Saints Row 2 First Look

We check out an early work-in-progress version of this thuggish action sequel during a meeting with THQ and Volition.

With the release of Grand Theft Auto IV now less than two months away you could be forgiven for forgetting all about Saints Row 2. After all, Volition's upcoming sequel to the other open-world crime-themed action game doesn't even have a tentative release date yet. We're told that it'll be arriving this year, though, and we recently had an opportunity to check out an early version that already incorporates plenty of new features.

Set a few years after the events of Saints Row, the sequel will see you reprising the role of a Saints gang member who, in the years since the first game, has risen to power and become the leader of the gang. With that said, the first game forced you to play as a male character, but that's not the case in Saints Row 2. We spent some time with the new character customization system during our meeting, and it's clearly something that Volition has spent a lot of time improving. You can not only play as a male or a female but, since those options appear at either end of a sliding scale, you can choose to play as someone whose appearance isn't obviously either of the two. Other sliding scales you can play around with will affect fitness level and age. You'll also be able to determine your character's ethnicity and modify his or her facial features.

You play as the same character you did in Saints Row, regardless of whether you opt for a similar appearance or even the same gender.

Character customization in Saints Row 2 won't end there, though. After settling on a look for your gang leader, you'll want to figure out how he or she moves. You might choose a guy who walks like a gorilla, a ballerina, or any of the numerous options in between. You'll also need to choose a voice, favorite taunt and compliment actions, and fighting style. Available taunts--which are presumably intended for use primarily in multiplayer games--will include such classics as the middle finger, the tea bag, and the wanker. Compliments will include a salute, thumbs-up, riverdance (don't ask), and many more. The number of fighting-style options available to you will increase as you defeat gangs in the story mode and add their moves to your arsenal.

The story mode will pit you against three rival gangs, all of whom are hoping to fill the power vacuum resulting from the Saints' fall from grace. It's a similar setup to that in the first game, but there appear to be plenty of changes and improvements planned for Saints Row 2 that'll make it a worthy sequel. For starters, the city of Stillwater is now considerably larger and barely recognizable as the same location from the first game. This, we're told, is the result of urban renewal efforts on behalf of a large corporation. All of the existing neighborhoods have been given a face-lift, and all-new neighborhoods have been created as a result of the city's expansion to the west. You'll be able to visit the interiors of well over 100 of Stillwater's buildings this time around, including no fewer than nine gang cribs that you can make your own as you progress through the game.

If you've played Saints Row, you might remember that cribs were primarily places that you could save your game, change your clothes, and store your car collections. In Saints Row 2 you'll still be able to do all of those things, and lots more besides. We were shown one of the new cribs during our meeting, a two-story building that looked pretty run-down. It looked so nasty, in fact, that we were surprised to see several gang members hanging out there in the hope that they'd be chosen for an upcoming mission. Fortunately, as you accumulate money you'll have the option to spend it on upgrading the place. The crib customization options don't appear to be nearly as numerous as those for your character, but they're a welcome addition nonetheless. Options for the crib that we visited during our demo included upgrades for the table, the bed, the home theater, and the stripper pole, as well as "cheap," "classy," and "ultra modern" decor. Spending money on your crib will increase the amount of respect that you earn for completing missions and other objectives, and it'll also make your fellow gang members more effective when they're fighting alongside you. Other features promised for cribs include different radio stations to listen to, a more intelligent wardrobe system that lets you group individual items of clothing into outfits, and garages that can store motorcycles as well as cars. (Your Jet Skis, boats, helicopters, and planes will need to be kept elsewhere.)

Your crib doesn't look like anywhere you'd want to spend any time on day one.

Once our guided tour of the crib was over we were treated to a look at one of the early stronghold missions from Saints Row 2, in which you'll be tasked with taking out a base of operations belonging to the drug-running Sons of Samedi gang. The stronghold was a well-guarded trailer park that looked quite different from any location in the first game, and we were pleased to see that you'll have plenty of new moves and weapons in your arsenal when you're taking on enemies on foot. The new over-the-shoulder view for precision aiming will undoubtedly prove useful, as will the option to take other characters hostage and use them as a human shield. Gang members and cops will purportedly react differently to you depending on who your shield is, and the Sons of Samedi certainly seemed a little reluctant to fire at one of their own on this occasion. Your enemies will have the ability to hide behind human shields as well. The only new weapon that we got to see during our demo was a satchel charge, which sticks to anything it's thrown at and can then be detonated manually. The resulting explosions were pretty huge, and the potential for creative uses of the charges (you can turn a car or even an enemy into a moving bomb, for example) have us crossing our fingers that they'll be included in the competitive multiplayer arsenal.

