A brilliant game, an annoying port.
It's developed by Volition, who made Descent and Red Faction, in partnership with THQ Asia Pacific, based in St. Kilda, down here in Australia, which may explain why there are so many Aussie songs in it.
Starting off lightly, the soundtrack to the game is brilliant, and I can guarantee you there will be a song in there you will like. It gathers songs from every genre into the game; like 80's, hip hop, rap, electronic, rock, classical and more.
It keeps you playing brilliantly, with the options to go car surfing, take over gang hideouts, enter a destruction derby, go base jumping, hurt yourself for insurance, pretend to be a cop; and abuse your power, rampage, chainsaw people, ride a flaming go-kart in a hazmat suit, street racing, fist fighting, invest in property, hold people up, ride a bike with a samurai while listening to classical music and much, much more. Doing all of this is extremely rewarding.
Perhaps it's too rewarding at times, for example, in the police missions, it sometime encourages you to chainsaw down innocent pedestrians (like I said, abuse of power), and then rewards you with extra time for your mission, along with money, respect and maybe even a new fight style or perks. This is hardcore, but bearable.
It feels like the whole game has one simple purpose, to make you happy. It's never punishing, quite the opposite really. You can change difficulty in-game, regenerate health; along with food you can find, buy and eat for health, GPS shortcuts are added to your GPS as you find them, police are easy; and fun, there are no load times once you're in the world and it follows one of three sub-storylines throughout most of the game, which you can do at your leisure.
This brings me to the storyline; the game takes place five years after the original (which I didn't play) where you wake up from a coma, in jail. You escape in the prologue missions, only to find out that your gang, 'The Saints', doesn't exist anymore. Throughout the game, you take back territory in Stilwater and bring back The Saints.
Doing so, you have a choice of three sub-storylines, as I mentioned before, to do at your leisure. These storylines are based around three different gangs, which are fighting over territory in Stilwater. The Brotherhood, The Ronin and The Sons of Samedi; all have different personality traits, fighting style and leaders, which added to the story being so interesting.
The story was surprisingly interesting, it's extremely simplistic, but told very well in great cutscenes that I've watched back after I finished the game. I'm not going to spoil more than I have, although I only talked about the start. The story is partly interesting because of how your character, who you customised, is seamlessly integrated into them, which may result in some extremely strange cutscenes, depending on your character.
At the start, when you come out of your coma, it gives you the excuse to customise your nameless character. From your age, to your weight, to your accent... your character can be customised. I liked my character a fair bit, and really didn't change him much from start to finish, with the obvious exception of clothing.
Clothing is acquired at shops throughout Stilwater, which are very common, and sell different clothes, which encourages travelling. You can go nuts with your clothing, from wearing nothing, to wearing a ninja suit. In fact you can go nuts with customisation in general.
This game literally has the most customisation I've seen since The Sims, and probably even more in terms of character customisation. You can customise yourself, your clothes, your hideouts, your homies (I made them look like ninjas), your gang vehicles, your cars, your gang's cars and even your graffitti tags.
The combat is great, both in melee, thrown weapons and with firearms. In melee, with your bare hands, you have two main attacking styles, with left click and right click. Hold them both to block, and hold one for a few seconds to do a more powerful attack, mostly bringing the enemy down with that single blow. That in itself is great, but there's more! You can pick up basically anything that looks like it can be picked up, from office chairs to street signs, and you can swing or throw your item wherever you want. You can also take people as hostage, to use them as a human shield, and you can shoot any of your weapons over their shoulder, even the RPG. After you're done with your shield, you can shoot them off, break their neck or throw them, which is great fun. There is nothing like the thrill of throwing someone into speeding traffic… am I evil?
With all that, you can use swords, baseball bats, sledgehammers, pepper spray, machetes, chainsaws, butterfly knives, combat knives, samurai swords and probably more. Not to mention you can hit people with all your weapons.
Gunplay is the usual third person shooter game, being able to zoom over the shoulder and all. The game doesn't have a cover system, nor does it need one. It's not that kind of game. Enemies have the perfect amount of health, and you never really run into any problems with the gunplay; it's mostly smooth. You can shoot out of your car or over someone's shoulder if you don't like the usual stuff. There is a great variety in firearms, with the usual things like UZI's and glocks, accompanied by more reckless, outrageous things like flamethrowers, mini-guns and lock-on RPG's. Thrown weapons act just like your guns, except you throw them this time… there is also a large variety of thrown weapons, like molotovs, flashbangs and grenades. Most weapons can be bought in stores around Stilwater.
There's a wide range of vehicles in Saints Row 2, some of which nicely have mounted weapons for you to fire around the place. These include tanks, jet skis, boats, planes, helicopters, cars, trucks and SUV's. All of which are easy and straightforward to drive, but the driving is never particularly fun until you get a fast or aerial vehicle.
My one and only real complaint to be found in Saints Row 2 is it being a cr@ppy PC port, which is unfortunate as it is a really good game. There are a fair few visual glitches to be seen, a lot of pop-in, and it seems to lag quite a bit when travelling in land vehicles, because it fails at loading things in from a distance. My PC isn't the best you will find, but it surpasses the recommended requirements, which is one of the reasons I bought it, other being it's quite cheap on Steam.
Overall Saints Row 2 is a downright brilliant game, I highly recommend it. I would recommend getting it on a console however, as the PC port of the game is of low quality. That being said, the PC version of the game is not ruined, and you will find a lot of enjoyment in it, especially for it's price.
Saint's Row 2 Review
20 Sep. 10