Saints Row 2 Review
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Saints Row 2 isn’t Grand Theft Auto, but that's a good thing. With strong replayability and wacky mini-games, the game will remain relevant for months down the road.
- Brilliant online co-op
- Excellent character customization
- Mini-games keep you coming back for more
- Disappointing friendly AI
- Framerate hiccups and poor collision detection
- Random freezing problems
The original Saints Row was often looked at as a Grand Theft Auto rip-off. A lot of gamers displayed their distaste for the game's lack of originality and merely thought of it as the bridge to Grand Theft Auto IV. Little did they know that Saints Row would display the staying power and appeal that it did to warrant a sequel. Unlike Liberty City, the streets of Stilwater provide gamers with an over-the-top, open-world gangsterpalooza of mayhem that strays away from realism and instead offers up an entirely different style of gaming. Let's step into that crazy world and find out what it’s all about.
Imagine losing two years of your correctional life to a coma because of a yacht explosion. It would be devastating if it wasn’t a quick way to pass your jail sentence. A lot can change in that span of time and Stilwater is no exception. The streets have been taken over by new gangs and colors, but all of that can quickly change with the pull of a trigger. It’s time to regain consciousness, break out of this prison and get your crew back together. It’s time to take back Stilwater.
Following the steps of the first installment, users start the game off by creating their own custom protagonist. While this is one of the best parts Saints Row has to offer, it’s a slight disappointment to only have three male and female voices to choose from. Outside of that slight limitation, users are granted a plethora of options within every category imaginable, including full facial sculpting capabilities in order to make your gangster truly personalized. If you’re not quite happy with your original decision, don’t fret; Saints Row 2 offers plastic surgeons that can alter your appearance at any time. On top of that convenience, there are several different apparel options you can earn along the way, one of which includes Borat’s infamous swimsuit.
Now that your gangster is ready to start cappin’, it’s time to bust out of that confining prison lifestyle and free your long-time gangbanging friend Johnny Gat. From here on out, the two of you will do what’s necessary to rebuild those famed Saints, recruit new lieutenants and take back what’s rightfully yours -- Stilwater.
As you’d expect, breaking out of prison ends up being a lot of fun and a nice change of pace over the usual lackey jobs you’re stuck with at the start of open-world titles. Instead, the action is hot and heavy right from the get-go, sliding you to the edge of your seat as you mow down pursuing cops from a gun boat in your escape from the joint. Don’t expect to Taxi anybody around to get your footing, this is your city and it’s about time you remind people why.
The biggest draw of open-world titles is their pure, untempered freedom. Unlike Grand Theft Auto, Saints Row 2 doesn’t force you to unlock small sections of the map bit by bit. After you complete the first couple of missions, you have full exploration capabilities right out of the gate. This is both a positive and a negative; while you get to check out everything from the start, you don’t have any new territories or sections to look forward to.
The mini-games are what set Saints Row 2 apart from the competition. You can take part in a sex-based mini-game or try your hand at Septic Avenger (yes, that’s you read that correctly). My personal favorite is Trail Blazer. After donning a flame-retardant suit and mounting an ATV, your objective is to race through the streets of Stilwater while lighting pedestrians and vehicles on fire. This results in some beautiful explosions and crazy outcomes. For those fans of the original, you can still commit insurance fraud, go on helicopter assaults and take part in races. Again, mini-games are where Saints Row shines, not only because of the remarkable variety they pffer, but due to the simple entertainment value of each one.
Mini-games don’t only serve as side distractions though, as they’re also used to progress the main story. These games result in you gaining respect, and certain missions require a particular level of respect in order to ... (continued on next page)