like a video game fake city, lessening the joy in exploring it.

Basically, there are no cool hidden secrets like this in Steelport.

And this is only tangentially related, but the soundtrack in Saints Row 2 is the best in the series. I actually recognized a lot of the songs, as opposed to the soundtracks in Saints Row The Third and IV which are just obscure to get indie cred. Whatever, I'll be over here killing dudes to this amazing music.

More Customization in Saints Row 2

The city of Stilwater has LOADS of clothing stores, each catering to a different style. There's a hippy store, used clothing store, campus store with college clothes, and even separate stores for jewelry and cars. There's even a mall with a few unique stores.

Steelport in Saints Row The Third has like 20 Planet Saints (that all have the same clothes), and three specialty stores that are really far out of the way. I like the clothes in Nobody Loves Me, but why is there only one in the entire city? Am I gonna drive all the way through this boring city to get clothes there? Probably not.

I suppose there's a metaphor at play here. The Saints in The Third have grown soft and complacent, so they just monopolize the city's clothing outlets because they're boring now like the game is. And it makes shopping for clothes a boring time when there's 30 of one shop EVERYWHERE, and then three other shops that are out of the way. Why not spread that out?

Anyway, there are more glaring omissions to customization in Saints Row The Third. Stuff that was already in 2 that they removed for no good reason. You can't have custom walk cycles. You can't customize how you wear your clothes. In 2, if I buy a pair of jeans I can choose to wear them sagging, the type of wear they are (regular, battered, or acid washed for example), if I want a belt on, and many other options.

In The Third, that stuff is just gone. I can't customize my own walk cycle. Why? I can't customize how I wear my clothes. Instead of buying a pair of jeans and wearing them how I choose, I have to buy Baggy Jeans 1, Belt Jeans 1, Acid Wash Jeans 1...it's such a step backwards. For no good reason.

More Stores in Saints Row 2

Back in my day, Saints Row games had hella stores. In addition to the clothing options I already went over, there were some extra stores that most open world games don't have.

I'm talking about the liquor stores, mostly. In gas stations, liquor stores, and nightclubs in Saints Row 2, you can buy alcohol and weed. Now I'll admit, there's no reason for there to be several types of stores selling the same thing. And I don't even know what the alcohol and weed does besides be less useful than food powerups. They don't add anything to the game...except charm.

You know, the thing Saints Row The Third went very far out of its way to avoid? Having charm and personality? Saints Row 2 has that.

There's also record stores so you can buy songs for your portable MP3 player. That's right, you can listen to music from the radio even when you're not in the car. Another feature pointlessly removed by Saints Row The Third. I can't wait to not hear the soundtrack in Saints Row IV because I'll be running around with my super speed! Not using a car ever, because why would you?

There are car dealerships to buy cars to store in your garage in Saints Row 2. Which is...kinda pointless because you can steal whatever car you'll need. But that shows the length the team used to go through to immerse you in the game's world.

Saints Row 2 has regenerating health, but sometimes you don't want to just sit in a corner as your health recharges (which happens all the time in The Third). So you can go to fast food shops and buy healing items to store in your inventory. And even though every store has unique food items for no good reason because they all work the same way, and even though there's no real reason for them to offer multiple sizes of health packs because you should just buy the biggest one anyway...why take that out of the game?

It's a good idea and you just remove it. Great job.

More Side Missions In Saints Row 2

This one is a pretty big failure. Sidequests Fight Club, Crowd Control, Septic Avenger, Tow Truck, Ambulance EMT, Ho-ing, Taxi Driver, Tagging, Secret Areas, CD Collection, Drive-By, and Mugging are just gone from Saints Row The Third.

Why? Well, some could make the argument that a good deal of those aren't fun. And they'd probably be right. But find a replacement for them or tweak them to make them more fun instead of just cutting huge amounts of content.

I really enjoyed customizing your character with different fighting styles in Saints Row 2. You could pull off cool combo attacks in addition to using improvised weapons everywhere, like traffic meters and wooden barrels. And they take it all out in The Third for a worse melee system with no combos and the glitchy “finisher” button. I guarantee that the wrestling match would be more fun if they kept the old combo system.

Unlocking more rewards by completing Side Missions in Saints Row 2 was rewarding. It was admittedly annoying playing side quests just to progress the story. And even more annoying having character power-ups tied to some of the side missions, especially if the side mission wasn't fun. Why should I have to play Mayhem to make my character better? I don't like Mayhem. And Snatch is terrible.

