The return of Bushwald Sexyface.

Saints Row 2

(This time, he has his eyes set on Saints Row.) Yes, I beat Saints Row 2, and I did it all with the help of Bushwald Sexyface. The game began with Bushwald in jail, heavily wrapped in gauze. I assume both of these were due to Stillwater's strict anti-sexiness laws. Anyway, the bandages were soon taken off, and I was given the option to customize my new plaything, a feature that automatically makes it better than GTA4. (And now I wait...) However, it doesn't end there; you can customize everything about your character, from his voice to his taunts (I chose Ride the Donkey, obviously). It was during this period of character creation that I discovered one important thing: Bushwald looks a helluva lot like The Joker. Not wanting to totally rip off Yahtzee, I combined Bushwald with both The Joker and Sephiroth to form the alter-ego to Sexyface: Sexyroth. He still has a gruff Cockney accent, but his theme song is now One Wanged Angel, and he looks like this:

No Caption Provided
Wait, where was I going with all this? Oh, right, story. Sexyroth escapes from the prison to a world that has long forgotten his sexiness. It is his goal to reunite the Saints, destroy the less sexy gangs of the city, and conquer Stillwater with guns and more guns. Along the way, he makes many friends and enemies, all of them incredibly screwed up and weird. Part of what makes Saints Row 2 great is how damn creative it can be. One mission can involve making the homeless more homeless, and the next can be about blowing up fish as part of a drug ring overthrow. Linked to this high amount of creativity is the fucked up humor of the game. I'm not a man known for laughing, or indeed expressing any human emotion, but there were plenty of moments in the game where I can imagine myself guffawing. There was that scene where Sexyroth was high out of his mind, the mission where you tatooed nuclear waste to a biker dude, the aforementioned homeless-rehomelessing...

Actually, the funny/creative moments aren't really limited to the story; the game itself has its moments, too, and I'm not just saying that because I was playing as Sexyroth. Yea, I had fun only using swords and explosives (which is more convenient than you'd think), but the insane mini-games and diversions also ate up a lot of my time. Scattered throughout the metropolis are random little mini-games dedicated to one aspect of the game, something they applied to EVERYTHING in the game. There's the usual races and assassinations, but you also get the opportunity to blow everything up in sight, among other things. Things like riding atop people's cars, beating people up as a cop, and sparying shit all about the town like the Great Mighty Poo with a stomach virus. Some of them aren't that good, like the insurance fraud thing, but for the most part they're a fun distraction from the main missions.

Wait, I forgot something: they're essentially mandatory. Breaking the third gaming commandment, you can't do missions unless you have the proper amount of respect. How do you earn this respect? Apparently, not by killing the leader of a rival gang, but by jumping out of planes from the stratosphere. Yea, I don't understand it, either, but I was forced to play mini-games anyway. My beloved mini-games now became mindless chores I had to complete in order to progress the story. As that other guy said in the link, forcing the player to do something (especially in repetition) to advance through the game isn't a good idea. Speaking of which, the missions/strongholds seem to be mostly variants of "go here, kill somebody." There's nothing wrong with killing, but a little variety would help. It'd especially help if the game had auto-save, since I found myself replaying the same missions repeatedly due to freezes and almost-freezes.
This is the guy. Obviously not as tough as he looks.
This is the guy. Obviously not as tough as he looks.

To be fair, I don't blame Saints Row 2 for the occasional freezing; what I blame it for is the collection of other technical problems I encountered. The frame rate tends to struggle in high-tensity situations, and there are several instances where the game fucks up an animation or something. My perfect example is when I was fighting one of the gang leaders. He had a mini-gun, and I had explosives. I threw a grenade in his general direction, and apparently hit him so hard, he spent the rest of the fight frozen in a T position. OK, he wasn't completely frozen; at random intervals in the fight, he'd spontaneously regenerate in another location in a futile attempt to not die. I'm not kidding, he just stood there like a steroid-infused cheerleader with a death wish.

I'm also not kidding when I say that the cheats in this game are far better than in GTA4. "Oooh, the King cheats, I guess h-gwah." That thing at the end is the sound a person makes when they're choking on their own blood. We all know the first thing everybody did when they got Grand Theft Auto III: go to GameFAQs, print out a list of the cheats, and start flying cars like Peter Pan on a drunk bender. The (numbered) sequel didn't continue this trend; there wasn't that much to it other than the simple cars and weapons. I guess all that unused creativity went towards making the cheats in Saints Row 2 really great. Aside from the usual cars/weapons, you have Alice in Wonderland cheats, a cheat that makes people fall from the sky, and another that makes people rise into the sky. Can your beloved GTA do that?

