The two-year gap between the original Saints Row and its upcoming sequel is a scant two weeks from closing, with Saints Row 2 scheduled for arrival on October 15. It makes sense that we've seen nearly everything the game has to offer, from hot-dog costumes to zombie-themed minicamps. Everything with one notable exception, that is. It was only last week that we got to see SR2's competitive multiplayer offerings. While not quite as seamless and unrestricted as the co-op experience, the multiplayer side should offer you plenty of ways to eviscerate each other.
In our hands-on session, we played around in a new mode called Strong Arm. This new mode is a collection of activities (read: side missions) taken from the story mode and thrown into a turf war. Two teams of four players compete in randomized missions, such as theft (steal a valuable object and bring it to your fence), mayhem (cause as much destruction as you can), insurance fraud (fling yourself from buildings and moving cars), and standard street races, in an effort to build up a point gauge. When a team has maxed out its point meter, it has officially taken over control of that neighborhood, and the match is over.
Throwing a wrench into all of this is your ability to collect modifiers that affect how quickly you gather points. Tagging buildings, killing rival gang members, and driving stylishly (or recklessly--your choice) are some of the bonuses you can collect to affect how well your team does. This gives you the opportunity to pursue splintering strategies; you might have a pair of teammates attempting to play by the rules, while another pair augments its point-gathering by busting fools up.
Tracking your overall progress in multiplayer is a 12-tiered ranking system. The ranks themselves take on a gang theme, with the likes of New Jack, Soldier, and Assassin standing as examples of levels you can achieve. The game keeps track of your play style, too. You'll earn badges such as Trigger Happy (the type who fires often and usually at random), Brain Surgeon (someone with a penchant for headshots), and Nut Job (use your imagination) that other players can see prior to a match to get a feel for what sort of player you are.
Creating matches is a more streamlined process compared to the original Saints Row. Your invitation options won't be buried deep within confusing menus, you can hop into a quick match more easily, and finding friends to join your game has been made less tiresome. Once you've got it all set up, you can trash-talk in the pregame lobby, which is a mansion loaded with weaponry to goof around with.
As you can probably tell from reviewing our previous Saints Row 2 coverage, this is a game with a lot of stuff to do, and the newly expanded multiplayer offerings confirm that. You'll be able to see for yourself when it arrives on October 15.