Oops, I'm supposed to be praising Saints Row 2 here. Uh, just don't play that stuff if you don't want to! But then play them to unlock new missions and finish the game because you have to. Moving on.

THE STORY

This is the biggest reason why the Saints Row games won't be as good as 2. The story in Saints Row 2 was perfect. It's one of the few games to pull off the Playable Character being a villain. In their rise to the top, this character does some despicable things. They poison a rival with radioactive waste out of spite. They manufacture and sell hard drugs. They CONSUME hard drugs. They brutally decapitate another rival. They spray feces all over nice houses for some cash.

You do some ridiculous stuff in Saints Row 2, but there's also some story beats with true emotional impact. Like the infamous scene where Carlos is murdered, or when you kill your former boss for no good reason. The last one in particular shows how ruthless the Boss has become.

Each gang storyline has a buildup where you learn to really despise your rival, and a final confrontation where you kill them off in a satisfying way. There's buildup, and payoff. Even the sidequests have some story behind them.

In Saints Row The Third, all of the gangs are a big conglomerate that fight against you. The bosses are defeated anticlimatically because there was no buildup. When Loren dies from having a giant ball dropped on him, I honestly don't know anyone who didn't say “That was it? The big boss guy just dies like that?”

Not only that, but the over-the-top elements of Saints Row The Third disconnect the player from any emotion. I really wanted to kill Maero after he tortured Carlos to death.

I didn't feel anything toward any of the bosses in The Third because the plot jumped around so much. It felt like there were large sections of story content cut out, giving the game a disjointed feel.

And now Saints Row IV seems to go in the direction of eliminating all the drama the series once had for sheer absurdity. That's not why I liked the game in the first place. The mixture of silly stuff and characters I actually cared for made it worth playing.

So, go back and play Saints Row 2. Ignore Saints Row IV and any future games in the franchise. They've peaked, and instead of improving on what they did right so many years ago, they'll just continue to get away from it and make strange “wacky” games with less and less content than the second game. But at least the gunplay and driving feels better, right?

Sigh.

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Posted by Hailinel

@perfidioussinn: Nope. For one thing, Saints Row IV isn't out yet, so you can't judge it. For another, I enjoyed Saints Row: the Third far, far more than Saints Row 2.

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Posted by chiablo

Saints Row The Third and Saints Row 4 are not broken. Saints Row 2 is unplayable on PC due to crippling bugs*. Saying SR2 is better than SR4 is like saying that Windows ME is better than Windows 8.

*note, I haven't played the PC version lately, it's possible that the bugs were patched at some point.

Posted by The_Laughing_Man

Doesnt Saints 2 literally have missions to shoot poop out of a sewage truck?

Posted by PerfidiousSinn
Posted by Akyho

I love Saints row 2 way more than three or four. I have not even played four but its more like 3-2. As 3 felt like so much was missing and the story was a cartoon vs Saints row 2.

Posted by MikkaQ

Wait, Saints Row 4 is out already and people have played enough to compare it to previous entries in the series? Man blink once and miss everything I guess. Even before it's supposed to happen.

Also as someone who has played every Saints Row game in order as they came out I disagree entirely. SR3 is the current peak of the series for many reasons.

Posted by PerfidiousSinn

@mikkaq said:

Also as someone who has played every Saints Row game in order as they came out I disagree entirely. SR3 is the current peak of the series for many reasons.

I think Saints Row The Third has better controls for shooting and driving. But Saints Row 2 has better everything else. Sometimes, I like games for reasons outside of "it plays good and has good gameplay".

Posted by mano521

I also didnt like the tone shift from 2 to 3, but SR3 was still a pretty damn good game. 2 will always be my favorite, but im not so sure its right to go around telling everyone "Hey you know that game you're super excited for? Well its dumb and so are you!"

Posted by Veektarius

At first I was going to make an observation of how your thread title is trollishly provocative, because you haven't played SR4. But then I decided no, you're making realistic assumptions. What you're actually doing is comparing SR2 and SR3, but since SR4 is clearly built on the architecture of SR3, there's no real harm in doing so (except in your assumptions about environment variety, which are mostly guesswork).

