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Luke Mitchell
10 Oct, 2008

Saints Row 2 Review

360 Review | Too much mayhem is never a bad thing.
Since a certain open-world franchise was initially released on the PlayStation 2 many years ago now, many sequels and imitations have been created to capitalize on the popularity of the genre, including the original Saints Row which came out exclusively on the Xbox 360 when the console was just starting to find its feet. While the game was a lot of fun and was certainly enjoyable to play through, many people compared it to the GTA franchise as a sort of rip-off, given that many core gameplay features were quite similar. So, some serious time has passed since then, and Volition have taken the time to carefully polish up Saints Row 2 into a gameplay experience that will silence even the most die-hard Rockstar defenders. Forgive us for using the inevitable comparison, but while GTA IV took open world games to a very dark and realistic place, Saints Row 2 is more like an amusement park filled with crazy missions, over-the-top characters and more explosions than you can poke a pimp's stick at - and it's awesome.

Saints Row 2 kicks off where the first game left off: after a yacht explosion, the main protagonist is left comatose for some time, with a badly burnt exterior which very cleverly opens the door for some very detailed character customization. There is a massive amount that can be toyed with, including the choice to make your character either male or female, along with many intricacies such as the way they walk, talk and taunt, all the way down to the style of eyebrows and facial structure. It's easily one of the most detailed character creation systems we have seen and means that nobody should have the same sort of person as their player of choice. Not to worry if you decide for a change of heart later however, as you'll be able to pop over to the plastic surgeon and modify whatever you want (for a price, of course).

Customize to your heart's content.

Customize to your heart's content.
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Once your character is good to go, the game can truly begin - and what better way to kick off a game like this than a prison break? With some help from a fellow inmate, you'll start the game by killing off a nearby doctor and making your escape to a boat outside, obliterating police forces left and right before jumping aboard and shooting down helicopters and police boats. This all takes place within the first ten minutes of the game, by the way, and is a really good way of introducing you to the craziness that Saints Row 2 has to offer. Once you get to the main island and change out of your prison clothes, the game pretty much becomes your oyster; there are no tedious story paths that you are required to take part in to access certain aspects of the game. From the beginning, every activity and diversion is available to you, and without even taking part in the main missions, there's plenty to see and do.

Among the more basic and expected types of activities, such as races and escort missions, are some more 'diverse' goals like Septic Avenger, allowing you the opportunity to literally spray crap all over the city, and our personal favourite Insurance Fraud, where you have to dive in front of oncoming traffic to rack up the medical bills as much as you can. One of the other new additions that had us laughing was an activity where you must protect a celebrity by grabbing rowdy members of the crowd and dealing with them by doing such humorous things as throwing them into the blades of a helicopter and carving them up with construction equipment. Nice. As well as being a whole lot of fun, these activities all earn you cash and respect, which is required to access more of the story missions later on in the game. As cool as these activities are, the missions are where you're going to spend most of your time, and there are a whole lot of them to keep you occupied.

That's a lot of guns.

That's a lot of guns.
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Since you entered your coma, things have changed in Stilwater: the Saints are practically non-existent, and in the narrative it's going to be your job to get the gang back together, rebuild, and take back what is rightfully yours. There are three gangs that will become your main opposition throughout the course of the game, and taking them down is crucial to the Saints becoming the dominant gang in Stilwater. Story lines based on The Sons of Samedi, The Brotherhood and The Ronin are all handled personally by one of the main characters in your gang, so throughout each path you'll have somebody by your side giving you information on what to do next and how to best take advantage of each situation. The missions are quite varied, offering many different styles of play that are mixed in with the Strongholds that require you to simply kill a whole bunch of people.

The actual narrative itself is also very well crafted, with some quite frankly hilarious writing that's pulled off very successfully by the game's large cast of voice talent. Eliza Dushku, Jamie Pressly, Daniel Dae Kim and Neil Patrick Harris are all excellent, and that's just naming a few. The cast all come together to make the characters believable and entertaining, to the extent that you will really care and take it personally when something bad happens to a fellow gang-member. There are also some very cool cut-scenes that help progress the story, with some well choreographed fight scenes and other surprises that make every moment of the story a pleasure to watch and experience. As well as the top-notch voice acting, there is a good selection of tracks on the radio that come together to make one of the more recognizable soundtracks available. You can even customize the radio to play only the songs you like, which is appreciated. All explosions and gun-fire also have the appropriate pop to them, and many of the asides from citizens walking by are funny, and keep the city of Stilwater feeling alive.