Volition and THQ aren't really talking about the multiplayer features of Saints Row 2 yet, except to say that they've learned a lot from the first game and won't be making any of the same mistakes again. What they did tell us about, though, is the option to play through the entire story mode cooperatively with a friend. That's an exciting prospect, to say the least, especially when you consider some of the other activities and "diversions" that you can earn respect and money from in Stillwater. Saints Row 2 will purportedly introduce a number of all-new activities in addition to "the good ones" from the first game. The insurance fraud game in which you attempt to cause as much damage to property and to yourself isn't going away, of course, and promises to be a whole lot of fun with two players working together. Incidentally, all of the activity missions will be optional, since their function is to provide comic relief from the main story, which deals with revenge and is apparently much darker than the first game's.

Based on what we saw during our meeting, Saints Row 2 is shaping up to be a strong sequel to 2006's Saints Row. We look forward to bringing you more information on the game's multiplayer content and other features as soon as it becomes available.

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Discussion

297 comments
kazater
kazater

->ctortolini, you download videos before the 27th of august, and expect to se the full spectre? i am sorry to have to say that you probably misunderstand the concept of "WORK IN !"%"¤"¤"!¤ PROGRESS!!!" LoL i am the proud owner of both the prime sandboxers, and i must say that the difference in graphix on a hdmi setup i so minimal that i doesnt matter, however, sr2 is gta4 totally superior gameplaywise. never judge a game that wip. never.

livinglegend100
livinglegend100

I think the game is gonna be great because of GAMEPLAY. Just like the last console generation GTA Series did it, without the best graphic but it back it up with amazing GAMEPLAY. Something GTA4 Lack (had great graphics, but the gameplay gotten rather thin after completing the story. so, I think Saints Row 2 is gonna make us happy with hours and months of fun. I take that over graphics anyday. I can't take another GTA4-esque, it looks pretty but it comes up short in the department which really matters in the end THE GAMEPLAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

burstlimit514
burstlimit514

thank you for that ctortolini. now i know not to buy it no matter how much customation it has.

ctortolini
ctortolini

Las night I downloaded a couple of Saints Row 2 videos from XBL... I really was disappointed. I've played the first Saint Row and I enjoyed it despite the not so great graphics... my first thought once I heard about a second edition of the game was that the graphics will be now comparable with the ones seen on GTA IV. Unfortunately, from what I saw last night, not a single drop of sweat have been invested in upgrading the graphics quality. On the first version, I excused the low quality because it came out relatively soon on the XBOX360... so they haven't had the time to really exploit all the capabilities of the console... but TODAY ??? It was unbelievable to see those squared cars and buildings, completely texture-less... and the same with the characters, all bulky and... coarse (for lack of a better word). The expectations in the gamers are now higher, and to be honest, if THQ is almost copying GTA, the least they can do (or try to) is to improve it. Good thing I decided to download those videos... I was planning to get SR2 once it was released... now I have to think of another way to spend 60 bucks...

racerx737
racerx737

i think the level of customization in Saints 2 will put it over GTA IV, at least IMO. it may not sell as well since it doesnt have as large a following, and obviously cant score higher than GTA IV's 10, but I think it'll be an awesome game.

p05tman
p05tman

GTA IV rulez, Saints Row +o(

CCyberDDemon
CCyberDDemon

look to how gamers criticism are on these days... for a clone, i think they do it in a moderate way. wanna be big on open-ended criminal game sim? be original. thats the word for everything

HardAsARock
HardAsARock

I love saints row still im playing the first one. i just didnt like the ending that i was killed by by gang . but ive heard that i didnt dead and in saints row 2 im seaking for revenge . and rone gta isnt the best saints row is saints 1 was beter than the other gta games and saints 2 is gonna beat gta 4

speardoomfre
speardoomfre

i did not like gta 4 that much i thought it would be amazing i bought the specail edition but i thought rockstar did not put enough effort in it and i think saints row 2 will win the game battle over gta 4

norgewhop
norgewhop

The original Saints Row I think was more fun than GTA 4. Looking forward to this one

woonsa
woonsa

looking forward to this

xtoda7
xtoda7

this game will crap on GTA4

elite396
elite396

I have saints row and GTA 4 both got 'em right when they came out, im ganna get saints row 2

privywarrior
privywarrior

It's cool that they decided to include the PC as a platform into this game. Probably for multiplayer reasons or because GTA IV is coming out for PC too.

