Saints Row 2 Co-op Hands-On

We team up with the lead designer of Saints Row 2 for some cooperative chaos-making.

Earlier today, during a meeting with THQ and Volition, we had an opportunity to play Saints Row 2 for the first time. Joining us in the city of Stilwater was the game's lead designer, James Tsai, who was kind enough to play through a stronghold mission and a helicopter activity with us in the two-player co-op mode before the session degenerated into an infinite-ammo-fueled rampage.

Saints Row 2 promises a user-friendly approach to cooperative gameplay that'll let you jump in and out of online co-op games at any time, regardless of how far into the campaign each player is. You'd have to be pretty dedicated to playing alongside a friend to completely avoid playing solo for fear of getting out of sync with each other, after all. You'll be able to help other players out with missions that you've already beaten, of course, but what's really neat is that when playing alongside someone who's a lot further into the story than you you'll have the option of playing through their missions as well. Said missions would almost certainly be unavailable to you in single-player mode at that time, but the game will remember that you've beaten them in co-op and, when you reach them in your own story, will give you the option to skip them accordingly.

Screenshots of the Sons of Samedi trailer park are in short supply, apparently, so here's one of an unrelated locale.

The mission that we played through during today's session tasked us with taking down the same Sons of Samedi stronghold that we were given a brief tour of the last time we saw Saints Row 2 in action. The stronghold is a trailer park where the Caribbean-influenced gang manufactures a designer drug known as Lower Dust. Our goal was to destroy five trailers being used as labs, and thanks to a cheat that afforded us infinite ammo for every weapon in our arsenal, we had no shortage of toys with which to accomplish it. Favorite weapons on this occasion included a shotgun, an assault rifle, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and satchel charges. The two guns were effective at close- and long-range, respectively; the RPG was useful because it locks on to targets pretty quickly if you position your crosshair over them; and the satchel charges are a lot of fun because they adhere to just about anything (or anyone) you throw them at and can then be detonated manually.

While playing through the stronghold mission we were free to work as closely with or as independently from the other player as we liked, though since you'll have the ability to revive each other when you die it's definitely a good idea to stay pretty close. Simply taking the shortest route through the mission and blowing up the five trailer labs wasn't terribly difficult with two players, and even with numerous gang members attempting to stop us we rarely needed to worry about retreating into cover so that our health could replenish. Our first play-through of the mission was a little underwhelming, to be honest, but that's only because it was a little too easy to beat with an overpowered arsenal that we hadn't started to get creative with yet.

That all changed on our second play-through. Landing satchel charges on a stationary target as big as a trailer isn't very challenging or particularly satisfying, but landing those same charges on cars as they drive by or even on unsuspecting pedestrians who then go into a panic is infinitely more enjoyable. By sticking a couple of charges onto a car and then driving it toward one of the trailers before bailing out and hitting the detonate button, Tsai also showed us how seemingly innocuous vehicles can effectively be turned into powerful missiles. The new cruise control feature that lets you keep your vehicle's speed constant while freeing up your accelerator thumb for other things proved useful here, though its intended purpose is really just to make drive-bys easier. By adhering multiple charges to a pedestrian and then detonating them individually it's even possible to "juggle" the target using explosions to keep them in the air, and when the day comes that we're allowed to capture our own footage of Saints Row 2, you can bet that'll be one of the first things we try.

Another fun feature of Saints Row 2 that we experimented with while playing through the stronghold mission is the ability to grab pedestrians and use them as human shields. Gang members and cops are somewhat reluctant to fire at their own people when you're hiding behind them, and even innocent civilians that gang members will fire upon without a second thought do a good job of soaking up bullets for a time. When you no longer need your human shields, you have the option to execute them with a quick headshot (that doesn't work with the RPG, we discovered; you just break their necks instead) or simply push them away--preferably toward a fire or fast-moving vehicle so that there's no danger of them trying to exact revenge.

The helicopter activity that we played through next will, like other activities, be completely optional as you progress through the game. On this occasion we were tasked with providing air support for a friendly vehicle that was being used to complete a drug deal and coming under fire from rival gangs. In co-op mode, helicopter activities have one player jump into the pilot seat while the other uses a chaingun and laser-guided missile system to take out hostiles. The chaingun seemed a little underpowered on this occasion, while the missiles were perhaps just a little too quick and easy to fire and forget.

We completed the activity from the gunner's seat with a minimum of fuss after shooting down a number of enemy helicopters and blowing up plenty of hostile vehicles on the streets below. We were eager to pilot a helicopter for ourselves, though, so we had Tsai show us to a location where we could jack one and just fly around without having to concern ourselves with objectives. Predictably, the controls for the chopper were a little more complex than those for cars and bikes, but they're still quite easy to pick up. Your accelerator and brake buttons are the same as they are on the street, except that they can also be used to influence altitude, you still steer with the left analog stick and move the camera with the right, and you can use the shoulder buttons to rotate left and right.