"What do you mean you don't have the new Miley Cyrus CD!?"

"What do you mean you don't have the new Miley Cyrus CD!?"
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What stops Saints Row 2 from being completely immersive is that the production values aren't always up to par with the competition. The game looks good - at times very good - but often there are graphical glitches such as clipping and a sometimes questionable draw-distance. There is a lot of detail in some areas of the game, while others are lacking in distinguishable features, but overall these slight flaws are not enough to completely detract from the very enjoyable gameplay experience. The AI in the game can also feel a bit sporadic. While generally speaking, your supporting gang members are helpful in fighting off enemy gangs, often times the intelligence of the enemy gangs themselves are strange, sometimes grabbing hostages and being defensive, and other times not even reacting after you've shot their fellow gang-member in the face with a shotgun. The game is difficult when it's throwing a ridiculously large amount of enemies in your path, but that's more quantity over quality in terms of your foes being a serious challenge.

Surprisingly, we've made it all the way through this review without yet mentioning the most exciting and easily the best new feature the game has to offer: the entire game can be played cooperatively online or via system link. As always, everything is more fun with a friend, and Saints Row 2 is truly no exception. Every mission is also made more difficult for a party of two, so it actually offers a very different tactical experience when playing with a buddy. There is of course the return of competitive multiplayer as well for up to twelve players online, including everything from your basic death matches (complete with weapon modifiers and several different maps to choose from) to some more unique activities such as Destruction Derby and Insurance Fraud, which are an insane amount of fun with a crowd of crazy online folks.

"That's not a knife..."

"That's not a knife..."
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While it certainly may have its flaws, Saints Row 2 is outright the most entertaining open-world experience available. No game offers this amount of crazy fun, and no rivalling experience could pull it off with the sense of humour and exaggerated style that's on show here. There is still so much more to the game that we could not put in this review, because quite frankly, that would spoil it. There are so many exciting and hilarious discoveries to be made in the city of Stilwater, and with an interesting narrative thrown into the mix for good measure, it's easy to overlook the problems and just enjoy the core gameplay that Volition have put their heart and soul into creating. Consider the fact that the entire experience can be played with your best buddy online, and it's all just the delicious icing on the gangster-filled exploding cake. Open world action fans need not think twice: BUY THIS GAME.
The Score
An absolute blast to play through alone or with a mate, Saints Row 2 is quite simply a must purchase for anybody that is looking for a bloody good time. And isn't that what we're all really looking for?
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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23 Comments
5 years ago
Note to self, finish off the first game before this one ships. Sounds like a hell of a lot more of the same mindless fun, so win for me.
5 years ago
I loved the first game so naturally I want to play the second installment but honestly there is just to much to play at the moment. I'm going to wait till the end of November to pick this one up I think. Thanks for the review though.
5 years ago
6 long days till I pick up my copy.
5 years ago
Will probably end up getting this game. The first was pretty fun, but had some problems. Mainly the only vehicles were cars. Now there is every vehicle you can think of, and heaps more stuff to do. Looks heaps fun.
5 years ago
Excellent review, has definitely put my anticipation of SR2 into overdrive. I really hope some nice store breaks the release date as the next 6 days will go slowly otherwise.... icon_lol.gif
5 years ago
The first game was a lot of fun although the online was terribly laggy. As GTAIV was my first GTA play so all the "rip-off" crap did not bother me. This sounds like it is going to be even better than the first (hope they fix OL lag) plus the addition of co-op. Looking forward to this to kick off a stella couple of months of great games for the 360.
5 years ago
Oh thank god. I loved the first game, so I'm glad this turned out well.

Forgot to pre-order it. I'll do it this week...
5 years ago
Seriously? I played this earlier and really hated it. Looked shoddy (1080p PS3), handled like crap and everything seemed entirely out of proportions. Never played the first one, and now I'm never going to, gonna avoid this series like the plague.

