Review by Mephistofun

"This is what GTA 4 SHOULD have been like."

GTA 4 is great. It was groundbreaking in the way it created a living, breathing world around the player. It added realism to the sandbox genre, made a graphical leap that few thought was possible but was it a better game? It depends on what you are looking for. If you were looking for a technical masterpiece of story telling and environment then yes it was a better game. If you wanted to play it as a sandbox though it was a major step backwards. Complete the missions, side missions and get bored of jumping of high buildings to your death and GTA doesn't really offer much else. (I know DLC is coming but don't get me started on that money making machine.)

Saints Row saved us last time when the 360 lacked a GTA of any description and Saints Row 2 steps in to save us again with a much better sandbox game that doesn't try to pretend its' an RPG and is in no way a technical demo. It looks good at times but this game isn't about looking pretty. SR2 is about being completely stupid. The sheer number of mini-games is mind boggling and whilst it doesn't have the production polish of the GTA story, the story is actually very good. SR2 is exactly what you would want from a sandbox game. A big open world, lots of indoor spaces to find, silly physics to play with, lots of toys, lots of AI clever enough to try and avoid you when you start mowing people down, not quite clever enough to ever actually get away.

Some have complained that it is glitchy in the press. It is a little. I get aircraft stuck in buildings regularly, the friendly AI gets lost behind burning cars but it isn't a game wrecker. Compare it to Mercenaries and it it's virtually bug free. If SR2 suffers from anything it is from being compared to GTA 4 just as I have done here.

You will look at those sunsets and gorgeous set pieces in GTA 4, sigh and wish all games were as beautiful. Then you will put the SR2 disc in and giggle like a school child for the next hour. SR2 is a guilty pleasure. It shouldn't be this good.... but is is.

It isn't the biggest open world you'll have visited but it's absolutely packed with things to do. It doesn't add anything new new to the genre. In fact it borrows every trick it uses from other games but it does all the things the fans wanted GTA 4 to do. It is as if the developers read all the forums begging for more mini games, sillier cars, more mental explosions and made their game around that. The game engine is worked hard. It wobbles but never breaks (I'm now giving Mercs 2 an icy glare). You will forgive all of its' niggles because you've worked around them before in every other open world you have 'borrowed' a car in. Every corner has an activity. You'll spray manure over buildings, collect prostitutes for a massage parlour and get this... unlike GTA 4 you actually have taxi missions! You do car surfing, races that are actually different rather than just a race in a different type of car. You'll fly planes, crash planes, ride boats, ride boats into crashed planes just because you can. You'll discover new activities by accident over and over again. You won't be wowed by the graphics, or the story (it has its' moments though) but you'll be enjoying the game too much to notice. The Saints are nolonger the pretenders to the crown. They wanted it, so they've gone and nicked it while Rockstar weren't looking and are now riding away with it on a flaming quad-bike. Brilliant. 9/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/03/08

Game Release: Saints Row 2 (EU, 10/17/08)

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