And here's a great screenshot of the helicopter that we used to explore Stillwater.

The work-in-progress demo version of Saints Row 2 that we were playing on this occasion afforded us the opportunity to explore only a portion of one of islands that make up the gameworld. From our vantage point inside a helicopter flying high above, though, we were still impressed by the scale of the environment and by the variety of the neighborhoods that we could see. As we flew from one end of the island to the other, we left the trailer park behind and headed toward a large, modern-looking city before ultimately ending up at a museum site that incorporated what appeared to be the ruins of an ancient temple. That's where we ditched the chopper (OK, crashed it) and decided to have some more fun with satchel charges before bringing the session to an end. A few hundred explosions later we still weren't bored of them, and we'd managed to attract the attention of several SWAT teams by the time we reluctantly put down the controller.

Saints Row 2 is currently scheduled to ship to stores later this year. No more-specific release date information has been announced at this time, though we're assured that it will be soon. We'll bring you more information on Saints Row 2 as soon as it becomes available.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email

Did you enjoy this article?

Sign in to Upvote

245 Comments   RefreshSorted By 

online... and the coop are well done its a great game with yeah a pretty nice graphics... anyway saints row 2 is the best game in ps3 yet...


Is co-op only online or offline?


might be good but im not happy with it after reading this.


this game looks sooo cool i wouldent mine having it right now i dont even have the first one will time to add something new on my list add me if u want or plz leave a commant


This game is gonna own but GTA IV is still very fun


Yo.. saints rows new trailers look off the hook .. the story line seems great .. gta aint got nothing now


Saints row:screwin around Fun GTA:atomosphere and great storie and sum screwin around Both have good points the other Dosent have...But im stiill Gettin SR2 look good bside GTA 4 Also APB has NO gameplay as of yet so it'll be hard to tell if it'll be good our Meh.And seems to be based on Online play not rlly Any storie....The storie Has seemed to have not showned it's self.But im gettin ahead of my self maybe it'll be good


gta is fun, but WAY overrated. please dont hate me [ank]*


this game will be better then gta iv even the first 1 was i think. gta is not as good as it was made out to be. this has online co-op missions this will be amazing. up to now i don't believe there is a spilt screen co-op but i think they will put in a system link co-op. :)


@bane6667 ... APB is an online massively multiplayer game that revolves around an ongoing turf war between street gangs and law enforcers known as the Squads. It was suposed to come out late last year but its been delayed till mid next year. looks ok but not much to see.


is there on screen co op?


what in the world is APB?


saints row2 will be the best game ever made!!!!!!!


this game might be exactly what gta4 WASNT, which is unrealistic. (in a gta san andreas type of way) with the tanks and miniguns and flame-throwers and all that jazz., in a way thats a good thing tho if you want a bit more fun. i think this game and gta4 will tie in great-ness overall


all gotta say is look out 4 APB its gonna be better then gta and saints row combine.....................................


great looking game hope to put my character backin action.


i really just like to mess around and not doing the story mode, or just playing online in GTA. Maybe saints rows campaign it will be better then GTAs storyline.


Man i dont really care for story modes its all about the online play, if GTA would update there game or somehting and take of the stupid life bar and make guns more realistic online it would be a smash in my mind but hopefully Saints Row doesnt follow in these ugly footsteps and all im asking for is real shooting like Rainbow 6V2 but with the street appeal of GTA..........................................


i say you people,never...but NEVER there will be a bether freworld modern action adventure then GTA ... NEVER? impossible ,gta is in each of us,its the beginning of one of the most addictive game genres in world ... and this here will never be bether,will never sell bether,and be so epic like GTA PS:i don't say this game is bad ,i say this is not bether then gta4-maby bether then gta andreas ,thats all!not more...gta the top...


Man, all I have to say is GTA4 was too esy to me.The only hard mission was the bank...everthing else was easy.I like that they were up-to-date with their music and all but that wasn't good enough.Other people(friends) say that it was to realistic for them.I say it was pretty cool. But Saints Row was always fly accept for their Mp3 player. but the 1st one was kool so the second must be even better. even now they got co-op.The only thing is that i am concerned about the the co-op hopefully it'll be split-screen to and not just xbox-live.


I loved GTA but like always.... got bored of it... now i need something new... And i think this will suffice.. for the time been.


gta was a piece of crap and the most disappointing game in the past 5 years. saints row was very good and hopefully to second will actually live up to its reputation unlike gta


This is going to be incredible...




I hope its as cool as San Andreas not uncool like GTA4. Human shields not since dead to rights and the punisher have i seen a human shield game. seems like a cool game


this looks good. I hope it's even better than GTA IV.


