Saints Row 2 Interview: More Gang Warfare
THQ’s hoping that by the time August 26 rolls around, gamers will have played through GTA IV. After all, Saints Row became a hit last year, in part, because Rockstar Games delayed its next gen GTA game until this April. This year, developer Volition’s sequel will essentially go head-to-head with the best-selling crime franchise of all time. But they seem to be up for the challenge, based on hands-on gameplay at a recent Editors’ Day event. Scott Phillips, lead designer of Saints Row 2 at Volition, took some time to talk about what’s new for the sequel.
PSU: How big is Saints Row 2?
Scott Phillips: The game offers three rival gangs and an overarching enemy that’s revealed as you progress through the story. Each gang has over 10 missions. There are over 60 missions in the game, although some will have to be searched for.
PSU: Can you talk about the new combat in this game?
Phillips: Combat was cited as one of the strengths of the original game. That over-the-top craziness has been upped a notch with the introduction of human shields, which can be used to absorb bullets and then discarded like yesterday’s trash.
PSU: That new chopper was fun to fly. What new vehicles are in the game?
Phillips: We have planes, motorcycles and assorted boats, including jet skis, speedboats and yachts. Players get to experience Stillwater from all angles this time around. The game now features verticality. Flying around in the air adds a whole new dimension to gameplay. We’ve incorporated vehicles like the chopper and motorcycle into the mission structure of the game.
PSU: How did you balance the right side of the law with these new vehicles?
Phillips: To balance the new vehicles, police have choppers as well. And rival gangs can shoot down your shopper with rocket launchers. Police also have jet skis and speedboats. The police are more dangerous in this sequel. They have pepper spray and stun guns, which they use first and ask questions later. In addition, they have shotguns and other standard weapons.
PSU: Can you talk about the new cooperative gameplay?
Phillips: There’s a cooperative story with jump-in/jump-out gameplay. Two players work together cooperatively to complete the game. The gameplay is about both players moving the story forward in the game, rather than just having two players existing in the same world. Teamwork is essential for this mode.
PSU: And two players can jump into these new vehicles, as well?
Phillips: Choppers allow for co-op gameplay with one player shooting the weapons and the other piloting the chopper through the city. There are cooperative options for every vehicle in the game, which really builds on the camaraderie and adds another layer of fun to co-op play.
PSU: What’s new on the weapons front?
Phillips: We have more explosive weapons like shotguns. You can now duel wield pistols and sub machine guns, which is less accurate but offers twice the firepower. New weapons like the satchel charge can be stuck to anything and then set off with a trigger. You can stick one of these to a car and get a two-ton guided missile to off any enemies.
PSU: What type of customization is there in Saints Row 2?
Phillips: In the character customization mode, we allow you to pick a sex and create every aspect of a character. We’ve added a lot of new stuff from clothing to compliments to taunts. Even the way you walk can be customized. You can choose your age and we make the character look that age by stretching the skin for younger characters and making it saggy for older characters. Characters have new normal maps that show just how ripped or fat they are, depending on how you create them.
PSU: What are the new cribs like?
Phillips: There are nine full cribs in this game. Larger ones are multilevel like the yacht. These bigger, multi-room cribs are very expensive, but are available for purchase from the beginning of the game. You can store clothes, cars, ... (continued on next page)
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