The Grand Theft Auto series has since become influential in the gaming industry, to the point where everyone made their own versions, dubbed ‘GTA Clones’; heck, even The Simpsons made their own version called Hit & Run. But there was one that ended up being as good as GTA, if not better; Saints Row…and I’m not going to review it. The game is ok, it’s a basic sandbox game with some character to it but it didn’t interest me enough to go on, maybe I might but for the moment I want to talk about the sequel that blew the first one out of the water. Saints Row 2, developed by Volition Inc and published by THQ and was released in 2008.
So this is a game where you can customise your character like the first one. Though in the first one you could only customise a male character with some basic features. But in the sequel you can make the main character female, so I made a slightly muscle-bound Hispanic woman with freckles…so is there a game starring a slightly muscle-bound Hispanic woman with freckles? Didn’t think so!
So something happened in the first game in which you had an accident and the Saints disbanded and after breaking out of jail and soon enough rescuing Johnny Gat from court, you, known as The Boss, decide to band the Saints again and destroy all other gangs and take control of Stilwater.
The gameplay is similar to that of the old Grand Theft Auto games, the missions are similar to GTA…but take some of the complexities of those missions and THROW THEM IN THE BIN, it’s shootouts, shootouts and maybe some other stuff other than shootouts. It might sound repetitive but it’s surprisingly more fun than I thought it was going to be. The controls for The Boss (your main character) is great but the driving controls is less than great, not awful but ok, mostly as I sometimes crash into cars even it was not my intention. But when I’m shooting down enemies, it feels great, in fact, the shooting gameplay reminds me of Doom, it has the fast-paced gunplay of the original shooter but in a third-person perspective, with an added aim mark, it would work well as an FPS if done right (Can somebody make a mod of that?); you can also grab people and make them your shield, when you’re done with them you can either kill them or throw them. So if the upcoming fully 3D Doom game fails to match the magic of the original, Saints Row 2 matched it and improved it tenfolds.
Now the most integral part of the game that makes the game its own is the characters, I like my main character, despite being a skin I made in the game, it had character, it was funny, it was arrogant, mostly a douchebag, but you know what, The Boss is a lovable douchebag, for a gangster, like Doomguy, when there’s enemies about, it’s mowing them down with guns or die being boring. Most of the main characters are lovable jerks like Johnny Gat, you also recruit some members that would eventually be in later sequels like Shaundi, a pothead whose been with more men than I had hot dinners and Pierce, kind of the loser of the gang members, but they all have personality and all are memorable, even the gangs share those aspects too.
So how does the game differ from GTA? It has a respect bar, when you complete missions or do activities you get cash and collect some respect points. However, if you don’t have enough respect points when going to a main mission, you can’t access the main mission and you have to collect respect points by doing activities, this can be a bit annoying but it makes up for it because some of the activities are really fun. Favourites include Septic Avenger, where you help a nonchalant gay man to cut down on the property market by shooting faeces at houses and various buildings with a septic truck. This is utter chaos since you can literally spray everything and get cash for it; even the police and the SWAT team can’t stop you.
There’s also Fight Club, where you battle a number of men in a cage, it’s difficult until weapons are thrown and it’s smooth sailing from here on out. There’s Mayhem where you just destroy everything and kill anyone to get cash, it’s as simple as that. There is so much to do to get respect points, you can do one level of an activity and you’ll have enough to do a few missions, it’s up to you. The game also has bosses, not like just simply finding the main enemies and there’s a long dialogue before trying to shoot them down like GTA, these bosses are like actual bosses, they take time to defeat them and they have different strategies for some.
Next up is the radio. You get the various amounts of music from different genres. My favourite is the Classic radio, it’s always nice to kill your enemies whilst listening to Mozart, I’m just classy that way. Now remember when I said that all the characters were lovable douchebags, well there is one character I kind of feel sorry for, the host of the classic radio, she describes herself as being beaten up in school and being lonely, yeah, because that’s what happens when you’re a massive fan of classical music, you’re a nerd and nerds shouldn’t have company other than a cat (which may not be a bad thing because I love cats…wait a minute?).
So any issues? This game has a lot of bugs and glitches but still less than Sonic Boom. They can either work for you or against you; they have their advantages and disadvantages. There is constant audio issues and even screeching which is loud and annoying and it always happens. Since I’ve played this and the third one, I’ve come to the realisation that the developers Volition took a look at the issues and went “If it’s broke, screw it!”
Overall, it’s a fantastic GTA clone, though it doesn’t take itself seriously most of the time. The story is very basic, gangs vs gangs, Saints Vs Corporation. The gameplay is so much fun and to me harkens back to the original Doom. Whilst there may be some broken parts of the game, it’s still a great experience to play. I’d say skip the first game and start with the sequel.
You can get it on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.