I don't get one thing, GTA and Saint's Row are both published by THQ, why would they resort to continue two kinda similar franchises? And after the hate trailer of Saints Row 2 vs GTA4, I had a hard time believing that both are the games from the same publisher!


whish they had hostages in gta 4..... im just glad you can play as a chick! (our sumthin in the middle) hot anti-herion here i come!


The cruise control sounds promising for easier drive bys.


i stil havent gotten to the third island in gta4, so uh yeah i got bored of it. died on the hard ban robbery one night, and since i dont have a ton of time to play it i just said ef it, and i havent gotten aaround to beating it since. eh..i wish it just had check points


gazzad, i absoloutely agree. Had GTA4 since launch, played it about 15 times (Online & Off) and am simply bored of it now (getme-fetchme-carryme-etc yaawwwwwwwn), still play R6 Vegas 1/2, COD4, GRiD etc, i find them much more fun.


Man i hope this beats GTA IV, GTA was good but way overrated


Lookin good but i dont think it will beat gta


may be up there with gta 4!!!


i giv dem props for of everythin in da world to compete against it chose gta 4 -_-


Lol at the boners arguing about countries. So damn pointless. So yes. Saints Row 2. Can't wait.


There better be local one freaking system co op mode or Im gonna be really pissed off And if there isnt then I guess Im gonna a 2nd Xbox 360 and stick it in the same freakin room If there isn't I mean WTF? Who the f#@(&^@ decided people dont have real life friends or family and that people would only want to play with random strangers on the internet or some s%#)* I would assume there is local co op since this story here sounds like they met in the same building and sat down on the same couch and played it or something and since wikipedia used to say that it did have local co op But since they are being kind of vague about it Im mad -_-


SR is pretty low brow in taste compared to GTA, but I'll take. At least the missions in SR don't require a PHD in game manipulation to beat! No joke, GTA III and IV are among the hardest games I've played. And I mean up there with the likes of Devil May Cry 3! Here's look'n forward to some family time with Uncle Gary.


coolrock80. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . lol


This looks like it's going to be fun. I wish GTA fanboys would lay off. Competition makes all of this possible and make developers step up their to speak:)


This should be a pretty fun game, I plan on creating the same character I did in the first one, so he can exact his revenge! Mwahahahaha!


**** this game GTA 4 is a overall better game


i just like to say to stealth that usa isnt super power anymore and their econmy is crumbling cos of the chinese and you got get used to it


i wiatin to hear some more about the game. i have a feeliing i might pass on it sice GTA4 is out and thats gunna suck up many of the useless hours of my life


StealthOpsX, you were doing so well, then you went for the cheapshot, the tea and crumpets poke that, in all fairness, no english person EVER takes offense to. I agree with the majority of your points though, SR got a name for itself by filling a void for a next gen GTA, now that it has been filled, SR2 will undoubtedly not cruise to success as before, that being said, it was by no means a BAD game, just shamelessly derivative. But the little tweaks it did make were enough to move it from 'imitator' to 'competitor.' Now my defense of my country: Firstly, in England, we spell 'Aluminum' as 'Aluminium' don't be pig headed and say just because your country spells it like that it is automatically the right way, that's like telling a french person that their idiots for spelling 'Bread' as 'Pain' there are cultural differences here, accept them. (BTW, i want to avoid bashing americans and just focus on StealthOpsX's comments) Yes the queen is near pointless, but our prime-minister is the equivalent of your president, he has all the power, the queen is symbollic of our history, which dates back (with the exception of the Native Americans) Far longer than any of north america, this is not an insult to the USA, just an indication of why we still have a monarch. Yes, you are the big cheese in this world, but they always say pride comes before a fall... And you do realise that despite your independence, I reckon that over 1/2 of white americans can trace their roots back to britain. Lastly, Jubei is an idiot, seemingly, but you then went on with the AO2 comment which, to be fair, was a cheap shot, and a double edged sword. You don't have to play with us, we don't have to play with you, it seems everyones happy, but enjoy your screaming 6 year olds i haer so much of on Halo...


Guess I'll have to play GTA IV to hold me over until Saints Row 2 comes will be a long wait, but it sounds like it will be worth it. Except for this whole using innocents as human shields. That's cowardly and weird that they would throw that in there...


Well done StealthOpsX for the English lesson. I mean, considering you are from America and speak English, you would surely know the language better than someone from England where they speak....hang on, don't they speak English there. Surely there can't be any relevance between England and English? Here's a link for you << LINK REMOVED >> Perhaps you should try reading it before you tell other people how to spell aluminium. Try learning something about the world before you pass on your "wonderful" knowledge to the rest of it.


@stealthOps Tea and Crumpets.From ure evaluation of the GTAs i thought u'd hav more intelligence than to come out wif something so ridiculous thats based on stereotypes. Stop bashing on other countries u moron. end of story.


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