E3 2008: Saints Row 2 E3 Demo Hands-On

We meet with THQ for a sneak peek at the E3 demo version of the upcoming Saints Row sequel.

If you've read our Most Anticipated Games of E3 feature, you know that one of the games in our top 20 is Saints Row 2. Currently scheduled for release in October, Volition's sequel promises to expand upon the original game in just about every way imaginable and--depending on whom you talk to--will include features that would have been welcome additions in Grand Theft Auto IV. A new playable demo of Saint's Row 2 will be shown at E3 later this week, but rather than wait until then, we went ahead and played through the demo during a recent meeting with THQ.

The E3 demo includes the first "level" of Saints Row 2, which kicks off with an intro cinematic in which two prison guards are discussing the fact that one of their hospitalized inmates has woken up after being on life support for an unspecified amount of time. That inmate, of course, is you, and as one of the nurses is seen to be removing the bandages wrapped around her patient's head, you're prompted to customize your character's appearance. The game's character creation tool is robust to say the least, and although we've talked about it already in previous previews, the new demo includes a number of options that weren't available previously. For example, regardless of whether you choose to play as a male or female character, you can now wear makeup. We didn't spend a lot of time checking out the makeup options on this occasion, but it's clear that relatively subtle options like lipstick and eye shadow are included along with customizable full-on makeovers for those of you who want to play as a clown or a mime.

After settling on your appearance you'll get to take the controls for real and set about escaping from the prison, which, like San Francisco's Alcatraz, is situated on a small island a merit-badge-worthy swim from the city of Stilwater. Opting to escape with the tutorials enabled extends this opening sequence somewhat and causes prompts to appear onscreen anytime you need to perform a new move for the first time. You'll learn to sprint, you'll learn to climb, you'll learn to throw punches, you'll learn to pick up a wheelchair and beat a nurse around the back of the head with it--you get the idea. Courtesy of the inmate accompanying you on your bid for freedom, you'll also learn that you've been unconscious in the prison hospital for years rather than days and that Stilwater is now very different from the city that you tore up during the events of the first game.

Getting rid of that outfit will be priority one once you reach the mainland.

Once you're outside of the prison, you'll find that a number of cops are waiting for you and that more are arriving in cars and choppers. You'll already have acquired a pistol from one of the guards inside the prison at this point, and as you fight your way toward the dock where a boat is waiting for you, you'll acquire night sticks, shotguns, machine guns, a second pistol for dual wielding, and whatever else the cops are packing. When you reach the speedboat at the dock, the game temporarily takes the form of a rail shooter, tasking you with destroying the police boats that are pursuing you while your accomplice heads for the mainland. As you step ashore, it's clear that the two of you--still dressed in bright orange prison overalls--are going your separate ways. Our first goal was to visit a clothing store, but before we had a chance to do that our time with the demo came to an end. That wasn't the end of the meeting though.

Checking out content that, as we understand it, won't appear in the E3 demo, we were treated to a look at some of the items that you'll be able to acquire for your Saints Row 2 wardrobe. Given the level of character customization that's available in the game, it came as no surprise that there are plenty of different items of clothing to choose from, but we still weren't fully prepared for some of the outfits that we were confronted with. Some of the more memorable getups modeled by our muscle-bound thug were a female swimsuit, a prom dress, a ninja suit, a tuxedo, a judge's robe, a firefighter's uniform, and--our favorite--a hot-dog costume much like that worn by some of the pedestrians in the first game. After donning that last one, we were shown one of the game's in-engine cutscenes. It was a gritty affair that culminated in a fight with a heavily tattooed enemy, but taking it seriously was impossible given that the protagonist was still wearing his sausage-in-a-bun suit (and earning a +20 style bonus for doing so, we might add.)

If the hotdog outfit doesn't really do anything for you, maybe you'll opt for something like this.

Before our time with Saints Row 2 came to an end, we were afforded an opportunity to get hands-on with one of the previously unseen activities that will be featured in the game: fight club. Like other activities, this one is completely optional, and succeeding in any of its six difficulty levels will earn you respect that counts toward unlocking new missions and the like. Predictably, fight club activities are an opportunity for you to pit your pugilism prowess against increasingly challenging opponents. Locales will include everything from dingy basements to big UFC-style arenas, but on this occasion we got to fight inside a simple octagonal ring with very little going on outside it. Both of the contests that we fought in pitted us against two opponents simultaneously, though on the easy difficulty setting that we were playing they might as well have been punching bags. Using the left and right triggers to throw corresponding punches and holding both simultaneously to block, we had little trouble knocking our opponents to the canvas over and over again. Once their stamina was low enough we then had the option to finish them off by tapping the Y button and then following whichever button prompts appeared on the screen, the most complex of which involved mashing two buttons alternately.

While GTAIV is still the most obvious game to compare it to, Saints Row 2 is shaping up to offer a very different experience. We look forward to bringing you more information on the game as soon as it becomes available.

