Review: Saints Row 2

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About:

Released on: Xbox 360 (version reviewed), PlayStation 3, PC

Developed By: Volition

Who Also Developed: The original Saint’s Row, the Red Faction games (including the recent Red Faction: Guerilla)

Published By: THQ

Players: One local, two in online co-op and more in online multiplayer modes.

Demo Available: No

Additional Content: Two premium DLC packs continuing the story, for PS3 and 360 (not PC).  One additional free pack with extra clothing and tattoos for PS3 and 360 (not PC).

Ben’s Progress: Game completed on the normal difficulty. 13 of 50 achievements earned (non-DLC).

Note: I don’t play online much, and haven’t tried any of the online features of Saints Row 2.


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Quick Opinion:

Buy if:

You enjoy the Grand Theft Auto games (particularly those before GTAIV) or the original Saints Row game – Saints Row 2 is a worthy addition to the genre.

You put a lot of time into GTAIV but would have preferred more side quests and fun activities – this game overflows with such things.

Try if:

You don’t mind open world games like Grand Theft Auto, but thought GTAIV took itself too seriously – Saints Row 2 could never be accused of doing that.

Being able to create your character adds a lot to games for you – this has a pretty detailed character creator, for gender, face and body shape, as well as cosmetic car customisation and limited gang customisation.

Skip if:

You’ve never enjoyed the open world crime games – Volition have clearly set out to make a fun game in that genre.

You need your characters to be sympathetic – the protagonist and allies don’t think anything of mowing down civilians or police and building up huge body counts, as well as generally being crude.

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Evaluation:

Summary:

Third-person, open-world crime game, again set in the fictional city of Stilwater.

Story:

After five years in a coma, the former leader of the 3rd Street Saints and seeks to reclaim dominance in a radically changed city.  Mostly focuses upon the three dominant gangs and the Saints’ attempts to wipe them out.

Mostly just a functional means to frame missions rather than a complex, interesting story.  It rarely ever takes itself seriously though, and mostly just tries to have fun.

Gameplay:

Mostly standard for this sort of game: lots of shooting, lots of driving.  Both work well though, and there’s a recharging health mechanic.

The three gangs can be tackled in any order (even alternating between them at any time), and each successful mission reclaims a portion of the city for the Saints, bringing in extra income.

There are lots and lots of activities outside of the story.  Spraying faeces on buildings, racing, ferrying prostitutes, committing insurance fraud (in a very basic way), destroying property…  Some are much better than others, but there are so many that you’re never stuck doing poor ones (unless you’re achievement chasing).

Failing missions gives you a simple button to press to retry (as opposed to the clunky GTAIV system) and most missions have at least one checkpoint in them.

Controls:

Standard third-person controls.  Combat works like a competent third-person shooter, while driving is simple and arcade-style.

Graphics:

The city is a fairly generic one for an open world game, especially when compared to the one in GTAIV.  In general when it comes to visuals it fails to compete with GTAIV in almost every way, as well as not being as smooth or technically polished.

Sound:

Good voice acting in general (with a lot of characters voiced by big names from TV and film), with a reasonable selection of tracks for the in-game radio stations.

Other Comments:

While not impressive on a technical level, Saints Row 2 is a lot of fun.

The game mostly worked fine, but there were a couple of areas with large drops in frame rate and a few freezes.  The PC version is supposed to be much worse for technical problems.

Image Sources:

All images: IGN

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