So instead, I'm going to criticize your recommendation of SR2, because I think it is safe to say that anyone who is into Saints Row now after playing SR3 is into it for the absurdity and not because it makes them a "proper villain", and so recommending that these converts go back to SR2 instead, where that absurdity is less, is illogical. It's a little like telling someone "Oh, you liked Army of Darkness? Well, you should watch Evil Dead, it's way better." It's possible that this person might actually end up liking Evil Dead, but your odds aren't much better than random chance, because it appeals to a different audience.

Edited by TheDudeOfGaming

I'm not reading all that shit. But I will say this. You could unlock unlimited ammo for different weapon types by doing activities before doing any story mission, apart from the tutorial one.

That's a huge plus for Saints Row 2. Also, the activities were simply better in SR 2. Come on, you know they were. ADMIT IT!

Posted by Demoskinos

Let me put this as kindly as I can. You haven't played Saints Row 4 yet. Shut up.

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Posted by JZ

My ass is better than a cybrog's ass and heres why...

Posted by PerfidiousSinn

@mano521 said:

but im not so sure its right to go around telling everyone "Hey you know that game you're super excited for? Well its dumb and so are you!"

Yeah, no one should do that.

Posted by Hunkulese

I've been playing through SR2 for the first time since I have PS+ and can't wait for SR4. It started off pretty rough but once I got comfortable with the controls I've been enjoying it quite a bit. I wouldn't go as far as calling it better than the third though. The city may be more varied but it's still ugly and dull everywhere you go.

I haven't played the first game but I kind of see a parallel between the Saints Row trilogy and the Evil Dead trilogy. The first instalment is more or less something we've all seen before with some revolutionary elements. The second creates a balance between the serious elements from the first while injecting some humour. And the third just goes full on bat-shit crazy.

Edited by PerfidiousSinn

@demoskinos said:

Let me put this as kindly as I can. You haven't played Saints Row 4 yet. Shut up.

Well, if that's your idea of being "kind" you are probably not very fun to hang out with in real life. Because that's not kind, it's just rude. Then again I don't know you in real life and people tend to exaggerate on the internet and type things they'd never actually say or believe. We should hang out.

Anyway, flag this topic or whatever

Posted by BlastProcessing

The first Saints Row still has the best multiplayer though. BIG ASS CHAINZ

Edited by MetalGearSunny

I never found Saints Row 2 fun. Sorry.

Edited by PerfidiousSinn

I never found Saints Row 2 fun. Sorry.

Oh, it's understandable. The shooting and driving are totally archaic by today's standards. The controls just feel kinda weird.

Edited by OmniscientCajun

I'm kind of surprised that Saints Row (1) hasn't really come up at all in this discussion. I'm not going to argue that SR1 is the best in the franchise, it could be someone's favorite, but that to me is different than evaluating quality (though sometimes difficult/impossible to completely isolate).

How I look at this franchise (and a lot of franchises pan-media) is to look at what each entry before did. So in the case of SR1, there was nothing/there was GTA:SA. I hadn't played GTA:SA at the time, SR1 came out when I was 17, probably the perfect age to get into the series. I loved SR1. It did for me what GTAIII/GTA:VC/GTA:SA did for a lot of others. I really enjoyed Stillwater as a location, and got to know it probably better than any other city-based open world game.

I didn't play SR2 until a few years after it came out (2011, before SR3). I didn't care for it. I recognize its a better-made game than SR1, but it just didn't resonate with me. The story didn't grab me. The gameplay didn't feel more refined. There were more activities, but I had already done so many activities in SR1 that I didn't really want to do again (in the same city no less). Customization has never been a huge thing for me, though I can understand why others would be invested in its expansion/disappointed with its restriction. When I look at what SR2 did compared to what SR1 did, it's a mild improvement.

What SR3 did compared to SR2 was anything but mild. Compete tonal shift, ridiculous self-awareness, essentially retconning characters, tighter gameplay. It is largely a love-it-or-leave-it shift. Even if it didn't strike a chord with me (oh god did it strike my chords), I still would respect it greatly for trying a new tone, a new city, a new take on the Saints. If SR3 were another game in Stillwater with the Saints trying to run other crime out of the city in favor of their own crime, I probably never would have played it.

I could do the thing and say that, to me, SR2 feels like SR1.5, but that's reductive and unnecessary, and frankly a little insulting to both the product and its creators. SR2 is a solid follow-up to SR1, a game I loved when I played it. SR3 is an amazing example of a successful attempt at revitalizing a franchise before it needed a "reboot." Volition was ahead of the curve on this one. Instead of waiting until the public had given up on the franchise for not changing (Sonic, Tomb Raider, dmc, other examples), they changed first, and I applaud them for it.

