Saints Row 2: A Review

posted by on 4th February 2009, at 5:07pm | 2 Comments

Saints Row 2 has been criticised as a GTA mimic. In reality, the original Saints Row held many of the qualities that GTA: IV boasted as ‘unique’. The freakish ragdoll physics, the windshield cannon-balling and terrifying explosions. Saints Row 2 has come so far since the first in the trilogy, but with so much more fun.

Saints Row 2 is everything GTA: IV is not. GTA was praised for the gritty realism, gripping storyline and fantastic little tweaks. Saints Row maintains many of these but reducing the realism for outright fun.

The wide selection of vehicles to choose from in Saints Row 2 is much more diverse and interesting than its predecessor. Vehicles range from combine harvesters to dune buggies, from bulldozers to airport baggage carts, the list goes on but when you have found all the land vehicles you can move on up. Literally. The amount of air-based transport available in Saints Row 2 is amazing. You have access to a private jet or a biplane, a water plane or a racing plane. Some of the planes are equipped with machine guns, while others have a much larger capacity. The helicopters are also vastly improved. By the end of the game you can use an attack helicopter or a medical “chopper”, and with the right promotional code, you have the ability to access a UFO. Disappointingly, the controls on some of the helicopters are set to either of the extremes. If you don’t tip forward enough to accelerate, you won’t move but tip forward too much and you’re sent into a spiral heading straight for the nearest neighborhood below. The variety of watercraft is no less exotic and exciting. You can cruise the open seas on a Jet Ski, or rocket across the calm ocean on a high power speed boat. But vehicles are Saints Row 2’s stumbling block. The way you handle in vehicles is just too unrealistic. If you happen to roll your Jet Ski (which can happen quite a lot if you racing or doing a mission) you will simply stay on it with moving a muscle, performing a full rotation before carrying merrily on your way. This is also apparent with planes. If you attempt a barrel roll in say, a private jet, your plane with effortlessly glide in a 360 degree roll. If you attempted this in real life, with a plane full of passengers, it would be a death wish. The handling on cars is as it was on the first SR. You can power-slide around corners with a most cars bar the very cumbersome ones like a tractor or a hummer limo. The handling is too sharp though. You can almost miss a corner at high speed but the handling still allows you to fling the car into the tiniest alleyway, barely touching the sides. But all this was to be expected. The original Saints Row made it clear that fun was the priority. And the vehicles were always going to be the main aspect of the fun.

The second main aspect of Saints Row 2 is the activities. When these activities are completed you earn a certain amount of “respect” with which you can complete missions. They have 6 different levels each with a ramped up level on difficulty. If you complete some of them halfway e.g. Level 3, you are rewarded with something similar to what you will get when you complete all 6 levels but slightly toned down. For example if you get unlimited SMG ammo for level 6, on level 3 you can get a new SMG which is more powerful than your previous one. Many of the activities return from the first SR but there are some completely new ones which are the most fun. One of my personal favourites is Fight Club. This is an activity where you are put in an arena with one, two, three people all the way up to six. The amount of people is correspondent to the level you are on. The objective is to be the last man standing. Objects are added into the arena by spectators (A.I.) to increase the intensity of fighting. Other activities include Hitman where you have to kill a set target in a set area, Septic Avenger where you have to spray sewage onto the objects indicated by red arrows and Insurance Fraud which involves jumping in front of cars to claim on your insurance. While the majority of these activities are fun, to gain enough ‘respect’ to do the next mission you have to do two or three levels of an activity to gain respect enough for just one mission. While this sounds easy enough, as you have to do so many, the activities all tend to be on level six by the time you get to the latter missions, making it so difficult to get respect, you have to resort to doing taxi and ambulance missions.

The third and probably the biggest selling point of Saints Row 2 is the customization available to your character and his cars. Your character can visit any number of tattoo, jewellery or clothes shops to get ‘pimped out’. The tattoos are mainly centered on the four main gangs in the game, but you can also get Japanese style dragons and geishas. The clothes are either really terrible or cheesily classy. The jewellery is restricted to your generic ‘bling’ and the glasses are alright although some normal sunglasses might be something that could be available on a free content pack in the future. The car editing is a lot more fun though. You can put on a few preset decals, paint it a colour of your choice from a huge selection and add some new rims which when applied to your car and driven on, convenient tire-popping spikes come out the centre. You can make your cars look very interesting, and it keeps me entertained for maybe an hour before I realize that most of the features that you can customize you car with are the same. That is the problem with the customization system. When you go in the cheaper shops, it’s the same clothes as in the expensive shops except they have a dirt effect on them and this effectively lowers the value but one or two thousand in-game dollars. And when you do get enough money to go to the expensive shops, you put anything on and your look like what the game would describe as a ‘pimp’. Despite the customization being fun, this ‘pimp’ style slightly spoils it.
I didn’t have enough words to cover all aspects of the game but there is several issues with freezing and lots of bugs and glitches, but in actual fact Saints Row 2 is an extremely fun game that I have put quite a few hours in already I have just hit the 70% mark. I would give the game 85% out of 100. It is so much fun and the amount of vehicles available means you could easily free-roam for an hour or two without getting bored.

Thanks for Reading.