I'd seriously compare it to Driv3r.
5 years ago
Loved the first one so ... I will be getting this sooner or later ...
This will end up getting on the bargain prices pretty quickly like the first one did - better wait four months or so and I am bound to get an awesome price...
5 years ago
I've been wanting to run the trailers and gameplay clips for this on the bigscreens at work but they are such a no go for regular people traffic icon_sad.gif

It's hard to build up the hype for a product if it can't be shown!
5 years ago
teknohead wrote
I've been wanting to run the trailers and gameplay clips for this on the bigscreens at work but they are such a no go for regular people traffic icon_sad.gif

It's hard to build up the hype for a product if it can't be shown!
My local JB has been hyping up SR2 for a while now, playing the trailers on a 50" Plasma in the gaming section.
5 years ago
The first one is without a doubt still one of the best games on 360. How can you no love a pimp cane that doubles up as a shotgun
5 years ago
What's with all the promo screenshots?Reviews should really have some in-game shots so people can really gauge what it looks like, and if anything to prove you actually played the game.
5 years ago
Graphically this game looks VERY inferior to both GTAIV and the quality of most games at the moment, but at long as it plays well, I probably play it to the end.. Just can't get over how bad the game looks.. it's like a hi res version of a PS2 game, no textures or detail..

There's not a huge amount of pure GTA clones at the moment (not like the glut that there was about 5 years ago) and this games seems to be going down the 'crazy/over the top' path as aside to the 'realistic path' of GTA, so there should be a place for it.. Personally there were times in GTA when I missed having a jetpack!

When a game has good customisation I get sucked in big time, especially if they are present in the cut scenes like how they were in Saints 1..
5 years ago
I'm tempted to buy this solely on principle. GTA IV took out almost everything I loved about the old GTA games, and SR2 looks to have included all of it and more. I didn't play GTA games for the storyline, I played them because I could do anything I wanted to in them. Now that it seems Rockstar is going down the "make it as linear as possible" route it might be time for me to defect to the other side.
5 years ago
TheAnswer wrote
teknohead wrote
I've been wanting to run the trailers and gameplay clips for this on the bigscreens at work but they are such a no go for regular people traffic icon_sad.gif

It's hard to build up the hype for a product if it can't be shown!
My local JB has been hyping up SR2 for a while now, playing the trailers on a 50" Plasma in the gaming section.
Swearing and all? Isn't that illegal?
5 years ago
teknohead wrote
TheAnswer wrote
teknohead wrote
I've been wanting to run the trailers and gameplay clips for this on the bigscreens at work but they are such a no go for regular people traffic icon_sad.gif

It's hard to build up the hype for a product if it can't be shown!
My local JB has been hyping up SR2 for a while now, playing the trailers on a 50" Plasma in the gaming section.
Swearing and all? Isn't that illegal?
There is no swearing in the trailers that are showing and they actually show in game footage.
5 years ago
^ So just the killing? icon_razz.gif

I'm hyped for this game, but I don't think I'll be getting it on release, not because I don't want to, I just have no money atm icon_razz.gif Great review though guys
5 years ago
samiboi wrote
^ So just the killing? icon_razz.gif
Well yeah they show the insane stuff like chasing people around with a chainsaw, rpging cars, the big Monster trucks, the character customisation system.
5 years ago
I've been wanting to run the trailers and gameplay clips for this on the bigscreens at work but they are such a no go for regular people traffic

It's hard to build up the hype for a product if it can't be shown!

The offical SR2 website has some good videos.

http://www.saintsrow.com/age_gate.php
5 years ago
Yea I've got a couple of vids on my usb stick, but even the tamest one says 'bitch' in it. Not really offensive to me but I can't vouch for everyone that walks into the store...
5 years ago
I Can't wait!!
I even read on another site that you can Car Surf.. (good ol Teen wolf style hand stands down the highway).
Aparantly there are lots of hidden things aswell like a Fight Club etc.. but just being able to pimp your pad and buy up some shops sound pretty cool.
I was originally just looking forward to some crazy sand box fun but the story lines in this are supposed to be very cool. Who can go past Eliza Dushku & Neil PH for zanyness.
5 years ago
AlphaDark wrote
Who can go past ... Neil PH for zanyness.
Legen












wait for it.













dary.
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| More
  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  16/10/2008 (Withdrawn)
Publisher:
  THQ
Genre:
  Action Adventure
Year Made:
  2008

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