Some of you may have noticed by now that I've been bashing GTA a lot in this review, and those of you who did will no doubt come to the aid of your beloved Grand Theft Auto. In my defense, though, it was inevitable, kinda like how all the original Silent Hill reviews compared it to RE2. Both of them are good games, it's just that they do different things better than the other. Grand Theft Auto has story and realism, while Saints Row 2 gives you under 20 hours bail out of cars with cruise control on. Still, though, I have to give Saints Row 2 not only the honor of being the better game, but also my Second Highest Rated Game on Giant Bomb Award at 8.9/10. What's my highest rated game on the site? Panzer Dragoon Zwei, of course, beating Saints Row 2 with its 8.9/10. How can that game be higher rated when it has the exact same score? Alphabetical order :P.

Review Synopsis

  • Tons of inventive mini-games.
  • I appreciated several of the improvements, like cruise control, check points, and "WHERE THE HELL IS AUTO SAVE!?"
  • The game can be a bit glitchy at times.

Kind of a badass proof that Super Smash Bros. is a fighting game. I can't directly post it here, so I'll have to link it. Damn Internet commies. On that subject...

Mega Man 4

(Only minus the Internet part.) What, am I the only person who believes Mega Man 4 was just Animal Farm with robots? I'm not just saying this for humor (although that's a big reason), go ahead and play the game/watch the intro yourself. Hell, I can just list off some of the things that make this a Communist games. There's all the working robots rebelling against their human masters, the fact that they're led by a mysterious Russian, that same Russian almost immediately being ousted by a draconian know, I'm actually quite surprised you didn't receive your upgrades from a belligerent Winston Churchill.

Like in the previous two games, Dr. Light periodically provides you with a new use to your canine partner, Dynomutt. You get the usual things, like the Rush Coil, Rush Jet, and the especially useless Rush Marine. It kinda worked in Mega Man 3, but there's only one water level in this game, and it hardly warrants the use of a submarine. For better or worse, Mega Man 4 borrows a lot from previous games. For example, all the gameplay. I could say what that consists of, but I feel like I'd be repeating myself; I've played six Mega Man games during my time here, and they all play exactly the same. You pick a boss, fight him, get his weapon, and repeat in a certain order. The problem with this game is that the weaknesses are incredibly tenuous and nonsensical. How the hell am I supposed to believe that toads are weak to power drills? Or that this line of thought isn't considered cheating?

To be fair, though, the core gameplay is still as fun as ever. There's a part of me that enjoys blasting the hell out of mummies and lazy hippos, even if it's exactly the same as the last few games in the series. Also in the spirit of fairness, I feel obligated to tell you that this game introduces some new ideas. For example, this was the first Mega Man games to have secret items hidden in some of the levels. It wasn't many, but apparently it was enough to get Mega Man X infatuated with the idea. Anyway, the items here are the balloon and the wire. The balloon acts like that platform thingy from Mega Man 2, while the wire lets you hang off ceilings and stuff. If you're thinking Bionic Commando, lower your expectations; it has its uses, granted, but it's incredibly limiting and you'll mostly use it when you don't need to.

This was also the first game to give you charge shots (unless you count Heat Man's weapon from two games ago), but like the wire from before, their use is dubious. While it is more powerful than your regular peashooter, your regular peashooter can become more powerful with the turbo button. It allows you to kill regular enemies in less time than it takes to charge the damn thing. I haven't timed that for verification, but trust me, you're better off just holding down the turbo button (that this game provides in non-NES versions, like the one I played for this blog).

I'm well aware that I should never use anything in parentheses to transition into another paragraph, but fuck it, I'm doing it anyway. Moving on, the version I played was the PS1 version, and it was mostly the same as the original. The only differences are a new hint system for the Internet-less and some arranges of the original chiptunes. The arranges vary in quality from pretty good to mediocre. Other than that, this game is exactly the same as it was in 1991, which is to say that it is still the point in the series when things started slipping downhill. So I give it the Sonic the Hedgehog Award for Companies that Abuse Blue Mascots. Kind of a stretch, but I feel justified.

Review Synopsis

  • Am I the only person who thinks this game is about Commie-bots?
  • Mostly the same as the other umptillion games in the series.
  • OK, it does do some things differently, but it doesn't do them right.