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Discussion

137 comments
kucharz508
kucharz508

Were can i get the demo for ps3 please write to me please !!!

runenakken
runenakken

This is one I'm really lookin forward to getting my hands on! The first installment was great fun, and so will this one be.

sadisticon
sadisticon

I really enjoyed the first one - it has high replayability for an open-world - evade-pursuit gamer like myself. As long as there's lots of guns, explosions and chases, I'm on line for October 14!

CLOWNKID
CLOWNKID

what month does the demo come out

gemininoir
gemininoir

This will be 100 times better than that crappy gta 4! I LOVE SAINTS ROW!

CLOWNKID
CLOWNKID

when does the demo come out

RiotRyan
RiotRyan

dude, i cant wait for this game to come out. when does the demo come out?

Untouchable_Dra
Untouchable_Dra

First one was so much fun, cant wait till this one comes out, ill definately get it!

Rhatik
Rhatik

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

zeeshan810
zeeshan810

Saints Row SUCKKKKZZZZZ*** Rockstargames Rullllezzzz :D GTA RULEZZZZ.... :D

sheikas
sheikas

This Game look cool.

HellRazer360
HellRazer360

this game actually sounds fun....i played the hell outta gta 4 but if this game turns out to have enough stuff then ill buy it...it sounds funny as hell...battling other gangsters in a hot dog costume=WIN!!!!

bennie12
bennie12

The first game actually has a very interesting storyline, so it should be good. The difference between Saints and GTA is that Saints takes itself less seriously.

grambyte
grambyte

Hmmm, let's see if this one can make up for the disaster the first one was.

tornado007
tornado007

this could be better than GTA. we'll see...

Kaleb_B
Kaleb_B

definitely going into my wishlist, I play GTA IV also (don't hate it) but in this games it seems there are more things to do other then completing main quests.

DooshBIGELOW
DooshBIGELOW

ya I didnt like the look of GTA 4 to many filters..This game was alot brighter when it was sunny out not a fuzzy orange..and yes I have an LCD! and oh man to bad its only 2 player coop..I hope they make the MP like GTA and give us the whole map!! but I dont think they could pull it off!

KA12NAG3
KA12NAG3

this could be better than GTA. we'll see...

godzillavskong
godzillavskong

I don't think its going to be better then GTA but offer a different experience. I loved the way you could customize your character in the 1st one.

eton_rifles
eton_rifles

How can you not like a game where you can shoot raw sewage at people?

freek33
freek33

In early trailers for this game i thought it looked weak, it looks like it's now shaping up. I think the delay for release will be a smart move in the end.

shadowstep11
shadowstep11

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

eddienom
eddienom

I HOPE ITS BETTER THAN GTA

The_End_99
The_End_99

This game is going to be awesome, My gang is gonna be all swimsuits with untrimmed body hair, Just like my female swiming coach. But seriously, This game I think will get more respect from me than what GTA 4 got, That game was good, but they stripped it down from to much from GTA SA.

warhawk-smakaho
warhawk-smakaho

BOOOO!!! THIS GAME LOOKS LIKE BOOTY, IT CAN'T GET WORSE THAN THE FIRST ONE THOUGH. GTA ALL DAY

eton_rifles
eton_rifles

lol, if guys can wear makeup, then I am going to make my guy look like Boy George.

SnuffDaddyNZ
SnuffDaddyNZ

Sweet - Sims like lifestyle sim meets GTA style freeroaming. Smells like a winner.

bannermanner
bannermanner

The drop-in drop-out cooperative play is what makes this a huge must-buy for me.

James009
James009

Thanks for the preview, I look forward to seeing more.

Ravi_1900
Ravi_1900

This will definitely be one of the best games of the year.

jackson84
jackson84

I think the story line might be better than GTAIV

DeltaSpirit
DeltaSpirit

Looks pretty cool i had a lot of fun playing the first Saints Row but i hope they fix the online gameplay which wasn't very good imo

XDaJokermanX
XDaJokermanX

I already have GTA4 but I'm sure getting this to. I loved the first Saint's Row. And what's with the gang style screenshot? Can you create a gang in this one?

drumbreak1
drumbreak1

"Kool-Aid247 diz game iz gona be da **** GTA 4 kicks ass, and, i neva played Saints Row, but it seemz okay.. with all da customization and ****" well somebody spent a few too many hours with san andreas lol, but saints row was a great game im definetly pre ordering this even though it's going to be kinda short i hear

commander1122
commander1122

woot....if no GTA 4 on PC....at lest we have Saints Row 2 ~~

Achaurn
Achaurn

Has potential but I think I will wait for a review on this one.

Kool-Aid247
Kool-Aid247

diz game iz gona be da **** GTA 4 kicks ass, and, i neva played Saints Row, but it seemz okay.. with all da customization and ****