Posted by Bane122
Edited by Karkarov

Uh couple things.

1: I agree Saint's Row 2 is the best in the series.

2: The sound track of Saint's Row 3 was easily the most recognizable. I am sorry but there was a few months where I could throw a rock in any direction and someone where it landed was playing "Power". Also do you just hate Karate Kid or something? That said yes, Saint's Row 2 had a good soundtrack.

3: You clearly never played Saint's Row 1, because you had a helluva good reason for whacking Julius. Which is one of the reasons I am sort of pissed at 4 cause some trailers imply that Julius is brought back to life and you like each other? Uh no, if you consider the story through the games Julius and the "playa" should hate each others guts.

Posted by PerfidiousSinn

@karkarov: Yeah, you're right on the whole plot stuff. I played Saints Row 1 but it was a long time ago. I don't tend to replay it because I don't like it.

Posted by Sinusoidal

I wasn't even remotely interested in another generic, open world crime simulator like Saints Row until the Third showed up and went all insane. Knowing that the second one takes itself seriously makes me want to play it even less. Also, more stores filled with extraneous goods does not equal charm. Calling up my VTOL homie only to crash the thing (and him) into an unsuspecting gang operation is charm.

Posted by Rafaelfc

Yeah they should cancel Saints Row IV release!! People on the internet already hate it and proclaim 2 to be the high watermark that will NEVER be surpassed!!!

damn hipster kids these days.

Posted by lightningstrike14

I don't think that 2 is necessarily better, I think it's a different kind of game. Saints Row 2 is a Black Comedy. You character is the crazy psychopath that everyone else just sort of reacts to. Saints 3 and 4 are more akin to a Jackass brand of comedy. You are the straight man reacting to a batshit crazy world. It's a matter of preference more than actual quality.

Edited by PerfidiousSinn

@rafaelfc said:

Yeah they should cancel Saints Row IV release!! People on the internet already hate it and proclaim 2 to be the high watermark that will NEVER be surpassed!!!

damn hipster kids these days.

Nah, that's silly. You should buy Saints Row IV if you like Saints Row The Third.

Plus, Volition needs to make their money back after sinking so much into the Third. Buy IV or they might not be around anymore.

Edited by Stealthmaster86

" I see a lot of people getting excited about the upcoming release of Saints Row IV. But did you know that you are actually wrong?"

If you start your long essay like this, then everything you will say will fall apart.

After playing SR3, I downloaded SR2 because of PlayStation Plus and after 2 hours I deleted it. Gameplay wise, SR3 is better. It's much smoother and more interesting.

Posted by PerfidiousSinn

" I see a lot of people getting excited about the upcoming release of Saints Row IV. But did you know that you are actually wrong?"

If you start your long essay like this, then everything you will say will fall apart.

I hope others will learn from my mistakes ;_;

Posted by LassieME

Nope. 3 is way better.

Posted by GaspoweR

I think it was confirmed in the podcast that the stations can still be played even if you're not in the car. I think there is a story justification to how that would work just cant remember what it is ATM.

Posted by Pr1mus

It's strange, usually these idiotic topics complaining about a game that isn't even out yet come from users with 1 post who created an account to shit on something they know nothing about and are quickly forgotten.

Edited by Pudge

I love all the Saints Row games to a certain degree, I've been a fan since the first one wowed me more than GTA4 ever could. But I just can't bring myself to agree with you on this point. The gang storylines in 2 were much more thought out, but Saints Row 3 purposely avoids just being "another" Saints Row game by killing off its supposed main villain in the first act and then going completely off the rails. The insane powers, weaponry, and locations you get in 3 make up for the more limited customization, Volition obviously only had so much time to make the game, and stuff like the zombie and Matix levels with their unique assets bit into that. I agree with Volition that I'd rather see them go nuts with things I haven't seen before then once again take down a trio of themed gangs. Plus, come on, THIS MISSION.

Nothing in any other Saints Row game comes close to the badassitude of this mission.

Posted by PerfidiousSinn

@pr1mus said:

It's strange, usually these idiotic topics complaining about a game that isn't even out yet come from users with 1 post who created an account to shit on something they know nothing about and are quickly forgotten.

Exactly. People are for some reason taking this seriously and responding to it. Strange stuff.

