The Best Game EVER as of October 2008.
I never played the first [because I didn't own a next-gen system till recently] but this is SOOOO much better then the GTAs. You could customize your character in one of the most in depth human customizers I've seen yet in a game, especially a free-world game like this. I've always wanted GTA to do that. For me, that ALONE is a giant step against GTA, and to add to it, for a small price you can Completly REmake your char at any point by going to the plastic surgeon, so just play a white girl for a while then change into an asian guy, ect... Just what ever the fkcu you want.
I love driving in this game and the cars are great, also nice that ALL cars too can be customized. Not a whole lot, maybe to the degree of San Andreas, but -EVERY- thing that drives can be customized some how Including: cop car, the hearse, the Bulldozer, the monster truck (only exception is some of the DLC). When you finish customizing, take them to your garage and store them, then should they ever be abandoned or destroyed somehow in the world (and they WILL) they will reappear there until you specifically tell the garage to remove the vehicle. I also like that the garage works like a vehicle select instead of a physical space to trick into piling cars into like the GTAs. allowing you to store a lot more AND all your cars will be available in every garage you own. That's just One of many things to go on about in this incredible awesome kick-ass game. You can buy a "crib" and upgrade it to "pimped out" status, and then pick a style for your gang, and pick which three cars will be seen in purple patrolling for your Saints, NICE. I've seen influences of several games all mashed into this killer package. GTA of course but also Midnight club, State of emergency, Burnout...
The Main reason I prefer this over GTA4 is Rather then trying for an Oscar for greatest screenplay in a videogame, it's all about stress relieving CHAOS. Nothing too clever, too shifty. As Johnny Gat says [in the game]
"Why don't we just start here and just shoot all the mothafkcuers that are between us and the money?"
How great it feels to just charge in and shoot stuff, which for many, is what all GTAs have been about..Except THIS game was created by people who've played GTA long enough to make a nice big list of problems with GTA, that they fixed here, and stuff that woulda been cool, that they've added.
One for instance, tired of dragging around that stupid partner who always gets killed causing you to fail? [Lance Vance]
Now you can revive them simply by pressing Y over them within like 40 seconds, and btw -they- don't suck either. Most of the time your the one that accidentally kills them in the chaos, they can usually hold their own pretty well.
There's just nothing I've done in this that wasn't fun and addictive.
The only gripe I've had with it so far is for some reason it kept freezing up. I looked on google for Saints Row 2 freezing and ppl all over had this problem at different times. They did release a patch that reduced the freezing, also a good idea to INSTALL it to your hard drive, cause it's REALLY finicky about the disc being clean, one of the reasons it was freezing so often. I installed it and let it update and I have not had a freeze since.
Just Remember to save often, although I'm actually not as annoyed to redo missions I've lost from freezing before saving, cause they're actually fun, it doesn't feel like a chore.
Overall, I can play for like 8 hours straight just editing stuff and hardly getting to the missions, this game offers SO MUCH, I can't imagine much left to improve..
Install it, Save Often, and this is the BEST stress relieving time killer you will find today, until there's a Saint's Row:The Third that is.