Some-Nerd
Some-Nerd

Cool, I like both Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row. GTA 4 focuses on realism and Saints Row 2 focuses more on customization. I do like the ragdoll effect on Saints Row believe it or not, so I hope it stays there with this one. And I haven't picked up GTA 4 yet but I will get it too, I hear the online multiplayer action is kick ass especially with it being located in WHOLE city, I hope Saints Row 2 is like that.

myjota
myjota

make better game then gta4, it will not to be hard todo . interesting will be to see how gamespot to rate this game.

Morb
Morb

Just hope that the game gets a little more "polished" looking. Pretty last Gen Sims 2 like graphics from the screen shots/movie trailers.

H_U_R_D
H_U_R_D

this game looks bangin...def goin to get it

gta-codlover
gta-codlover

I think saints row 2 is gunna be a really good game because of the graphics,and all the new stuff idk about anybody else but im gunna buy it

dabobjones
dabobjones

i just borrowed Saint's Row from my friend and i already beat it, and i have GTA SA and the graphics on Saint's Row is way, way better than GTA... im probily gonna get GTA IV when the price goes down but ill get SR2 as soon as it comes out... i havent really experienced SR because the disk is really, really scratched.

The_ripster88
The_ripster88

The first game I got for 360 was SR so I’ll get SR2 as well but it will not compare with GTA cause even tho there allot alike there still two different games SR is more street gangster orientated which is hard to set a good compelling story based on there just a street gang n your trying to make your way up. Rather dull but still entertaining where GTA gets more in-depth with the characters and has an exciting story from start to finish. Ill just have to wait and see but my money is on GTA

ichiban30
ichiban30

Once I am done with GTA i will probably play this.

firebreathing
firebreathing

have the people who talk crap about GTA 4 even played it? do you not realize that having a MUCH better physics/ai engine is better than being able to customize your "crib"? Maybe it'd be more fun to be the average joe struggling rather than some gang banger. If you think GTA 4 looks like crap then it's pretty obvious your tv is crap and you didn't make a smart investment. Once Sanits Row 2 gets a physics/ai engine that can surpass Euphoria then I'll say it accomplished something, but until then (which won't be for a very long time) I'll have plenty of fun with GTA 4 :)

rg420
rg420

looks fun to me ....might be a nice rental

bryannacow
bryannacow

gta iv, jus look at it, the game iz hella sik!! the story iz good, the multi player. i played saints rows and i didnt even like it dat much, knock offs of gta jus turn out to be good but not as good as gta, u no what i mean??? and look at the odds of this game getting a 10 out of 10!!! the last time they gave a 10 to a game was around '99....DAM!!! lol

DaGhOsT187
DaGhOsT187

LOL Take your time Saintzrow.............LOOks like gta dropped the ball with Gta crashing 400$ consoles~..i love both BUt i prefer saints~take your time work out the bugs and make the online mutiplayer with several maps........................Loved Team deathmatchz on the first One Show Gta whoZ there daddy

kezza108
kezza108

I would say that this game will out do GTA IV in customisation and in game humour, and it seems this game doesn't go so much for realism which could give it more variety, i think its best to consider GTA and this as different slices of the same pie

pieofhell
pieofhell

saints row 2 is gunna b much better than GTAIV !FACT!

X_Del
X_Del

Shoot, this is so cool!!! It's rare to see a main female character in sandbox games, now I not only do not have to play as a man and I can even have a gang full of cool chicks. I'm definitely going to buy the game since the first one was awfully good and exciting.

29yvonne
29yvonne

man hell yea imma get saints 2 4 ps3! imma speand like 50 days creatin my dude! i wish dey waz done wit it and all da bugs waz out so dat i could go 2 da stor and get it! SR2!