Posted by Yummylee

I don't think that 2 is necessarily better, I think it's a different kind of game. Saints Row 2 is a Black Comedy. You character is the crazy psychopath that everyone else just sort of reacts to. Saints 3 and 4 are more akin to a Jackass brand of comedy. You are the straight man reacting to a batshit crazy world. It's a matter of preference more than actual quality.

I would say they each (SR2 and SRTT I mean of course) do things better than the other regardless of the tone. SR2 excels when it comes to the city, the customisation options, the side stuff, and the amount of content on offer is of a much grander scope. SRTT on the other hand has better controls and is graphically well beyond SR2.

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Posted by Brenderous

Saints Row IV isn't out yet.

Posted by Creamypies

@perfidioussinn: You can listen to the radio outside of your vehicle in Saints Row IV.

Posted by s10129107

Oh, so you've played SR4 then?

Posted by PerfidiousSinn

@creamypies: Oh, that's great news. I actually didn't know that.

Posted by RollingZeppelin

I get that its really disappointing when features are removed from sequels, but being cynical and living in the past solves nothing. I also get that this post is somewhat satirical, so now I'm confused.

Looking forward to SRIV anywho.

Posted by Deathstriker

I'll agree with the OP as far as SR2 being underrated. The rivalry/story with each gang was great, it had better gameplay than GTA:SA and perhaps GTA:4. It seems like most people think SR went from crappy to great with SR3 when it was always pretty good IMO. Not on the same level of GTA overall, but they both had their strengths and weakness. SR2 is a fun 90's gang/action movie while SR3 and probably SR4 seem closer to Looney Tunes. That's fine, but I do miss the grittiness, weight, and at least them going for emotion. I'd like a real SR after 4, with no superpowers, in a different city, and so on.

Posted by Demoskinos

@perfidioussinn: Well, you didn't exactly set the stage for civil conversation when you headlined this "Saints row 2 poops on Saints row 4" regardless of your intent that is an inflammatory headline not to mention as I and so many others have pointed out you haven't played the game. A more apt use of your time would have been critiquing the direction the franchise is going if you have such strong feelings about that game.

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Posted by iceman228433

no just no.

Edited by Budwyzer

@perfidioussinn said:

@animasta: Disagreeing with you about a video game is definitely not a troll.

maybe so, but starting a thread simply for the purpose of trolling definitely makes you a troll. LOL

Edited by PerfidiousSinn

@demoskinos: Well, let's talk about my feelings here. I can't win.

If I put it in the Saints Row The Third topic, it gets ignored and my point about Saints Row IV looking bad are off-topic.

If I put it in the Saints Row IV topic, people complain that I haven't actually played the game and don't read the article.

It's a lose/lose for me and a win/win for you.

@budwyzer: I'm just presenting the point of view of the countless Saints Row 2 fans complaining on Youtube and the Saints Row Facebook page all the time. You shouldn't read their comments, they're all crazy. I am reasonable and well-mannered. I'm showing you the underworld and saving your sanity and time.

Seriously, look at these wackos.

Posted by Darson

I liked SR2 but it was still halfway between GTA and Saints Row. SR3 is Saints Row to the fullest.

Posted by Mezmero

Why Final Fantasy II Projectile Vomits On Final Fantasy XV (It's a More Betterer Game)

Quoted for funny.

Posted by ZombiePie

But did you know that you are actually wrong?

Yeah, you know maybe you had some good points in your blog worth extrapolating upon, but this is just rude.

Moderator
Posted by CornBREDX

I was introduced to Saints Row with SR 1. Boring Game imo. SR2 made the formula a little better but really all they were doing at that point was aping San Andreas.

SR3 they threw all that out and decided to get crazy. The game was better for it.

So, I guess my opinion is still valid even though you say it's not.

Posted by Subjugation

I see a lot of people getting excited about the upcoming release of Saints Row IV. But did you know that you are actually wrong?

So you get to tell me what I can and can't like? What I can and can't be excited about? How pretentious can you be?

Pro-tip: If you want people to take you seriously and actually read through your novel, don't go insulting them in the first two sentences. Also, what the hell do you actually know about Saints Row IV? I guarantee you haven't even touched the game. You almost made a good post except for the fact that you try to crucify a product that isn't even out yet based on your own speculation.

Posted by hustlerlt

I really like Saints Row 2, but you completely lost me once you said that it had the best soundtrack in the series. Also, it was the point to make Steelport to look like a video game city, The Third went all out to make the game as crazy as possible and they succeeded.

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