I own this city!
How exactly should I describe Saint's Row 2
Well, I'll start by calling it a well-told story of murder and revenge as a one-time gang leader comes back from a near-death experience to a city that has forgotten them, and is out to burn their name back into the minds of the local populace.
Then I'd slap you on the back of the head for believing me.
Now, believe it or not, but I have not yet had the chance of playing Grand Theft Auto 4
, so comparing SR 2
to GTA 4
is quite impossible for me, so already this review is unlike most others out there. What I will say, however, is that SR 2
seems to share a few thematic similarities with the apparently non-canon Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
. in that it is a gang-themed sandbox game starring a rather vocal main character with a whole new level of character customisation available, as opposed to a predecessor's title in which the main character was a (mostly) uncustomisable mute.
Then again, this could be the paranoia talking. Honestly, I thought for a while that Criterion could see me and was basing their games on my life. You see, my last name is Black (they released the game Black
, which I have previously reviewed) and my old Unreal Tournament
screenname was Stryker (which they used as DJ Stryker in Burnout 3: Takedown
and Burnout: Revenge
) I didn't even play online with it!
Huh? Oh, right. Saint's Row 2
. Well, actually, the previous paragraph can be used as a great metaphor (or whatever, I was never that good at English) for the game, as it is incredibly easy to get sidetracked in it. Plenty of times I have been going towards an objective, only to change my mind when I find an activity or something else that catches my fancy, and after doing that one I find yet another thing that I want to do, and so on and so forth. Seriously, the game has less of an attention span than I do!
Speaking of the activities, they're a real hoot. The game won't let you go on with the story missions until you collect enough "Respect". Respect is earnt by doing tons of things around town, however activities are the main method. Fortunately, the activities are so much fun that it doesn't feel like a chore. From imitiating a cop for the reality show FUZZ, to riding in a septic truck and spraying sewage onto people, there's bound to be something to tickle your fancy. My favourite is Insurance Fraud, where you throw yourself into traffic for cash. It's a lot like Burnout
's Crash mode, except you're not in a car, and only you count towards the cash score.
Not that the main missions aren't fun too, mind you. Well, most of them are the same ol' "protect the good guys, shoot the bad guys" affair, but the tounge-in-cheek humour present throughout the game really makes up for it. Just wait for the mission where you gotta defend your hideout from a gang of crooks whilst stoned
and you'll know just what I mean. Listening to a stoned Cockney accented man in a suit is damn funny. Makes me want to get a Cockney accent myself.
Actually, my character is a white 'black dude'. I was watching my younger brother play, and his guy is the Cockney suit-man.
One great thing that Saint's Row 2
has over the GTA series is the ability to replay missions. Granted, this isn't a feature I have used, but it is still a great feature. All it means is that once I find that one mission I want to play again, I can. I can definately see myself using it later.
Especially if I get some good unlockables. The city is jam-packed with 'em. In my first half an hour or so of playing I unlocked a traffic cone hat. I didn't even have any other clothes at that time, aside from what I was wearing, and I unlocked a traffic cone hat! Most of the unlockables are obtained by getting to either Level 3 of an activity, or to Level 6. There are other ways, such as Traffic Surfing (how I got the traffic cone hat), story progression and mission completion, amongst other ways. The unlockables themselves vary from clothes, guns and gang upgrades to unlimited ammo for certain weapons, notoriety drain increases (you lose the cops and gangs faster when wanted) and damage decreases. It always pays to see an activity through to the end.
Now, Saint's Row 2
isn't without it's drawbacks. For one, the AI does seem to get stuck often on terrain, which is a minor nuisance. For another, you never really get told when cash has been added to your stash, though to be honest that's not exactly something you can mark the game down for. My main two gripes are the lack of same-console multiplayer and occasional freezing. I bought this game for co-op, and now you're telling me I need another
console and copy of the game to get it? As for the freezing, well I'm not sure if that's the game or the console. First time it happened, we'd been playing it for the good part of a day. Plus, we just got it back from repairs this week, so...
All in all, Saint's Row 2
just isn't the sort of game you play seriously. But then again, you figured that out when I told you about the activity where you spray people with sewage, right?