Review by belenbaa

"An Entirely Average Game that's Exceptionally Fun to Play"

Saint's Row 2 is not a great game, but it is a game with a hell of a lot of style.

It's been a few years, but you have woken up from a comma with a new attitude, a new voice, and the need to regain control of Stilwater with your old friend Johnny Gat. Three new gangs have taken control of Stilwater, and you tackle each with one of your three lieutenants.

Saint's Row 2 isn't experimenting with anything drastically new, but introduces some solid improvements to the core experience. Stilwater remains the same as Stilwater has ever been. You and the Saint's take control of areas of the city one block at a time, either through story missions or by shooting your way through a stronghold. Land held by the Saint's may be contested, forcing you to roll in with some boys and ruff up the rival lieutenants. In addition to this, Saint's Row 2 adds the ability to invest in stores within your controlled territory, and earn respect in a much expanded array of side missions, and newly added diversion missions.

It's in its side and diversion missions that Saint's Row 2 makes best use of the traditional GTA formula. While Rockstar moved GTA in a new direction from it's predecessors, Volition has retained the core idea of what GTA3, Vice City, & San Andreas had been and expands on it in their own way. Side missions include Drug Running, Insurance Fraud, Escort, Hitman, Demolition Derby, Chop Shop and Mayhem of the previous Saint's Row. New side missions include protecting celebrities from crazed fans in Crowd Control, beating poor fools to a pulp in the Fight Club, creating great ratings in Fuzz, causing destruction in Helicopter Assault, starting fires in Trail Blazer, lowering property value with Septic Avenger, and murdering pimps in Snatch. Diversion missions are smaller and include things like pleasing women at the strip joint and drive by shootings. Completing, and half completing, side and distraction mission gives general bonuses to your character. These could be increased accuracy, increased strength, or simply having your gang notoriety going down faster. All these side mission also provide you with gang respect that you'll need you to play out story and stronghold missions.

Despite this all, Saint's Row 2 isn't an especially great game. It's a good game, solid on all fronts, but there isn't anything that particularly stands out. The best thing about Saint's Row 2 is that it's more GTA, and the worse thing about Saint's Row 2 is that it's only more GTA. At the core of Saint's Row is the GTA formula -- expanded, but nothing really new. Saint's Row 2 doesn't hold up very well in direct comparison. Rockstar excels at creating the systems-based gameplay that made GTA great, Volition doesn't.

Controls remains mostly unchanged from the first Saint's Row. There is a pretty big dead zone in the middle of the analog and doesn't provide the subtlety of aim found in some other games. A cruise control option has also been added for driving, making an effective way to drive and shoot.

I love Volition games. I love their attitude. I love their style. I love the fact that they create games that feed directly into the part of the human condition that gorges on destruction and mayhem. Saint's Row 2 is an entirely average game that's exceptionally fun to play.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 07/30/09

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

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