SurE_Sh0T
SurE_Sh0T

My prediction is that a lot of people will buy this game, but i think that gta 4 will sell more. This game has a lot of stuff that gta 4 doesn't have, which is a good thing, but the fact is that gta 4 has a lot of improvements that will be too much for Saints Row 2 to compete with. Basically, people who played and liked the first Saints Row, people who don't like gta 4, and people who are willing to try something else than gta 4 will buy this game.

GreyPhantom
GreyPhantom

I'd played the first game and it was great. It still didn't have alot of the things in San Andreas though, but had many things that San Andreas didn't have. After watching this video I have high hopes for this game.

eskimo630
eskimo630

yeah gta4 and this are gonna go big.

Jubei_1987
Jubei_1987

GTA is made by the british, yanks copied it and created this, so its understandable why you would like this trash over GTA.

Hey_Cage
Hey_Cage

I'm just gonna get SR2 and GTAIV because they both look awesome.

ajktitan
ajktitan

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

surreal_blue
surreal_blue

Saint's Row originally borrowed heavily form San Andreas, but since GTA 4 has (in a sense) gone back to its roots-- there will probably be less comparisons. More James Earl Jones!

King_Wii
King_Wii

I have to admit I like SR much better than GTA, the main reason is due to the fact that they allow you to design your avatar. The other main reason is I personaly liked the concept of Saints Row where your "cleaning" the streets, I like the concept of "Cant beat them join them, or rather control them" so your mainly a bad guy still but in a way your also kinda a good guy... but still bad lol. In the past I've personaly found GTA can pushe the envelope of what I deem exceptable... but then again I've goten used to it and expect it going in. I do like SR a ton though (though my favorite version of this style of game is Crackdown). I look forward to SR2

icehawk001987
icehawk001987

im gettin gta maybe if this gets better reviews ill buy it too

ChudWarrior
ChudWarrior

I've been spoiled with all these games that are out that let you customize your character. I think it ads a whole new element to the game as far as depth goes, and for some I think creating a character(whether it looks like them or they base it off of someone else) is half the fun. I think all games should have this option from now on. Why play as som generic hero when you ca play as one that you yourself designed. As far as this game goes, I think that it is going to be great. It seems to be going the route of San Andreas with the planes and helicopters and what not, and taking it even further. Not only that but guarateed co-op throughout the entire game. I think this will make up for the content that is lacking from the new GTA. Both games will be great though. "Edit/Update: I hope the guy in the Saint's Row 2 First Look Interview isn't in the game. If he is I might be more scared to play this than Condemned 2 with the lights out. What the hell is on the asian person's head and I'm not 100% that that is actually a man." Thats funny I was thinking the exact same thing. Every time I look at that page and see that I think it is a girl, then I look closer and want to throw up.

Panman_Dan
Panman_Dan

I've never played a Saint's Row game but from what I've heard about them I've begun to appreciate the customizable aspect to it. It might not have the "flair" of GTA but in ways (few) it can't be compared. Also, I heard you can smoke weed and aside from smoking crack in Postal to regain health its something kind of new for the gaming world (and hopefully shed some light on something millions of Americans and people across the world do everyday without engaging in acts of violence - the people in real life that is). Edit/Update: I hope the guy in the Saint's Row 2 First Look Interview isn't in the game. If he is I might be more scared to play this than Condemned 2 with the lights out. What the hell is on the asian person's head and I'm not 100% that that is actually a man.

rg420
rg420

I will buy this game as well as GTA IV. Will it be a great game? Probabily so. Will SR2 be better than GTA IV? I dought it. Will it take down R* opus? NO!!! But who really cares ....I just wanna play

ao28
ao28

I can't wait for this game! The first one is amazing, but it's only for the 360. I'me going to get this game instead of gta because the first one was better than gta.

paladin75
paladin75

im definately getting this. i havent liked any gta games after vice city, and the soundtrack was my favorite part of the game. that being said i have no interest in gta4, now im not saying it wont be a good game to some people, but i wont waste my money on it.

ripdareaper92
ripdareaper92

I'm gonna get both GTA4 and Saints Row 2 for different reasons. I want GTA4 for its storyline and Saints Row 2 for its gameplay.

sonic1457
sonic1457

i cant wateon till saints row 2 comes out its better then gta

sonic1457
sonic1457

i cant wate on tell saints row 2 comes out its better then gta4