Review by MegaVirus

"Following In GTA's Footsteps... With A Bloodsoaked Katana At The Ready!"

Okay, let me be blunt. Out of my Xbox 360 games, the ones I played most are Dead Rising and Grand Theft Auto IV. Fun little sandbox games that allow a lot of freedom to do whatever you please. You already know my opinion on Dead Rising. GTAIV is not as fun, but it still got my attention and it's still fun. I'll probably review it once I actually get off my ass and look at it in more detail. But that's not the point. I first heard about Saints Row and thought one thing: GTA Ripoff With A Hip Hop Flavor. Seeing as I hate rap except for Eminem and anything pre-'94, I rolled my eyes and ignored the game, which I feel might have been a mistake.

Two years pass since the first game. The second game is released, and every single of my Live friends is playing the game. Upon a reccomendation from one of these pals (thanks, Bleachedbones, your mention of some of the minigames was enough to make me want this game!), I decided to give it a rental. I didn't expect to be entertained by something like GTA but with Hip Hop...

And then I played the game, and the one word running through my head was "DAMN!"

It's an INCREDIBLE game, and seems to have perfected the whole "Sandbox Crime Game" genre in every way. If I had to choose one word to describe the game, it would have to be "Insanity". Everything in this game is over-the-top, brutal, and shocking. AND IT'S SO DAMN COOL!!! Now, before I go into squealy fanboy mode, it's time for some talk about the game.

The Storyline

For those of you who are new to the series, I won't spoil the first one too badly except for what sets up this game's premise. The main character from the first game, a member of the 3rd Street Saints, was caught in a yacht explosion in the harbor of Stilwater, the game's city. Five years and hours of reconstructive surgery later, your character wakes up in Stilwater Correctional, breaks out, and sets out to reassemble the Saints.

That's all you get from me as far as story. Go play the games yourself, lazy-ass.

The story is actually quite well-done and detailed, and the characters become incredibly fleshed-out as you play through the missions. The three characters you have help you on your quest to reclaim your city from the new gangs are fun to watch interacting. You have Johnny Gat, the old leader of the gang, Pierce, the Fiddy Wannabe, Shaundie, the hot stoner chick, and Carlos, the not-Mencia. All of them are great characters, and the villains are nothing to sneeze at either. Overall, the story is fresh and fun, and the characters are well fleshed out, even Carlos, all things considered.

Storyline Score: 10/10

The Design

Okay, this is the part that a lot of people have pointed out when they complain about Saints Row 2: graphical power. They often say it's a "bad-graphical" GTA clone. That is not the case. Saints Row 2 still has amazing graphics, incredibly detailed from the cars you can drive, to the graffiti you can cover the city in, to the explosions, to the blood splatter, EVERYTHING. I think the problem is that the graphics aren't on the same level as most good 360 games. But that does NOT mean they're bad. Far from it, they're amazing. Besides, let's face it, graphics don't make the game. If they did, then Halo would be a masterpiece. (WARNING! FANBOY BACKLASH ALERT! WARNING!)

Now on to something about the design that I find to be neat. You get to make your own character. That's rare for a sandbox game to let you make a custom character to drag around town. Not only that, but in an upgrade from the sequel, it let's you create... a FEMALE character! (Don't ask me how a character that could only be male in the first game can be female in the second, it spoils the illusion.) This is definitely a fun idea, to control a violent, anger-prone female gang leader on a quest to blow stuff up. The dialogue also changes depending on whether you're a guy or a gal. It even changes according to the voice you choose! (Also, making a dude based on Shaun Of the Dead is fun, just to hear Shaun ask for a decent pint.)

Another design point that is well-handled is the city itself. It's not like Liberty City, but that's what's refreshing. The fact that there's actually no real basis for the city in real life makes this quite the original crowd pleaser. And really, the city's joke stores are much funnier. I can't say the names of these stores, however, for fear of getting in trouble with GameFAQs. Oh well, go play it for yourself, and have a giggle.

Design Score: 10/10

The Gameplay

Ooh, this part's good.

First off, the game is similar to the GTA games. Run around the city looking for crap to do. Now, you have the missions where you take on the Sons Of Samedi, the stoners led by Bob Marley and Morris Chestnut, the Ronins, assassins who are led by people who stole the names of a hero and villain from Battle Royale, and the Brotherhood I have yet to take on, but I hear is led by Lieutenant Worf. You have strongholds where you take out the major gathering places of those major gangs. And then you have the activities where you earn the respect needed to do missions and strongholds. (One mission = one respect level needed.) The respect thing bugged me at first, but it's really fun to do. Besides, you can earn respect simply by flipping off the cops, driving in the wrong lane, powersliding, near misses, gang kills, one-shot kills, MULTI KILLS, gang vehicle destruction, and all other kinds of ways. It's very fun to do, and the missions are well put together, and provide you just enough challenge.

The control is basic. You move with the left stick, camera control with the right, RB is to run, RT to shoot, hold B to switch weapons or eat food, click the right stick for fine aim... the controls are different for any kind of game I've seen, but they're definitely easy to remember. One definite thing I like about Driving Mode is the ability to put your car in cruise so you can aim easier. Something that wasn't possible in GTA for sure. Overall, a good control scheme and fun missions make this a game that'll keep you entertained.

Gameplay Score: 10/10

The Creativity

This part is about the minigames, Activities in Saints Row 2. Now, the creative juices really got flowing with this one, and it's a definite shining point over GTAIV. Let me put it this way. GTAIV has games you can play in real life without getting in trouble. Saints Row 2 has a minigame where you throw yourself into traffic to rack up insurance money. What sounds more creative?

Yes, Insurance Fraud is but one of many creative ways to earn money and respect in Saints Row 2. Among others are Septic Avenger, a game where you drive a septic truck and splatter houses in sewage to decrease property values, Escort where you drive a hooker around with a client while avoiding newscasters and the IRS, and FUZZ, where you go around disguised as a police officer to record footage for a police reality show and exhibit excessive force on your targets.

GTA has you... going to strip clubs to look at BEEG AMERICAN *censored*.

Yeeeeeah, I think I've decided that SR2 is superior to GTAIV. Hands down. And the creativity is where it shines. The game is freakin' insane on all counts, especially the minigames. And those four I mentioned? Those are only a handful of the activities! It gets even better, friend.

Creativity Score: 10/10

The Replayability

This'll be short. I'll just reiterate one point. YOU MAKE YOUR CHARACTER LOOK HOWEVER YOU WANT. That alone sets the replay value sky high.

Replayability Score: 10/10.

The Judgement

Well, we've decided. Saints Row 2 is superior to Grand Theft Auto IV in any and all ways. It's insane, inventinve, and ingenious, not to mention it's just plain FUN. GTAIV, I'm sorry, but you have been dethroned. *kicks GTA out of the throne, swipes its' crown and places it on the head of SR2*

Now then, time to give GTAIV a good old Texas Funeral! *goes to grab a casket and shovel*

Recap
Storyline: 10
Design: 10
Gameplay: 10
Creativity: 10
Replayability: 10

Final Score: 10/10

*finishes burying GTAIV alive* Well then... who's up for a stop at the Company Of Gyros? I could use some fast food.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/13/08

Game Release: Saints Row 2 (US, 10/14/08)


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